Kevin Streelman had his head down as he rapped a few putts to kill time, realizing that as third alternate at the Buick Invitational in San Diego, the 29-year-old rookie probably would get a chance to play.
When he looked up, he was startled to see Tiger Woods in front of him.
“I was kind of awestruck for a second and I said, ‘Wow, I guess I am on the PGA Tour,” he said. “It was pretty cool.”
It might be even more jarring to see Woods on the first tee in the final group today at Torrey Pines.
Woods made short work of the North Course on Friday with a 7-under-par 65, giving him a four-shot lead as he tries to win the Buick Invitational for the fourth straight year. Adding to his odds is being chased by a rookie who’s just happy to be here.
Streelman was the last alternate to get in, opened with a 67, then made it around the tough South Course with a 69 that put him in second place on the leaderboard, and under a big spotlight on the weekend.
The world’s No. 1 player said he had never heard of Streelman, and when told that he was No. 1,354 in the world ranking, Woods replied, “I think he might be going up.”
Joining them will be Stewart Cink, who shot a 69 on the South and was another shot back at 7-under 137.
Troy Matteson got turned in the wrong direction. After a 65 on the South Course that he said he couldn’t top, he was 10 shots worse on the North Course, shooting a 75 to fall eight shots behind.
Matt Kodama of Spokane shot a 73 on the South Course for a total of 151. He missed the cut.
Gil Morgan had two eagles in a four-hole stretch on his way to a 7-under 65 and the first-round lead in the Turtle Bay Championship at Kahuku, Hawaii.