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Jason Day, Rickie Fowler miss cut; Gary Woodland, K.J. Choi lead

SAN DIEGO -- Another gorgeous day along the Pacific bluffs was surprisingly gloomy, with a mass exodus Friday in the Farmers Insurance Open.

Jason Day, the defending champion and No. 2 player in the world, missed the cut for the first time in nearly eight months. Also leaving early was Rickie Fowler, the No. 4 player in the world, who was riding high from his victory five days ago in Abu Dhabi.

Phil Mickelson had to leave the golf course to play one of his shots at Torrey Pines and closed with three straight bogeys on the easier North Course to miss the cut.

Justin Rose, the No. 7 player in the world, also exited early.

Not losing sleep over the surprising departures were Gary Woodland and K.J. Choi, who shared the lead going into the weekend, and Dustin Johnson, who made a risky escape on the one wild tee shot he hit and wound up one shot behind.

Woodland powered his way to a 5-under 67 on the South Course, which he prefers because of his length and the left-to-right shape of his tee shots. Woodland reached two par 5s in two and was just off the green on two other par 5s. He made birdie on all of them to help atone for a few mistakes on the back nine. He had to make a 15-foot putt on the par-5 18th to be the first player to post at 9-under 135.

Choi, 45, was a mild surprise, having not won on the PGA Tour in nearly five years. He shot his 67 on the North Course.

Their games are different, although they shared one thought: Power always helps, but accuracy is paramount on the Torrey Pines courses with thick rough.

"When I drive the ball in the fairway out here, I'm having some short irons into par 4s, I'm having mid-irons into some of these par 5s," Woodland said. "So when I drive the ball like I did today, good things are happening right now."

Johnson was pounding his driver on the North Course and making enough short putts to move up the leaderboard. Then came a shout of "Fore right!" and the crackle of a ball through a Torrey pine on the seventh hole. He had a tree right in front of him, no path to the green except through a V-gap in the tree about a foot wide. Johnson managed, nearly made birdie and finished up his 66. He was at 8-under 136.

Scott Brown had a 71 on the South and is at 7-under 137. He is joined by Billy Horschel, who shot 70 on the South, and Martin Laird, who shot 68 on the North.

The cut was at 1-under 143.

Day, the PGA champion, got sick last Friday after a week in the desert working on his game and didn't touch a club again until the opening round Thursday. He said his energy was gone and his swing felt off, and it showed. Day shot 74 on the South and missed the cut for the first time since the Memorial.

"You can't live and die by one week," Day said. "It's not going to be the last cut I'm going to miss. Hopefully, it is the last cut I'm going to miss this year, but once again, it's a process. I got to keep working hard, and hopefully, that delayed gratification is a lot more sweeter at the end of the year than it is right now."

The 13 players separated by three shots at the midway point featured a collection of long and medium hitters, which Johnson said didn't surprise him in the least.

"If you look at the winners here, they're all over the board, as far as length," Johnson said. "But you've got to drive it straight. And right now I feel like I'm driving my driver very straight, so that's definitely a key."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.