Trio Leads Timberlake Tournament; Daly Shoots 86

There are now three players atop the leaderboard in the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. The $4.5 million PGA Tour event began Thursday in Las Vegas.

The two 36-hole leaders, Jonas Blixt of Sweden and Brendon de Jonge of South Africa, were joined by Ryan Moore at 19-under 194. Blixt and de Jonge both shot 5-under 66s, while Moore carded a 65.

Moore had two birdies on the front nine for a 2-under 33, then added four more on the back. The 28-year-old Blixt, who attended college at Florida State, went out in even-par 35 after two birdies and a pair of bogeys. Following another bogey on the par-4 10th, he reeled off five straight birdies on Nos. 12-16 and added another on the 18th for a 5-under 31.

de Jonge had three birdies on the outward half and, after bogeys on the 10th and 13th holes, also got hot with four consecutive birdies on the 14th through 17th holes. Both Blixt and de Jonge are seeking their first victories on the PGA Tour, while Moore is looking for his second career title after taking the 2009 Wyndham Championship.

The trio played in the same group, a situation that Moore found motivating and will be repeated on Sunday. "You know, I enjoy it," said the Puyallup, Wash., native who attended UNLV. "It's nice playing next to guys that are playing well and making putts. Sometimes it makes that hole look even bigger when you see them just keep dropping.

"That's what was happening, especially on the back nine today. Both of them got rolling and made a bunch of birdies in a row and I kind of threw in a couple here and there and kind of stayed there with them. You know, it's fun. They're both great guys to play with. I really enjoy - I've played with Brendon quite a bit but it was the first time I've played with Jonas, and I enjoyed talking to him, and looking forward to tomorrow." (See below for Moore's full-post round interview.)

de Jonge and Blixt agreed. "It was great," de Jonge said. "We had a nice atmosphere out there. Everyone was playing well. When everyone is playing well you can feed off each other, and I think we did a good job of that today, saw a lot of putts go in. Everyone played well, and hopefully we'll have more of the same tomorrow."

"They're both great guys, was very relaxed out there, and I just had a good time," added Blixt. "Then they ran away a little bit, and then I got lucky, I got hot in the end and made some putts and was able to catch them in the end there. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow. It's going to be a lot of fun."

Five shots behind the leaders are Jimmy Walker (66) and Tim Herron (69), while sharing sixth at 201 are Colt Knost (66), Jason Day (64), Jason Bohn (64) and Russell Knox (68) of Scotland. Josh Teater (67) and Ken Duke (68) are at 11-under 202.

Defending champion Kevin Na, a Las Vegas resident, posted a 70 to get to 9-under 204 through 54 holes. Davis Love III, the captain of the losing 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup team, shot a 73 and is now at 5-under 208 and tied for 48th place.

John Daly - who got into contention after opening with 69 and 63 - exploded to a 15-over 86, a difference of 23 strokes from his previous round. Besides two birdies, the 46-year-old had six bogeys, two doubles, a triple and a quadruple-bogey on the par-4 third hole. He shot a 9-over 44 on the front side and a 6-over 42 on the back.

The only time the two-time major winner shot higher in a tournament was in the second round of the 2008 British Open (an 89), the 2009 Buick Open (88), and the 2007 Wachovia Championship (87).

"Just was hoping it would stop the bleeding," a game Daly said later. "I can't remember a time when I had a stretch of so many bad holes where - I hit a couple bad shots but didn't really hit that many bad shots. This course, everybody shoots it low, but there's times where nothing just goes right. I short sided myself all day. If I missed a green, I had the most impossible chips. I couldn't make a four footer today, and I had the lefts going, which usually if I miss the ball, it's right, so that confused me a little bit.

"It's almost you get off to a start like that, your body just almost goes into shock, and every time I tried to hit a cut, I'd hit a pull, and every time I'd try to hit a draw, I'd flare it right," he added. "I asked Johnny the scorer when I got done if there was a chance I could get my amateur status back, and he said, no, it would take too long. It's just a rough day. Just a tough day, and the good shots that I hit like on 17, I was able to chip in, but it was like that all day, if I hit a really good shot, it just turned out bad. Just one of those days."

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After signing his scorecard, Moore met with reporters and discussed his day and chances to pull off his second title on Sunday. Here's what he had to say.

MODERATOR: Ryan Moore, thanks for joining us for a few minutes, 6 under 65 today puts you right where you want to be at the top of the leaderboard, 19 under. Just some comments on the round today here in your hometown, talking about how much you love it here, and then we'll take it from there with some questions.

RYAN MOORE: You know, today was just a good solid day. I didn't do anything amazing, but at the same time, I just did what I've been doing this whole week, just put it in play, gave myself a bunch of wedges, 9 irons into greens, and was able to convert a bunch of my reasonable birdie chances.

Q. When you're playing with two guys who are pretty much matching you shot for shot, how much fun does it make it knowing you guys have your own little tournament within a tournament going, and does it add any pressure because you can see right in front of you what is going on?

RYAN MOORE: Yeah. You know, I enjoy it. It's nice playing next to guys that are playing well and making putts. Sometimes it makes that hole look even bigger when you see them just keep dropping. That's what was happening, especially on the back nine today. Both of them got rolling and made a bunch of birdies in a row and I kind of threw in a couple here and there and kind of stayed there with them. You know, it's fun. They're both great guys to play with. I really enjoy - I've played with Brendon quite a bit but it was the first time I've played with Jonas, and I enjoyed talking to him, and looking forward to tomorrow.

Q. All you guys played well on the back, a bunch of birdies after just surviving the front nine. We see that year after year here. Is that just the personality of the course?

RYAN MOORE: Definitely. I would say there are definitely more birdie holes on the back side than the front. It doesn't mean you can't go out and shoot 4 , 5 , 6 under on the front; that's very possible. But for me this course works that way. I just want to play good, steady golf, get a couple under on that front side and make the turn and get it rolling. I was able to do that today and kind of did that my first round starting on the back side, really got going early on the back. I mean, that's just kind of - I think that's how this course plays for the most part.

Q. Seems like guys have always a different way of handling it when you're up there in contention. Do you like to relax and not think about tomorrow or are you one of those guys you can't really get it off your mind?

RYAN MOORE: No, I will be doing a whole lot of nothing tonight and not really thinking about it or worrying about it. This week has actually been a pretty busy week for me. I have a bunch of my wife's family in town and then a bunch of my family is in town, so really every night we've been going out doing stuff, going out to dinner, seeing movies, doing stuff every day. It's actually been kind of nice; it's kind of kept my mind off it for the most part. I've been fairly busy. Tonight is the same thing, it's my wife's uncle's birthday party, so we're throwing a big barbecue for him over at my wife's mom's house, and I'm just going to hang out, hang out with the family and come back out tomorrow and just try and play some good golf.

Q. With the tough pin placements on several of the holes, especially 12 today, they were really tucking them in the corners, does your knowledge of this golf course give you a leg up and allow you to do what you were able to do?

RYAN MOORE: I mean, it certainly doesn't hurt on this course. With a few of those pins today, like 10, for example, it was just a tough little pin, and they actually put that back there a lot when I'm just out here playing and practicing. I see that pin fairly often. I know you just have to hit it 15 feet short of that. Even though I've got a pitching wedge in my hand, you just can't hit it to that hole. There was a couple times today where I felt like I had a little bit of an advantage just because I simply know you can't be long on that hole or it's gone. And if you put it in the wrong place, miss it too far left or something like that, your chip can then go off the green. There was definitely a couple places where I felt like a little course knowledge certainly helped.

Q. You almost have to channel your aggression, don't you, sometimes on some of these holes and know that you can't fire at pins, right?

RYAN MOORE: Yeah, and it's tough sometimes because you have, like I say, a wedge or a 9 iron in your hand. I mean, I think that's been kind of the key for me this week is just not being over aggressive, not necessarily - you know you're going to have plenty of birdie chances, you know there's going to be some pins you can attack, so even if you have a wedge or 9, just hitting that smart shot, hitting it 15 feet on one side or the other and not trying to be too aggressive, and then I've been fortunately making some of those 15 footers after hitting the smarter shots. I think that's kind of been my game plan all week, and it's working.

Q. You told me last week when we talked on the phone that you really would love to end the season with a win here. The fact that your family and your wife's family and you have so many people supporting you here, would that make it extra special for you going home tomorrow knowing that if you can win this thing it's not just you celebrating but a whole lot of people that love you and support you are going to share in that moment with you?

RYAN MOORE: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it's fun having them all out here, and I've had a ton of support all week. Obviously it would make it extra special at this point if that were to happen tomorrow. But I've obviously got a long ways to go. I've got two guys that I am playing against that are playing great golf and then a course that's playing very scorable. Somebody that's a handful of shots behind us can go out and shoot 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 under. You've seen those scores this week. I'm just going to keep my head down and just keep playing golf exactly how I've been playing all week and see what happens in the end.

Q. I don't know if you were aware of what happened to John Daly today, 15 over?

RYAN MOORE: No, no, I was not aware.

Q. As someone who's had his tough moments and just someone that's a fellow Tour professional, how much can you empathize with someone who has a horrible day like that?

RYAN MOORE: I mean, it's tough. We all have those days. I had one earlier this year in Houston. I had played two good rounds and then the third round it just - everything started going wrong, and it's just hard to dig yourself back out of it after you've made a couple double bogeys or two early in your round and you're 4 or 5 over. Then you play a little extra aggressive, and then it gets you in more trouble, especially on a golf course like this where you feel like you should be making birdies, if you get a few over par early, you just kind of start pressing, and that never helps.

MODERATOR: Ryan, thanks. Appreciate it. See you tomorrow.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.