By Mark Lamport-Stokes
SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Little-known American Kyle Stanley birdied his final hole to grab a one-shot lead in Friday's second round at the Farmers Insurance Open where fan favorite Phil Mickelson was the biggest name to miss the cut.
In light breezes and dazzling sunshine at Torrey Pines, the big-hitting Stanley carded a four-under-par 68 on the tricky South Course, one of two layouts hosting the fourth PGA Tour event of the year.
Fellow American Brandt Snedeker was alone in second after firing a sizzling eight-under 64 on the easier North layout with South Korean Bae Sang-moon (67) and American Martin Flores (67) a further stroke back at 12 under.
Three-times champion Mickelson ended a disappointing week prematurely, however, as his five-birdie 68 on the North Course was not good enough to help him make the cut.
The American left-hander had faced an uphill task coming into Friday's second round after opening with a woeful 77 on Thursday.
"I don't feel like there's any one area that I feel bad about my game," Mickelson told reporters after finishing at one-over 145.
"It's just that I'm not bringing it from the practice session on to the golf course yet. I'm not sure why that is, but the good news is my practice sessions have been great in every area."
Stanley, co-leader with compatriot Spencer Levin overnight, recovered from a double-bogey on his front nine to take control of the tournament with a seven-birdie display.
"I just kept telling myself I was playing well and just keep doing what I'm doing," said Stanley, a PGA Tour rookie last year. "I've played too much good golf so far this week to let one hole get in the way.
"I feel like I've got a pretty good game plan for this golf course and I just had to focus on executing that," added Stanley, who covered his back nine in four-under 32.
"I recovered nicely. It's still a long ways to go, but I'm happy with where I am."
Snedeker was especially delighted to be in title contention, having been on crutches for five weeks at the end of last year following hip surgery in early November.
"I feel great," the double PGA Tour winner said after mixing nine birdies with one bogey. "I'm driving the ball as good as I've ever driven it in my career, which isn't saying a lot but it's saying enough for me right now.
"I didn't start playing really regularly until New Year's Day ... and decided to give Palm Springs (last week's Humana Challenge) a shot because I felt pretty well.
"It held up pretty well last week and feels great now. The warm weather's helping and being here's helping, so hopefully it stays like that the rest of the week."
Keegan Bradley, winner of last year's PGA Championship, was at seven under after carding a 68, one stroke better than fellow American and world number nine Dustin Johnson (72).
Former world number one Vijay Singh of Fiji was at five under, after following his opening 64 with a 75, while three-times major champion Ernie Els was at three under after a 70.
The cut fell at two-under 142 with former major winners Angel Cabrera of Argentina and South Korea's Yang Yong-eun among those failing to advance.
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in San Diego; Editing by Frank Pingue)