Woods opens with 69 at Tor­rey Pines

Antelope Valley Press - - SPORTS - By DOUG FER­GU­SON

Tiger Woods had his low­est open­ing round of the year since 2011. It wasn’t enough to be among the lead­ers Thurs­day at the Farm­ers In­surance Open, but it was fine with him. Com­ing off his record­ty­ing 82nd vic­tory in his last PGA Tour start three months ago in Ja­pan, Woods han­dled the par 5s on the eas­ier North Course at Tor­rey Pines and lim­ited mis­takes for a 3-un­der 69.

SAN DIEGO — Tiger Woods had his low­est open­ing round of the year since 2011. It wasn’t enough to be among the lead­ers Thurs­day at the Farm­ers In­surance Open, but it was fine with him.

Com­ing off his record-ty­ing 82nd vic­tory in his last PGA Tour start three months ago in Ja­pan, Woods han­dled the par 5s on the eas­ier North Course at Tor­rey Pines and lim­ited mis­takes for a 3-un­der 69.

Se­bas­tian Cap­pe­len and Kee­gan Bradley had the low scores of the open­ing round, which was not the same as shar­ing the lead. Cap­pe­len had eight birdies for a 66 on the South Course, which played about three shots tougher than the North, where Bradley shot his 66.

Rory McIl­roy, who played in the group in front of Woods, was among those at 67. Jon Rahm, play­ing along­side Woods, was in the large group at 68.

Woods hasn’t bro­ken 70 in his first round of the year since a 69 on the North at Tor­rey in 2011. His health, his game and even his mo­men­tum are in much bet­ter shape now. His game wasn’t all that far off.

“It was nice to kind of keep the round go­ing a lit­tle bit,” Woods said. “Over­all, pleased to shoot some­thing in the 60s to­day.”

It took a lit­tle time to get go­ing. He left him­self in a bad shot right of the green on the par5 10th to start his round and failed to make birdie. His flop shot from 50 yards short of the green on the next hole came up short and into a bunker, lead­ing to a bo­gey. He was even par at the turn on a course where lower scores are ex­pected.

Even so, there was lit­tle drama. The best views were of the still wa­ters of the Pa­cific be­low on a mag­nif­i­cent day. The big­gest roars, as usual, be­longed to the Navy jets above.

Woods kept it sim­ple, with a nifty wedge to short range on his 10th hole, a two-putt birdie from 18 feet on the par-5 fifth and an easy up-and-down for birdie on the fi­nal hole.

“I could prob­a­bly, maybe could have got­ten one or two more out of my round to­day,” Woods said. “But over­all, I felt like it was a good start, es­pe­cially go­ing into the South Course. I don’t know what the guys did on the South Course in re­la­tion to the North, but I felt like the golf course was cer­tainly get­table to­day.”

Bubba Wat­son had a 67 on the South, while three other play­ers broke 70 on the South, which hosted the U.S. Open in 2008 and gets an­other U.S. Open next year.

Woods has won this event seven times, not in­clud­ing his 2008 U.S. Open ti­tle or the Ju­nior World when he was a teenager. At stake this week is a chance to set the PGA Tour ca­reer vic­to­ries record with No. 83 on the first course where his fa­ther took him to watch a PGA Tour event.

Rahm, who got mar­ried in Spain be­fore Christ­mas and has an­other wed­ding in San Diego next month for his bride’s Amer­i­can fam­ily and friends, was 4 un­der through eight holes un­til he stalled.

Along for the ride was Collin Morikawa, who wasn’t even born when Woods made his pro de­but. The 22-year-old Morikawa shot 70.

As­so­ci­ated Press

EARLY LEAD Se­bas­tian Cap­pe­len of Den­mark plays his shot from the sec­ond tee on the Tor­rey Pines South Course dur­ing the first round of The Farm­ers In­surance golf tour­na­ment in San Diego on Thurs­day.

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