Rahm opens with 62, Woods grinds out a 70

The Tribune (SLO) - - Weather - BY DOUG FER­GU­SON

SAN DIEGO

All the at­ten­tion was on Tiger Woods and his 2019 de­but. Just like the last two oc­ca­sions, Jon Rahm de­liv­ered the best per­for­mance.

In ideal con­di­tions even by San Diego stan­dards, Rahm opened with an ea­gle and kept go­ing lower un­til he had a 10-un­der 62 on the North course at Tor­rey Pines, giv­ing him a one-shot lead over Justin Rose af­ter the open­ing round Thurs­day at the Farm­ers In­sur­ance Open.

Woods was on the tougher South course, where he won his last ma­jor, the 2008 U.S. Open. He made three birdies on the back nine for a 70, which he thought could have been lower but found ac­cept­able given that it was his first com­pe­ti­tion in nearly two months.

Rahm’s high­light last year was beat­ing Woods on Sun­day in the Ry­der Cup dur­ing a Euro­pean vic­tory in France. He ended the year by clos­ing with a 65 to win Woods’ hol­i­day tour­na­ment in the Ba­hamas.

They were on op­po­site ends of Tor­rey Pines, and the Spa­niard made the most of be­ing on the North course, which is 440 yards shorter and played just over two shots eas­ier on av­er­age. He made two ea­gles on the back nine to go out in 29, and his only re­gret was miss­ing a 7-foot birdie putt on his fi­nal hole that would have tied the North course record set 12 years ago by Brandt Snedeker, who was in his group.

Rose played in the group be­hind him, also opened with an ea­gle and did his best to keep up. He played bo­gey-free for a 63 and fin­ished with a birdie. He played in the same group as Jor­dan Spi­eth (65) and Billy Horschel (66), a group that com­bined for 21 birdies and two ea­gles, a bet­ter-ball score of 59.

Charles How­ell III and Bran­don Nagy had the low­est scores on the South at 66, and Nagy did that with three bo­geys on his card.

Ninety-seven play­ers in the 156-man field broke par. Even more un­usual was that no one shot worse than 77.

Most of that was the ideal weather, and while the North is a lit­tle tougher than it used to be, the new greens from the Tom Weiskopf redo have set­tled in and were much eas­ier to hold. Add to that a col­lec­tion of shorter par 4s, and there was no short­age of birdies.

Rahm led the way in what he calls his spe­cial place.

This is where he won for the first time on the PGA Tour, when he holed a 60-foot ea­gle putt on the 18th hole. He loves Tor­rey Pines so much that this was the only tour­na­ment where he tried Mon­day qual­i­fy­ing while at Ari­zona State (he missed).

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