One week after he began his year by missing the cut, Tiger Woods didn’t notice a big difference in his game.
It was everything else about the opening round at Torrey Pines that changed. Relatively calm conditions. Rough that didn’t cover the top of his shoes. A course that has been good to him since he was a teenager. And despite his putter not cooperating at the end of his round, a 4-under 68 on his scorecard.
Woods was on the verge of joining defending champion Brandt Snedeker and K.J. Choi atop the leaderboard Thursday in the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego until missing three straight putts inside 12 feet late in his round.
Snedeker had a bogey-free 65 on the North Course. Choi birdied three of his last four holes on the tougher South Course for his 65.
Woods, a seven-time champion at Torrey Pines, at least got off the South Course without further damage when he made a 6-foot putt for par at No. 18.
“Last week’s conditions (in Dubai, United Arab Emirates) were a lot more difficult and the fairways were narrow and the wind was howling,” Woods said.
Woods three-putted for double bogey on the fourth hole, then followed with a 12-foot putt for birdie, an eagle by holing a bunker shot on the par-5 sixth, and birdie putts on the eighth and ninth holes.
“I made a few mistakes out there, but I made some nice plays as well,” Woods said.
Phil Mickelson had quite a day with a 72 on the North after apologizing for complaining about his taxes.
Snedeker is developing quite the love affair with this municipal course along the Pacific Bluffs. As a rookie, he was 10 under through 10 holes and had to settle for a 61 on the North Course. He finished third that year. Then, he rallied from seven shots behind in the final round last year, got into a playoff when Kyle Stanley made triple bogey on the 18th and won on the second playoff hole.
“It’s funny, you look at all the golf courses I should play well on, this should not be one of them,” Snedeker said.
WOMEN’S TEAM PLANS
The LPGA Tour is creating a tournament to determine the best in the world to be played two years before golf returns to the Olympics.
The International Crown will start in 2014 and be played every other year. It will feature four days of team matches among eight countries that can field the strongest four-player teams based on world rankings. The inaugural event will be in late July at Caves Valley Golf Club outside Baltimore.
KAYMER, GARCIA ON TOP
Ryder Cup stars Martin Kaymer and Sergio Garcia were among four players tied for the lead after two rounds of the Qatar Masters in Doha.
Kaymer had a 5-under 67 and Garcia shot a 66 at Doha Golf Course to match first-round leader Ricardo Santos (70) of Portugal and Marcus Fraser (67) of Australia at 9-under 135.
Tracking local golfers on the pga tour
This week: Farmers Insurance Open, through Sunday, Torrey Pines North and South Courses, La Jolla, Calif.
In the field: Gig Harbor’s Kyle Stanley, Tacoma’s Troy Kelly and Olympia’s Andres Gonzales.
Gonzales’ first-round score: 2-over-par 74 on North Course.
Stanley’s first-round score: 3-over 75 on South Course.
Kelly’s first-round score: 5-over 77 on South Course.
Position: Gonzales is tied for 124th, Stanley is tied for 138th and Kelly is tied for 153rd – all trailing co-leaders K.J. Choi and Brandt Snedeker (7-under 65).
Recap: After nearly leading wire-to-wire last year, Stanley opened on the first hole of the South Course and air-mailed his approach from 140 yards over the green, leading to a double bogey. After that, he never settled in any groove (four bogeys, three birdies). … Gonzales birdied his first hole, a par 5, but strung together three consecutive bogeys, at the seventh, eighth and ninth holes, to go over par – for good. … Kelly is tied for last place after his opening 77 (four bogeys, one double bogey, one birdie). He did nearly ace the scenic downhill par-3 third hole, sticking a 9-iron to within 21/2 feet from the cup.
Tee times today: Stanley at 10:30 a.m. (PST) off North No. 10; Kelly at 10:10 a.m. off North No. 10; Gonzales at 10:40 a.m. off South No. firstname.lastname@example.org