GOLF NEWS - Reigning Masters champion Tiger Woods, seeking an unprecedented 83rd career US PGA Tour victory, fired a three-under par 69 in Thursday's opening round of the Farmers Insurance Open, three adrift of Danish clubhouse leader Sebastian Cappelen.
At the famed Torrey Pines tract where the 44-year-old American has previously captured eight titles, Woods closed with a five-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole of the San Diego layout's North Course, with golfers also competing on the harder-playing South Course. "Overall, I'm pleased to shoot in the 60s.
The course was gettable today," Woods said. "I felt like I hit the ball well. "I'm very pleased to get something in the red and get over to south tomorrow." Sixth-ranked Woods matched US legend Sam Snead for the all-time US PGA title record on 82 by winning last October's Zozo Championship in Japan and this is his first opportunity to claim sole possession of the mark. Woods, a 15-time major winner, broke 70 in an opening round at Torrey Pines for the first time since 2013, when he captured his most recent victory in the event on his way to five titles that year. "I definitely was feeling it," Woods said of the adrenaline competition brings. "I missed the competition.
"I tried to keep everything as calm as I possibly could. I didn't do well at the start with a bogey. I fought back. I take a lot of positives to the South Course." Danish rookie Cappelen made eight birdies and two bogeys on the South Course to seize the lead but Woods was only two behind a second-place pack that included world number two Rory McIlroy, South Korean An Byeong-hun, China's Zhang Xinjun and Americans Kevin Tway and Joel Dahmen, all North Course players.
"I drove the ball well for the most part," McIlroy said. "A little rusty around the greens but with a little more practice I'll feel a little more composed as the week goes on. "Overall I holed out well. To shoot 5-under you need to make a few putts. I feel like I need to improve every day and if I do that I'll be right in contention." Woods, who began on the north's back nine, found a bunker at the par-4 11th and made bogey but answered with a birdie at the par-4 13th. He struck again for a birdie at the par-5 17th but took a bogey at 18 to make the turn level.
Woods reached 2-under on his second nine by sinking a six-foot birdie putt at the first hole and tapping in for birdie at the par-5 fifth after missing left on a 20-foot eagle putt. At the par-3 eighth, Woods found a greenside bunker but blasted out and sank his par putt, setting the stage for his closing birdie. "That was nice to keep the round going," Woods said of his penultimate-hole par save.
At the moment, Woods owns the final spot on the US Olympic team for this summer's global showdown at Tokyo, but to go he must be among the four top US players in the world rankings when the selections are made in June.