Defending champ Brandt Snedeker and K.J. Choi shot a seven-under-par 65 today to take the lead in the $6.1 million Farmers Insurance Open after the first round at Torrey Pines Golf Club.
"It was nice to be back here defending," Snedeker said at the end of the first day. "The golf course is in great shape and to play the way I played today was nice. I drove the ball really well, didn't make too many mistakes, and, when I did, my putter saved me which was nice. It was a great day, but I realize we've got three more of them to go, and I've still got the hard course to go, so not too much excitement yet."
Six-time champion Tiger Woods, returning after a year's absence, shot a 68 under cloudy skies and occasional drizzle.
Woods bypassed the tournament last year in favor of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. There was no conflict this year, because that tournament was held last week, with Woods missing the cut by one shot, in part because of a two- shot penalty.
Tournament director Peter Ripa told U-T San Diego he expects a 30 percent increase in ticket sales over the tournament's four days and a doubling of television ratings because of Woods' presence.
Woods placed himself in a strong position since his opening round came on Torrey Pines South, considered the toughest of the two courses.
By contrast, San Diego-native Phil Mickelson, ensnared in a controversy over public remarks on California's tax burden, shot an even-par 72 on the North course. He will have to make up ground on the more difficult links on Friday.
The co-leaders also played different courses—Snedeker on Torrey Pines North and Choi on the South.
"I was just thinking maybe 5‑under, 6‑under would be a good score for today, and I hope that this momentum just carries on into tomorrow and the weekend," Choi said Thursday afternoon.
Bubba Watson, the defending Masters champion and former winner at Torrey Pines, announced on his Twitter account that he backed out at the last minute because of the flu.
"Pulling out of tourney this morning, don't have energy for golf. Feel the same as Maui. Got to say thanks to my peeps for the prayers," he tweeted.
The winner will get $1.098 million.
The National Weather Service predicts rain Friday with more rain expected this weekend.
—City News Service contributed to this report.