SAN DIEGO — 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 until missing three straight putts inside 12 feet late in his round.
Snedeker was bogey-free on the North Course for a 65. 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 had to lay up on the par-5 18th hole, hit wedge over the green and into a bunker and made a 6-foot putt for par.
“Last week’s conditions were a lot more difficult and the fairways were narrow and the wind was howling,” Woods said. “I felt like I was doing a lot of good things right last week — unfortunately, only for a few days, but I doing a lot of good things right. And I came out here today and basically did the same thing.”
Woods three-putted for double bogey on the fourth hole, though he knew he had a pair of par 5s to make up ground. He did that, and more. He made a 12-footer for birdie, an eagle by holing a bunker shot on the par-5 sixth, and birdie putts on the eighth and ninth holes to get back into the game.
“I made a few mistakes out there, but I made some nice plays as well,” Woods said.
Phil Mickelson had quite the taxing day with a 72 on the North, which played about 11⁄2 strokes easier than the course that hosted the U.S. Open in 2008.