SAN DIEGO — Scott Piercy had the best score Thursday at Torrey Pines because he made nine birdies. Robert Allenby might have had the best round because he made no bogeys.
Adding to the complexity at the PGA Tour's Farmers Insurance Open was Phil Mickelson. He was so excited to get his season started that he played with caution, yet one of his best birdies came after he hit his tee shot into a parking lot.
The tournament is played on two courses that couldn't be more different. The North Course is 712 yards shorter than the South Course, which hosted the U.S. Open two years ago.
Piercy played the North and watched his scores go south in a round of 8-under 64. He made seven birdies on the front nine and entertained thoughts of 59 until a bogey on his 11th hole. He was not the least bit devastated.
"I shoot 59 every day," Piercy said. "I just have to keep on going, usually."
He had a one-shot lead over a group of four that included Tampa resident Ryuji Imada. Tom Pernice Jr. was another shot back after 66. All played the North Course and have to tackle the big South today.
That's what made Allenby's round so impressive.
One of the hottest players in golf, Allenby made a couple of big par saves late in his day to protect a bogey-free round of 67, making him the only player among the top 15 to play on the South.
"I gauge myself off this golf course," said Allenby, tied for seventh. "This is a real golf course. If it wasn't, they wouldn't have had a U.S. Open here. I don't want to say the other course is Mickey Mouse because that would be rude. But it's Mickey Mouse-ish."
Mickelson played a steady hand in totaling 2-under 70.
"I was a little more cautious (Thursday) because I didn't want to make too many big mistakes," he said. "I want to work my way into the tournament."
On the 614-yard ninth, Mickelson watched his drive sail way to the left, over a green mesh fence along the fairway. He hit a provisional tee shot, then had a rules official meet him at the fence. Sure enough, his ball landed in a makeshift parking lot outside a medical clinic. Because the parking lot is considered a temporary immovable obstruction, he was given a free drop and ultimately made a 12-foot birdie putt.