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Woods opens at 70, trails by three

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Tiger Woods opened his 2012 season Thursday at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, shooting 2-under 70 that left him three behind co-leaders Rory McIlroy and Robert Karlsson.

"Hit the ball well all day. It was a good ball-striking round," Woods said. "I had a hard time reading the greens. The greens were pretty grainy. … Overall, I got fooled a lot on my reads."

Sergio Garcia (71) and Jose Manuel Lara (70) each had a hole-in-one on the par-3 12th hole.

Top-ranked Luke Donald shot 71. Second-ranked Lee Westwood (72) and fourth-ranked Martin Kaymer (77) never challenged in the PGA Europe event.

McIlroy had three birdies on his first four holes but erratic driving led to two bogeys on the next four. He had three birdies on his back nine, with a chip-in on No. 8 from just off the green.

"It's a nice way to start the competitive season, I suppose," said McIlroy, who wasn't impressed with his round.

Woods missed several birdie chances and struggled with approach shots on a course that played tougher than usual with its thick rough.

McIlroy said he didn't take any satisfaction in beating Woods in the first round.

"If it was the last day of the tournament and you're both going in there with a chance to win, I would take a lot of pride from that, obviously," he said. "Hopefully I can get myself into position where I do play with him on a Sunday and see how I get on."

PGA: Spencer Levin and Kyle Stanley knew they had to post low scores on the easier North Course at Torrey Pines to get off to a good start in the Farmers Insurance Open at San Diego. It went even better than expected, both at 10-under 62 for a one-shot lead over FedEx Cup champion Bill Haas, who had a double bogey on his 15th hole.

Stanley made eagle on his final hole, and Levin shot 29 on the back nine. The top 12 scores came from the North, which played slightly more than 3½ strokes easier than the South. The best South score was Marc Turnesa's 66.

Phil Mickelson hit into 11 bunkers, missed a 3-foot birdie on the final hole and finished at 77 on the South Course. It was his worst score at Torrey Pines since 78 in the third round of 2005. "I felt like my game was ready heading in, and I don't know what to say about the score. Pathetic," he said.

SolHeim cup: Four-time major champion Meg Mallon was named U.S. captain. The 2013 event is scheduled for Aug. 13-18 at Colorado Golf Club in Parker. Mallon, 48, played on eight U.S. teams, with a 13-9-7 record.

Woods opens at 70, trails by three 01/26/12 [Last modified: Thursday, January 26, 2012 8:13pm]
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