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Woods solid in season debut

Tiger Woods hits on the 12th hole during the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open, which he finished with a bogey-free 3-under 69.

Associated Press

Tiger Woods hits on the 12th hole during the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open, which he finished with a bogey-free 3-under 69.

SAN DIEGO — Tiger Woods began his new season with no bogeys, no birdies on the par 5s and no drama.

Looking for a new start after a rocky year on and off the course, Woods felt little stress Thursday in the Farmers Insurance Open with 3-under 69 on the North Course that left him five shots behind South Korean rookie Sunghoon Kang.

If the setting was familiar for Woods, so was his middle-of-the-pack position. In four of his six wins at this tournament, he has been at least five shots behind after the opening round.

"I'm happy with the way I played, absolutely," Woods said. "I could have been a lot better if I took care of the par 5s a little bit more, but obviously, I didn't do that."

Kang, 24, finished with back-to-back birdies on the North Course for 8-under 64, giving him a one-shot lead over Alex Prugh and Rickie Fowler. Another rookie, Chris Kirk, was at 66.

Phil Mickelson shot 32 on the back nine for 5-under 67 to match the best score on the tougher South Course, which hosted the 2008 U.S. Open that Woods won in a playoff.

Also at 67 on the South was John Daly, whose last win came in 2004 at this tournament. He is the last player to win at Torrey Pines when Woods was in the field.

"This place means a lot to me," Daly said. "The top golfers play here every year. That says something."

Woods no longer is No. 1 — he has slipped to No. 3 in the world ranking and can't improve on that this week — but he has not played the public course he has practically owned since that U.S. Open in 2008. He missed the next year because of knee surgery and last year while in a Mississippi addiction clinic after admitting to having extramarital affairs.

"Welcome back to Torrey," was a popular phrase from the gallery throughout his round, in which Woods played solidly except on the greens. He made only two putts longer than 3 feet, a 10-foot par save on No. 8 and a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-3 sixth that bounced along until catching the right corner of the cup.

"I didn't leave myself any putts," Woods said. "I kept leaving myself above the hole. And I didn't take advantage of the par 5s."

DALY IRATE: John Daly said he would never return to the Bob Hope Classic or the Phoenix Open, which denied him exemptions for the second straight year. Daly said he has done everything the tournaments have asked of him and was hurt to get turned down.

EUROPEAN: Johan Edfors shot 8-under 64 in the first round of the Volvo Golf Champions in Riffa, Bahrain. Peter Hanson, Pablo Larrazabal, Francesco Molinari and Graeme Storm were at 66.

BROADCASTING: CBS extended its contract to broadcast the PGA Championship for eight years, through 2019. CBS has aired the season's last major since 1991.

Woods solid in season debut 01/27/11 [Last modified: Thursday, January 27, 2011 10:22pm]
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