(Reuters) – Justin Rose and Tiger Woods share a great affection for Torrey Pines but their results were very different in Southern California on Thursday when they ended the opening round of the Farmers Insurance Open 11 shots apart.
Woods, who has won this PGA Tour event seven times along with a U.S. Open title at the same spectacular venue in 2008, struggled to a four-over 76 while Olympic champion Rose soared into a one-stroke lead after firing a 65.
While huge galleries watched a rusty Woods compete on the rain-softened South Course in his first full tournament field in 17 months, Rose provided the fireworks as he eagled two of the four par-fives on the friendlier North layout.
“The score was fantastic,” Englishman Rose told Golf Channel after rebounding from two bogeys in his first six holes.
“I realized that it was only the first six holes of the tournament so just stay with it. After that dialogue with myself, I went birdie-birdie which was cool and that got the round going.
“I drove the ball well today… I actually had four eagle putts, so I hit all the par-fives in two and converted two of those… playing the par-fives in six under was the key to the round.”
Rose, a seven-times winner on the PGA Tour, has always relished playing at Torrey Pines.
“It’s one of my favorite golf courses on tour,” said Rose, who eagled the fifth and ninth on his back nine before ending the day a stroke in front of Canada’s Adam Hadwin.
“Visually, every shot feels good to me. Every tee shot is framed well, every green is a great green complex… so I look forward to getting out there (tomorrow).”
For Woods, who has long bracketed Torrey Pines alongside Bay Hill, Augusta National and Firestone as his favorite courses, Thursday’s opening round was an exercise in frustration.
“It was tough out there, period,” he said after getting to one under early on his back nine before dropping six shots in six holes. “I was in the rough most of the day and it was tough. It was wet.
“I fought my tail off out there, I fought hard. It was nice to put together a round when I wasn’t hitting it that great early.
“I was in a good spot to shoot a good round today, and I didn’t really have my best stuff early but I got through there… that’s one of the positives I’m going to take out of it.”
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in St. Augustine, Florida; Editing by John O’Brien)