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Thursday, January 23, 2014
Stewart Cink leads by 1 after 64

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SAN DIEGO -- Stewart Cink ran off three straight birdies late in his round on the easier North Course at Torrey Pines for an 8-under 64 and the first-round lead at the Farmers Insurance Open on Thursday.

Cink holds a one-shot lead over Gary Woodland, who also was on the North, which is more than 600 yards shorter.

Stewart Cink
After a 64 on Torrey Pines' North Course, first-round leader Stewart Cink on Friday will head to the South -- where only three players broke 70 on Thursday.

Pat Perez was on the South Course, host of the 2008 U.S. Open and with greens so firm this year that it felt like a major. Perez had a 67, the best score on the South by two shots, and even more astounding is that he played bogey-free.

The South played nearly four shots harder than the North.

Tiger Woods, making his 2014 debut, failed to birdie any of the par 5s and had to settle for a 72.

Cink did what he was supposed to do. The rough is up on the North, too, so it was important to get the ball in play. He did that, allowing him to take on some pins.

"You want to really take advantage of the North Course because it will yield to you a little bit, and the South Course will not," Cink said. "I did a great job of going out there, just playing shot-by-shot, not really getting too caught up in, 'I have to birdie these holes.' As a consequence, I actually made a few birdies and it felt great."

Phil Mickelson, meanwhile, felt awful. He was coping with a back locked up on him during a round of 69. He described it as a muscular problem and was hopeful treatment would help.

Players have to swing for the fences on the 7,698-yard South Course, where the average score Thursday 74.45. Not many would have predicted a 67 on the South, though Woods wasn't surprised when he heard who did it.

"Why? He grew up here," Woods said. "This was his home course. He's playing it more times than any tour pro certainly."

Perez has such a history at Torrey that his father, Tony, continues to announce the players on the first tee at the South Course. And here's even better history -- Perez won a Junior World Championship at Torrey Pines, by beating some Orange County kid named Tiger Woods.

"Best day of my life," Perez said. "I've known him forever. He's always been great to me. He gives me advice here and there, but to beat him that year was fantastic. ... I've got to hold onto that, so that's about all that I got over him. But it hurts him. I'll you tell, it hurts him."

Perez was joking. He is full of bluster and always fun, a favorite among the players. That's what made Thursday so enjoyable.

The weather was close to perfect, with hang gliders filling the sky left of the fourth fairway on the South. Perez had no bogeys on his card, and he can't remember if that ever happened since the South was stretched out to prepare for the U.S. Open. It was only one round, but it was a great for Perez -- and for Cink, who hasn't won since his Open Championship title at Turnberry in 2009.

The test for Cink is Friday on the South, especially considering that only three players broke 70 on the South -- Perez, Charley Hoffman (another San Diego native) and rookie Kevin Tway, whose father (former PGA champion Bob Tway) won this event in 1986.

Divots

Jordan Spieth, who missed the cut at Torrey Pines last year as a 19-year-old making his pro debut, played with Woods and Jimmy Walker and shot 71. ... Fifty of the 62 rounds under par were on the North Course. ... The worst score on the North Course was a 77 by Brandt Snedeker and Derek Ernst.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.