SAN DIEGO -- It was the first day of his golf year, so perhaps Tiger Woods can be excused for a rather lackluster outing at the Farmers Insurance Open.
But he'll need to be much better on Friday at Torrey Pines if he is to contend for a ninth title at one of his favorite venues.
Woods, 38 and the top-ranked player in the world, shot an even-par 72 that included just two birdies and too many missed fairways in the opening round Thursday. He failed to birdie any of the par 5s on the South Course and trails tournament leader Stewart Cink by eight strokes.
"Even par's not too bad, but I didn't play the par 5s worth a darn today,'' said Woods, who is tied for 63rd place. "I played them even par, parred all of them. Obviously that's paramount to try to get any kind of scoring on the South Course; you've got to take care of the par 5s because there's not a lot of holes you can make birdies here. I didn't do that, so subsequently I didn't finish under par.''
Woods hit just 7 of 14 fairways and only 11 of 18 greens. He had just one birdie attempt inside 10 feet, and that came at the second hole, where he knocked his approach to 3 feet.
"I didn't feel that rusty. I felt that I hit a lot of good shots,'' said Woods, who played his first competitive round since losing in a playoff to Zach Johnson at the World Challenge on Dec. 8. "I hit probably three loose ones out there, which that's just the way it goes, but it wasn't that bad. As I said, I needed to take care of the par 5s today. If I play those normal, I'm 2-, 3-under par, and all of a sudden it's a pretty good round.''
In 52 rounds at Torrey Pines in the Farmers tournament, Woods has just three scores over par -- and two of them came in 2011, when he tied for 44th, his worst finish in the event. Thursday marked the first time in 14 appearances in the tournament that he's failed to break par in the opening round.
He has won this tournament seven times and also has won the U.S. Open here in 2008.
On Friday, Woods will move to the North Course, which played about four strokes easier than the South in the opening round.
Nine of the top 10 players on the leaderboard played the North, with Pat Perez -- who grew up at Torrey Pines -- shooting 67 for the best score on the South.