Cink Early Leader in Farmers Insurance Open

Veteran Stewart Cink got off to a nice start in the Farmers Insurance Open. The 40-year-old, whose last victory came in the 2009 British Open, fired an eight-birdie 64 to rise to the top of the leaderboard in the $6.1 million PGA Tour event, which started Thursday at Torrey Pines near San Diego.

Cink went 8-under on the North course and will play the neighboring South layout at the 36-hole municipal layout. Over the weekend all players will head to South, the site of the 2008 U.S. Open won by Tiger Woods.

One stroke behind Cink, a six-time Tour winner, is Gary Woodland, who had five birdies and an eagle on North's par-5 18th. Posting 66s were South Africa's Tyrone Van Aswegen, American Jim Herman and two Aussies, Jason Day and Marc Leishman, who all played North. Day is making his 2014 PGA Tour debut this week.

Cink was happy with his play off the tee Thursday. "If you drive it well on the North course, you're going to have birdie opportunities and I drove it very well most of the day," he said during a TV interview.

"It was just a different game from the short grass out there. You've got some shorter holes and I took advantage of a lot of those holes . . . the par-5s, I didn't play those very well. It was a very calm, very relaxed kind of round."

Cink added that South - which he and the top-six players tackle Friday - might be a different story. "It's definitely a tale of two golf courses here," he noted. "The South we all know is one of the most difficult courses on the Tour and it pretty much requires all facets of the game to be on.

"I have been playing fairly well this year . . . so I am looking forward to the challenge. It's a big golf course to really test yourself and see where you stand this time of year."

Going the lowest on South was Pat Perez, who carded a 67 for a share of seventh along with D.A. Points and South Korea's Sang-Moon Bae, who both played North.

The tournament's two marquee players, No. 1-ranked Woods and No. 4 Phil Mickelson, played South and North, respectively. Woods - a seven-time winner of the Farmers Insurance Open and the defending champion - posted an even-par 72 and Mickelson - a three-time victor in the tournament - had a 69 at North.

"I kind of milked my way around the golf course and I was able to do that on the North Course because the penalty wasn't as severe as it is on the South," said Mickelson, who suffered some muscle pain down his side but still managed four birdies and a bogey.

"I am able to kind of get it up by the green and get up and down and salvage par. I made a couple of birdies, but it won't hold up on the South course so I've got to get it better."

As for the source of the pain, he said, "From the top (on the swing), it just kept locking up and giving me a shooting pain. I kind of flinch . . . I just think I'm getting old . . . And if I overdo it, it's just prone to getting a little bit tight. It's just a muscular thing. My back feels fine, it's just a muscle on the side. I think it will go away in a short period of time. I don't think it's anything serious."

Opening with 68s - all on North - were England's David Lynn, Steve Bowditch, Justin Thomas, Trevor Immelman, Jhonattan Vegas, Harrison Frazar and Seung-Yul Noh.

The first round of the tournament was delayed 30 minutes by fog.

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