Cink in control at Torrey Pines, Tiger cards a 72

Thu Jan 23, 2014 8:18pm EST
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(Reuters) - Stewart Cink, seeking his first PGA Tour title in five years, charged into a one-shot lead at the Farmers Insurance Open on Thursday as Phil Mickelson also moved into early contention despite nursing a troublesome back.

Mickelson, who frequently winced at the top of his backswing because of muscle pain down his side, carded a three-under 69 on the easier North Course while seven-times champion Tiger Woods opened with an even 72 on the brutal South layout.

Cink, who has not triumphed anywhere since his playoff victory over Tom Watson in the 2009 British Open at Turnberry, fired a flawless 64 on the North to seize control of the PGA Tour event at picturesque Torrey Pines outside San Diego.

The 40-year-old Cink birdied four of his last six holes to end a mainly sunny day which began with a fog delay of 30 minutes one stroke in front of fellow American Gary Woodland, who also started out on the North.

Australians Jason Day and Marc Leishman, South African Tyrone van Aswegen and American Jim Herman opened with 66s while American Pat Perez, with a 67, was the only player in the top 16 who played on the more difficult South layout.

Tour veteran Cink was delighted with his opening round, despite totaling just one birdie on the four par-five holes.

"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," the tall American told Golf Channel.

"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-fives, I didn't play those very well. It was a very calm, very relaxed kind of round."

Cink, a six-times winner on the PGA Tour, knows he will face a very different challenge in Friday's second round on the South Course, which played almost four strokes harder than the North on Thursday.   Continued...

Stewart Cink of the U.S. watches his tee shot on the 13th hole during the second round of the Wells Fargo Championship PGA golf tournament in Charlotte, North Carolina May 4, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Keane