Special to The Enterprise
After braving the more challenging of the two courses at Torrey Pines as well as the pressure of playing alongside Tiger Woods, Davis High graduate Nick Watney should feel pretty good about his performance on Thursday.
Watney fired a 3-under 69 at the Farmers Insurance Open in cool and light rain conditions in San Diego, playing with six-time champion Woods, who also turned in an impressive round with a 4-under 68.
Young American star Rickie Fowler rounded out their group and struggled on the Torrey Pines South Course, the harder of the two courses used to stage the event.
The shorter North Course at Torrey produced the leaders of the opening round. Last year’s champion Brandt Snedeker delivered a stifling 65 that included an impressive putting display in his first round on the North. South Korean K.J. Choi joined Snedeker atop the leaderboard of one of the strongest fields that California will see this year.
Watney, who reveres Woods’ game, is always happy to be paired with one of golf’s greatest champions.
“It’s fun just to play with him,” Watney told The Enterprise. “It’s always good to play with the best.”
Woods points to the speed of the fairways as a key moving forward in this event.
“We had some rain overnight last night,” Woods said, “But still these fairways are zipping.”
Watney has good history at Torrey Pines. He won this event in 2009 for his second PGA Tour victory and fired a scorching 28 on the back nine in a round here in the 2011 event. It was the best score on that stretch since 1983.
The Watney/Woods/Fowler circus was scheduled to tee off on Friday at 9:20 a.m. on the more receptive North Course.
Watney’s parents, Brent and Deborah, and wife, Amber, are out in full support this week of their son and husband. It’s an event that the Watneys try to visit as often as possible.
The tournament also marks Woods’ first PGA Tour start of the season, and Watney first’s 2013 start in the continental U.S. The former Blue Devil began his year at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii three weeks ago, taking 13th place.
— Garrett Johnston is a sports writer and video producer based in Sacramento. He has been covering the PGA Tour for the past eight years, and has followed Watney closely for the past three.