By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Most of the focus Thursday was on the 2012 PGA TOUR season debut of Tiger Woods, who opened with a solid but unspectacular 4-under 68 at Spyglass Hill -- the toughest of the three courses in the rotation here. At the end of the day, though, Dustin Johnson, Charlie Wi and Danny Lee were the ones sitting atop the leaderboard at 9 under.
Lee and Johnson did their damage on the par-72 Pebble Beach, while Wi, who flirted with a 59 much of the day, shot a course-record 61 on the par-70 Monterey Peninsula Country Club.
Johnson of course has some pretty strong history here with wins in 2009 (rain-shortened) and 2010. Both years he opened strong with a 64 and 65, respectively. Thursday was ahead of that thanks to a 6-under start through his first six holes.
“Today I would have liked any golf course,” Johnson said. “but I love being out here. I love the courses. They all set up very well for me.
“I feel comfortable on them, especially off the tees. All the greens out here I’m really comfortable with reading them. I think I see the putts very well.”
To that point, Johnson took just 24 putts while hitting 14 greens in regulation.
Lee and Wi putted well, too, needing just 24 and 22 putts, respectively.
The 63 by Lee, a rookie this year after spending last season on the Nationwide Tour, was the lowest of his career. But he’s had success in AT&T events before, tying for seventh in the 2009 AT&T National.
“I was struggling for a couple of years on how to make low scores, especially out here,” Lee said. “I kind of learned to play a little bit better the last four weeks. I was playing good the last four weeks; it just didn’t really happen for me.”
As for Woods. he felt he left some shots out there, but he was generally happy with his play, especially the way he drove it with 11 of 14 fairways hit.
“I didn’t give myself enough looks when I had wedges in my hand,” Woods said. “I have to do a better job of that.
“This is generally the harder of the courses. Hopefully I can get it going over there Monterey and over to Pebble. [Friday] will be an important day to put it together and make some birdies.“