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January 24 2013

7:17 PM

Snedeker, Choi set first-round pace

LA JOLLA, Calif. -- The South annually plays as the more difficult of the two courses at Torrey Pines during the Farmers Insurance Open. Not to mention, it hosted the 2008 U.S. Open.

So K.J. Choi had to feel like he had a leg up on the field when he birdied the ninth hole at the South to polish off a round of 65 that left him tied for the lead with Brandt Snedeker after the first round. Snedeker's round came on the more generous North, which played to a par of 70.64 in the first round.

"The golf course is in great shape and to play the way I played today was nice,' Snedeker said. "I drove the ball really well, didn't make too many mistakes, and, when I did, my putter saved me which was nice.

"It was a great day, but I realize we've got three more of them to go, and I've still got the hard course to go, so not too much excitement yet.

Choi made eight birdies, including four in a row on the back nine, and dropped just one stroke to par. He took full advantage of the par 5s, playing them in 4 under, including a 12-footer at No. 9, his final hole of the day.

To put Choi's round in perspective, the South Course clocked in with a 71.718 average.

Charles Howell III, who lost in a playoff last week at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation, heads a group of eight players at 6 under. Also in that group are Mike Weir, Josh Teater, Luke List, Ross Fisher, Billy Horschel and Scott Stallings, who would have been in the playoff with Howell on Sunday had he no made bogey on the 72nd hole.

Six-time Farmers Insurance Open champion Tiger Woods bogeyed two of his last three holes at the South Course to shoot 68 while Phil Mickelson, a three-time winner here, couldn't get untracked on the North and finished with a 72. Mickelson is tied for 90th.

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