Tiger Woods' late capitulation at first PGA Tour event in 18 months leaves him struggling to make the cut
The biggest galleries seen on a Thursday at Torrey Pines for over three years turned out to watch Tiger Woods make his comeback after 17 months away from the PGA Tour due to back problems - but there was to be no fairytale return at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Woods played the South Course in a marquee three-ball with world number one Jason Day and US Open champion Dustin Johnson.
Nothing came easy for Woods who battled hard for a 76, +4.
Having turned in one over par, two consecutive birdies on holes 10 and 11 gave hope that he had found his range.
However, it was then when the wheels came off as his wayward driving was punished as he dropped six shots in the next four holes including an ugly double-bogey at the par 4 15th.
As well as being back in the big time, there was some consolation for Woods with a final hole birdie which produced a rueful smile before shaking hands with Day and Johnson, who shot 73 and 72 respectively.
Padraig Harrington spent most of his practice time on a golf simulator in his Dublin home in the last two months, but yesterday he got to sample the real thing.
The four-time Major champion had stayed away from a golf course until he played seven holes with Shane Lowry last Monday.
It seems strange that in the nine weeks he allowed himself for his Christmas break that Harrington did not play any 'real' golf but he does things his own way.
Connecting with his fans via his Facebook page, Harrington said: "I played 7 holes with Shane on Monday and it was the first time I was on a golf course since the final round of the DP World Tour Championship in November.
"It felt a bit weird - having been hitting shots on my Full Swing Golf simulator all winter, it was strange to be on a golf course."
By the time he came to start his round on the 10th tee of the South Course at Torrey Pines, Harrington had played 40 holes in practice.
His biggest problems, apart from a long time away from competitive golf, centred on a couple of niggling injuries, particularly a trapped nerve in his shoulder which has not responded well to treatment.
Harrington's apprehension about his game was justified as he was three-over par after seven holes before a birdie on the 18th, his ninth, enabled him to claim a shot back from the course.
He performed steadily on the inward half, cancelling a bogey on the first, his 10th, with a birdie two on the next hole. Thereafter it was par golf all the way to the ninth, his 18th, for a 74 (two-over par).
Lowry had mixed fortunes on his first event of 2017. The Clara native threw a bit of everything into his eventual 71, (one-under) on the North Course. Three successive bogeys to start, then five birdies in his next six holes got him to the turn in two-under par 34.
The roller-coaster continued on the back nine. Lowry nicked a birdie three on the 11th, but suffered a double-bogey six at 13, and took bogey on 15, bringing him back to level-par with three to play. A birdie three on the 16th and two pars to finish saw him home.
Seamus Power was also on the North Course, and he got home in 74 for a two-over-par starting bid.
Olympic champion Justin Rose took the clubhouse lead in style. The Englishman finished his round on the North Course with an eagle three for 65 and seven-under par.
Canada's Adam Hadwin (South Course), who shot 59 and came second last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, was one adrift on 66.
On the European Tour, Bradley Dredge of Wales shot 64 to lead by the Qatar Masters by one from Finland's Mikko Korhonen. Next came Graeme McDowell while Paul Dunne's 67 (five-under) slotted him into a group of eight in sixth place.
Commercial Bank Qatar Masters
Live, Sky Sports 4, 6.0am/11.0am
Farmers Insurance Open
Live, Sky Sports 4, 5.0pm