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Tiger opens with solid 69 at Torrey Pines

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Los Angeles (AFP)

Reigning Masters champion Tiger Woods, seeking an unprecedented 83rd career US PGA Tour victory, fired a three-under par 69 in Thursday's opening round of the Farmers Insurance Open, three behind Danish early leader Sebastian Cappelen.

At the famed Torrey Pines tract where the 44-year-old American has previously captured eight titles, Woods closed with a five-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole of the San Diego layout's North Course, with golfers also competing on the harder-playing South Course.

Sixth-ranked Woods matched US legend Sam Snead for the all-time US PGA title record on 82 by winning last October's Zozo Championship in Japan and this is his first opportunity to claim sole possession of the mark.

Woods, a 15-time major winner, was only two off the clubhouse lead shared by world number two Rory McIlroy, South Korean An Byeong-hun, China's Zhang Xinjun and Americans Kevin Tway and Joel Dahmen, all north course players.

Woods, who began on the north's back nine, found a bunker at the par-4 11th and made bogey but answered with a birdie at the par-4 13th. He struck again for a birdie at the par-5 17th but took a bogey at 18 to make the turn level.

Woods reached 2-under on his second nine by sinking a six-foot birdie putt at the first hole and tapping in for birdie at the par-5 fifth after missing left on a 20-foot eagle putt, setting the stage for his closing birdie.

At the moment, Woods owns the final spot on the US Olympic team for this summer's global showdown at Tokyo, but to go he must be among the four top US players in the world rankings when the selections are made in June.

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