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Weather Could Make It a Long Week at Torrey

First round is delayed, and no one finishes. Woods is one under through nine, five shots behind Oberholser.

February 14, 2003|Peter Yoon | Times Staff Writer

LA JOLLA — The return of Tiger Woods to the PGA Tour wasn't a complete washout, but the No. 1 player in the world was in a fog Thursday as he made his 2003 season debut.

Woods waited two months to resume playing after December knee surgery, then had to wait out a fog delay of more than three hours before he finally put a tee in the ground at Torrey Pines Golf Course.

He showed plenty of rust while completing his front nine on the North Course. He hit tee shots into the trees, chunky chip shots and stood on a cart path to hit one shot. But he managed two birdies to go along with a bogey and was at one under par through nine holes before more fog rolled in and postponed what is left of the first round until today.

Play will resume at 7:30 this morning and tour officials hope to finish the first and second rounds today to get the tournament back on schedule.

Nobody in the field completed the first round, which began 45 minutes late because of heavy fog and was suspended at just after 10 a.m. for more than three hours. The round was suspended at about 4:15 p.m., soon after Woods had hit his tee shot on the 10th hole. The last groups to tee off Thursday have 12 holes to go in the first round.

"It was a strange situation with the fog," PGA Tour rules official Mark Russell said. "When we're dealing with rain, we can play. But with the fog, you've got guys on a couple of holes that can't see. The other 33 holes are fine, but we have to hold up play."

Arron Oberholser, a tour rookie who finished second on what was the Buy.com Tour money list last season, leads the field at six under though 16 holes.

"I'm just the guy leading the tournament with two holes to go in the round," said Oberholser, a San Jose State alum who was the No. 2 collegiate player in the nation when Woods was No. 1 at Stanford.

Skip Kendall, through 16 holes, is at five under, a shot behind Oberholser. Eight players are at four under and Phil Mickelson and Fred Couples are among 13 players at three under.

"It wasn't great," Mickelson said of the conditions, which included off-and-on rain throughout the day. "It started raining a little bit, but it was playable.

"From a player's point of view, the scoring is going to be much easier when it's soft like this. The greens were soft and receptive, so we had a lot of low scores even though the course played long."

Because Torrey Pines has two courses and players are teeing off on the first and 10th tees of each course, there should be enough time to complete the first and second rounds today if the weather allows.

Tour officials will do what they can to avoid a Monday finish, though with the tour moving just up the coast to Riviera Country Club next week, a Monday finish wouldn't be extraordinarily disruptive.

"We're going to do everything in our power to finish Sunday afternoon," Russell said. "But if something were to warrant going into Monday, we could do that."

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Vijay Singh, winner of the Phoenix Open, withdrew before play began because of a pulled rib cage muscle. Mark O'Meara, the 1997 champion here, withdrew after play was suspended citing an undisclosed injury. He was seven over through nine holes. Patrick Moore and Dan Forsman also withdrew. Darren Clarke made a hole in one on the 160-yard third hole. He is four under through 13 holes.

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Leaderboard

*--* Partial scores after Thursday's first round at the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines North and South courses, par 72: (Note: play suspended because of rain) Arron Oberholser...-6 through 16 Skip Kendall...-5 through 16 Jonathan Kaye...-4 through 17 Dennis Paulson...-4 through 16 Briny Baird...-4 through 13 Darren Clarke...-4 through 13 Cameron Beckman...-4 through 13 Patrick Sheehan...-4 through 12 Larry Mize...-4 through 10 Marco Dawson...-4 through 9 Pat Perez...-3 through 17 Kirk Triplett...-3 through 16 Joey Sindelar...-3 through 16 Brett Quigley...-3 through 14 Matt Gogel...-3 through 14 J.P. Hayes...-3 through 14 OTHERS Phil Mickelson...-3 through 13 Fred Couples...-3 through 13 Tiger Woods...-1 through 9

*--*

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