Nick Watney follows through on his tee shot at No. 6 during the first round… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )
Nick Watney shot a five-under-par 67 to seize the first-round lead of the World Challenge golf tournament in Thousand Oaks on Thursday.
Three other players were two shots back at three under par: Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell, who won the tournament in 2009 and 2010, respectively, and Keegan Bradley.
The event, which pays $1 million to the winner, benefits Tiger Woods' charities and Woods himself shot a two-under 70, as did Webb Simpson and Bo Van Pelt.
Bradley and Simpson are two players who use "belly putters," that is, putters whose grips rest against their stomachs, and golf officials announced Wednesday that they plan to ban that putting method starting in 2016.
There are 18 players in the World Challenge, which is held at the par-72 Sherwood Country Club, and 10 of the players finished under par.
Watney, who won the Barclays tournament this season on the PGA Tour, played a bogey-free round and four of his five birdies came on the back nine holes.
"I'm very pleased to be at five under [par]," Watney said. "I'm definitely happy to be on top."
Woods, however, said, "I didn't hit the ball very good today and made a few good par puts to keep the round going. I kept myself in the tournament."
Woods is the tournament's defending winner and has won the event five times overall.
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