SAN DIEGO -- Rory McIlroy, who can return to world No. 1 with a win this week, opened the Farmers Insurance Open with a 5-under 67 on Torrey Pines North on Thursday and is tied for third.
Sebastian Cappelen and Keegan Bradley had the low scores of the opening round, which was not the same as sharing the lead. Cappelen had eight birdies for a 66 on the South Course, which played about three shots tougher than the North, where Bradley shot his 66.
Tiger Woods had his lowest opening round of the year since 2011, a 69.
Bubba Watson had a 67 on the South, while three other players broke 70 on the South, which hosted the U.S. Open in 2008 and gets another U.S. Open next year.
Jon Rahm, who got married in Spain before Christmas and has another wedding in San Diego next month for his bride's American family and friends, was 4 under through eight holes until he stalled in a round of 68.
McIlroy, who has never won in his first event of the year, can return to No. 1 in the world for the first time in more than four years by winning. He also handled the par-5s by making birdie on all of them, along with adding three other birdies.
McIlroy has a new driver in play, which didn't feel right to him during the pro-am. He spent Wednesday afternoon making some adjustments and seemed to be on track.
"It's funny, you go through that testing process at the start of the year with new equipment. There's things that seem really good on the range, but once you actually play some rounds with them competitively and try to hit certain shots, things sort of appear," McIlroy said. "We seemed to have fixed it."
Cappelen, a rookie from Denmark, was doing his own thing away from the crowd, narrowly dodging the fog that rolled in late in the afternoon, and he was doing it well.
"I never really put me in a terrible spot where I couldn't make par," he said.