Farmers Insurance Open 2020: Rory McIlroy Trails by 1 Stroke After Round 1

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJanuary 24, 2020

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 23: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the third tee during the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open on Torrey Pines North on January 23, 2020 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

The first round of the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego finished with a tie atop the leaderboard Thursday, as Sebastian Cappelen and Keegan Bradley both sit at six-under 66. 

But plenty of players are nipping at their heels. Eight players in total sit at five under, including Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson

Bradley played virtually flawless golf, with an eagle, four birdies and no bogeys. He averaged 293.5 yards per drive, had a 50 percent driving accuracy and hit 83.3 percent of greens in regulation. 

But Cappelen was just as good, finishing with eight birdies and two bogeys. The Dane averaged 308.5 yards on his drives, had a 57.1 percent driving accuracy and hit 66.6 percent of his greens in regulation. 

Some of the bigger names in contention were ultimately bigger stories on the day, however, with McIlroy trailing the leaders by just one stroke despite using a new driver.

"It's funny, you go through that testing process at the start of the year with new equipment," he said, per the Associated Press. "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. We seemed to have fixed it."

All in all, however, McIlroy was pleased with his round, per James Corrigan of the Telegraph:

"If I could drive like that for the rest of the year, I'll be very happy. I had a few clunky chips and I felt there were some weak and tentative putts. So yeah, I left a few shots out there, but I have to be satisfied. Of course, there's a long way to go and I'm not putting any pressure on myself, but I read a stat that I have never won in my first event of the year and, obviously, this would be a great week to change."

Other notable rounds on the day included Tiger Woods (three under), Jordan Spieth (two under), Phil Mickelson (even), Jason Day (one over) and Rickie Fowler (three over). 

Woods was pleased with his afternoon, especially considering he posted a rare sub-70 opening round.

"It was nice to kind of keep the round going a little bit," he said, per the AP. "Overall, pleased to shoot something in the 60s today.

"I could probably, maybe could have gotten one or two more out of my round today. But overall, I felt like it was a good start, especially going into the South Course. I don't know what the guys did on the South Course in relation to the North, but I felt like the golf course was certainly gettable today."

That left him within striking distance of the leaders. Count him among the 31 other players within three strokes of the leaders after one round. Bradley and Cappelen had a great start, but a talented group of players—headlined by McIlroy and Woods—are on the prowl. 

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