Farmers Insurance Open begins at Torrey Pines - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Farmers Insurance Open begins at Torrey Pines

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LA JOLLA (AP/CNS) - Tiger Woods won't have to wait long to see how his game stacks up with the best in golf.

Woods is back on the PGA Tour for the first time in 17 months, teeing off Thursday in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. He plays the opening two rounds with Jason Day and Dustin Johnson, who bring the kind of credentials that once belonged to Woods.

Day is the No. 1 player in the world — Woods held that spot for a record 683 weeks and has won this tournament seven times. Johnson is the PGA Tour player of the year — Woods won that award a record 11 times.

Woods is coming off the longest layoff of his career while recovering from two back surgeries. He last played at the Wyndham Championship in August 2015.

Woods will be on the South Course as part of a threesome that also includes Australian Jason Day, the world's top-ranked player, and American Dustin Johnson, the 2015-16 PGA Tour Player of the Year who is third on the Official World Golf Ranking.

The 41-year-old Woods had been sidelined because of a back injury since tying for 10th in the 2015 Wyndham Championship. He played in the Hero World Challenge in December, finishing 15th in the 17-man field in the non-PGA Tour event in the Bahamas.

Woods played in the Farmers Insurance Open's pro-am Wednesday and was struck by the cold.

"I had rain pants on, I had four layers on and I was still cold,'' Woods said. "I used to be able to handle this, this kind of cold weather, but now I'm a Florida softie. I'm used to practicing in shorts and no shirt in my backyard all the time.''

Woods has won the tournament seven times, most recently in 2013. His most recent major championship also came at Torrey Pines, the 2008 U.S. Open.

Woods last played in the tournament in 2015, withdrawing in the first round because of a back injury.

He will be playing with TaylorMade driver, fairway woods, irons and wedges under a multi-year contract announced Wednesday.

Woods had been using Nike clubs since 2002. Nike announced in August that it would no longer make clubs or balls.

"Over the past few months, I've had clubs from every brand sent to me to test,'' Woods said. "When it came to making a final decision the choice was easy. It all came down to performance, which is why I chose TaylorMade.''

The 156-player field also includes Japan's Hideki Matsuyama, sixth in the Official World Golf Ranking with four victories and two second-place finishes in his last seven starts; San Diego native Phil Mickelson, a three-time winner of the tournament; and San Diego State and Scripps Ranch High School alumnus Xander Schauffele.

Mickelson tied for 21st in last week's CareerBuilder Challenge, his return to competition following two hernia surgeries in the fall.

Schauffele, who missed the cut in last year's tournament, received his PGA Tour card with a 31st-place finish on the 2016 Web.com Tour priority list.

Brandt Snedeker is the defending champion at Torrey Pines. The winner will receive $1.206 million.

A nine-month, $12.6 million renovation to the North Course was recently completed. The notable upgrades and changes include:

- green speeds and firmness are now comparable to the South Course;

- five sets of tees were created, adding nearly 200 yards from the professional tees;

- all 18 greens were completely reconstructed to U.S. Golf Association standards with existing poa annua grass being replaced with 100 percent bent grass;

- greens sizes were increased by an average of 42 percent, allowing for more hole locations; and

- the number of bunkers were reduced from 59 to 41.

View at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in La Jolla.

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