Thousand Oaks, CA – K.J. Choi fired a six-under 66 in windy round lead at the Chevron World Challenge.
Wind gusts were expected close to 50 mph on Thursday. They never got that high, but when the last group teed off, wind was a substantial factor.
For example, Stricker lined up a 30-foot birdie putt on the final hole to get a share of second place. He stepped off when the wind carried a candy wrapper into his site line.
Stricker made the putt to join Woods in second.
Woods almost missed his own event. He was 49th in the world rankings when the qualification period ended, so he got in and didn't have to use an exemption on himself and possibly cost the tournament its world-ranking points.
His first round was a mixed bag.
He rattled off four birdies in his first five holes, then the gusts arrived and the birdies blew away.
"It didn't start blowing till we were on sixth green. It was dancing all over the place," Woods said in a televised interview. "It was tough. It's hard to hit the ball pin-high. It's weird out there."
It got weird out there for Woods.
He bogeyed the ninth when he advanced his second shot from the side of a hill about 10 yards. Woods made two birdies and two bogeys on the back nine, including an ugly six at the par-five 16th.
One of those birdies came at the par-three 17th, getting him his share of second and a date with Choi in Friday's second round.
And Woods, for one, was very impressed with Choi's performance.
"That's one hell of a round," Woods said of the man atop the leaderboard.
If Woods' start was good, Choi's was great.
Choi birdied the first five holes, including a long one at three, an eight- footer at four and a tap-in at the par-five after a beautiful chip from over the green.
After seven consecutive pars, Choi knocked his approach to six feet to set up another birdie at the par-five 13th. He missed the green at the par-three 15th and dropped a stroke, but got it back one hole later when he played his third to tap-in range at the par-five hole.
Choi encountered some trouble at the last, but hit his third to four feet. He rolled in the par-saver to stay three clear of Woods and Stricker.
NOTES: Heavy winds are in the forecast for much of Friday as well...Although it offers world-ranking points, this is an unofficial PGA Tour event...Woods has won the title four times and was runner-up to Graeme McDowell last year. McDowell is not in the field this week.