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Play Begins At Farmers Insurance Open Golf Tournamenet In Torrey Pines

The $6 million Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament will begin play today on the Torrey Pines North and South Golf Courses, with Tiger Woods about 8,000 miles away in Abu Dhabi.

Woods opted to play in the $2.7 million Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in the United Arab Emirates for the first time rather than the Farmers Insurance

Open, which he has won a record six times, most recently in 2008.

"Torrey has been a golf course I have enjoyed playing since junior golf...,'' Woods told reporters in Abu Dhabi Tuesday. "Unfortunately just scheduling-wise, it just didn't work out.''

Woods said one reason he is playing in Abu Dhabi is that tournament sponsor HSBC, a British multinational banking and financial services company, "has been a huge supporter'' of his foundation.

Woods is receiving a guarantee reported to be more than $1.5 million to play in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, which is part of the European Tour. Appearance fees are not allowed on the PGA Tour.

Woods said appearance fees "certainly does'' influence where he decides to play.

The field for the four-round Farmers Insurance Open includes San Diego native and Rancho Santa Fe resident Phil Mickelson, whose three victories are second only to Woods, and defending champion Bubba Watson, who finished one stroke ahead of Mickelson last year.

"I'm excited,'' said Mickelson, who most recently won the tournament in 2001. "I really enjoyed last year, competing and getting in the thick of it. I feel like after having one week under my belt last week and kind of

hopefully ironing out some the kinks, I think I'm ready to get back in it on the weekend.''

Mickelson finished in a five-way tie for 49th in the Humana Challenge, which concluded Sunday, at 10-under-par 278, 14 strokes behind champion Mark Wilson.

The tournament format follows the regular pattern, with half the field on the North course and the other half on the South course, now the longest on the PGA Tour. Historically, the leaderboard after the first round is invariably made up of players who played the North course.

Players will switch courses Friday. Once the field is cut, the final two rounds will take place on the South course.

Watson will begin his title defense on the 10th tee of the North course at 9 a.m. Mickelson is scheduled to start at the first tee of the South course at 10:10 a.m.

The tournament winner will receive $1.044 million.

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