- Associated Press - Saturday, January 25, 2014

SAN DIEGO (AP) - The crowd was by far the largest at Torrey Pines, with eight-time champion Tiger Woods in the middle of the action.

And if the fans could not be seen on this overcast afternoon, they could be heard after shots close to the flag, or putts that found the bottom of the hole.

It was just like old times, with one very big exception.

Woods wasn’t the star attraction Friday. He was little more than a spectator.

In his group was Jordan Spieth, the 20-year-old Texan who is full of talent, not bluster. He ran off three straight birdies to tie for the lead, knocked in another one on his penultimate hole at the North Course (No. 8) to take the outright lead and left Woods in his wake.

“The kid’s got talent,” Woods said.

Spieth had a 9-under 63, giving him a one-shot lead over Stewart Cink going into the weekend of the Farmers Insurance Open.

Woods had a 71 on the North, which played about 4½ strokes easier than the South Course, and thus was not a particularly good score. He wasn’t that bad, but off enough to get into some deep patches of rough that kept him from getting close and having reasonable birdie chances. Woods was nine shots behind.

Cink ripped a 3-wood from 280 yards onto the green at the par-5 ninth on the tough South Course for a two-putt birdie and a hard-earned 71.

“I’m looking forward to playing with Jordan,” Cink said. “I’ve never seen him hit a ball, so that will be fun.”

This whole PGA Tour thing has been a blast for Spieth, especially considering where he was a year ago.

Spieth made his pro debut at Torrey Pines last year, and even though he missed the cut, the experience was such that he remembers more of every shot from his opening round on the North than any other tournament he played last year.

Even the start of his pro career is comical in retrospect. Spieth, even though he was low amateur at the U.S. Open at Olympic Club the year before, had to go through pre-qualifying just to get into the Monday qualifier. He didn’t make it, and then was given a sponsor exemption. And then he was gone by the weekend.

The rest of the year turned out OK. With no status on any tour, he earned temporary membership (the big boost was a runner-up finish in Puerto Rico), secured his card for the next season, won the John Deere Classic for instant membership, was picked for the Presidents Cup team and finished No. 7 in the FedEx Cup.

“It seems like three or four years ago, it really does with all of last year, what it encompassed,” he said.

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