LOS ANGELES -- Fred Funk worries that golf is becoming all about power, playing right into the hands of big hitters like Tiger Woods.
That sure wasn't the case Thursday in the Nissan Open.
Funk, one of the shortest hitters on the PGA Tour, proved again that the shortest club in the bag -- his putter -- can atone for a lot of, well, shortcomings.
Funk had 11 one-putts and holed another from just off the green on his way to a 6-under 65 that gave him a three-stroke lead, the largest 18-hole margin on tour in 54 events.
''I don't even pretend to have the game Tiger has,'' Funk said. ''I've got to be doing a lot of things good and really putting to do well on a course like this.''
One thing Funk was not about to trade with Woods was his score.
Woods, coming off a strong victory last week in San Diego, struggled to a 1-over 72 in tough, blustery conditions at Riviera Country Club.
''It was a long, tough day,'' Woods said.
What really got to him was a cell phone that rang in the midst of a three-putt bogey from 6 feet on the par-5 17th, which sent him over par for the first time in the opening round at the Nissan Open.
Woods might have missed the competition during his two-month break from knee surgery, but he certainly didn't miss the distractions.
''Turn off the (expletive) phone,'' Woods shouted at the fan, loud enough for everyone to hear even with television having shut down for the day.
Woods later called it a long, tough day, and indeed it was.
The firm, fast conditions were made even more difficult by strong gusts that swirled through the tree-lined fairways. Play was so slow that it took more than five hours to complete 18 holes, and 15 players failed to finish before it got dark.
Jeff Sluman had the best round among the later starters at 3-under 68.
That tied him with Steve Elkington, who won the '95 PGA Championship at Riviera, three-time major winner Nick Price and Cameron Beckman.
David Duval played with Woods and turned in a 69, and clearly the most entertaining round of the day. On one hole, officials had to push a cart and a popcorn stand out of his way. At the end, his approach bounced off a tree and onto the green.
''It was fun for the whole family,'' Duval said.
It was anything but that for Woods.
Unlike Duval, he didn't overcome some of his adventures.
Woods' tee shot on No. 9 sailed to the right and under the television booth. He scrambled out of trouble, only to miss a 2 1/2-foot par putt -- making a 5-footer coming back.
But the real damage came on the par-5 17th. Woods was on the front apron of the green in two and chipped 6 feet past the hole. A birdie would have put him under par. Instead, he pushed it right and cursed loud enough for everyone to hear.
Just as he made contact on the 4-footer for par, a cell phone rang.
Woods glared, and when the phone kept ringing, he cursed the fan. Making it worse, the phone kept ringing even as marshals escorted the man off the course.
Woods had no regrets for cursing him.
''He shouldn't have had the cell phone. Period,'' Woods said.
At least caddie Steve Williams didn't get his hands on it. At the Skins Game, Williams deposited a man's digital camera into a pond after he clicked on Woods' back swing.
Another cell phone went off as Duval hit his approach into 18th green, although he didn't notice. Then again, he had too much to worry about his own game.
Duval chipped in for par on the opening hole, chipped in for birdie from the edge of a bunker in the middle of the sixth green and had to make a 12-foot par putt on the par-5 11th, the hole where they moved the popcorn stand.
''The first two tournaments, I played well and didn't score. Today I didn't play well but I scored,'' he said. ''Maybe I'm putting it all together.''
That was easy for Funk -- just make a lot of putts.
Funk not only was hitting it short -- an average of 263.5 yards off the tee -- but at times he was crooked, hardly living up to his reputation as the straightest driver in golf.
''The putter was really hot,'' said Funk, who had only 23 putts. ''I didn't drive it particularly well, but over the first 11 holes, that's as good as I can putt.''
It was the largest 18-hole lead on tour since Mike Weir led by three after the opening round of the Mercedes Championships at the start of last season.
With no rain in the forecast, Riviera only figures to get tougher.
''If the greens don't get any water on them, it's going to bring the guys that hit the ball farther up to the top of the leaderboard,'' Funk said. ''I would have to have three more days of 23, 25, 26 putts to be up there.
''Not that I can't do it -- but I'm realistic about my game.'' Divots: Craig Perks, who last year became the first player to make The Players Championship his first tour victory, was picked as New Zealand's sportsman of the year. Perks was the first golfer to win the award since the 1992 Eisenhower Cup team won a premier amateur event. ... Paul Azinger, who needs to play well in the next month to qualify for the Masters, had two double bogeys and a triple bogey on his way to an 83. ... Davis Love III, playing for the first time since he won at Pebble Beach two weeks ago, had a 76.
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