PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) -- Brent Schwarzrock was due a day like this.
His first trip to Pebble Beach was his rookie year on the PGA Tour in 1999. He shot 80 in the first round and withdrew because of back problems that would hamper him for the next two seasons.
He returned last year, but missed the cut. It got even worse later in the year when he tied for eighth in the Air Canada Championship for his best career finish -- and then broke his right elbow.
All those hassles seemed like a distant memory on Thursday when the 29-year-old Schwarzrock played his final eight holes in 8-under par on a gorgeous afternoon, giving him a place in the record books and a two-stroke lead in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
"It was just an awesome day," Schwarzrock said. "What more could you ask for?"
He led by two strokes over Matt Gogel and Q-school winner Pat Perez, the largest 18-hole margin at Pebble Beach since Tom Watson's three-stroke lead in 1978.
Tiger Woods could have done without the trees. He used a Nike driver for the first time in competition, but what he really needed was a chainsaw to escape pine trees that cost him a chance at three birdies and led to a bogey in his round of 70 at Poppy Hills.
Phil Mickelson (74) and defending champion Davis Love III (76) could have asked for a better start at Spyglass Hill.
Jeff Julian isn't asking for anything. The 40-year-old player with Lou Gehrig's disease only wanted a chance to compete. He opened with a birdie on No. 10 at Pebble, but closed with a two bogeys and a double bogey for a 77.
Schwarzrock felt he was hitting the ball fine, just not getting anything out of his round but a few birdies to go along with a few bogeys. He remained even par for the day through 10 holes when he blistered a 4-iron within 6 feet on the par-5 second hole.
The eagle putt was only the start.
Schwarzrock birdied the next two holes, then reached the par-5 sixth green with a 5-iron for a two-putt birdie. He rolled in birdie putts of 25 feet, 18 feet and 15 feet on his final three holes for a 28 on the front nine.
That tied the record at Pebble, and it was only fitting that the last guy to do that was Love -- his mentor on the PGA Tour and neighbor on Sea Island, Ga.
Of course, Love started on the front nine, and it was in the final round. He wound up with a 63 to overcome a seven-stroke deficit and win.
Schwarzrock is just getting started.
"I want to pick up tomorrow where I left off today," Schwarzrock said.
Woods only wanted to get off Poppy Hills.
It is usually the easiest of the three courses in the rotation, and would seem to set up perfectly for Woods with its five par 5s.
He played them in even par thanks to a detour into the tall, Monterey Pines. He wound up with a 2-under 70, which is pretty good for him. In the six years he has been playing the National Pro-Am, Woods has never broken 70 on Poppy.
"That's great for me around this golf course," he said.
It had nothing to do with his driver. Woods had been messing around with Nike's new forged driver for the past three months, and decided to try it in competition Thursday. He hit it long and relatively straight. It was the approach shots that slowed his momentum.
"It's not the driver's fault," he said.
An approach to the par-5 18th was going right at the flag until it hit a tree and shot back into a small forest, leading to bogey. He hit another approach on the par-5 fourth that clipped a branch and landed under a tree, turning an easy birdie into a par.
And he finished his round by hitting 3-wood into the trees on No. 9, from where he could only pitch to 12 feet for another two-putt par.
"Am I ever going to get a break on this course?" he asked himself at one point.
Not on Thursday -- everything was rolling in Schwarzrock's direction.
The first round was delayed by 45 minutes because of frost. Like Schwarzrock's round, it turned out great at the end -- lots of sun, blue skies, only a trace of breeze and temperatures that closed in on 60 degrees.
"I was telling my buddies, 'Man, how nice would it be to play Pebble on a calm, sunny day?"' Schwarzrock said.
It turned out better than he could have imagined.
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