Kiwi golfer Danny Lee makes strong start at Torrey Pines

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Danny Lee has responded to a demotion in the New Zealand golf ranking pecking order by starting strongly at the PGA Tour event in California.

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, MEXICO - NOVEMBER 09: Danny Lee of New Zealand plays his shot from the 17th tee during the first round of the OHL Classic at Mayakoba on November 9, 2017 in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Danny Lee of New Zealand plays his shot from the 17th tee during the first round of the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

Source: Getty

Lee shares 15th place after the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open, having overcome two bogeys and a double bogey in his first six holes.

Seven birdies ensured a solid opening round of three-under 69 at the Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, four strokes shy of big-hitting American leader Tony Finau.

Having missed the cut in his last three tour cuts, Lee's world ranking dropped to 125th, leaving him three places below newly-promoted Kiwi No.1 Ryan Fox.

It is Lee's lowest ranking in more than three years, during which time he has held the Kiwi top spot.

The progress of Lee, Finau and a host of other notables was eclipsed by the return of golfing great Tiger Woods, who hasn't played a full-field PGA Tour event for nearly a year because of injury.

At a tournament he has won seven times, Woods battled a wayward driver to mix three birdies with three bogeys in a 72, leaving him in a share of 84th.

Meanwhile, Fox is off the pace at the latest European Tour event, shooting a one-under 71 first up at the Dubai Desert Classic.

His cause wasn't helped with a double-bogey on his final hole, the par-four ninth, which left him in a share of 90th.

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