Following a win at last week's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Love made an 11th-hour entry into this week's Buick Invitational, where he's continued his stellar play.
Playing the more difficult South Course at Torrey Pines, Love fired a bogey-free seven-under-par 65 to finish within one stroke off the first-round lead, held by Brent Geiberger.
Geiberger, whose father Al finished second in this event the first time it was contested at Torrey Pines in 1968, opened in eight-under-par 64 on the North Course to grab the outright lead in La Jolla, Calif.
1997 Buy.Com Player of the Year Chris Smith stands alone in third place after carding a six-under-par 66 on the North Course. Eleven players share fourth place at five-under, including Brad Faxon and Charley Hoffman, a local product who received a sponsor's exemption.
Battling a bout of food poisoning, defending champion Phil Mickelson recorded four birdies, one bogey and an eagle at the par-five 18th on the South Course for a round of four-under-par 68.
Last Sunday at Pebble Beach, Mickelson double bogeyed the par-five 18th to finish in a tie for third. Ironically, he's playing in the same group with Love over the first two rounds.
'I feel better,' Mickelson said of his health. 'I was feeling a little weak the last nine or ten holes.'
1999 Buick Invitational champion Tiger Woods is six shots off the 18-hole lead following a two-under-par 70 on the North Course. Woods birdied four of his first ten holes to earn an early share of the lead, but fell from the pack after a double bogey at the par-three sixth, his 15th hole of the day.
Woods fired a six-iron from 206 yards over the green at the sixth, and then fluffed his chip. He pitched his third shot six feet past the hole, where he two-putted for a double-bogey 5.
Tiger's putting woes continued at the par-four eighth, where he three-putted for bogey. Woods concluded his day by birdying the par-five ninth.
'I tried as hard as I could, it just didn't work out,' said Woods, who took 34 putts in the first round. 'I left a lot of shots out there.'
Love began his first round at La Jolla much like he did Sunday at Pebble - with a birdie. Though the 14-time PGA Tour winner wasn't able to duplicate his front-nine 28 of four days ago, Love did make the turn in three-under-par 33. He carded two more birdies and an eagle at the par-five 18th for a flawless round of 65.
'I usually don't like to play four weeks in a row,' said Love. 'But when you're making putts, you don't want to go home. I had some confidence before. Now, I have a lot of confidence. That makes you excited to play.'
Geiberger is certainly excited about his play, especially after an injury-plagued 2000 and a rough start to the '01 season.
Using a new putter, Geiberger posted matching 32s on the front and back nines. The highlight of his round came at the 326-yard par-four second, where he nearly drove the green, and then chipped in for an eagle 2.
'It's a good start for me,' said Geiberger, who tied for 10th at this event in 2000 and tied for fifth in 1998.
Seven of the last ten Buick Invitational winners have grown up in Southern California. Geiberger, who was born in Santa Barbara, would like to add to that list.
The 32-year-old won the 1999 Greater Hartford Open, but suffered through a nerve problem in his shoulder in 2000. This year, he was ousted in the first round of the Accenture World Match Play championship, missed the cut in Tucson and finished near the bottom in Phoenix.
News, Notes and Numbers
*John Cook withdrew from the event due to an unspecified injury. Cook was even par through 13 holes.
*Charley Hoffman grew up in San Diego. He qualified for the Buick Invitational three times as an amateur. He missed the cut twice and finished 76th in 1996. He also competed in the 2001 Touchstone Energy Tucson Open, where he missed the cut after rounds of 82-76.
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Read what these players had to say after their round:
Davis Love III