Cink took advantage of the Torrey Pines North Course to put together a bogey-free opening round that gave him a one-shot advantage over Gary Woodland. Jason Day, Marc Leishman, Jim Herman and Tyrone Van Aswegan all posted a 66 to share third place.
Tiger Woods, making his 2014 debut on the PGA Tour, settled for an even-par 72 on the South Course and a share of 63rd place. Phil Mickelson, coming off a runner-up finish in the Middle East last week, shot a 69 on the North Course.
There were only 12 sub-par rounds posted on the South Course, host of the 2008 U.S. Open and traditionally the tougher of the two layouts used for this event. Fifty players broke par on the North Course.
Cink won the British Open in a playoff over the then 59-year-old Tom Watson, who bogeyed the 72nd hole to miss out on becoming by far the oldest player to capture a major championship. Cink had three Top 10 finishes last year.