Tiger Woods dominates Torrey Pines for first win of 2013
Tiger Woods picked up his 75th career PGA Tour title and his 8th at Torrey Pines on Monday, winning the Farmers Insurance Open by four strokes over Brandt Snedeker and Josh Teater.
After Saturday was completely wiped out due to a massive amount of fog, Woods started his third round with a two-shot lead over Billy Horschel. Woods was on point all day, finding fairways and shaping shots into greens with ease. What set Woods apart this week from his play last season as well as last week in Abu Dhabi, was his control with his irons and wedges. Despite winning three times last year, it seemed like Woods was consistently a few yards short or long with the short clubs, which are supposed to be the scoring clubs for the pros. Woods had no issues with that this week, going pin hunting on just about every opportunity and executing exquisite bunker shots and wedges. Once he got rolling on Sunday, it was academic. David Feherty of CBS mentioned on the broadcast that it reminded him of the Woods of old, and it certainly looked that way. Now, where Woods goes from here is the big question.
What the win means for Tiger Woods
Some will tell you that after winning his 75th PGA Tour title, and his 8th at Torrey Pines, that Tiger Woods is “back”. Others will try and minimize the accomplishment suggesting that it wasn’t a major and that since it came at a course where he has had a ton of success, it doesn’t mean much. Both camps of people would be wrong. As we’ve talked about on multiple occasions in the past, Tiger Woods will never regain what he had 15 years ago, but that doesn’t mean that he won’t be a successful player. It is completely unreasonable to expect any player, Tiger Woods or otherwise, to be the same player they were when they were 15 years younger, but to suggest that it’s meaningless because he always plays well at Torrey Pines is asinine. The fact is that on one of the world’s toughest courses, Woods made it look easy, and that should be the focus.
Woods’ former coach Hank Haney said earlier this week that Woods always saw Torrey Pines as the start of his season, regardless of where he teed it up previously, and that a good performance at Torrey usually meant that good things were to come. I said in my season preview that I thought Woods would win at least one major, and I’m standing by that. For those that will say it wasn’t a major this week, it’s a valid point, but keep in mind that if he didn’t win this week, people would be asking why. Now, it wasn’t all positive for Woods. He looked downright awful off the tee on Monday, but it really didn’t matter because of the massive lead he had built up over the previous couple of days. After the round, Woods mentioned to Feherty that he got a little frustrated with the slow play and lost his focus, which contributed to the poor shots. I don’t buy that at all, but hey, with that kind of a lead, it’s easy to see how someone could lose their focus.
Note that when Woods has started his PGA Tour season with a win in the past, he has gone on to win a major in each of those years. How relevant that is when he was terrible last week in Abu Dhabi is really up to your own interpretation. Frankly, I don’t think it means much. It doesn’t change my outlook in the least for Woods in 2013.
Shot(s) of the tournament
Realistically, the shot of the tournament could have been just about anything from Woods on the weekend. He hit so many that were on-point, but these two stood out.
This didn’t win the tournament for Woods, but it’s a ridiculous display of shot making. Playing the 4th in the beginning of his final round on Sunday, Woods found himself in what should have been a nearly impossible situation. His punch around the tree and just short of the green is spectacular, not to mention that he’d go on to chip the following shot in for birdie. It is NOT supposed to look that easy. GIF of the punch below:
Secondly, this bunker shot on the 11th in Monday’s final round is crazy good. Anyone who’s played a bunker shot without having their feet in the sand will tell you how difficult that is, not to mention the touch involved with getting it as close as he did.
Other notes from the tournament
- Kyle Stanley continues to struggle for Nike. He was terrible for most of last season before jumping to the big swoosh a few weeks ago, and so far his finishes look like this: Last (30th) at the Hyundai, T67 at Sony and cut at both the Humana and this week. I’d like to think that he’s too good to be struggling this much, but he hasn’t had a top-10 since winning in Phoenix last February.
- Great week for the Canadians in the field, as both Brad Fritsch and Graham DeLaet finished in a tie for 9th, and Mike Weir managed to end his streak of 18 consecutive missed cuts on the PGA Tour. Unfortunately for Weir, who is not ranked in the Official World Golf Rankings, he finished outside the top-51, meaning he will not receive any points towards this week’s rankings. It’s been over two years since Weir actually received points, but it shouldn’t be too much of a problem if he continues to make cuts.
- Tough week for Phil Mickelson, who never really seemed to get on the right track. Of course, that didn’t stop CBS and Golf Channel from showing his every move, despite being more than 15 shots behind Woods. Ian Poulter mentions this frequently that it’s part of the problem with the game right now that certain players, Mickelson and Woods namely, take up most of the coverage even when they are playing poorly. There are a lot of talented, young players out there, but unless you’re a hardcore fan, you’ll probably never know who any of them are based on the current TV structure.
- Really nice bounce back for Rickie Fowler after a brutal opening round 77. He surely wanted to finish higher than in a tie for 6th this week, but when you end the first round in dead last, it actually sounds pretty good.
- Lastly, it’s always great to see Erik Compton finish anywhere near the top of the leaderboard. If you’re unfamiliar with his back story, you definitely need to check it out.