American Tiger Woods ran away and hid from the field at Torrey Pines South on Monday and defeated his fellow countryman Brandt Snedeker and Josh Teater to win the Farmers Insurance Open in La Jolla, California. Woods entered the round four shots clear of Brad Fritsch and five clear of Erik Compton and saw his lead balloon to eight shots in the fourth and final round on Monday. He finished off the field by four shots as he posted 14-under par 274 for his seventh career Farmers Insurance Open title. With this victory, Woods’ 75th in his career, he inches closer to Sam Snead’s all-time record of 82 TOUR wins. He pockets $1,098,000 and 500 FedExCup points for effort and now has won four times in the last 11 months on TOUR.
After three wins last year, people were wondering if Tiger Woods was “back”. Those who were fans suggested yes; those that don’t care for him asked to be bothered only after he won a major. After missing the cut last week in Dubai on a rules violation, Woods rebounded this week on one of his favorite tracks. I’ve learned that in the last 10 months, Woods has only won where he has completely dominated in the past. He’s now won seven times at Torrey Pines, Bay Hill AND Memorial, also all in the last 10 months. How I chose not to project him as the best player in the field this week was madness. He’s proven that he excels on Poa annua greens and the coast of California is where he grew up playing the game so this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Sure, his driver was erratic on the weekend but his wedges and his par-three and par-five play this week led everyone. That was the old formula which was responsible for 70 or so wins and 14 majors. Remember, he hit it EVERYWHERE on Sunday and Monday off the tee and still was well under par for the weekend. If Woods is back to that level, there’s not a doubt a major could be next on the radar.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
The only first round leader to win the Farmers Insurance Open was George Burns when he fired 63 in the first round in 1987. He was hot that week as he set the tournament record (-16, 266) which would be eventually matched by Tiger Woods in 1999.
Four (three full-field) events this season and the 54-hole leader has finished the job in all four tournaments. This is the exact opposite trend of last season.
The four winners on TOUR have been Johnson (28), Henley (24), Gay (41) and Woods (37). A little from all three categories, young, middle and “old”!
This is Woods’ EIGHTH professional win at Torrey Pines and seventh in this event. He also won the 2008 U.S. Open.
Every time Woods has won a major, he’s had a victory prior in the current season. #trends.
Here’s who hit the top 10 and what we learned about them:
Brandt Snedeker: AUTO-MATIC selection if he tees it up here, period. Get out the permanent marker. Write this down. Oh and he was six under on the weekend as well so he’s playing some excellent golf. T2.
Josh Teater: After three finishes of T54 or worse at Torrey Pines, Teater wasn’t on many people’s radar heading into this week. In seven rounds this season leading in he fired 65 in three of them so he was getting close. He’s long and his ball-striking last year was 18th on TOUR. He also was 7th in par-five scoring. He was seven-under on the par fives this week. Sound like someone else who played well? This was Teater’s career-best finish on TOUR (T2).
Jimmy Walker: His work with Butch Harmon is coming to fruition as he’s started 2013 T26, T23 and T4. He has now finished T4 and T8 the last two trips to Torrey Pines. Horse for course and dark horse for 2013!
Nick Watney: After T60 last year, Watney looked like he was back riding a bike as he finished T4. He adds that to T6, T9 and WIN in his previous five starts. Ink Pen. BOLD PRINT.
Robert Garrigus: He missed the round of the day by one shot as Garrigus fired 67 on Sunday to move up 26 spots to T6. He’s plenty long and he his T2 GIR shot him up the board on Monday. He looks fit and ready to go (T20 last week) for 2013. Jump on!
Rickie Fowler: Whew. He was my one-and-done pick this week. After 77 to open, I had faint hope and started him anyhow in Group C on Friday on the North Course. Whew. He fired 13-under in the final three rounds to save the bacon at T6. I expected a great finish from the kid from Murrieta but NOT THIS WAY! He’s now finished T3 and T6 in his two starts of 2013.
Aaron Baddeley: The Aussie fired 68-69 for the low weekend at Torrey Pines South and secured his best finish, T6, since his solo fourth place tally at the AT&T Pebble Beach last year. Both of those courses and Riviera, scene of his last win, are Poa annua greens. Baddeley has played all eight rounds this season at par or better in two events. He’s a Scottsdale resident so make sure he’s on your radar next week!
Bill Haas: Groundhog Day came early again for Haas. For the second year in a row, Haas got off to an awful start (T23 of 30 players at HTOC; MC at Humana) and thrived at Torrey Pines with T9. In 2012, he was 20th at HTOC and T64 at Humana and finished T4. Mental note: Don’t play Haas until he hits San Diego next year! Add Haas to your AUTO-MATIC list at Torrey Pines as this is his third straight top 10.
Graham DeLaet: I feel like we are two ships passing in the night. If I include him in the preview, he’s T60-something; I leave him off, he hits the top 10. A solid week of GIR and strokes-gained putting is a solid combination and so is a T9.
Charles Howell III: This is a recording. Sony? T3. Humana? P2. Torrey Pines? T9. 2014 card? Check. Hope your saddle sores heal from the three week journey of riding this horse for these courses. Nice bounce back after the tough playoff loss last week as well.
K.J. Choi: After a hugely disappointing 2012 and a MC at the Sony, I was surprised to see Choi blast the South course for 65 on Thursday. I wasn’t surprised to see his 73 on the North Course Friday but he battled to shoot one-under on the weekend to secure T9. I’m not sold on his “recovery” yet, but he’s piqued my interest.
Jason Day: The low round of the day belonged to the talented, young Aussie as he blistered the South course for 66 on Sunday and Monday. His sparkling round moved him up 38 places on Monday to finish T9. He’s healthy, watch out!
Brad Fritsch: The 35-year old Canadian rookie was the rookie medalist this week as he finished T9. He’s three-for-three on 2013 and his worst round was his 75 that he signed for on Monday afternoon. Nothing wrong with a guy making cuts to start his first year on TOUR! Glad he’s not distracted by hockey season!
“Hey, what ever happened to…”
Dustin Johnson: Opened with 69 on the North but never broke par in the final three rounds on the South course. His 10 bogeys (and a double) washed out his nine birdies. This was Johnson’s first event back since he WD from the Sony Open with illness.
Bubba Watson: Called in sick Thursday morning before he teed it up. Per his Twitter feed on Monday, he says he’s ready to go for Scottsdale this week. This is a home game for many pros, including Watson, this week.
Phil Mickelson: It’s hard in fantasy golf to hear the commentators talking about Mickelson only really getting after it for the majors as he gets older. At some point gamers are going to have to fish or cut bait on the “meaningless” tournaments with Mickelson in the field. I’m getting closer to cutting bait myself. There are too many talented players out there to hope that Mickelson’s “B” game is good enough to beat them.
Keegan Bradley: After opening the season with T4 at the HTOC, Bradley has cooled off with T49 at Sony and 70-77 MC this week at La Jolla. He’s too good to stay in this funk for too long. He’ll have a birdie-fest on his hands next week in Phoenix that should cure what’s ailing him. Maybe he was just upset that the Patriots are not in the Super Bowl.
Scott Piercy: The SDSU grad went 74-73 to miss his first cut in three in 2013. He’s now MC in two of four here career.
Hunter Mahan: He finished T15 for his fourth Top 15 start in his last five outings. He’s getting warmed up.
Coming Wednesday: Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a live chat WEDNESDAY at NOON ET. We will be breaking down the field at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter.