The 2013 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines may be the PGA Tour’s 4th tournament of the season, but it’s the first with Tiger Woods in the field. Tiger made his debut at last week’s Euro Tour event, the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, where both he and Rory McIlroy failed to make the cut. Tiger had not finished out of the top 10 a season opener until his 13th season as a professional. Woods was making headway and would have moved onto the weekend if he was penalized 2 strokes for taking an illegal drop. It wasn’t the way Eldrick would have liked to start his 2013 season but this week he was returning to his home state of California to compete at a site where he’s been extremely successful.
Torrey Pines is located along the Pacific bluffs in beautiful La Jolla, California and is split between two courses. The North course is considered the easier of the two while the “new” south course was extended in 2001 and plays over 730 yards longer. Tiger has won 6 tournaments at Torrey Pines, including his heroic 2008 playoff victory in the U.S. Open. That was the last major championship for Woods and he has been stuck at 14 ever since. Many of us know the trials and tribulations that Woods has put himself through, but last year we started to see him win again.
No one should expect Woods to become the player he was but Tiger believes that his game is starting to come together, despite missing that cut. He felt good coming into Thursday’s opening round, teeing off from the front 9 of the South course, averaging nearly 4 under par for his career at Torrey Pines. Through 4 holes he had not hit a single fairway in regulation and you weren’t quite sure which Woods was going to show up. when his approach went right into the gallery he was expected to drop a stroke. He was able to leave himself with a 40 foot for par but it was Woods putter that burnt him yet again. He blew past the hole 6 feet and missed the comeback putt for bogey. Woods was 1 over through 4 holes before he turned it on.
Woods would birdie the par 4 5th and sink a sand shot from a greenside bunker on the 6th for an eagle and in 2 holes had gotten back 3 strokes. He would add 4 more birdies leaving him at 6 under through 14 and just a single stroke behind the leader and returning champion Brandt Snedeker. It seemed like Woods could challenge his own course record of a 10 under 62 but he would have to score birdies on the final 4 holes. Woods hit an errant drive into a tree along the right 15th fairway and left himself with a difficult cut shot to find the green. He made an attempt to cut the ball 30 yards left-to-right and travel the 190 yards to the green but it fell into the left rough 11 yards from the green.
Tiger had a chance again to save par, this time with a 10 foot attempt, but once again he was cursed by his putter, leaving his putt left and settling for bogey. Woods had a chance to get the stroke back on the par 3 16th hitting the 13th green in 16 attempts but would miss his 12 foot putt and taking par. On the next hole Woods hit another tee shot into the rough and an approach short of the green but chipping it to within 7 feet of the cup for par. Woods would miss this putt as well and was forced to take a bogey dropping him to 4 under for the tournament and eventually into a tie for 20th place.
Tiger gets to play the easier North course tomorrow but despite a couple of bad putts he salvaged a good round and put himself in contention. Of course we can always think about what could have been and how Woods would be a couple strokes ahead if it wasn’t for those poor putts but that didn’t happen.