After missing the cut due to a rules infraction at last week’s Abu Dhabi Championship, Tiger Woods is making his 2013 debut on the PGA Tour this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, where he’s traditionally opened his season in the U.S. He graced the press corps on Tuesday morning after playing some practice holes at Torrey Pines South Course.
Woods seemed like he was in good spirits, but if you’ve been here or seen Torrey in any form, then you know it’s one of the prettiest places on earth (and if you can afford it, it’s worth playing the 62% in taxes if you’re a multimillionaire coughPhilcough). (Aside: I’m super excited to cover this event since my favorite tourney was held here as a junior golfer — Junior World.) He won the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in dramatic fashion, beating Rocco Mediate in an 18-hole playoff on one leg, basically.
Here are some excerpts from Tiger’s kind-of-blah presser:
*On returning to Torrey Pines: Well, it’s nice to be healthy to be able to train and practice and do all of the things that I know I can do. It’s definitely a very different feeling, so it’s nice to be back. It’s nice to get out there and play a course that I know. Obviously, it’s different than what I remembered, because it’s normally not this dry, not normally this quick. So we get this every now and again with the Santa Ana’s blowing. It’s a little dry, but normally it’s not like this.
*On last week’s penalty in Abu Dhabi: Q. Go back to last week for a second. Have you ever been penalized in your professional career? When is the last time it ever happened to you and do you remember the scenario?
TIGER WOODS: Penalized? Yeah, I’ve hit the ball in the water, out of bounds, lost ball, I’ve had it all. You mean those types of penalties?
Q. No, a penalty like you had.
TIGER WOODS: No, I don’t recall ever having one like that, no.
*On the fields being deeper than when he first arrived on the scene: I’d say it’s deeper, yes. There is no doubt. Each generation, it gets a little more difficult. The spread between the leader and the cut is no longer 13 shots, 12, 13 shots. Sometimes it’s as few as 8, so you’ve got 70plus guys within 8 shots of the lead going into the weekend.
That’s a big jump. That’s certainly been probably the biggest difference is that you have more guys going into a weekend with a chance to win, and they are. They can win from anyplace. The gap’s gotten smaller in that regard. You have the equipment changes, the balls just don’t move as much. The faces are bigger and faster, and consequently, the guys hit the ball straighter.
*On whether he feels responsible for that: Maybe on the training side. But as far as equipment, no, because that’s obviously, I don’t control that.
*On Phil’s comments after the last round of the Humana Challenge: Well, I moved out of here back in ’96 for that reason. I enjoy Florida, but also I understand what he was, I think, trying to say. I think he’ll probably explain it better and in a little more detail.
*On the good memories he’s had at Torrey: To be honest with you, I didn’t really think about any of the past stuff because, as I said, this golf course is playing different. I can’t remember it playing this dry this time of the year. It’s been a while. I couldn’t remember, as I said, being this dry. Maybe when they first made the changes, I think when Ollie and Mark and myself were up there with a chance. But to compare it to the Open, we don’t have the roughs like we do now the rough’s not up like it is during the Open, but it’s that dry, but the greens aren’t as fast.
For me, I was just trying to get a feel for the golf course, how I was playing. What clubs I’m going to hit, what my lines are going to be, and getting a feel for if the Santa Ana’s are going to blow this week or not blow off the ocean. So trying to get an understanding of how this golf course is playing at this time.
*On whether he feels he’s been deprived of several wins due to players who anchor the putter (in other words, is he against anchoring because he’s gotten his butt kicked by some guys): No. I’m not going to look at it like that. Generally, in the past if guys switch methods, it’s usually because they’re uneasy, they’re a little twitchy or just don’t feel comfortable, so they’ll switch methods. But we have a whole other generation that have never experienced having those twitches or having any of those type of problems, and they’ve grown up with anchoring the putter.
And I think that’s what Mike (Davis) was trying to explain when he was trying to implement this new rule is that we’re getting a whole ‘nother generation that have only putted with anchoring the putter, and they’ve just learned that one method. He believes every club should actually swing, and I agree with that.
Have to run to a TaylorMade-Adidas event. I’ll be back to update this post shortly! For now, discuss Tiger’s form and how you think he’ll fare this week.
*On goals for the 2013 season: Yeah, just improving what I’m doing. Becoming more efficient with what I’m doing. I would have to say the majority of the year I hit it pretty good, but my putting and short game weren’t quite there. I spent so much time on ball striking that that finally came around. So towards the end of the season, I was able to spend more time with my chipping and putting and that’s come around. So now I’ve got to marry up both of those two combos and hopefully I can do it this year and do it on a consistent basis
*On his upcoming schedule: I don’t know. We’ll just see.
*On what stands out in his memory with the five-year anniversary of his U.S. Open win here coming up: I do look at that week often. I remember several things. Number one that comes to my mind every time I look at it or see highlights of it is just pure pain that I was in. I don’t ever want to experience that again. That was a very, very difficult week.
Having to go five days, I really don’t know how I quite got the five days and got through it. But I definitely never, ever want to experience that again, that part of it. The other part was how I got off to such beautiful starts on the first hole each day, beautiful starts. Then having to recover from there and work my way back. Then I think Saturday afternoon was a pretty cool little back nine stretch where I had a little bit of a run. And the putt on 18 to get into it was certainly a putt I’ll never, ever forget.
*On specific moments: I had three doubles, and then I bogeyed ten. I teed off; it was my first hole, so 7over. Sweet, huh? Yeah. I think I also had three eagles that week too, so that offsets it. Yeah, it was one of those things where it just I got off to terrible starts and I just fought my way back. I had two runs of nine-hole stretches that got me into the tournament. And if you look at most U.S. Opens, you’re looking for one nine-hole run, and that’s usually what wins you a tournament. You hang in there, hang in there and you have one little stretch of holes of nine holes that basically wins you the tournament.
*More on memories from playing through the pain in ’08: There were a lot of amazing things, but, man, here I am just talking about it and my hands are sweating just thinking about the feeling I had to get through each and every day. Just trying to get up and having to warm up again and go to the gym. I just don’t want to move. Then having to get out here and warm up and trying not to show you guys and any of my competitors what I was feeling. It was a very difficult week.
*On his first trip to Torrey Pines: I first came down here during the old Andy Williams. And I went out and watched some Cali guys, and I watched Mo play, (John) Cook, I think Corey I saw hit a couple shots. I saw Andy Bean hit the ball on the green on 2 and 18. I must have been probably, what, single digits in age, somewhere around there, because I was just now starting to come down here for the junior world at the time. My dad took me to two events that year. It was here as well as the L.A. Open, and got a chance to watch I think one of the years, Lanny just went off and played really well at L.A., and I was there for nine of those holes where he just tore it apart. I’ve got a good story about (Tom) Watson there, but it was fun. It was a fun time.
*On the Watson story: Well, it’s the late Bruce Edwards, and I used to give Bruce some grief about it all the time, right? So number eight, Tom snipes it to the left off the tee, and I’m right there. And took a look, blah, blah, blah. He hits it again, left of the green. Pins back left, hit it’s left of the green. I’m up there, and Bruce moves me out of the way, twice. He basically yelled at me saying I moved you out of here once, and basically moved me out of there twice. So I just wanted to see, you know. Tom Watson, blah, blah, blah. He sniped one, and sniped another one, and I happened to be right there on both of those shots, and Bruce let me know about it.
(AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)