Jan
27
2013
Tiger’s Turf
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour
Tiger in cruise control

Tiger in cruise control

Tiger Woods continues to cruise on what will very likely be his seventh victory at the Farmers Insurance Open (and his eight at Torrey Pines when you include the 2008 U.S. Open) and his 75th on the PGA Tour, which will occur on Monday afternoon Eastern Standard Time.

Saturday was a wash-out due to fog — err, excuse me, the marine layer.

With eleven holes left to play in the final round, Woods has a seven-shot lead, with defending champion Brandt Snedeker and Nick Watney as his closest contenders. 

“I’ve got to make some more birdies,” said Snedeker, who is four-under through 14 holes (11-under total).  I’ve got a long way to go.  I’ve got a guy at the top of the leaderboard that doesn’t like giving up leads, so I have to go catch him.”

Snedeker was in a similar position last year, starting the final round seven shots off the lead. As you may recall, he posted an early 63 and sat around and waited to see if Kyle Stanley, who was gunning for his first win, would blow it. And the craziest thing happened: Stanley triple-bogeyed the 72nd hole and fell back to a tie with Snedeker. Stanley, who was still shell-shocked during the playoff, ended up losing on the first extra hole to Snedeker.

“I was 7 back to start the day, and I had an outside chance, not a great chance, but an outside chance of winning a golf tournament,” said the 2012 FedExCup champion. “That’s a great start of the day.”

He also mentioned the greens being bumpy — and they were — so he was glad the horn blew when it did. (So was everyone, it was getting cold — though I know I shouldn’t mention “cold” since most of you are in freezing temperatures or snowed in, etc.)

Watney has ten holes left to play, and like Snedeker, he has to get hot quickly and hope Tiger loses a shot or two. Thing is, I really don’t see Tiger, who treats Torrey Pines like his personal playground, giving any back. I think he’ll get to 18-or -19-under easily.

Woods was in good spirits and even came in to answer the media’s questions after the horn blew just before 5pm local time.

“I drove it great in the morning,” said Tiger after shooting a three-under 69 earlier on Saturday. “Just drove it on a string all day  at least all morning.  Then we had a little bit of a wait before we teed off again, and I hit a couple left on 1 and 2, and hit the one right at 4.  But that wasn’t left of the cliff.  You can hit 400 yards to the right and still have a shot, so I was fine.

“I was able to play those holes (the first four) at 2-under par, and from then, I hit three great drives right in a row.”

He is striping the ball. It’s a little like circa 2008 Tiger, where he hit some stray drives but excellent iron and recovery shots.

“Well, yeah, as I said, I didn’t play poorly,” said Tiger when asked about missing the cut in Abu Dhbai last week (though he still raked in $3 million for showing up). “I was really close.  It’s a very tight golf course with a lot of crosswinds.  I felt like I didn’t really hit it that poorly.  I had an unfortunate ruling there.  I broke a rule and missed the cut.

“I played well enough to be there on the weekend, and could have gotten two more rounds in competitively, but I didn’t really play poorly.  I thought I did a lot of good things.  Just want to continue that this week, and I have.”

He sure has. Woods is absolutely dominating.

“I think it’s probably the whole package,” said Tiger, referring to what he attributes to the key to his success at Torrey Pines. “I’ve driven the ball well, I’ve hit my irons well, and I’ve chipped and putted well.  Well, I’ve hit good putts. They all haven’t gone in.

“Today was certainly you’re just trying to get your speed right, because it was wobbling all over the place.”

Yeah, the greens were pretty bad, but what are you going to do? They’re poa anuua and getting stomped all over by 87 guys. Plus, they’re damp, so they were super bumpy. There was a lot of grumping about the less-than-perfect greens.

Now the question seems to be, how many will Tiger win by?

Tiger has won 49 of the 53 times he’s had the 54-hole lead. Though he doesn’t have the same intimidation factor as he did in the pre-scandal era, I don’t think that makes a difference. Everyone knows he loves Torrey Pines and plays well here. They know it will be hard to catch them. I’m not sure anyone will admit it, but they’re basically playing for second place.

Guys like rookie Brad Fritsch is trying to top ten so he gets in the field for next week’s Waste Management Open in Phoenix, otherwise known as the Greatest Show on Grass or the Best Party on Tour.

There are over a dozen players who are in San Diego that are hoping to get to Phoenix in time for the Monday Qualifier or the “three spot” (most tournaments it’s a “four spot,” meaning the top three or-four finishers in a one-day shoot-out. Sounds like there would have been very little chance for them to get there in time on Monday.

Now, because of the network requested a later re-start so they could finish at 5:30pm EST, it ain’t happening. (But word from my source in Phoenix says the guys trying to three-spot might get some help from Mother Nature, ironically. Heavy rains may cause delays due to flooding.) PGA Tour rules czar Mark Russell said that CBS requested the 11:10am local time start.

“They’re our television partner, and if that’s what they want to do, that’s what we’re going to,” said Russell on Sunday evening. “Normally it would be Golf Channel, but the network decided they wanted to do that and that’s what we set the times for.”

Golf Channel will broadcast the remainder of the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open from 2:10-4:00 EST, then it will go to CBS from 4:00 EST to finish.

Going back to 1975, the inaugural year to this tour event, it has never concluded on any day except Sunday. Well, there’s a first for everything! See you back at Torrey on Monday morning/early afternoon.

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WUP hosted another Google+ Hangout on Sunday. We talked Tiger and Torrey. Thanks to everyone for watching and submitting their questions via Twitter. You can check it out below — and we’re planning on doing one on Monday afternoon. Let me know the best time of day to hold it, please.

 


(AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)