Here are a few lessons we learned this week at the Farmers Insurance Open:
We learned that in a tightly packed field, sometimes it’s the smallest tip that can set you apart.
For most of the day, Scott Stallings probably wasn’t even included in your potential playoff scenarios at the Farmers Insurance Open. As seemingly everyone in San Diego County played their way into contention at Torrey Pines, Stallings simply made more putts than the rest of the field and it paid off for the 28-year-old, who earned his third PGA TOUR win. Stallings led the field in strokes gained-putting for the week, thanks in part to a tip he received from his unofficial putting coach, David Robinson (not that David Robinson; this one caddies for Blake Adams).
“He actually didn't watch me hit a single putt this week,” Stallings said.
That’s one heck of a coach. Go on…
“We were eating lunch in the middle of the day and he said, 'Man, you cannot release the putter too much, especially on these greens.' He said, 'Almost feel like you're trying to just over release every single time, I promise you won't putt bad.' That's all I really thought about coming down the stretch.”
After birdies at Nos. 11, 13 and 14, Stallings rolled in another huge putt at 15 – a par saver from 15 feet that gave him enough breathing room to make bogey at 16. After (just barely) getting to the green in two at the par-5 finishing hole, Stallings sealed the win with a lovely two-putt for birdie. Was he ever thinking about laying up at that water-guarded 18th? After all, he blew the Humana Challenge a year ago by hooking a 6-iron in the water in an eerily similar situation.
“No,” Stallings said. “You don't get very many opportunities to win golf tournaments on this TOUR… I think any player out here would tell you they would do the same thing in the same situation.”
The win is the biggest of Stallings’ career and the list of past champions wasn’t lost on him.
“Having my name close to (Tiger Woods’) in a great event that he's obviously dominated is pretty awesome,” he said. “I remember watching him win the Masters when I was 12 and at that moment I quit everything, every sport I was playing and said that's what I want to go do and every one of my friends thought I was crazy.”
Hopefully those friends were tuned in on Sunday.
Congrats @stallingsgolf for the great win today!!— Brandt Snedeker (@BrandtSnedeker) January 27, 2014
We learned that the folks at Torrey Pines still remember how to set up the South course for a major championship.
A number of players commented on how difficult the South course was playing, particularly the rough off the fairways and around the greens. Scoring averages on the South course on Saturday were nearly one-half stroke higher than they were in 2013, despite ideal conditions.
In fact, there were only five rounds in the 60s on Saturday.
Scott Stallings' 72-hole total of 279 was the highest winning score at the Farmers Insurance Open since 1979 and only four off Tiger Woods' winning score at the 2008 U.S. Open.
I've thought back on my 33 year pro career and under perfect weather like this week this course is the hardest course I've played on Tour!!— Mark Calcavecchia (@MarkCalc) January 26, 2014
The South course at Torrey Pines is the hardest course I have ever played.— Chesson Hadley (@chadleyprogolf) January 24, 2014
We learned that Jordan Spieth is not scared of Tiger Woods (or pretty much anything else). Spieth, who was paired with Woods for the first time in his career in Rounds 1 and 2, bettered the 79-time PGA TOUR winner by nine shots over those rounds, including a Friday 63 on the North course, the lowest round of the week.
“I wasn't intimidated by any means,” said Spieth, who went on to finish T-19. He stumbled with back-to-back 75s on the weekend, admitting after Sunday’s final round that an ankle injury might have kept him from his second PGA TOUR win. Read more on that here.
Spieth’s 63 was one shy of his low round on the PGA TOUR, a 62 that he shot last year at the Deutsche Bank Championship. That Monday happened to be the first time he was ever paired with Phil Mickelson.
We learned that Tiger Woods… Actually, I’m still trying to figure out what we learned about Tiger Woods.
Even after two very pedestrian opening rounds, there’s no doubt CBS had all of the pertinent “Tiger at Torrey” numbers and graphics ready for Saturday’s broadcast – Seven FIO wins, 12 top 10s in 13 starts, only three over-par rounds out of 53 and so on. Instead, on Saturday they had to dust off the “Woods’ Worst Rounds as a Pro” chart. (In case you were wondering, Woods’ Saturday 79 was two short of that dubious distinction; he shot 81 in horrible conditions at the 2002 Open Championship.)
"It was definitely different seeing him making so many bogeys (seven and two doubles)," said playing partner Jhonattan Vegas. "You don't expect to see that out of him. He kept making mistakes."
For more on Tiger’s head-scratching Saturday (and when we can expect to see him again), read Brian Wacker’s report from San Diego.
I guess i am not crazy now. After shooting 80 yesterday don't feel so bad after tiger did it today. #torreyishard— Shawn Stefani (@ShawnStefani1) January 25, 2014
We learned that Morgan Hoffmann is the biggest “Anchorman” fan on the PGA TOUR. While it was disappointing to hear that he still hadn’t seen “Anchorman 2,” he earned serious points with movie fans everywhere, stamping his wedges with the following: