January 28 2013
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
Swing time: Maybe the results influenced my observations, but it appears Tiger Woods’ head and hips are much quieter throughout the golf swing than when I last saw him play at the Ryder Cup. He has always had a very violent golf swing but his rhythm this week at the Farmers Insurance Open near San Diego was wonderful.
Woods’ head remained steady, as opposed to last year when occasional vertical movement caused his golf club to change its plane during the swing. There were some bad drives over the last four holes but some of that is attributed to slow play and loss of concentration. By in large the results were impressive, particularly with his wedge game during his victory on Monday.
Fairways: Woods did not drive the ball well in the final round but he may have won the tournament by avoiding disaster over the first six holes on Sunday. Woods did not hit a single fairway in the first half dozen holes and yet played that stretch in 3 under. If he had faltered at the start of the round, several golfers would have rallied with optimism. Instead, Woods was 3 under through six holes, essentially putting the tournament away.
Strategy: Brandt Snedeker did absolutely the right thing by waiting until Monday to attempt his birdie putt on the 14th hole. The greens were bumpy by late Sunday afternoon and when the horn blew suspending play, Snedeker elected to wait before attempting the birdie. The greens were mowed and rolled overnight and Snedeker had a perfect surface. He missed the birdie putt but it was still the correct strategy. Snedeker led the TOUR in strokes gained-putting last year but can look back at Friday’s round when he took an unseemly 32 putts for the reason he did not successfully defend his championship.
Movers: Rickie Fowler must have had his bags packed and ready to split after an opening-round 77. He proceeded to shoot 65 on Friday, with a birdie on his final hole, to barely make the cut. Fowler then put together weekend rounds of 70-68 to move into a tie for sixth. Aaron Baddeley was another big mover. He made the cut on the number and finished tied for sixth with rounds of 68-69.
Conditions: The greens were much firmer and faster when play resumed on Monday and the course played much harder with 15 mph winds. All that made birdies very hard to attain and for a brutally slow pace of play. Woods struggled with his driver and consequently fired at very few flags. That strategy forced the rest of the field to take chances. Woods knew pars would result in a big win.