Preview: Woods at the Farmers Insurance Open
January 21, 2020
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
- January 21, 2020
Players discuss Tiger Woods' success at Torrey Pines
With one more PGA TOUR win, Tiger Woods will break his tie with Sam Snead and become the solo record-holder for most career victories in TOUR history with 83. Each time Tiger tees it up, we’ll look at his chances for that particular week. Here’s a CHASING 83 preview entering this week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the first start since Woods won The ZOZO Championship last fall to tie Snead’s record of 82.
TIGER AT TORREY PINES: A look at his first Farmers win
Tiger Woods hits a tee shot in Round 1 of the 2019 Farmers Insurance Open. (Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Even though this is Tiger’s first official TOUR start since his win in Japan, that victory last October is not the last time we’ve seen him play.
In early December, he played in his annual Hero World Challenge, an 18-man field in the Bahamas that he hosts to benefit his foundation. Woods got off to a slow start, shooting a 72 but followed with three rounds in the 60s to finish solo fourth, four strokes behind winner Henrik Stenson.
“Golf-wise, it was a good solid week,” Woods said after his final round. “I wish I could have hit the ball a little bit closer. I had a few 9-irons on down I normally would hit in there a little bit closer than I did this week. If I would have given myself a few more looks, this might have been a different story.”
Woods and the rest of his American team immediately flew to Australia for the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne. Woods, as player captain, had double duty.
It turned out to be a very successful week for Tiger on both fronts.
Not only did the U.S. Team rally in Sunday Singles to beat the Internationals, but Woods played a big part in the outcome. He was the only player on either side to win each of his matches, going 3-0-0 during the week. He led off the Americans’ charge on Sunday, taking down Abraham Ancer – the Internationals’ hottest player – 3 and 2 to set the table for the comeback.
“I hit it well this week,” Woods said in an understatement.
Obviously his form is excellent. Perhaps the biggest question is whether he’ll have to shake off any rust from his five-week layoff. Based on previous results at Torrey Pines, Woods usually doesn’t have a problem coming out of the holiday break with a winning form.
TOURNAMENT HISTORYTiger Woods after winning the Farmers Insurance Open in 2013. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
The Farmers Insurance Open has been very good for Woods’ legendary career, as the Southern California native won the event seven times in his 18 starts. Five other times, he’s finished in the top 10.
If Woods wins again this week, it would be the third PGA TOUR event that he’s won a record eight times. He’s also won the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard and the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational eight times apiece.
The tournament holes special meaning for Woods beyond his success inside the ropes.
“I've been coming out here quite a bit,” Woods said. “This is the first PGA TOUR event that I ever attended with my dad when this was the old Andy Williams tournament. To have won on this property and had the success I've had, it's been a lot of fun.”
Woods finished T-3 in 1998 when he made his first start at the Farmers as a professional golfer. A year later, he won the event, shooting 62-65 on the weekend. He followed with finishes of T2, 4 and T-5 in his next three Farmers starts before winning again in 2003. A year later, he finished T-10.
Then Woods took command of the Farmers in his next four starts, winning four consecutive times from 2005-08, including a playoff in 2006. He was a collective 60 under in those 16 rounds.
Following his 2008 win, Woods did not appear again at the Farmers until 2011, finishing T-44. Two years later, he posted his most recent Farmers win.
In his five Torrey Pines starts since then, he’s yet to match his previous success. He finished T-80 in 2014, had to withdraw in 2015, suffered his first Farmers cut in 2017, and finished T-23 and T-20 in his most recent starts.
Overall, Woods is 176 under in his 18 Farmers Insurance Open starts, the second-best total of any tournament in his career (he’s 183 under at the BMW Championship).
COURSE HISTORYTiger Woods has seen plenty of success on both the North Course and South Course. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
The Farmers Insurance Open is played on two Torrey Pines courses – South (players play it three times, including both weekend rounds) and the North Course (for one of the first two rounds).
As noted above, Woods has enjoyed plenty of success on both courses at the Farmers. But Torrey Pines South has also been the venue for one of Woods’ 14 career major victories – and he did it in legendary fashion.
Woods entered the 2008 U.S. Open with an injured left knee and little practice. But he summoned up one of his greatest performances, forcing a playoff against Rocco Mediate with a birdie putt on the 72nd hole, then beating Mediate after an 18-hole playoff and then one extra sudden-death playoff hole. Woods essentially won the U.S. Open playing 91 holes on one leg.
Thus, that’s eight career wins at Torrey Pines, tying Bay Hill and Firestone as the courses in which Woods has enjoyed the most success in his PGA TOUR career.
It should be no surprise that Woods does well at Torrey Pines – he’s been winning events there since he was a teenager (click here for story).
“This is a golf course property that I’ve always loved,” Woods said.
Both courses have changed since Woods last won at Torrey Pines, though.
The North course was renovated in 2016 by Tom Weiskopf, and the South course has undergone significant renovations by Rees Jones since last year’s tournament, including modifications of bunkers on nearly half the holes, as Torrey Pines South prepares to host the 2021 U.S. Open.
How much, if any, that will reduce the advantage Woods and other veterans have in terms of course knowledge won’t be known until after this week. Of course, Woods is a quick study, so don’t expect it to be much of a negative.