The First Look: News, notes on the Farmers Insurance Open
January 19, 2018
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM
- Tiger Woods makes his return this coming week at the Farmers Insurance Open. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Tiger Woods commands the spotlight as he returns to familiar ground for his first PGA TOUR rounds since his latest back surgery, taking on a strong lineup led by defending champion Jon Rahm and a sizzling Justin Rose.
Former World No. 1 Jason Day is ready for his first start since the calendar turned to 2018, having ended 2017 on a sour note at the Australian Open. A strong San Diego ensemble includes 2017 Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele (San Diego State), plus area natives Phil Mickelson and Charley Hoffman.
FULL FIELD: Click here to see who's playing
FIELD NOTES: Hideki Matsuyama and Rickie Fowler help give the lineup four of the top 10 in the world rankings and 11 of the top 25. … Morgan Hoffmann, who disclosed in December that he’s dealing with symptoms of muscular dystrophy, makes his second start since the announcement. The former No. 1 amateur missed the cut in Hawaii. … Maverick McNealy, who also held down the No. 1 amateur ranking a year ago, is in the field on a sponsor exemption. So is Sam Burns (LSU), who captured college golf’s Jack Nicklaus Player of the Year honors last year.
FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 points.
STORYLINES: Woods takes his next test at Torrey Pines, buoyed by a pain-free performance at the Hero World Challenge that left him squarely in the middle of the 18-man field. He’s a seven-time champion in the event, plus winning the epic 2008 U.S. Open for his most recent major. … Mickelson makes his 29th start in the event, having won three of his first 12 but none since. His best finish since 2001 was runner-up in 2010 behind Ben Crane. … Day tees it up for the first time since a closing 73 at the Australian Open allowed Cameron Davis to wrest away the crown. …. Rahm’s win made it seven consecutive Farmers victors to begin their week playing the South Course. Crane was the last winner to play his opening round on the North Course. … Just once in the past 13 years has the 54-hole leader at Torrey Pines closed the deal. That was Woods, who fashioned an eight-shot romp in 2008.
COURSE: Torrey Pines GC (South), 7,698 yards, par 72. Meandering along cliffs fronting the Pacific Ocean, William Bell’s 1957 design turned an old World War II army base into one of the PGA TOUR’s more scenic venues. The TOUR’s annual San Diego stop relocated to the city-owned layout in 1968, and it hosts the Junior Worlds each July. A Rees Jones upgrade in 2001 helped Torrey Pines land the 2008 U.S. Open, captured by Woods in an epic playoff over Rocco Mediate, and it has been tabbed to host the major again in 2021. Torrey Pines’ North course (7,258/72), which debuted a Tom Weiskopf redesign last year, again will be used for the first two rounds.
72-HOLE RECORD: 266, George Burns (1987), Tiger Woods (1999).
18-HOLE RECORD: 61, Mark Brooks (2nd round, 1990) and Brandt Snedeker (1st round, 2007) at Torrey Pines North, predating the Weiskopf redesign. South course record: 62, Tiger Woods (3rd round, 1999). Redesigned North record: 65, Justin Rose (1st round, 2017).
LAST YEAR: Rahm stamped his first professional win with a stunning eagle finish, watching his 60-foot putt from the back fringe drop into the hole. It was the young Spaniard’s second back-nine eagle that capped a 5-under-par 67, giving him a three-shot triumph. Nine golfers held a share of the lead at some point in the final round, as 54-hole leaders Brandt Snedeker and Patrick Rodgers stumbled. Rahm played his final six holes in 5 under, starting with an 18-foot eagle at No. 13 to tie for the lead. A birdie at No. 17 preceded his closing heroics. Charles Howell III (68) and C.T. Pan (70) shared second; Woods missed the cut in his first TOUR start after a 19-month layoff.
HOW TO FOLLOW
TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 3-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, 2-3:30 p.m. (GC), 4-7 p.m. (CBS). Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. (GC), 3-6:30 p.m. (CBS).
PGA TOUR LIVE: Thursday-Friday, 11:45 a.m.-3 p.m. (featured groups), 3-7 p.m. (featured holes). Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m. (featured holes). Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. (featured holes).
RADIO: Thursday-Friday, 1-7 p.m. ET. Saturday, 2-7 p.m. Sunday, 1-7 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com).