Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The cynics will say "You can't win majors
with those driving problems," but Tiger Woods did more than enough over the
first 63 holes to earn his eighth victory at Torrey Pines.
The bad driving on the back nine had to do with one thing, and one thing only,
at the Farmers Insurance Open: slow play. After Saturday's play was fogged out,
the completion of the final round was pushed into Monday.
And the final 11 holes for Woods took 3 hours, 45 minutes. Brutal! More
on that later, though.
Woods fought off sloppy play on the back nine to win by four strokes. That
rough stretch, where he dropped four strokes in a four-hole span, did nothing
more than cut his eight-stroke lead in half.
It did ensure one other odd fact. In his seven wins at the Farmers Insurance
Open, Woods has never put together four rounds in the 60s.
The win could set up a big year for Woods. In five of the previous six seasons
Woods has won this title, he has gone on to win at least one major. In fact,
in those five years - 1999, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 - Woods has won seven
The 2008 U.S. Open victory, also at Torrey Pines, was his last major.
Woods also has averaged over six wins per season in the previous six years in
which he won at Torrey.
Going against the grain of those statistics is the set-up of this year's
majors. It isn't 2010 with Pebble Beach and St. Andrews on the schedule, two
courses in which Woods often fares well.
After Augusta for The Masters, the major championships are at Merion Golf
Club, Muirfield (Scotland, not Ohio) and Oak Hill Country Club.
Woods doesn't have much of a track record at those three venues. He has never
played Merion in competition. His lone appearance at Muirfield for the British
Open was in 2002, when he tied for 28th, six strokes off the pace.
Finally, the PGA Championship is headed for Oak Hill, where Woods shared 39th
place in 2003, a mere 16 shots behind the winner.
Those numbers don't necessarily bode well for Woods, but neither Merion nor
Oak Hill are bombers courses. Merion will play about 7,000 yards, while Oak
Hill will measure a little over 7,100 yards.
Those two set up perfectly for Woods and his stinger 3-wood tee shot, or even
a hard 3-iron off the tee.
The driver seems to be Woods' downfall in recent years, but if he isn't going
to need it as often, he'll be better off.
Everyone loves to ask, "Is Tiger back?" This was his fourth win since his 2009
Thanksgiving incident, which led to his divorce. Does that make him back? No,
Tiger will be "back" when he earns his 15th major championship, which is very
likely to come this year if his win on Monday is any indication.
SLOW MONDAY AT TORREY
Fog halted all but 10 minutes of play on Saturday at Torrey Pines, which meant
there was going to be Monday finish.
Officials announced there would be no re-pairing after the third round, and no
secondary cut. Good news, bad news right there.
No re-pairing saved plenty of time as the lead groups had actually finished
nine holes of the final round before the final group even got to the first tee
for their final round.
However, 87 players made the cut and since there was no secondary cut to the
closest number to 70 after Round 3, that led to bad things on Monday.
When play was called for darkness on Sunday, players had the option to finish
the hole they were on. That led to several groups hanging out on tee boxes
waiting for the hole in front of them to clear out.
There was no one group causing the delay as the lead groups finished 15 holes
and the last group got through seven holes of the final round on Sunday.
The logjam never broke on Monday. Combining the time it took to play Sunday and
Monday afternoon, Tiger Woods' group needed five hours to play 16 holes. And
those last two holes were at least another 30 minutes to finish.
In the time Woods waited on the last two holes, he could have jogged four or
five miles for part of his daily workout. No wonder he started hitting the
ball all over the map. It's impossible to keep your swing grooved with that
Again there wasn't one group taking a lot of time, but the group immediately
in front of Woods' threesome -- Brad Fritsch, Erik Compton and Steve Marino --
needed officials to help with drops on the last two holes, and did end a full
hole behind the group ahead of them.
Compton needed officials' help on No. 18 because he drove into a vendors tent.
After the ruling and his free drop, he then took a look at what his shot was
going to be and figured out his yardage. Why he didn't do that while waiting
for the ruling is beyond me.
The fact there were 86 players on Monday (Adam Hadwin withdrew prior to
Monday's play) was the biggest issue. Players really need to get penalized
strokes for slow play.
Officials should first penalize themselves for letting 87 players start the
final round. Then, they need to start handing out stroke penalties to slow
players. The LPGA did it last year.
The last time a PGA Tour player was given a stroke penalty for slow play
happened in the 1990s!
Get with it, fellas, or you'll lose fans.
* While it was a good week for Woods at Torrey Pines, three-time winner Phil
Mickelson failed to break 70 en route to a share of 51st place. Mickelson
seems to feel he is just a little off. Maybe he'll find that something in
Phoenix this week, where he has won twice and has nine top-10 finishes.
* No one can accuse Rickie Fowler of mailing it in after his performance at
Torrey Pines. Fowler shot 77 in the opening round and was tied for last
place. He rallied with a 65 in Round 2 to make the cut on the number, then
went 6-under par over the final two rounds to earn a share of sixth place.
Players have won after making the cut on the number, but not many rally from
last place after Round 1 for a top-10 finish.
The Sports Network