Tiger Woods had a tough finish to an even-par round of 72, but managed to trounce defending champion Brandt Snedeker and Josh Teater in a decisive, four-stroke victory at the Farmers Insurance Open on Monday.
Rocking the red Nike polo typically reserved for Sunday triumphs, the prolonged tournament at Torrey Pines didn’t prevent Woods from emerging with his 75th Tour title and eighth at this particular venue with a winning score of 14-under.
The last Monday Woods experienced here treated him well, as he won the 2008 U.S. Open in a playoff against Rocco Mediate despite a torn ACL and a fractured leg. That was Woods' last major championship.
Having manufactured wins on 48 of 52 previous occasions on the PGA Tour in which he held at least a share of the third-round lead, there wasn't nearly as much drama in this seemingly inevitable outcome.
Inclement weather pushed the tournament an extra day, and although Woods wasn’t quite as sharp off the tee as he had been for the early part of the week, CBS Sports' Shane Bacon intimated that it mattered very little:
Tiger Woods struggling off the tee which might be a bigger deal if anyone was making a push.— Shane Bacon (@shanebacon) January 28, 2013
With only 11 holes remaining in breezy, brisk conditions, Woods did not go on a birdie binge but continued to save par from seemingly unsalvageable situations early on.
One particularly notable escape came on the par-three 11th hole, where Woods’ tee shot landed in the left greenside bunker. But as he has done all week, he hit a brilliant recovery shot despite having one foot outside of the trap, nearly holing out the spectacular chunk-and-run.
The killer instinct that Woods displayed during his most successful years on Tour has resurfaced this week, and if this form keeps up, he may very well rival Rory McIlroy for the No. 1 World ranking.
Columbus Dispatch reporter Tim May documented a quote by CBS' Nick Faldo, who remarked on the championship heart that Woods displayed despite not possessing his "A-game" on Monday:
Nick Faldo on Tiger Woods being wild at times today but still winning big -- "It doesn't matter how. You've just got to beat everybody."— Tim May (@TIM_MAYsports) January 28, 2013
Woods two-putted the par-five 13th for his first birdie of the day and fourth of the final round to get as low as 18-under.
Even as he stumbled down the stretch in the midst of slow play after a bogey at the 14th and a hook into the hazard at No. 15 that led to a double bogey, Sports Illustrated's Stephanie Wei humorously documented Woods' apparent expression:
Tiger Woods snap hooks driver into the ice plants (hazard). No reaction. Even he's bored and just trying to make things more interesting! ;)— Stephanie Wei (@StephanieWei) January 28, 2013
Obviously, Woods always gears his game toward the majors. He has never won the Masters without a win prior to the event, so history is on his side in that regard as he looks to snap his seven-year dry-spell at Augusta.
This particular tournament has been a major charm for Woods, as ESPN Stats & Info points out:
Tiger Woods has won the Farmers Insurance Open 6 previous times. In 5 of those years he went on to win at least one major tournament.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 28, 2013
Now he will look to make it six out of seven.
Woods' ball-striking declined toward the end of the tournament, and especially in the last five holes which he played in four-over. No matter, Woods will still take the "W."
The most critical, positive development is that Woods seems to have righted his wrongs with the Nike Method putter, which bodes well for the rest of 2013.
Check out a couple of the best highlights from Woods' day, defined primarily by immaculate recovery shots.
Note: All videos courtesy of PGATOUR.com.
Here is a look at the top finishers from the Farmers Insurance Open. For complete scores, head over to PGA.com.
|T4||Jimmy Walker ||67-69-72-71||-9|
|T4||Nick Watney ||69-68-71-71||-9|
|T6||Rickie Fowler ||77-65-70-68||-8|
|T6||Aaron Baddeley ||71-72-68-69||-8|
|T6||Robert Garrigus ||72-69-72-67||-8|
|T9||Bill Haas ||69-69-72-71||-7|
|T9||Jason Day ||73-70-72-66||-7|