Scott Stallings finished strong on the final day at Torrey Pines to win the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.
This was the 28-year-old player's first win in six tries this season, but he has accomplished a decent amount in his short time on tour:
Scott Stallings: 3rd career PGA TOUR win (1st since winning True South Classic in 2012)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 26, 2014
Golf Digest quoted Stallings after the victory in discussing what this means for the rest of the year:
Scott Stallings shoots a 4-under 68 to win his second PGA Tour event. "I'm excited to go back [to Augusta] in April." Congrats, Scott!— Golf Digest (@GolfDigestMag) January 26, 2014
He earned the win by just one stroke, outlasting K.J. Choi, Graham DeLaet, Jason Day, Pat Perez and Marc Leishman, all of which ended up in a tie for second place.
The PGA Tour's annual trek to Torrey Pines in January signals the first big tournament of the new golf season. Stars like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson made their first starts of the new calendar year at the event.
With a purse of $6.1 million and a winner's take of just over $1 million, the entry list for the Farmers Insurance Open was swelling with recognizable fixtures from the PGA Tour.
However, it was Stallings who came away with the victory at the prestigious event, which featured plenty of ups and downs throughout. Read along to get a daily recap of each day of action.
With a jumbled leaderboard heading into the final few holes, it seemed possible that we would be set for a huge playoff. However, Scott Stallings pulled away from the pack thanks to a birdie putt on the 18th hole.
As Kelly Tilghman of Golf Channel notes, this finish separated him from a number of players who were already in the clubhouse:
With single stroke Scott Stallings just dashed Canada, Australia & Korea's hopes of winning another PGA TOUR title #clubhouseleader
Still, there were a few other competitors capable of a come-from-behind win, including the Round 3 leader Gary Woodland. However, he hurt himself on the second-to-last hole while down one stroke, per the PGA Tour's Twitter feed:
Woodland makes double at 17 after hitting his tee shot in the hazard. Barring a Leishman eagle at 18, Stallings is your winner. #PGATOUR
Marc Leishman was able to birdie the final hole, but it was only enough to tie for second place at eight strokes under par.
Meanwhile, Jordan Speith had a disappointing end to the tournament with three bogeys in his final four holes. After starting the day in second place, he dropped all the way to 19th thanks to his 75.
Still, Stallings is the man of the hour thanks to his seven birdies on Sunday. Although this was only the third cut he made in six tournaments this year, he found a way to pull ahead of the pack and win the title.
Round 3 Recap
After two days where low scores were the norm, Round 3 proved to be a different scene altogether.
Gary Woodland utilized a workmanlike two-under par 70 to take the 54-hole lead by one stroke over Marc Leishman and Jordan Spieth.
After a relatively quiet front nine in which Woodland scored two birdies and zero bogeys, he took the overall lead by one shot with a birdie on No. 10, as shown by the PGA Tour:
His final eight holes proved more adventurous, however, as he scored two birdies, a bogey and a double bogey to finish the day at two under par, and eight under for the tournament.
The tournament's 36-hole leader, second-year phenom and last year's Rookie of the Year, Spieth, took a few steps in the wrong direction on Saturday. He carded three birdies, but his four bogeys and one double bogey did more than enough damage to cancel out those few positive results.
But thanks to his nine-under par 63 in Round 2, Spieth is just one shot off the lead heading into Sunday's final round. If he wins the tournament, he'll be the youngest to tally two PGA Tour wins since 1932, per ESPN's Justin Ray:
Jordan Spieth enters final round 1 back. A win tomorrow would make him youngest 2-time winner on @PGATOUR since 1932.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) January 25, 2014
With so many golfers in contention, Round 4 is sure to provide plenty of drama. There are 26 golfers within five strokes of the lead, meaning the tournament is still anyone's to win.
Tiger Woods is one golfer who won't have a chance, however. After shooting seven over par in Round 3, Woods was eliminated from contention, along with eight other golfers who missed the 54-hole cut of three over par.
The 2013 Rookie of the Year was red hot on Friday. He shot a nine-under 63 and vaulted himself into the lead at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.
The 20-year-old had nine birdies and no bogeys on the day. It was a nice improvement over a slightly inconsistent performance in Round 1. Check out this 27-foot putt on the par-3 sixth hole.
Spieth's surge enabled him to pass Thursday's leader Stewart Cink.
Seems like everyone is picking on Justin Bieber these days. Kelly Tilghman of the Golf Channel is the latest:
Hard to believe Jordan Spieth and Justin Bieber are only 6 months apart in age.— Kelly Tilghman (@KellyTilghmanGC) January 24, 2014
Spieth was unconscious on Friday. Per Yahoo Eurosport (via Reuters) the young Texan says he wasn't even aware of his score until the final hole:
We played with some good speed, kept the tempo up and I just played my game ... didn't even see a scoreboard and really didn't know where I was at until I got to number nine. That's the way you want it to be out there when you're in the zone.
Despite Spieth's torrid pace, Cink was able to stay in striking distance with a one-under 71.
Tiger Woods was also one under par on the day, and now for the tournament. In his first event of the season, he's been a little slow out of the gate. With half the tournament down, Woods is nine shots behind Spieth heading into the weekend after an even-par 72 on Thursday.
He will need a huge effort on Saturday to get near the top of the leaderboard on the final two days of the tournament.
|T3||Tyrone Van Aswegan||-6||66|
Full leaderboard can be viewed at PGATour.com
Round 1 Recap
One thing you notice right off the bat is that a lot of the big names didn't post the best scores on Day 1.
Instead of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson battling for position atop the leaderboard, longtime PGA Tour veteran Stewart Cink put himself in position to earn his seventh career win on tour and first since winning The Open Championship back in 2009.
Cink torched the North Course at Torrey Pines in Round 1, finishing with eight birdies and no bogeys, as pointed out by the PGA Tour:
Coming up right behind him was little-known Gary Woodland, who utilized an impressive eagle on No. 17 to get to seven under par on the round.
Callaway Golf's Steve MacDonald was only too happy to point out Woodland's superior driving numbers compared to the field:
Gary Woodland, 7 under 65 today. He is averaging nearly 30 yards longer (313y) than the field with his Big Bertha Driver and SR3 Golf Ball!— STEVE MACDONALD (@STEVEMACDONAL17) January 24, 2014
Jason Day—a player many fans will recognize for coming agonizingly close to wining a major three times last year—and three others rounded out the top three on the day, scoring six under par.
He was confident about the upcoming season before the tournament.
''Last year was really encouraging but at the same time it was super motivating to do even better,'' Day said, as noted by The Sydney Morning Herald. ''To finally see myself break through after such a long time without winning was a real boost and reaffirmed what I believed; that I can win tournaments."
A few more rounds like the one he shot on Thursday should be good enough to give him his first victory of 2014.
While the leaders were putting up low scores, Woods and Mickelson struggled to find their rhythm in the opening round.
Mickelson finished with a three-under-par 69, which isn't bad, but he suffered a setback with his ailing back.
"My back locked up on me,'' Mickelson said, via Bob Harig of ESPN.com. "It just kind of tightened up, and I wasn't really able to start a downswing. I'll get some treatment tonight and see if I can get it to loosen up and maybe get something tomorrow before I play. And see if I can go."
If not, then Lefty will likely withdraw from the tournament.
Woods was battling himself all afternoon and finished with an even-par 72, which proved a first at this tournament, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Tiger Woods shot a even-par 72, marking the first time that he did not shoot under par in the 1st round of the Farmers Insurance Open— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 24, 2014
With two birdies and two bogeys on the day, Woods knows he must do better in Round 2 in order to get back into the tournament. "I'm going to have to go get it tomorrow to not be so far back on Saturday," said Woods, via Kyle Porter of CBS Sports.
As the leaders proved, low scores are attainable. But after Woods' poor start, he's going to need three amazing rounds in a row—plus a bit of help—to repeat as champion.