There's no place like home, and that's essentially where Tiger Woods will kick off his 2013-14 PGA season.
Although Eldrick was born about an hour-and-a-half north in Cypress, Calif., he has always treated Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla as his own personal stomping grounds. In 13 starts at what is now known as the Farmers Insurance Open, Woods has won seven times, including last year's tourney.
Throw in a U.S. Open championship at the same location, and he's just one win away from setting a new record, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Tiger Woods is set to tee off for 1st time in 2014. A win at Torrey Pines would be 9th at course - no player has ever done that— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 23, 2014
Despite the success at the Farmers, though, Woods expects this week to prove more difficult than in the past.
"The rough is thick, it's a little more lush than we've seen it with these green conditions," he said, via ESPN.com's Bob Harig. "We've seen it like this when it's wet but not when it's like this. This is very similar to an Open."
Of course, Woods is hoping that "home sweet home" is able to propel him to a few more significant records in 2014. The 38-year-old is chasing Sam Snead for PGA Tour victories and the legendary Jack Nicklaus for major wins, according to ESPN:
Tiger Woods enters 2014 calendar year with 79 PGA TOUR victories, 4 shy of breaking Sam Snead's record of 82 that has stood since 1965.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 21, 2014
The latter is where Woods faces more pressure.
Although he has an impressive 14 majors already under his belt, he hasn't won one in over five years despite tallying nine top-10 finishes in that span. Every time he comes up short, chatter about his "inability to win the big one" only increases.
While he won't be able to silence that chatter this week, Tiger has a chance at one of his most successful courses to gain some early momentum in 2014.
Well, that's probably not the start Tiger Woods was hoping for.
He managed to avoid what would have been just his fourth over-par score in his 53nd round at this tournament, but he still finished with an even-par 72. That leaves him eight strokes off the lead and in a tie for 63rd place.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, it marked a not-so-anticipated first for Woods:
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
Here's a look at the leaderboard, courtesy of PGATour.com:
|1||Stewart Cink||64 (NC)||-8|
|2||Gary Woodland||65 (NC)||-7|
|T3||Jason Day||66 (NC)||-6|
|T3||Tyrone Van Aswegen||66 (NC)||-6|
|T3||Marc Leishman||66 (NC)||-6|
|T3||Jim Herman||66 (NC)||-6|
|T7||Pat Perez||67 (SC)||-5|
|T7||D.A. Points||67 (NC)||-5|
|T7||Sang-Moon Bae||67 (NC)||-5|
|T10||David Lynn||68 (NC)||-4|
|T10||Six Others||68 (NC)||-4|
|T63||Tiger Woods||72 (SC)||E|
Still, the outlook isn't completely bleak for Woods.
While he sits far off the lead, he had the unfortunate task of taking on the far more difficult south course on Thursday afternoon. The top five rounds and nine of the top 10 came on the north course, and as the PGA Tour Twitter feed pointed out, the north course played almost four shots easier on average:
Tiger Woods (T-62) opened with 72 @FarmersInsOpen. He'll play North Course tomorrow, which played nearly 4 shots easier today than South.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 24, 2014
Woods looked to be dialed in at the very start. After parring the first hole, he stuck a 139-yard approach shot from the the No. 2 fairway to within three feet of the flag, setting up his first birdie of the day.
A bogey on No. 5 dropped him back to even, though, and after five straight pars, he struggled to another bogey, this time on the par-three 11th.
Things threatened to get really bad on the next hole after a poor chip shot by Woods' standards, but he buried a 16-foot putt to impressively save par.
Woods drained a 20-foot putt from off the green on No. 14 to safely move back to even, and that's where he would finish. Here's a look at his final scorecard:
According to PGATour.com, Woods hit just 61.11 percent of greens in regulation. He finished with four pars on the course's par-fives, which are holes that he often takes better advantage of at Torrey Pines.
With the north course on the schedule for Friday, though, expect a better Round 2 from the defending champion.
The day was slightly better for Tiger Woods, but not by much.
A 71 on Day 2 of the Farmer's Insurance Open put him at -1 for the tournament thus far, but still didn't make him a fast riser up the leaderboard in Torrey Pines.
After an up-and-down day, Woods moved up leaderboard to 50th, but still has a lot of ground to make up if he plans to win the tournament. Justin Ray of ESPN points out what might have Woods struggling thus far:
Tiger Woods was 8-under on par 5's in rounds 1 & 2 at this event last year. He's +1 on them through 36 holes this year.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) January 24, 2014
Here's a look at the leaderboard, courtesy of PGATour.com:
|1||Jordan Spieth (NC)||71, 63||-10|
|2||Stewart Cink (SC)||64, 71||-9|
|3||Nicolas Colsaerts (SC)||69, 67||-8|
|T4||Billy Horschel (NC)||70, 67||-7|
|T4||Marc Leishman (SC)||66, 71||-7|
|T6||Morgan Hoffman (NC)||72, 66||-6|
|T6||Gary Woodland (SC)||65, 73||-6|
|T6||Russell Knox (NC)||71, 67||-6|
|T6||Pat Perez (NC)||67, 71||-6|
|T6||Erik Compton (SC)||69, 69||-6|
|T50||Tiger Woods (NC)||72, 71||-1|
Woods spoke about his struggles and frustration on par fives, according to Bob Harig of ESPN:
I was a yard off, a foot off all day. It was one of those frustrating rounds where the ball is in the fairway and running into the rough. Had to be aggressive going at some of these flags and consequently my score reflected that.
It was just a fraction off, a yard off, a foot off, and it seemed like it was like that all day. Just one of those days where it was tough to get it going.
Though he never truly seemed to gain any traction, there were good holes for him. Starting on the back nine, Woods got out to a quick start with a birdie on No. 10, his first hole of the day.
Then, with a huge shot on the 15th, Woods was seemingly putting together a good round with two birdies on par-fours. But those great holes would quickly be forgotten when he played the front nine one-over par to close out his day.
Here's a look at his final scorecard from the second round:
On the front nine, Woods finished with several pars, but the bogey that did him in came on the ninth hole. Woods will need to make an immediate turnaround in Round 3 if he wants to defend his title.
If it wasn't safe before, we can now say it: Tiger Woods will not be winning his record eighth Farmers Insurance Open in 2014.
In a miserable round that encapsulated his struggles throughout the week, Woods shot a seven-over score of 79 on the day to finish with an aggregate outcome of six-over for the tournament. He's currently sitting in a tie for 80th with Robert Gaines, ahead of only one player in the entire field—Michael Block, who went 14-over on a difficult day overall at Torrey Pines.
"I wouldn't say it's rusty, just a fraction off," Woods said, via ESPN's Bob Harig. "At this level and golf courses like this it doesn't take much."
As a result, Woods will not participate in Sunday's final round. Because 78 players advanced to Saturday, the field was required to undergo a secondary cut to reduce the field to 70 players. As noted by ESPN Stats & Info, the 79 tied Woods' second-highest 18-hole score of his career and ties the highest result on American soil:
Tiger Woods shot a 79 in the 3rd round of the Farmers Insurance Open, tied for 2nd worst 18-hole score of his career. pic.twitter.com/PuqJKq2Yop— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 25, 2014
Here is how the rest of the leaderboard played out, via PGATour.com:
Woods opened the day in a tie for 50th at one-under, still pretty much out of contention but with an outside shot at roaring back. Playing on his favorite course—or perhaps his former favorite course—it seemed plausible that Woods could make headway against a field just nine strokes ahead.
The reality is that the world's top-ranked golfer has his work cut out for him if he wants to get into to get into major-championship shape in time for the Masters.
Struggling mightily with his driver and short stick, it was obvious from the opening hole Woods was in for a miserable outing. He double-bogeyed the par-4 first and set out on a streak of six straight holes shooting over par.
While he birdied the seventh to get out with a six-over 42 and the round stabilized a bit from there, it was far from ideal. Woods went bogey-birdie on No. 10 and No. 11 and again on No. 14 and No. 15, before a two-hole stretch that capped off the weekend almost perfectly. After getting to four-over for the tournament and heading to the par-5 18th with at least a slight chance of continuing on to Sunday.
Instead, Woods smacked his drive to nowhere in particular and finished with a double-bogey. Here's a look at how the entire scorecard played out, per PGATour.com:
Overall, Tiger hit just 38.89 percent of his greens in regulation on the day. Though his driving accuracy actually improved from Friday, it was clear he was struggling with just about every club in his bag. There is still plenty of time between now and the Masters, but if Woods, at age 38, cannot contend at Torrey Pines, it doesn't bode well for his 2014 season.