The 2014 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines turned out to be full of surprises not the least of which was 112th ranked Scott Stallings coming away with the victory.
It also had Stewart Cink at the top of the leaderboard after the first day, then Phil Mickelson dropping out with an aching back. Who could have predicted the Tiger Woods blow up in the third round leading to him missing the secondary cut? Then there was the logjam at the top of the leaderboard with 19 players within two shots of the lead with less than nine holes to go.
If this is the way the 2014 season goes, it will be one heck of a year.
A potential duel between Woods and Phil Mickelson, who together have won nine of the last 15 events here, was not to be. Consequently, Tiger never had a chance to secure victory number nine on the La Jolla, Calif. course where he won his last major, the 2008 U.S. Open.
The course played true to form: long and narrow fairways protected by deep rough and finished by fast tilted greens with the texture of a polished tabletop. No wonder just about all of those in the top 10 average over 300 yards off the tee.
The result may have been a surprise unless you realize that a new wave of tough young competitors have emerged onto the golfing scene.
All in all, the biggest winner may have been the fans who watched one of the best Tiger-less finishes to date. Here is a look at the winners and losers from the wild time at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.
Shooting 64 on the first day, Cink surprised everyone with his quick start out of the gate. He had finished in the top 10 only eight times in the last 100 events since he won the British Open in 2009. Cink returned to his form of late, shooting a dismal 79 in the third round. Still, he deserves some credit for setting the pace for the younger guys who passed him by as the tournament progressed.
Wonder if Westwood is as tired as we are of seeing him on the losers list? He at least has to be a bit dizzy after his up-and-down performance: 73, 68, 75 and 73. At 40 years old, Westwood remains in search of his first major. In order to do so, he will have to step it up.
Spieth came very close to winning his second PGA tour event at only 20 years old. At various times in the tournament, he was in the lead but eventually fell back to a tie for 19th place with an ill-timed score of 75 on Sunday. Still, he showed the kind of talent that makes champions and will definitely threaten again.
The PGA’s hottest player finally cooled off at Torrey Pines. After winning the Fry’s Open and the Sony Open, Walker came to La Jolla as the No. 1 player in FedEx Cup points. Paired with Tiger and Jordan Spieth on the first day, he just never got his winning rhythm, shooting 74 and 71 and missing the cut.
The stalwart Austrailian was in the mix the entire tournament and is fast making a name for himself on the PGA Tour. He finished tied for fourth in the Masters and was then named to the 2013 Presidents Cup Team. A winner of the 2012 Traveler’s Championship, Leishman is a player to watch in 2014.
Snedeker, who finished third in the FedEx Cup rankings last year, winning over $5 million and rising to 14th in the world, began his tournament like a lead balloon going off the La Jolla cliffs, finally dropping to the back of the pack. He never gathered himself and missed the cut.
Even though he had to withdraw from the tournament after the second round due to a sore back, Mickelson showed true grit by grinding out an opening day round of 69. He tried his hardest to keep playing but ended the event abruptly and smartly after the second day. As someone looking to regain the high performing momentum of 2013 when he won twice including the British Open, Mickelson will probably take some time to rehab his back before his next tournament.
Fowler began with a 77 on first day and eventually missed the cut. With only one PGA win to his name, has Fowler outlived his promise and talent? The Southern California native who has been a darling of the PGA should have played better at Torrey Pines.
You may remember MacKenzie as the winner of two PGA events before he left the PGA tour in 2012 to join the WEB.com tour. He seemed right at home at Torrey Pines where he had a shot of the leaderboard on the final day and had three days under par.
After finishing in a tie for fourth in last year’s event, Watney was an odds-on favorite to compete for the Farmers Open title. He has the kind of tee-to-green game that should have worked well for him at Torrey Pines, but he wallowed in the middle of the pack for most of the tournament.
As a San Diego native , Perez has played Torrey Pines dozens of times so it came as no surprise when he played so well on Sunday. He won the Junior World here as a teenager and he turned back time when he soared into a tie for the lead with just a few holes to play.
After two finishes in the top 10 in the last two Farmers Open events, Haas seemed like a good bet to compete for the championship. Instead, he played good (but not great) golf and finished two-under and well off the pace.
Of all the players at the top of the leaderboard, Day, with three top 10 finishes in majors last year, may have had the best pedigree. Everyone’s favorite to win his first major this year, Day was four strokes back coming into the last round. But Day surged to a tie for the lead by shooting a brilliant 68 only to come up one shot short.
Woods should have taken out some driver’s insurance on himself at Torrey Pines where he hit only five fairways on the third day of action, missing the secondary cut in an event he has previously won seven times. His 79 was his second worst score as a pro golfer.
As one of the PGA’s most consistent players of the last decade, Choi always has a chance to win a tournament. Yet at the lengthy Torrey Pines course, he seemingly was outnumbered by younger, stronger hitters who could muscle the ball closer to the green. But Choi has already shown he has what it takes to score with three top 25 finishes. He rocketed to the top of the leaderboard with a final day score of 66.
Woodland had perhaps the most entertaining tournament and was close to the top or leading throughout the event. At one point on Sunday, he made eight straight one-putts to save par or make birdie and keep himself in the running. Known mostly as a big hitter, he showed that he has plenty of game to win on the big stage.