As expected, Tiger Woods won at Torrey Pines on Monday. He didn’t coast, though. This wasn’t a coronation for his swing changes. His fans’ dreams of a double-digit victory didn’t come to fruition. No, Woods struggled over the 11 holes he played today.
He started the day with a six-shot lead and was eight ahead after birdie at the par-5 13th. He played the final five holes in 4 over, though. “I had some mistakes at the end,” Woods said. “But all my good play before that really allowed me to afford those mistakes.”
He won. And that’s all that matters. This was his eighth PGA Tour victory at Torrey Pines – seven in this event plus the 2008 U.S. Open. His final-round 72 gave him a 14-under 274 total, four shots better than Brandt Snedeker and Josh Teater.
This was Woods’ fourth victory in his past 16 PGA Tour starts, and the 75th of his career. Monday’s play didn’t begin until 11:10 a.m. because of CBS’ desire to televise Woods’ victory in the late afternoon on the East Coast. It took nearly four hours for the final group to play 11 holes. Woods hit just 3 of 8 fairways and 5 of 11 greens in Monday’s cold, breezy conditions. He found just two greens in regulation during the final eight holes.
“I started losing my patience a little bit, and that’s when I made a few mistakes,” Woods said.
He has won a major in five of the six seasons that included a victory at the Farmers Insurance Open. Of course, many of those victories here came during his most successful seasons. This is Woods’ first win in San Diego since 2008, when he won this event and the Open.
Woods showed last year, when he won three times, that he’s quite capable of winning again. Winning a major championship is the next step in his resurgence, though. He won’t be able to answer any major questions until at least April, but many thought a dominant victory here would be a harbinger of majors to come. His finish soured such discussions, though.
After a two-putt birdie at the 13th, Woods missed the fairway and green at 14 and made bogey from a greenside bunker. A quick hook off the tee at the 15th forced him to take a penalty drop from an ice plant. That led to a double bogey that cut Woods’ lead to five with three holes remaining. A chunked fairway wood off the tee at the short, par-4 17th led to another bogey from a bunker. He missed the fairway at 18, as well, before closing with par.
Weekend struggles defined his major performances last year. Yes, this week ended in victory, but his poor finish didn’t allow this win to rank among his most memorable performances.
Woods was dominant with his driver for the first 45 holes this week, twirling the club as another tee shot found the fairway. His persistent selection of driver from the tee was proof alone that he has regained confidence with that club. That was a large reason he’d built a six-shot lead by the time he reached the 18th tee of the third round. A bogey at that hole – believed to be his first on that hole in his PGA Tour career – dropped his margin to four. But when Woods began to struggle with the driver, he showed off the short game that he said was the focus of much of his offseason work. The work seems to have paid off.
Woods finished seven holes of the fourth round before play was suspended late Sunday. He hit just 2 of 6 fairways, but played those holes 3 under par to take a six-shot lead. He chipped in after driving well right on the par-4 fourth hole, and made another birdie at the par-5 sixth after reaching the green with a 5-wood from the rough.
Woods began Monday with an easy two-putt par at the par-3 eighth hole. He drove well right behind a fenced area at the par-5 ninth. Another low, fading punch shot – like the one he hit to the front of the fourth green late Sunday – allowed him to find the fairway, and his third shot hit the flag before spinning some 20 feet away. He was standing outside the greenside bunker at the par-3 11th, but blasted his ball across the green and within inches of the hole.
His struggles started shortly after, but they weren’t enough to keep him from winning once again at Torrey Pines. “I had some mistakes at the end,” Woods said. “But all my good play before that really allowed me to afford those mistakes.”