5 Things: Tiger returns to scene of last major victory

Tiger Woods has won Pebble Beach six times, but skipped the event last season.

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SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods met with the media Tuesday in advance of the Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is back on familiar territory after missing the cut in Abu Dhabi. He’s a six-time winner of Torrey Pines’ PGA Tour event, and also won his last major championship, the 2008 U.S. Open, here on the California Coast. Here’s 5 Things you need to know from his pre-tournament presser:

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1. RETURN TRIP: This is Woods’ first appearance at Torrey Pines in two years. He skipped last year’s tournament to play the Abu Dhabi Championship. He finished 44th in his last visit here, shooting 5-over 149 (74-75) after opening with consecutive 69s. “I was still making the changes at the time with Sean (Foley),” Woods said. “It’s definitely a very different feeling, so it’s nice to be back.”

This is just Woods’ second Torrey Pines appearance in four years. He didn’t play in 2009 while recovering from knee surgery in the wake of his U.S. Open victory here, and missed the 2010 event after his personal scandal. Woods won four consecutive Farmers titles from 2005-2008. His U.S. Open win was his fifth consecutive victory here.

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2. DRY HUMOR: Woods, who missed the cut last week in Abu Dhabi, said he was happy to be back on familiar ground, but noted that Torrey Pines isn’t playing like its usual self. “The golf course is on the quick side,” he said. “The fairways are quick. The greens are a little bit firm, and for this time of the year, it’s drier than we normally play it. I can’t remember it playing this dry this time of year.

Woods said the dry fairways remind him of the 2008 U.S. Open, though the rough isn’t as high or greens as fast.

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3. A WALK TO REMEMBER: We’re approaching the five-year anniversary of Woods’ U.S. Open triumph at Torrey Pines. That was the last major he won. When asked what he remembers most about that week, he replied, “the pure pain that I was in.

“I don’t ever want to experience that again. That was a very, very difficult week. I really don’t know how I quite got (through) the five days. ... My hands are sweating just thinking about the feeling I had to get through each and every day.”

Woods, suffering from two stress fractures and a torn ACL, needed 91 holes to beat Rocco Mediate that week.

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4. TAX TALK: Woods was asked to respond to Phil Mickelson’s comments about the “drastic changes” Mickelson would have to make because of changes to federal and state tax laws. Woods and Mickelson have vastly different approaches to the media. Mickelson is outspoken about certain topics. Woods keeps things close to his chest. He used the opportunity to jab Mickelson about last week’s comments.

“Well, I moved out of (California) back in ’96 for that reason (taxes). I enjoy Florida, but also I understand what he was, I think, trying to say,” Woods said in a wry tone, drawing a laugh from the crowd.

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5. UP IN THE AIR: This is Woods’ PGA Tour debut for 2013. He wouldn’t disclose the rest of his schedule, though. “I’m going to play a few tournaments coming up,” he said. Woods’ schedule on his website only lists the four major championships after this week. He was specifically asked about the Northern Trust Open at Riviera, but declined to comment on his attendance.

“We’ll just see,” he said. He last played at Riviera in 2006. The Los Angeles Open, as the event was known when Woods was a child, was one of two events he attended each year with his father, Earl. The Andy Williams Open at Torrey Pines was the other. Woods recalled watching Lanny Wadkins win one of the Riviera events he attended. He also told a story about Tom Watson’s caddie, Bruce Edwards, “basically yelling” at a young Woods after he got too close to Watson’s ball. “I used to give Bruce some grief about it all the time,” Woods said.

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