News & ToursJanuary 26, 2010

Sun Diego? Not necessarily

SAN DIEGO, Calif. - The bad news is that more rain is on the way for soggy Southern California. The good news is that forecasters say it won't be as bad as the deluge last week that delayed the Bob Hope Classic, forcing a Monday finish, and wiped out about 20 eucalyptus trees at Torrey Pines, where the Farmers Insurance Open commences Thursday. The annoying news is that the batting average for forecasters being right trails that of Ichiro Suzuki reaching base safely. So who knows what will happen. For what it's worth, showers are supposed to pass through the San Diego area late Tuesday and early Wednesday.

As officials were getting Torrey Pines ready for the tournament they were concerned about the lack of rough. Then the storms settled in and the pounding rains washed away the ocean-air salt that coats the grass and it sprang to full life. That created another problem: Six-inch rough and ground too wet to get mowers in to top it off. From Tuesday through Friday last week all the maintenance crew could do was watch the grass grow and wait for the North and South courses to dry out.

Playing with U.S. Open-style rough was certainly not what organizers had in mind and it would surely put the new groove rule issue on the front burner. But by the weekend, Torrey Pines had dried out enough for the work crews to get in and trim back the rough. The forecast for the four tournament days is for clear, cool weather. But the storm lurking off the California coast is significant in size and if it decides to change direction - or stall - that would be an entirely different ball game.

The next bit of excitement here will be Wednesday morning when Phil Mickelson enters a media room for the first since Tiger Woods' personal life became fodder for tabloid news. While Lefty's return to competitive play is a good story every year, this year it carries the added fascination of how he will handle Tiger questions. One thing that's certain: Phil and his inner circle have come up with a game plan. Mickelson always does.

-- Ron Sirak

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