LA JOLLA, Calif. — Tiger Woods’ season debut at the Farmers Insurance Open was a reminder less of his brilliance than his drawing power. He can still sell tickets.
A massive crowd followed him around as he delivered his best score of the week by three shots, a five-under par 67 on the South Course at Torrey Pines, jumping him into the top 20.
What he also is selling, this star who never went to a tournament without the intention of winning it, is the idea the week was a successful one. We'll leave it to others to decide if they’re buying.
“I think this whole week was good, very positive,” Woods said. “I didn’t quite start out the way I wanted to this week, wasn’t as sharp as I wanted to be, but each and every day it got a little better.”
He had to grind to make the cut, but steadily climbed the leader board over the weekend, despite his failure to dominate the par 5s, as he has done throughout the course of his career. He birdied only two of eight par 5s on the weekend.
“I got a little bit sharper each and every day, and my rounds got a little bit cleaner, made less mistakes,” he said. “I started to get the feel back for hitting the golf ball under tournament speed that’s a little bit different.”
His iron play steadily improved each day, represented by his hitting 12, 13, 14 and 15 greens in regulation.
“I feel I started to get my irons to hit the ball the right distance on the weekend. I didn’t quite make as many putts as I wanted to, but I felt like I was hitting the ball on my line. I was just not reading them right.”
Woods also reached the goal he set for himself on Saturday, when any hope of contending vanished. He wanted to get to 10-under par for the tournament and hit it on the number with a birdie on his 18th hole, the ninth at Torrey Pines.
His posting one of the best scores of the day might have suggested better days ahead. Momentum, however, is not so durable that it readily can survive the two-week hiatus that Woods will enjoy before returning to Southern California for the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club that begins on Feb. 14.
But February is not his goal. April is. “If you look at where I was Thursday and look at where I’m at now, Sunday, I got a little bit better. I drove the ball better, hit my irons a litle bit cleaner. Again, I hit some good putts. Just continue with the track. I have a couple more months of prep before April [and the Masters], so things are heading in the right direction.”