Knowing that barring a disastrous collapse he was almost assured victory, Tiger Woods overcame a sloppy back nine, but ultimately played steady, no-frills golf to close out the remaining 11 holes of his final round on Monday, claiming yet another win on Torrey Pines Golf Course.
Woods shot par on his first five holes on Monday before a birdie on 13 to get to -18.
He then hit a rough patch, dropping four shots with a bogey on 14, a double-bogey on 15 and a bogey on 17. He closed out his round by tapping in for par on 18 to finish four shots ahead of the field at -14, earning his 75th career win. He trails only the legendary Sam Snead with 82 for most career wins.
The win at Torrey Pines was Woods’ eighth career win at the seaside municipal course in San Diego. It is the most wins by any player ever at one course. It is the 11th time he’s won as a professional in San Diego County (including three times at La Costa Resort & Spa).
“I don’t know. Also, I think I won six junior worlds as well. For some reason I’ve always done well here,” Woods said. “I don’t know. I feel comfortable down here. My dad said that very early on if he didn't settle in Orange County, if he would have come down here a little bit further, he would have lived down here, and I probably would have been born and raised down here. But he settled for Orange County, and that’s where I grew up.”
Woods admitted dropping shots late in the round, due to frustration at the speed of the round, which he said after his finish was “very slow.” Still, he held on to win his first tournament of the year.
“I started to lose my patience out there a little bit with the slow play,” he said. “It was just so friggin’ slow. We played just over three hours and nine holes and three of them are par 3s. It’s like, come one, you know. I started losing my patience and that’s when I made a few mistakes.”
Brandt Snedeker and Nick Watney started Monday six shots back of Woods, at -11. However, both could not make enough birdies to close the gap. Snedeker finished at -10 after shooting one over on his remaining seven holes Monday.
“I guess it was a good title defense,” said Snedeker. “I’m not really excited about the way I finished. If I had made three birdies going into today, I’d probably be more excited about it. But that’s how you judge it is how you finish, and I didn’t finish very well, so that’s very frustrating.”
Snedeker finished tied with Josh Teater for 2nd place a -10.
Watney struggled with distance control nearly all day, and could not get the key putts to fall. He shot a three over par 75, including four costly bogeys on the back nine.
He was disappointed in the way he played Monday, but conceded that it was Tiger’s tournament to lose.
“I don’t know if anybody would have beaten him this week,” said Watney. “He’s definitely on his game. When he gets like that, you’ve got to play your best to compete, and unfortunately, I didn’t today. But I’d love to have a shot at him sometime.”
Murrieta’s Rickie Fowler shot a four-under-par 68 in his final round to final round to finish the tournament at -8 in a three-way tie for sixth place.
San Diego’s Phil Mickelson shot -2 in the fourth round to finish at even par for the tournament.
Winning at Torrey Pines has definitely portended success throughout the year. Five out of seven times that Woods has won the Farmers Insurance Open, he has won a major tournament in that year, and has 25 career victories in years when he wins at Torrey Pines.
“I didn’t know of those stats, sorry (laughing). Does it feel good? Yes. Does it give me confidence? Absolutely. But as far as the other stuff you just said, as I said, I’m excited about this year. I’m excited about what I’m doing with Sean (Foley, his swing coach) and some of the things that I’ve built. This is a nice way to start the year.”