A little over a week ago, Tiger Woods was slapped with a two-stroke penalty for an illegal drop in Abu Dhabi, which wound up being the difference between making and missing the cut.
So, he hopped on a plane and traveled 8,500 miles from Abu Dhabi to San Diego for last week’s Farmers Insurance Open, where he seemed to finally out run the bad luck that had trailed him to the Middle East.
Woods, wearing his “Monday Red” due to a fog delay that extended the event, finished off a convincing four-stroke victory yesterday afternoon at Torrey Pines.
Woods’ win was his seventh at the Famers Insurance Open and his eighth professional victory at Torrey Pines (Woods also won the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines).
Although Woods slept on a six-stroke lead through seven holes of his final round on Sunday night, and then extended his lead to eight through the 13th hole on Monday, he still managed to provide a hint of drama coming down the stretch.
Woods bogeyed the par-four 14th and a penalty drop on 15 following a wayward tee shot led to a double bogey.
Bang, three stokes gone within a half hour…or based on the pace of play yesterday afternoon, it was more like, bang, three strokes gone in the hour and a half it took to play just two holes.
Woods pared the 16th to stop the bleeding and his bogey at the 17th was of little consequence as he still carried a four-stroke lead to the 72nd hole of the tournament. A par on 18 was more than enough for Woods to capture the 2013 Farmers Insurance Open title, which also happened to be the 75th win of his PGA Tour career.
While Woods’ sloppy play over the final nine holes raised a few eyebrows, his overall performance for the week sent a message to the tour that this season Woods may just be partying like its 2008 again.
“I think he wanted to send a message,” Hunter Mahan told the AP after his fourth-round. “I think deep down he did. You play some games to try to motivate yourself. There’s been so much talk about Rory [McIlroy]. Rory is now with Nike. That would be my guess.”
In terms of his squirrely play down the stretch, Woods simply chalked it up to a loss of concentration due to the snail-like pace of play.
“I started losing my patience out there,” Woods said following his round. “It was just so friggin’ slow. We played just over three hours and nine holes, and three of them are par threes. It’s like, come on, you know. I started losing my patience a little bit, and that’s when I made a few mistakes.”
Brand Snedeker and Josh Teater tied for second with a Round 4 score of 278, four strokes behind Woods’ tournament-leading 274.
Local San Diego resident Phil Mickelson did his best to move into a lower tax bracket at Torrey Pines, finishing even par for the tournament and tying for 51st.
Woods’ questionable finish to an otherwise dominant week left the door slightly ajar for fans and critics alike to ponder what has become a common question over the past three years: Is Woods truly “back”?
Unless you have been living in a cave for the past three years, you know that dominance and predictability has been all but replaced by a consistent stream of question marks surrounding Woods’ game.
When Woods sunk that 15-foot putt on the 72nd hole of the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines to force a Monday playoff with PGA Tour journeyman Rocco Mediate, NBC announcer Dan Hicks famously said, “Expect anything different?!”
Well, jump ahead nearly five years to the post-fire hydrant world of Tiger Woods and the same can now be said about his inconsistent play down the stretch yesterday afternoon—“Expect anything different?!”