Torrey Pines is nothing like we last saw it

By Associated PressFebruary 3, 2009, 5:00 pm
2006 Buick InvitationalSAN DIEGO ' For the first time in six years, the Buick Invitational has the prime spot on the West Coast schedule.
Its the week after the Super Bowl, a quiet time in the world of sports, before pitchers and catchers report, the green flag drops at Daytona, before March turns mad. This is the week for snowbound folks to change the channel to the PGA Tour and witness the spectacular combination of blue surf and green turf.
What they wont see is another familiar sight at Torrey Pines ' Tiger Woods.
Woods has been winning at Torrey Pines since he was a teenager, and he practically owns the public course along the cliffs of La Jolla. He has won the Buick Invitational six times, including the last four in a row, and saved his biggest impression for last summer when he won an epic U.S. Open by playing 91 holes on one good leg and beating Rocco Mediate in a playoff.
We miss our defending champion, said Larry Peck, the Buick-Pontiac promotions manager.
Just his luck, the tournament cant even sell the other half of the U.S. Open duel because Mediate withdrew on Monday.
Golf is off to a solid start this year, even if the audience was small.
Major champions won the first two tournaments of the year, with Geoff Ogilvy going wire-to-wire to win by six shots at Kapalua, and Zach Johnson winning in Honolulu. The birdies returned to the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, where Pat Perez clinched his first PGA Tour victory with an eagle. Then came 48-year-old Kenny Perry, winning a playoff outside Phoenix for his fourth victory in 15 starts.
But even some golf fans dont pay attention until Woods shows up.
The Buick Invitational traditionally has the highest TV ratings on the West Coast because thats where Woods has made his debut the last three years, and it didnt hurt that he won.
I think that this tournament certainly misses his presence, Phil Mickelson said. Hes been such a mainstay of this event. Hes played so well here. Plus, he had just won the U.S. Open here, as well as last years tournament. I miss the opportunity to compete against him. We all do. And we hope that he gets back out soon.
Woods has not hit a meaningful shot since tapping in for par on the seventh hole at Torrey last June to beat Mediate on the 19th hole of the Monday playoff. He had season-ending surgery on his left knee a week later, and while he is in full practice mode in Florida, he still is not ready to return. The first order of business is the birth of his next child, expected as early as next week.
Someone pointed out to Mickelson that he was the only past champion at Torrey Pines this decade (2000, 2001) who is playing this year, a statistic skewed by Woods winning five of them.
I didnt realize that, Mickelson said. I wasnt really reading through the fine print in the program.
Along with Woods, also missing is the suspended John Daly (2004) and Jose Maria Olazabal (2002), who is recovering from rheumatism and played last week in Dubai for the first time in nearly two months.
The Buick Invitational isnt left with chopped liver. Mickelson is a three-time winner at Torrey Pines and a San Diego native. Making his PGA Tour debut this week is Padraig Harrington, the player of the year in 2008 with victories in the British Open and PGA Championship. Even so, they are the only two players from the top 10 in the world ranking.
Woods absence was noticeable at Firestone, too, because he also has won six times there without ever finishing out of the top 10. But that comes late in the year, when the majors are nearly over. Torrey Pines offers optimism, and with Woods nowhere to be found except the cover of the program, it is a reminder of somber times.
Last week alone, the PGA Tour lost its title sponsor in Milwaukee and filed a lawsuit against Ginn for breaking its contract as the title sponsor of a Champions Tour event. Some 20 title sponsors are up for renewal after 2010, a negotiating process that will begin this summer, if not sooner.
No one feels the pinch quite like Buick.
Peck spoke in multiple capacities when he spoke of how much he misses Woods. Not only is the Buick Invitational missing its star attraction and four-time defending champion, Woods agreed last year to end his nine-year endorsement with Buick and cash-strapped GM.
Torrey Pines looks beautiful as ever, with sunshine filling an endless sky and weather that feels more like summer than it did during the U.S. Open. But clouds are gathering.
From an advertising and promotion standpoint, our view is we still need to advertise, now more than ever, Peck said. But based on the whole economic situation, were trimming back everywhere we can.
The corporate box on the 18th is smaller, and Buick wont be serving alcohol to contain costs. It didnt bring out some of its large signage, which was expensive to ship from Michigan. The lawn area in front of the lodge, which used to be a showroom of sorts with the latest vehicles, is now an outdoor restaurant.
It wont make a huge difference on TV, Peck said.
The same cant be said for Woods not being at Torrey Pines. He hasnt played in more than seven months, but considering his history at Torrey, his absence has not been as palpable as it is now.
And if thats not enough, its supposed to rain this weekend.

Related Links:
  • Leaderboard ' Buick Invitational
  • Full Coverage ' Buick Invitational
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • Getty Images

    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

    Getty Images

    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

    Getty Images

    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

    Getty Images

    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry