The morning marine layer hung heavy over Torrey Pines, but it was the surreal scene that unfolded within the cool shroud that was notable.
As Tiger Woods prepared for the Wednesday pro-am at this year’s Farmers Insurance Open a steady line of well-intentioned Tour frat brothers checked in on the former world No. 1, who was fresh off his worst round (82) on Tour a week earlier in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Although Pat Perez, who was one of those who seemed to be offering Woods swing tips, said it was “nothing more that (sic) a few veterans and a handful of new guys talking golf, life and Instagram superstars,” the image of Tiger searching for answers was unmistakable.
A day later things became even more confused when Woods withdrew after 11 holes. In what has become an all-too-familiar scene, Woods spoke briefly with reporters in the Torrey Pines parking lot before heading off for what would be a two-month hiatus to make his game “tournament-ready.”
Although early exits are nothing new for Woods, there was something foreboding about his withdrawal in February, something undefined.
It was on the seaside municipal gem, after all, where Woods penned what is arguably the greatest chapter of his career when he won the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg.
He’s won eight times on the South Course as a professional and his history with the layout stretches back to his junior golf days, yet as he gingerly made his way to the par-3 third green the dwindling gallery could sense defeat.
Torrey Pines is among your scribe’s favorite events for many reasons, a scenic commute to work along Highway 101 combined with the Del Mar nightlife make the West Coast stop something of a working vacation, but this year was different.
The fog eventually cleared, the fish tacos at the Brigantine were plentiful and a champion (Jason Day in a playoff) was crowned, but without Woods something about the SoCal stop just wasn’t the same.