Randall's Rant: Thank goodness, it's Torrey time


Finally, a heavyweight bout.

Finally, a golf course that punches back.

Finally, the PGA Tour will ask its players the hard questions this week at Torrey Pines, where the South Course looms as the first serious test of the new year.

After three weeks watching golf wave the white flag to nuclear propelled balls and equipment, to the advantages TrackMan and other technology give today’s free-swinging players, there’s a worthy adversary forcing them to think their way to a score.

For those of you weary of all the 59 watches already this year, of bombing and gouging with impunity, the Farmers Insurance Open offers a respite from the birdie fests. Come the weekend at Torrey, when all the action’s on the South Course, par finally returns to the game as a good score.

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With Tiger Woods making his first PGA Tour start in almost a year-and-a-half, this feels like the big-bang start to golf’s new year. A week before the Super Bowl, with no NFL playoff games to contend with, the PGA Tour finally gets an event that will feel like Opening Day to the sports world at large, to those folks who only pay attention to golf’s big events.

With world No. 1 Jason Day, No. 3 Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Hideki Matsuyama and Phil Mickelson in the field, there’s more than a supporting cast should Tiger exit early this week.

Finally, hallelujah, we’ll see some real rough, with heavy recent rains in Southern California thickening the grasses there and making missed fairways actually matter.

It’s not that we need punishing tests every week, but there will be something reassuring about seeing players standing over balls in the rough, surveying lies like plumbers looking at clogged toilets. It will be comforting see glum looks return to tee boxes for a spell again.

Mostly, it will be fun to see the game fight back again.