Tiger Woods won the Farmers Insurance Open, in his 2013 PGA Tour debut, by four strokes Monday. It was his 75th career Tour title, his seventh win at this event and his eighth overall triumph at Torrey Pines (including 2008 U.S. Open). Does his victory alter your outlook for his 2013 season? GolfChannel.com writers weigh in.
By RYAN LAVNER
A funny thing happened Monday during Tiger’s news conference. He was asked, for the 8,287th time, if he was “back.”
He replied, with a smirk: “Never left.”
That’s more than a nod to LL Cool J, of course.
Did we somehow forget that Woods won three times last year (at invitationals with strong fields), and he was second in earnings, and he was second in scoring average, and he was fifth in total driving?
In short, expectations were high for this season. There was no reason to suggest that he wouldn’t win at least three times this season.
So it should come as little surprise that he played better than anyone at Torrey Pines, which is about what you’d expect from the world No. 2 who was playing at a venue on which he has now won eight times.
Nothing changed Monday, save for his victory total. This is still setting up to be a monster year for Tiger.
By JASON SOBEL
Prior to the season, I predicted Tiger Woods would win four PGA Tour titles, including one major. His victory at Torrey Pines on Monday doesn’t make me want to revise that prediction; it just makes me think it’s one of the four.
If we’ve learned anything about Woods over the years, it’s that one week of success – or failure – shouldn’t portend an entire season’s worth of performances. Last year alone, he won in his last appearance prior to both The Masters and U.S. Open, making him the overwhelming favorite at each of those majors. But neither win resulted in another just a few weeks later.
Keep that in mind now that his latest triumph makes him look like a world-beater once again. It happens every week. Dustin Johnson wins the season-opener and we’re ready to crown him with a few majors; Russell Henley birdies the last five holes at the Sony Open and we’re ready to put him on next year’s Ryder Cup team.
These are just the ebbs and flows of the game, though, the ups and downs that every player undergoes. Tiger just has a lot more ups than downs than most others. But he certainly isn’t immune to increased expectations based on a single week of play. In fact, if anything those expectations are heightened anytime Woods finds some semblance of success.
Following his victory at Torrey Pines, he may look like a player who won’t lose again for a long time, but that’s just a knee-jerk reaction. I’ll stick with my original prediction – no revision necessary.
By RANDALL MELL
While Monday's poor finish sticks in your head, especially given Tiger's troubles with weekend leads at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship last year, the positives overwhelmed the negatives at Torrey Pines.
Through three rounds, Woods drove the ball consistently long and straight and with such confidence that you could sense it filtering through every facet of his game. Even when he was so wild early in the final round - and he was wild from the first tee - he showed that old ability to erase mistakes with terrific escapes and a formidable short game. I expected Tiger to improve on his three wins last year, but the driver/short game combo on display this past week makes an even bigger year seem probable. He's in that 'erasure' mode, and I expect that will include erasing whatever bugs - slow play or not - caused his untidy finish at Torrey Pines.
By WILL GRAY
The phrase “horses for courses” doesn’t even begin to describe the success that Tiger has had at a handful of his favorite venues, Torrey Pines included. When he won three times last year, in what was by most (though not all) metrics a successful campaign, he did so on three courses he knows well – Bay Hill, Muirfield Village and Congressional.
So the fact that Woods won in his first PGA Tour start of 2013, or that he left the South Course with trophy in hand for the eighth time this week, should not be surprising based on his history of accomplishing both feats with striking frequency. Coming into this year, I expected him to win multiple times, and I expected him to do well on the courses where he’s always done well. Monday’s win didn’t do anything to alter those expectations. The two factors that would change my outlook: success on a course where he’s historically struggled (I’m looking at you, TPC Sawgrass) and getting his hands around that elusive 15th major trophy.
By REX HOGGARD
This changes everything. It always has.
For the seventh time, Tiger Woods romped to victory at Torrey Pines - and if history holds - his Farmers Insurance Open walk-off is more preface than epilogue.
Consider that the first six times Woods rolled to glory on the Southern Cal municipal gem he won at least four times on the PGA Tour that season. He failed to win at least one major just once (2003, and that season included a near miss at the Open Championship) after winning at Torrey Pines.
Those who dismiss Woods’ Torrey Pines triumph - his eighth as a professional on the seaside course including his historic 2008 U.S. Open victory - as little more than a “comfort victory” on a layout that has a definite “friendly confines” feel for the world No. 2 are missing the point.
Woods only made it look easy on the South Course, finishing at 14 under for a four-stroke victory. The Rees Jones redesign ranks as the toughest on Tour early into the 2013 season (72.65 scoring average) and was 21st out of 49 courses last year.
The continued refinement of his swing and almost a full year removed from his last stint on the disabled list made one think Woods was poised for another good season. His masterpiece at Torrey Pines suggests he may be poised for a great one.