Five years later, Tiger back on familiar ground
THe Associated Press | January 26,2013
SAN DIEGO — Tiger Woods made it look easy on a dreary day at Torrey Pines and wound up in a place he hasn’t been in five years.
He had the 36-hole lead by himself at one of his favorite PGA Tour stops.
Woods didn’t miss a shot during a four-hole stretch around the turn on the North Course that included a 5-iron to 5 feet for eagle and a wedge that one-hopped off the pin to set up birdie. It carried him to a 7-under 65 on Friday and gave him a two-shot lead in the Farmers Insurance Open.
“I feel good right now,” Woods said. “I’m leading the tournament.”
Woods was at 11-under 133 and had a two-shot lead over Billy Horschel, with six other players two shots behind. Already a favorite with seven wins as a pro at Torrey Pines, Woods had even more in his favor going into the weekend. He had a 74-0 edge in PGA Tour wins against the next seven players behind him.
Horschel, who had to go back to Q-school to get his card last year, had a 69 on the South Course to get into final group.
Woods caught a break in the draw by playing the easier North — it’s about 600 yards shorter — on a day of light rain, a late breeze and soft conditions. But he kept the ball in play off the tee, and he only got in trouble once. That was on the par-4 eighth hole when he drove into a tough lie in the bunker, and it led to his only bogey.
There’s a simple formula for playing the North — make birdie on the par 5s and pick up a few more on the short par 4s. And that’s just what he did.
Woods missed birdie putts inside 8 feet on the opening two holes and was taking baby steps until he took off. It started with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th. He followed with the 5-iron that landed just left of the pin on the 18th, a two-putt birdie on the par-5 first hole, and his wedge that took one hop, struck the flag and settled 4 feet away.
It was similar to Thursday on the South Course when he played five-hole stretch in 5 under, only this time, Woods finished strong. His approach to the seventh spun back and ran over the cup to set up a short birdie, and he finished off his routine day with a 5-wood onto the ninth green for another two-putt birdie.
“Drive the ball well here and you’re going to probably have four iron shots into the par 5s,” Woods said. “You sprinkle that in with probably four or five wedge shots in there, a round of 6- or 7-under par is definitely conceivable.”
Brad Fritsch, a rookie from Canada, had a 67 on the South Course to lead the group of six players at 8-under 136. The others were Casey Wittenberg, Steve Marino, Jimmy Walker, Josh Teater and Erik Compton, whom Woods referred to as “remarkable” for being a two-time heart transplant recipient and being on the PGA Tour.
Defending champion Brandt Snedeker didn’t fare so well. After opening with a 65 on the North, he made only one birdie and twice took bogey on the par 5s on his way to a 75 that left him seven shots behind.