It was as much as foregone conclusion as is possible in golf. Tiger Woods won his 75th PGA Tour event today at one of his favorite courses, Torrey Pines in San Diego.
It was the eighth time Woods has won at Torrey Pines. He has now won the Farmers Insurance title a record seven times and of course there was his amazing win in the 2008 US Open when he bested the field playing basically on one leg.
It was one of his more dominant performances as he began gradually distancing himself from the field midway through the second round. He would lead by two shots after the second round, four after the third round and began Monday’s final (weather had delayed play) with a six shot lead, with 11 holes to play.
It was a performance that conjured up images of the once invincible Tiger. The veneer that had surrounded his legend for the first 14 years of his professional career was akin to a Superhero’s cloak in that once he got the lead, a tournament was as good as over. That illusion of invincibility had all but disappeared during the last 4 years. Winless in both 2010 and 2011, Woods’ comeback year in 2012 included 3 Tour victories but also several situations where he surrendered 36 and 54 hole leads. That was something that he never used to do and a large part of his “it” factor vanished with those defeats.
Standing on the 14th tee today Tiger had an insurmountable 8 shot lead. Woods stumbled slightly by making a bogey on the 14th followed by a careless double bogey (caused once again by a wayward drive) on the 15th but the outcome was never really in doubt.
His 4 shot victory today was close to being vintage Tiger. While he went through stretches that he was wayward with his driver, he played some remarkable recovery shots and his short game (often the most overlooked part of his game) was at its magnificent best. Torrey Pines and Pebble Beach are probably the two hardest courses to putt on because of the Poa Annua greens which can beguile even the best putters and green readers. Woods was unfailingly excellent as he converted one save after another.
He also seemed to be carrying himself like the Woods of old. It seemed that he was determined to make a statement with his play. To show the golf world that he was indeed back and that he could still decimate a field of the worlds’ best golfers. He looked as if he wanted to send the professional golf world a message. He may have succeeded but there are still questions about his sometimes uncooperative driver.
Woods had complete control of his swing with his irons though. He played a variety of shots. High ones. Low ones. His patented “stinger” was in full flight. Draws and hooks. Fades and slices. It was a virtuoso performance with his irons and around the greens, the likes of which, only one other golfer in the world can duplicate, world #1 Rory McIlroy.
As golf fans, 2013 could be a very special year indeed.