A Return And An Arrival
It had been 17 months since Tiger Woods last played in a PGA Tour event. His game looked like it. Woods’ much awaited return to the PGA Tour and tournament golf (his December foray at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas notwithstanding http://www.birdgolf.com/tiger-woods-returns/ ) showed some positive signs but also some rust. Which is to be expected.
Playing in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines where Woods had won 8 times (including the 2008 U.S. Open) and had never missed a cut, the player currently ranked #663 in the world, began steadily. He was 1-under par after back-to-back birdies making the turn of his opening round before faltering with three bogies and a double-bogey to finish round one at 4-over par. A more consistent ball striking day in Friday’s second round would leave Woods with an even-par 72 and a two day total of 146, 4 shots north of the cut. It is only the 16th cut that the 40 year old Woods has missed in 314 career events.
Woods had good company in the going home for the weekend department as he was joined by playing partners, World #1 Jason Day and #3 Dustin Johnson, who also hit the showers early. In fairness to Day, this was his first event after a 5 month hiatus, so his game had cobwebs too.
Said Woods’ caddie, Joey LaCava: “You have to be patient. He knows he needs more reps, more rounds. He’s not going to turn it around overnight.” Woods will now make the 17 hour flight to play in next weekend’s Dubai Desert Classic which will be the second of four events he has committed to in a five week stretch.
The Farmers is the 11th event on the PGA Tour’s 2016-2017 season which began in October but only the second event (the other being the WGC-HSBC Championship in Shanghai) that draws a quality field. One has to wonder if the PGA Tour is risking diluting its product with so many second-tier events in Fall and Winter that the best players (see Day’s schedule) largely by-pass.
Midway through Sunday’s final round there were 25 players within 3 shots of the lead held by defending Champion, Brandt Snedeker and a resurgent Keegan Bradley who were tied at 9-under par. 2011 PGA Champion Bradley has been floundering since beginning to overhaul his swing 2 years ago and having to find a new way to putt since the ban on Anchoring at the start of 2016. Snedeker faded to finish a 8-under and in tie for 9th while Bradley had his best result in more than a year with his 4th place tie.
In the end however, it was another one of the young twenty-somethings who stole the show. Jon Rahm capped off a superlative 7-under par 67 with an eagle-3 on the 18th hole to finish the week at 13-under and claim his maiden PGA Tour victory. It will be the first of many for this supremely talented 22-year old Spaniard.
Rahm finished 3 shots ahead of Charles Howell III and another newcomer, Taipei’s C.T. Pan who shared second place at 10-under.
Rahm went to Arizona State University and won 11 college tournaments as a Sun Devil. Rahm won the Ben Hogan Award twice (awarded to the best college player each year) and was the number one ranked golfer in the World Amateur Golf Ranking for an amazing 60 weeks. Rahm can most certainly throw his name into the discussion of the brilliant youth movement of players on the Tour along with http://www.birdgolf.com/dynamic-duo/