The Stark Contrast
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson entered the Farmers Insurance Open coming off disappointing finishes the previous week. Tiger didn’t even make it to the weekend, missing the cut at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Phil, on the other hand, did make the cut, but only finished in a tie for thirty-seventh. It’s safe to say that both came into Torrey Pines with a chip on his shoulder, but one came away without one.
The first round went well for Tiger and not too badly for Phil. Tiger finished his round with a 68, four-under. Phil finished, just like the previous week’s first round, with a 72, even-par. Tiger was only three strokes behind the leaders, K.J. Choi and Brandt Snedeker, who both shot a seven-under 65. Phil would still be in contention if he produced a better second round.
He did produce a better second round, but not much better as he cut one stroke off his first-round score as he finally got into red numbers after a 71. Tiger, on the other hand, remained in red numbers as he surged to the top of the leader-board after a second-round 65. Still, he only led by two strokes over Billy Horschel.
Thanks to Mother Nature and fog postponing the third round to Sunday, Phil got a much-needed break on Saturday. But, the break appeared to hurt Phil as he fell down the leader-board after a third-round 75. Tiger did what seemed impossible during the majors last year as he increased his lead on the weekend after a third-round 69 to go to 14-under overall.
The fourth round got under way on Sunday as Phil had no chance of contending and Tiger continued his great play as he birdied three of the seven holes he completed on Sunday. This left him at 17-under, six strokes ahead of the field.
On Monday, it was more of the same for Tiger as he knew his lead and focused on paring every hole. He accomplished this in his first five holes, which were not one-through-five but instead were eight-through-twelve. He got sick of pars as he birdied the par-five thirteenth to improve to 18-overall. Another improvement was his lead, which blossomed to eight strokes with five holes remaining. It appeared that Tiger took his foot off the gas on these final five holes as he went bogey-double bogey-par-bogey-par. Tiger blamed it on the slow pace of play in his news conference, emphasizing his impatience with the group ahead of him. However, he couldn’t help but smile after he won, for the seventh time, the Farmers Insurance Open.
Tiger answered any questions that the skeptics had with his whopping four-stroke victory that reminded a lot of people of the old Tiger that finished tournaments on the weekend. Phil reminded the skeptics why they are questioning him as he finished in a tie for fifty-first. After their first tournaments of 2013 were about the same, Tiger and Phil went in opposite directions at the Farmers Insurance Open as Tiger reminds all of us why he has won 75 times on the PGA Tour and Phil reminds us why he hasn’t won more than one PGA Tour tournament in each of the past three seasons.