SAN DIEGO — Tiger Woods makes his 2013 PGA Tour debut this week at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course, a place he says he first came when he was under 10 years old to watch what was then called the Andy Williams San Diego Open.
Woods has enjoyed many great memories here, winning the Farmers Insurance Open six times and his last major victory at the 2008 U-S Open. As we come up on the 5th anniversary of that victory, Tiger said he thinks about that week often. But the top memory is not his win.
“Number one that comes to my mind every time I look at it, or see highlights of it. is just pure pain that I was in,” Woods said at Tuesday’s press conference. “I don’t ever want to experience that again. That was a very, very difficult week. I definitely never, ever want to experience that again, that part of it.
“Man, here I am just talking about it and my hands are sweating just thinking about the feeling I had to get through each and every day and trying not to show you guys and any of my competitors what I was feeling. It was a very difficult week.”
Woods not only had to suffer through a torn ligament in his left knee and a stress fracture is his left leg, he also had to endure an extra 19-hole playoff to beat Rocco Mediate for his 14th major championship.
Injuries and scandals have hindered him since, not to mention the fact that more golfers have emerged to challenge on a weekly basis – something Tiger caused himself by elevating the popularity of the game and the prize money.
“Each generation, it gets a little more difficult (to win),” Woods said. “The biggest difference is that you have more guys going into a weekend with a chance to win, and they are. They can win from anyplace. The gap’s gotten smaller in that regard.”
“He’s so great for the game of golf,” said 2012 Farmers Insurance Open champion Brandt Snedeker. “We’re so fortunate to have him back and playing well. He adds a little bit more electricity to the tournament. There are certain guys when they walk into a room, people gravitate towards them.
“These guys really move the needle on the game of golf, and we’re fortunate to have them back playing, especially here in San Diego. It’s great tohave him here playing.”
Woods, a California native, says he moved to Florida in 1996 for the same reason that fellow golfer Phil Mickelson has talked about moving out of his native San Diego: rising income taxes. Over the weekend, Mickelson said he will have to make some tough choices, including possibly moving from his Rancho Santa Fe home.
Woods sounded like he understood Mickelson’s situation.
“Well, I moved out of here back in ’96 for that reason,” Woods said. “I enjoy Florida, but also I understand what he was, I think, trying to say. I think he’ll probably explain it better and in a little more detail.”
Woods started re-working his game from tee to green in August, 2010 with a new swing coach, Sean Foley, and he finally broke through with three wins on tour last season – ending a two-and-a-half year drought. Woods tees off Thursday at 10:30 am on the South Course with 2009 Farmers Insurance Open champion Nick Watney and Rickie Fowler, another up-and-coming player.
Tiger turned 37 on December 30th, and I asked him if he believes his game has come back to the point where he can win his first major since his 2008 triumph at Torrey.
He gave a concise and confident reply: “Absolutely”