Tiger Woods will be looking to get his season back on track in this week’s Farmers Insurance Open on the US PGA Tour. Phil Mickelson could also prove to be a leading contender in one of his favourite tournaments of the year.
Woods apparently received appearance money of 3 million dollars to play in the Abu Dhabi Championship on the European Tour last week. The event was promoted as a potential showdown between Woods and Rory McIlroy, but both players missed the cut.
McIlroy has now signed with Nike to use their equipment, and joins Woods in that company’s stable of sponsored players. The Irish player recorded two rounds of 75 in Abu Dhabi as he adjusted to playing with new clubs.
Woods cause wasn’t helped in Abu Dhabi by a rules infringement that cost him two shots in his second round. With the players ranked number one and two in the world not featuring over the weekend, the tournament became a good opportunity for Justin Rose. However, he faltered on Sunday and Jamie Donaldson from Wales won his second European Tour event.
Woods won this week’s tournament when it was known as the Buick Invitational from 2005 to 2008 and was also the champion at Torrey Pines in 2003 and 1999. The event is played over two courses at the California complex. Apart from the small greens, the two courses have little in common.
The first two rounds are played in rotation over the North and South courses, while the South course is used over the weekend. Rather than suiting a particular type of player, course experience is the key to good scoring at Torrey Pines.
The South course is more than four shots harder than the North course, which means the majority of the first round leaders will have played the North course. The tournament will only take shape after each player has played both courses.
The nature of the courses means there is a greater premium on accuracy than distance. Bubba Watson won the event in 2011, and he finished second for hitting the greens in regulation on the US Tour last year. However, a good week on the greens can compensate for average statistics in hitting the greens in regulation.
Mickelson is also a multiple winner, having won the tournament in 2000 and 2001 and way back in 1993 at the start of his professional career. He grew up in the area and attended the event as a teenager. Mickelson played well in the Humana Challenge last week and seemed happy with his game ahead of an event in which he often excels.