They say that true hospitality still exists only in the South, but try telling that to Tiger Woods as each time he heads west to La Jolla California they hand him a trophy and a million dollar check.
Woods has seven career victories at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open championship, and after 36 holes at the 2013 Farmers Insurance Open, Woods seems poised to pick up his eighth victory along San Diego’s scenic coastline.
Woods posted an 11 under par score of 133 through 36 holes and currently holds a three stroke lead over Billy Horschel.
We haven’t seen it too often over the past three years, but through the first 36-holes at Torrey Pines we got a glimpse of the vintage Woods.
Woods’ short game was as sharp as ever, he owned Torrey Pine’s choppy poa annua greens and he absolutely demolished the par fives. Woods has played the par-fives in eight-under-par through the first 36 holes.
“That's something that I needed to work on, and as you saw toward the end of last season, it started coming around,” Woods said via ASAP Sports of his short-game. “Basically, I just continue doing what I've been doing with it, and I haven't had to hit as many golf balls, so I've been able to dedicate more time to my short game and consequently, it's better.”
But fast starts are nothing new to Woods.
Woods ranked second on tour in round one and round two scoring during the 2012 season, but then dropped to 44th on tour in round three scoring and 30th on tour in final round scoring. Woods’ 2012 scoring average was in fact more than a stroke and a half higher on the weekends when compared to the first two rounds.
The good news for Woods is that not a single player within three stokes of his lead has ever won a PGA Tour event.
Lurking four strokes back is Nick Watney, who at this point may be Woods’ biggest concern out of those players within striking distance of him on the leaderboard.
Phil Mickelson was looking as if he’d have some extra time to spend with his tax advisers this weekend after opening with a pedestrian even par round of 72 on the North Course on Thursday before posting a one-under-par round of 71 at the more difficult South Course on Friday and just sneaking into the weekend on the number.
Mickelson will head into round three trailing Woods by 10 strokes.
Woods is in a familiar place atop the leaderboard at Torrey Pines. However, he will also need to buck a 2012 trend of strong starts and weekend fizzles if he wants to remain atop the leaderboard through Sunday afternoon and pick up his first victory of the 2013 season and the 75th victory of his PGA Tour career.
Tiger Woods and weekend fizzles?
That sentence would have been laughable five years ago when Woods last won at Torrey Pines.
But this is a different Woods and different era in the game. Woods is no longer the undisputed dominant force in the game as he was back in 2008, which in many ways increases the anticipation as we head into the weekend at Torrey Pines.
While five years ago we might as well have handed Woods the trophy and a million dollar check right now, in the year 2013 your guess as to how Woods will perform this weekend is as good as mine.
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