Sitting with the lead entering the third round of the 2013 Farmers Insurance Open, Tiger Woods has a chance to reclaim a bit of the psychological advantage held over his peers that once made him nearly unbeatable.
Woods ended his Friday with an eagle on the par-five 18th. That gave him a seven-under 65 for the second round and had him two shots clear of the next closest competitor as the field was whittled down for Round 3.
Then the fog rolled in, and it never rolled out. At least not on Saturday. No group finished more than a hole in Round 3 on Saturday.
The players were stuck at the course, as the hope and thought was the fog would eventually lift and we could all avoid a Monday finish at Torrey Pines. This was a long and awkward delay for pros who have trained their bodies for success over four rounds played at 18 holes a day.
So, all of that momentum Tiger gained with his Round 2 was left to evaporate—unlike the fog that wouldn't—as everyone sat idle on Saturday. In the process, it left Tiger with a chance to make an even bigger statement.
In his heyday, once Tiger got a taste of the lead, he did not let it go. He is one of the greatest closers the sports world has ever seen.
Woods was comfortable in the lead. He would have no need to take overly aggressive shots, and his consistent ball-striking enabled him to keep the door closed for the competition.
This left the rest of the field shooting for a miracle on every shot—hoping they could somehow catch the dominant Woods. Of course, those attempts at miracles often wound up as disasters, and therein lie the seeds of Woods' psychological advantage. Tiger's presence brought guys out of their game to try to compete with him.
You can't blame the players; they knew Tiger would not make enough mistakes for them to catch him any other way.
Times have changed. Tiger was fantastic last year, but not like he used to be.
He was inconsistent, and that even extended to tournaments where he held the lead. Tiger was now pushing the door open where he was once slamming it shut.
So, now here he is with a two-shot lead and a bit of a layoff to wrestle away the momentum he had gained. If Tiger can keep his stellar play rolling, it will be a testament to his comfort with his new swing and overall game, and not just a product of a hot hand.
Tiger is going to stay on top of this tournament. He has his game rolling and he loves Torrey Pines, evidenced by his seven career wins on its North and South courses.
In addition, Tiger is striking the ball wonderfully, nailing his putts and his distance control has been spot on. He has his whole game working and he looks more comfortable on the course than he has in years.
The field is going to be chasing Tiger all tournament, and as he attacks the course with flawless precision, that field is going to come to the realization that, once again, it is a battle for second.