In closing out a four-shot victory yesterday at the Farmers Insurance Open, Woods became the first golfer to win eight PGA Tour events on the same course. It was his seventh Farmers Insurance Open win, and he also captured the 2008 U.S. Open -- the most recent of his 14 major titles -- at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California.
Woods finished with a four-round total of 14-under 274, four shots better than fellow Americans Josh Teater and defending champion Brandt Snedeker. The other six times Woods started his year with a victory on the PGA Tour he went on to capture at least four titles in each of those seasons. In five of the previous six, he captured major championships.
“Does it give me confidence? Absolutely,” Woods, who received $1.1 million, said at a news conference. “I’m excited about this year. This is a nice way to start.”
Woods, 37, held on for the win even though he played the final five holes in 4 over par yesterday. Woods held a six-shot lead with 11 holes remaining two days ago when play was halted by darkness, pushing the event to a Monday finish. His group needed almost four hours to complete the round yesterday and was forced to wait on many of the remaining holes.
“At the end I just started losing my patience,” Woods said. “It was so slow out there. We played the first nine holes in just over three hours and three of them were par-3s. That’s not fast. But I had a nice lead, so I just needed to stay upright and I’d be fine.”
Woods last week failed to qualify for weekend play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on the European Tour, his first event of 2013. Woods announced he’d start his PGA Tour season at Torrey Pines on Jan. 10, the same day Qatar Golf Association President Hassan al Nuaimi told reporters Woods was “not worth” a $3 million appearance fee to take part in the Qatar Masters, which England’s Chris Wood won with an eagle at the final hole for his first European Tour title.
Woods now has 75 career wins on the PGA Tour, second to Sam Snead, who claimed 82 titles.
“I drove the ball great this week and my short game is really coming around,” Woods said.
Woods’s seven titles at the tournament outside San Diego match his total at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
“I think I won six junior worlds here as well,” Woods said. “For some reason I’ve always done well here. I just feel comfortable.”
Woods opened the tournament with a 4-under-par 68 on the more difficult North Course on Jan. 24 and followed it up with a 7-under 65 on the South Course the next day to take a two-shot lead.
Fog wiped out play on Jan. 26, forcing organizers to try to play the third and fourth rounds the next day. Woods shot a third-round 69 and birdied three of the first seven holes during his final round two days ago before play was halted.
Returning to the course yesterday, Woods had five straight pars before making a birdie on the par-5 13th hole. He then bogeyed the 14th hole, double-bogeyed the 15th and added another bogey at the 17th hole before closing the round with a two-putt par at the par-5 18th hole.
“A win always makes it special,” Woods said. “Playing the way I did for most of this tournament, I felt like I should have won. I put myself in a position where I had a big enough lead. I know I can do that. It was nice to be able to do it.”
Woods previously started his PGA Tour season with wins at Torrey Pines in 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2008. He also won the event in 1999 and 2005.
The PGA Tour next moves to Arizona for the $6.2 million Phoenix Open from Jan. 31 to Feb. 3 at TPC Scottsdale.
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