Tiger Woods begins his 2017 by headlining yet another field at this weekend’s Farmers Insurance Open in California.
The 14-time major champion will take to the tee at host course Torrey Pines, a venue where he’s registered 13 lifetime wins including a major US Open title in 2008, to begin a stretch of four starts in five weeks.
Woods hasn’t played since his own Hero World Challenge in December in which he showed positive signs, despite finishing 15th in a final 17-man field, given that his last start prior came in August 2015.
The 41-year-old feels positive about his game and says he’s played “a lot” of golf since the Hero World Challenge, stating, “I’ve sat out long enough,” having played only one event in the past 17 months. He will feel here he has a great opportunity to become a winning force again, or at least improve on his 663rd world ranking position.
He would have right to feel so, too, with seven wins at this event, most recently in 2013, and including four consecutive wins between 2005 and 2008, making him comfortably the event’s most successful player.
Also returning to the event is its second most successful player, Phil Mickelson, who’s the only player to join Woods as more than a two-time winner with three victories. Mickelson travels to California after what he described as an encouraging performance at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
The defending champion, and two-time winner, Brandt Snedeker will hope to join Woods and Mickelson in that respect by adding a third title of his own. The Americans are joined by fellow previous winners world-number-one Jason Day, 2015, Scott Stallings, 2014, Ben Crane, 2010, and Nick Watney, 2009.
Fresh from his first PGA Tour win at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Hudson Swafford makes an appearance alongside runner-up, and eighth scorer of a PGA Tour 59, Adam Hadwin.
American duo Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler return to the PGA Tour after starting in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on the European Tour in which Johnson finished in tied second. In-form Hideki Matsuyama, Patrick Reed and Justin Rose add to a field of star names.
The Farmers Insurance Open, under varying names, has run since 1952 and has featured every year, bar 1958, since. Torrey Pines Golf Course has played host since 1968.
Torrey Pines is one of the most famous courses in world golf. With two, the North and the South, courses, the first two rounds at this event alternate between the courses before the weekend rounds, after the cut, are played on the South course. Both courses are par 72 but the South course sits over 700 yards longer. The South course is typically seen as the harder course but, after a $12million redesign, there’s no real let up on the North course these days. Both courses finish with a par five offering the potential for exciting climaxes with eagle opportunities.
Although Woods holds the tournament score record – with George Burns – of 22-under-par, scoring here is usually in the teens-under-par. However, the last three years has seen no player break 10-under-par with Snedeker winning at a mere six-under-par last time out.
The purse is at its highest ever of $6.7million with the winner receiving over $1.2million and a great deal of world ranking points due to the strength of the field.
World class names bulk out the field at one of the PGA Tour’s most prestigious events, but, as is seemingly always the case, most eyes will be on the powerhouse that is Tiger Woods.