February 04, 2015

Tiger returns to Torrey Pines for Farmers Insurance Open

Tiger Woods will look to regroup this week in the $6.3 million Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, California.

Last week, Tiger shot a career-high 82 in the second round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, his first PGA TOUR event in five months, and missed the cut.

Woods has good memories at Torrey Pines, where he has won the tournament seven times and also captured the 2008 U.S. Open.

But Tiger is working through swing changes with new coach Chris Como and struggled with his driver and short game last week. Both will be areas of focus at Torrey Pines, where Woods played a fog-shortened, nine-hole pro-am round on Wednesday and was accompanied by Como and Champions Tour star Fred Couples.

“I’m caught right in between patterns, and when I have to hit shots, I got to shape shots, I’m caught right dead in between,” Woods said. “So, they are polar opposites, the movement patterns, that when I do half of one or half of the other, it’s pretty bad.”

Tiger admitted it’s even more challenging to become comfortable with the changes playing under pressure in front of thousands of spectators. He hit hundreds of chip shots last weekend at his home in Florida and is hopeful some of his hard work will pay off this week.

“When you’re under the gun, you got to hit a shot, you just get so target-oriented that sometimes old patterns come out and then you have a new one that’s still trying to come out as well, and you get caught,” Woods said.

Tiger’s long-range goal is to be sharp and competitive for the Masters in April.

“It’s certainly a process — I’m going through it right now, and Chris and I are working our tails off to try to get this,” he said. “I want to get this. I want to be ready come Augusta and the rest of the majors, but we still got some work to do.”

Woods begins first-round play Thursday on the 10th tee of the shorter North Course at 12:20 p.m. ET with Rickie Fowler and Billy Horschel. Horschel and longtime friend Pat Perez were among those who chatted with Tiger and offered advice on the driving range before his pro-am round.

“I’m battling through it,” Woods said. “Even if I happen to make a bad swing, I know what the fix is, but could I save it during the swing itself? My good is really good. Unfortunately, my bad is really bad.”

Tiger is also competing with a heavy heart this week after the Tuesday passing of 92-year-old Charlie Sifford, who broke down the color barrier in golf in the 1960s.

“It’s been tough — very tough,” Woods said. “He’s like my grandpa that I never had. And it’s been a long night and it’s going to be a long few days.”

In 1960, Sifford fought for the right to become the first African-American golfer to play on the PGA TOUR. He went on to win two events, and in 2004, was the first black player to be enshrined into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Last November, President Barack Obama presented Sifford with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The only other golfers to receive the honor are Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.

“But he fought, and what he did, the courage it took for him to stick with it and be out and play, I probably wouldn’t be here, my dad would have never picked up the game, and who knows if the clause would still exist or not,” Woods said. “But he broke it down.”