Tiger Woods has won seven times at Torrey Pines. Image courtesy of dailytelegraph.com.au/AFP
Not too many golfers have the same affinity for a golf course that Tiger Woods has for Torrey Pines 36-hole layout in San Diego. On six occasions there he has won what used to be the Buick Invitational, and is now the Farmers Insurance Open, but his greatest triumph was when he won the US Open there in 2008, hobbling through his playoff win over Rocco Mediate on one good knee.
That victory was his last at Torrey Pines, though, with his only appearance since coming at the 2011 event when he tied for 44th. His great rival Phil Mickelson is the other multiple winner of this event in the field. The lefty is a three-time champion, and apart from missing the cut last year, has an excellent recent record in the tournament. In 2011 he finished second, just a shot behind Bubba Watson , backing up from a 19th-place finish the year before.
Watson is probably the man to beat, given his current form and excellent record in San Diego. He has been under par his last eight rounds at Torrey Pines, and he comes in after a 4th placing at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, which was his 21st top-20 finish in his last 26 starts.
Another man who appears to love the North and South courses at Torrey Pines is Brandt Snedeker . He shot an equal-best closing round score of five under the card last year to force a playoff, which he eventually won over Kyle Stanley . The latter should never have had to go to extra holes, throwing away his chance of claiming an outright win with a triple-bogey on the 72nd hole.
Regardless of how he won, Snedeker’s record at this event is nothing short of exceptional. His win 12 months ago came after a tie for ninth in 2011, while he was joint runner-up three years ago. This tournament, perhaps more than any other on the calendar, shows that previous success is vital when picking a winner. 17 of the last 19 winners of the event placed in the top ten in an earlier edition before going on to claim victory. Even Tiger had to settle for third on debut in 1998 before lifting the trophy for the first time the year after.
Marc Leishman appears to be the best Australian hope. He tied for 9th at the Sony Open and has twice finished in the top ten in this event, including a second-placing behind Ben Crane in 2010. Crane could provide some value, having also picked up a pair of top-15 finishes either side of his tournament win, while DA Points finished 5th on the leaderboard in 2011 and tied for 8th last year.
When looking at potential first round leader, Bill Haas looks to be a good quality bet. He was in second place just a shot off the pace after the opening day last year, and was tied for 5th after 18 holes in 2011. Going off his prior record, Haas should be among the leaders come Sunday. He improved from a tie for 11th in 2009 to equal-ninth in 2011, then moved up even further to finish with a share of 4th place last year, so he’s overdue for a win.
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