Tiger Woods looks both dominant and vulnerable in eighth win at Torrey Pines
There was little hope of drama for the Monday finish at the Farmers Insurance Open. Tiger Woods had a six-stroke lead with 11 holes to play and his 75th PGA Tour title squarely in his crosshairs.
Completing the tournament seemed like a mere formality.
And it was, even if Woods didn't exactly put on a virtuoso performance over 11 sluggish holes on the South Course at Torrey Pines.
On a sunny but brisk morning along the cliff tops near La Jolla, Calif., Woods began the suspended fourth round on the par-3 eighth hole with a six-stroke lead. Seven pars, two bogeys, one double-bogey and one birdie later, Woods signed for an even-par 72 and a four-stroke win.
It was his eighth professional title, including the 2008 U.S. Open, at this municipal facility 90 miles south of his childhood home in Cypress, and his fourth win in his last 16 PGA Tour starts. Woods is now just seven victories shy of Sam Snead's all-time PGA Tour mark of 82.
(RELATED PHOTOS: All-time leaders in career PGA Tour titles)
Woods's robust lead Monday -- it ballooned to eight strokes after he birdied the par-5 13th hole -- recalled his barnstorming heyday in the early 2000s, but there's no doubting Woods is a less clinical and more flappable player than the one who used to slam doors on his so-called competitors.
Or at least he was on Monday.
"It got a little ugly toward the end," Woods said after his partial round, in which he hit just three of eight fairways and five of 11 greens in regulation. "I started losing my patience with the slow play."
You couldn't blame the guy for that considering it took him and his playing partners Billy Horschel and Casey Wittenberg nearly four hours to finish.
Woods's testiness showed early. After a badly blocked tee shot at the par-5th ninth -- his second hole of the day -- he released his driver, sending it flying toward the front of the tee box. When his tee ball landed in a fenced-in enclosure 50 yards from the middle of the fairway, Woods received relief on the other side of the fence. From there, he hit a low burner back to the fairway and saved his par.
The untidy tee shot was a harbinger of things to come. At the par-4 15th, he hooked a ball into the ice plant left of the fairway, leading to a penalty drop and a double bogey. On the par-4 17th, he hit a chunky sky-ball with his 3-wood. CBS analyst Peter Kostis said on the air that Woods's squirrely play -- and lack of a go-tee shot -- raised more questions than it answered.
In another sense, though, it was moot. Woods effectively claimed this title on Sunday, when he continued to display much-improved precision with his scoring irons and carded his third consecutive round in the 60s to leave the field choking in his fumes.
(RELATED PHOTOS: Classic Photos of Tiger's Career)
"I think he wanted to send a message," Hunter Mahan told the AP after his fourth-round 72 left him in a tie for 15th. "I think deep down he did. You play some games to try to motivate yourself. There's been so much talk about Rory [McIlroy]. Rory is now with Nike. That would be my guess."
Brandt Snedeker, who made up a seven-shot Sunday deficit to win the Farmers a year ago, mounted no such charge Monday. Snedeker signed for a fourth-round 69 to tie for second, at 10 under par, with former mini-tour grinder Josh Teater. Nick Watney and Jimmy Walker closed with 71s to finish tied for third at nine under.
Jason Day snuck into the top 10 with a fourth-round-best 66, while Phil Mickelson (70), who finished T37 at the Humana Challenge last week, fared no better in his home game at Torrey. He finished at even par in a tie for 51st.
Woods will have plenty of time to hone a go-tee tee shot on the range in Florida. His next start will likely be the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Marana, Ariz., at the end of February.
Correction: An earlier version of this story reported that Woods has won four of his last 20 PGA Tour starts. Woods has won four of his last 16 starts on Tour.