Tiger Woods signaled he is likely to be a formidable force at this year’s majors as he rekindled memories of his best form while building a commanding six-shot lead at the Farmers Insurance Open on Sunday.
Woods has just 11 holes remaining at the fog-delayed event in his bid to clinch a 75th USPGA Tour victory and the dominance he has so far displayed at one of his favorite venues has certainly shaken much of the golfing world.
Though unquestionably not the player he was in the late 1990s and early 2000s when he reigned supreme in the game, Woods appears to have completed the finishing touches to the fourth swing change of his professional career.
“It’s probably the whole package,” the 14-time major champion told reporters when asked which aspect of his game had contributed most to his 17-under total after 61 holes at Torrey Pines. “I’ve driven the ball well, I’ve hit my irons well, and I’ve chipped and putted well. Well, I’ve hit good putts. They all haven’t gone in.”
Woods was so far 11-under on the par-five holes at Torrey Pines, a noted strength of his game during his prime. While driving the ball considerable distances, he has also been surprisingly accurate.
“I just drove it on a string all day, at least all morning,” he said of his form off the tee during his three-under 69 in the third round. “I hit the ball pretty good. It seemed like I was always in pretty good position.”
Woods has always enjoyed playing at Torrey Pines, where he has won six Farmers Insurance Open titles and also the 2008 US Open in a playoff with fellow American Rocco Mediate, the most recent of his 14 major victories.
Should he go on to triumph, he would claim his 75th win on the USPGA Tour, with only Sam Snead, on 82, ahead of him.
“I’ve had a very successful career,” Woods said of what the achievement would mean to him. “This is my 18th season, so I think I’ve had some really good years in there. I’m very proud of what I’ve done.”
Asked whether he would have a different strategy in mind going into the final 11 holes at Torrey Pines with such a commanding lead, he replied: “No, I just go out there and play.”
“I had the lead and the whole idea was to build on my lead, and I’ve done that so far. I’ve got to do it again tomorrow,” he said.
Woods held a two-shot lead going into Sunday after virtually all of Saturday’s scheduled play was wiped out by thick fog at Torrey Pines.
He doubled that advantage by the end of the third round and then built a six-stroke cushion after making three birdies in his first seven holes of his final round.
“I’ve got 11 holes to play, and I’ve got to go out there and play them well,” Woods said.