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Farmers Insurance Open 2013

Tiger Woods in command, six clear

January 28, 2013

Tiger Woods closed in on his 75th PGA Tour victory by stretching his lead to a commanding six shots with 11 holes remaining in the final round of the fog-delayed Farmers Insurance Open on Sunday.

The former world number one, a six-times winner of the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, birdied three of his first seven holes to move to 17 under overall when play was suspended for the day in fading light.

Fellow American Nick Watney, winner here in 2009, was tied for second, after eight holes, with defending champion Brandt Snedeker, who had completed 13.

Burly Canadian Brad Fritsch, a PGA Tour rookie at the age of 35, was a further two strokes back at nine under after seven holes.

However, Woods was in full command at one of his favourite venues in his bid to win a third different PGA Tour event for a seventh time. He has already recorded seven victories apiece at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

"I played well today," a smiling Woods told reporters. "Overall, I'm very pleased that I was able to build on my lead. As of right now, I've got a six-shot lead, so that's a positive.

"I've got to continue with executing my game plan. That's the idea. I've got 11 holes to play, and I've got to go out there and play them well."

His rivals are well aware of his stellar overall track record on the U.S. circuit where he has gone on to win 49 times out of 53 when holding at least a share of the 54-hole lead, including 14 of 15 in the majors.

So far this week, he has dominated a medium-strength field at the PGA Tour event which began with 17 players ranked in the world's top 50.

"I've got to make some more birdies," said FedExCup champion Snedeker, who came from seven strokes behind in the final round last year to win the title in a playoff. "I've got a long way to go.

"I've got a guy at the top of the leaderboard that doesn't like giving up leads, so I have to go catch him."

Four strokes in front when the weather-delayed third round was completed earlier in the day, Woods did well to scramble pars on the first two holes after missing both fairways badly to the left.

As the late afternoon shadows lengthened in soft sunlight, the world number two hit a superb tee shot to 10 feet at the par-three third and rolled in the birdie putt to regain a four-shot cushion.

Woods then conjured an outrageous birdie at the par-four fourth after his ball ended up behind a tree to the right of the fairway following another wayward tee shot.

Having considered his options, he cut a low second shot around the tree to just short of the green before chipping in from 40 feet for a miraculous three to forge five strokes clear.

Woods also birdied the par-five sixth, rifling an exquisite 232-yard second shot from the right rough to 28 feet and comfortably two-putting to move six ahead.

He then found the right fairway off the tee at the seventh before the siren sounded to halt play for the day and, with the option to complete the hole, struck his approach to 30 feet and safely two-putted for par.

Woods began a marathon day at Torrey Pines two strokes in front of the chasing pack after thick fog had allowed only five minutes of play on a frustrating Saturday at the coastal venue.

Looking sharp in every component of his game, he revived memories of his former dominant self as he doubled that lead by shooting a three-under-par 69 in the third round.

At one point a commanding six shots ahead, Woods bogeyed the par-five 18th after finding a poor lie in a fairway bunker off the tee and a greenside bunker with his third shot to finish four ahead of Fritsch (70).

Double heart-transplant recipient Erik Compton was a further stroke back after eagling the last for a 71 while Watney (71) was among a group of five players knotted at eight under.

Fog wipes out Saturday play

January 27, 2013

Tiger Woods is going to have to wait to pursue another win at Torrey Pines.

A thick fog shrouded the course along the Pacific bluffs on Saturday and essentially wiped out the entire day at the Farmers Insurance Open. Woods, a six-time winner of this tournament, had a two-shot lead and never even bothered coming to the golf course. Three players completed one hole - and that was after a three-hour delay.

Players were to resume the third round Sunday morning and go as long as daylight allowed, and then finish Monday.

And that's a best-case scenario.

In a bizarre twist, tour officials were hopeful of rain and a little wind Sunday morning, two elements that most golfers dread. That's what is needed, however, to keep the fog away from Torrey Pines and allow the tournament to resume.

''When Mother Nature doesn't want you to play, you can't play,'' said Mark Russell, the tour vice president of competition.

They did just about everything else.

Lucas Glover warmed up three times, at one point passed the time with a little trickery. He lined up two balls in the direction of the range, and hit them with a wedge so that one ball went straight in the air, and Jerry Kelly took a baseball swing with an inverted club and made contact.

Through four tournaments this year, the PGA Tour already had had its share of weather problems. This will be the second tournament that doesn't finish on the scheduled day. The Tournament of Champions at Kapalua didn't even start until Monday, the day it was supposed to end, because of 40 mph gusts. It had to be reduced to 54 holes and was completed on Tuesday.

Woods was at 11-under 133 and didn't need to come to the course with all the delays because he was in the last group with Billy Horschel and Casey Wittenberg. Horschel spent part of his day getting advice through text messages on how to play with Woods.

He'll get to see plenty of Woods over the next two days.

Russell said there would not be a 54-hole cut for 87 players - typically there is a cut when the field is more than 78 players on Saturday. Instead, they will take a short lunch break and go back out, racing time when fog allows. The groups will stay the same until the tournament is over.

''I think the coolest thing that can come from it is that I think it looks like we're going to be paired together for 36 holes,'' Horschel said. ''So it's a pretty cool thing that's going to happen. It's just going to be a fun day tomorrow and Monday. So we'll see how it goes.''

Horschel also is among 17 players who are entered in the qualifier Monday to get into the Phoenix Open, which starts next week. Russell said those players have been given the latest tee times for the qualifier - the latest is 1:36 p.m. MST - with hopes of getting there.

Saturday began with a 30-minute delay that soon stretched into three hours, and the sun broke through the clouds as Hunter Mahan, Robert Garrigus and John Mallinger teed off on the 10th hole at the South Course. Five minutes later, the horn sounded. Because it was for weather, they were able to finish the hole.

Mahan's caddie took a picture of the 11th tee, a 216-yard par 3, and the visibility was no more than 50 yards.

It never got any better.

''That little bit of sun we did get today was overpowered by just the saturation of the atmosphere, so we just couldn't overcome it today,'' said Stewart Williams, the tour's meteorologist.

Defending champion Brandt Snedeker, seven shots out of the lead, was among those who had the longest day. He was up at 5 a.m., arrived in darkness, warmed up in the fog and never hit a shot.

''It's tough when you prepare one day, and then it's one of those days where preparation is going to be kind of thrown off,'' he said. ''But we have these days from time to time. We kind of know what to do to keep your mind fresh and ready to go. You realize it's a different week, and could be a Monday finish now and be ready for that.''

Woods won in 2005 at Torrey Pines when fog interrupted the tournament, though it was completed on Sunday. The last time this event was shortened to 54 holes because of weather was in 1998.

Russell said the Farmers Insurance Open will go 72 holes. He just couldn't promise when 84 players could get to the 37th hole of the tournament. Without rain, there was the chance of more fog Sunday morning.

''If we say we're not going to play because we might have fog in the morning, and we didn't have fog, we'd have tremendous problems,'' he said. ''So we're going to schedule it, and hopefully, we won't have fog and we can play golf. That's all we can do. If Mother Nature doesn't cooperate, we don't have very much control over that. We're going to be out here, ready to play, and see what happens.''

That's assuming they can see at all.

 

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