Inevitably, Tiger wins, but keeps it interesting

Los Angeles TimesJanuary 29, 2013 

San Diego — Only Tiger Woods could so dramatically breeze to victory. Leave it to Woods to make things interesting at Torrey Pines even when the outcome was so inevitable.

Woods won the extended, fogged-over Farmers Insurance Open on Monday by four shots but wavered enough to keep people interested and/or riveted through his tap-in par on the par-5 finishing hole.

Woods never lost the lead but did lose control of his driver, needing to hit a shot out of a temporary tent area and taking a penalty drop out of the ice plant.

Woods finished with a final-round 72, even par, and played his final five holes in four over. It was his only round in the 70s after rounds of 68-65-69.

It was a good thing for him, in the end, that he was Tiger Woods and everyone else had pretty much conceded him his 75th victory on the PGA Tour. Only Sam Snead, with 82, has won more times.

Woods ended up at 14-under 274.

“I had an eight-shot lead,” Woods said. “I just needed to stay upright.”

Brandt Snedeker and Josh Teater shared runner-up honors with totals of 10-under 278, while Jimmy Walker and Nick Watney tied for fourth at 279.

Woods began the day at 17 under with 11 holes to play. He held a six-shot lead over Snedeker and Watney. Neither of them could apply any pressure on Woods during an agonizingly slow round. Woods’ 11 holes took nearly four hours.

“In the end I just started losing my patience,” Woods said. “It was so slow out there.”

Snedeker, the defending champion and first-round co-leader, started Monday thinking he still had a chance. His problem was he had only five holes to make up ground.

“I thought if I could get out and play 14 under that I might have a chance,” Snedeker said. “The conditions are tough. The wind is blowing. It’s cold. The ball is not rolling real far. So I knew this course could yield some bogeys, but that being done, you’ve still got to post it. And I didn’t, so that’s pretty disappointing.”

After parring his first hole, the par-3 eighth, Woods had his first wobble at the par-5 ninth. After backing away from the ball when he heard a camera click, Woods badly blocked his tee shot right and muttered “thanks a lot” to the surrounding gallery.

Woods being Woods, he brilliantly carved a 3-iron off the hard pan near a temporary tournament tent and saved par.

He extended his lead to eight after making birdie on the par-5 13th, before unexpectedly going south on the South Course.

He bogeyed No. 14 and then took a penalty stroke on the par-4 15th after driving into the ice plant. That led to a double bogey.

He also bogeyed No. 17 but still walked to the 18th hole with a four-shot lead.

Last year, Gig Harbor’s Kyle Stanley blew a three-shot lead at the 72nd hole and lost a playoff to Snedeker.

Woods wasn’t going to blow a four-shot lead. He drove a fairway wood into the rough before hitting a safe layup shot.

Stanley, last year, spun his third shot off the green into the water.

Woods, from 121 yards, used a 9-iron to reduce the spin on the ball. He left his shot well above the hole, away from the water, and two-putted for an easy par.

Woods’ victory moves him one closer to Snead’s PGA record. Woods, who just turned 37, has won a startling 27 percent of his PGA starts (75 out of 280).

He won at Torrey Pines for the seventh time on the PGA Tour. Woods also won his 14th and most recent major title, the 2008 U.S. Open, at Torrey Pines, meaning he is the first PGA Tour player to win eight times on one course.

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