Tiger Woods will take a six-shot lead into the final day of the fog-delayed Farmers Insurance Open. Eleven holes stand between him and his eighth victory at Torrey Pines. Past Farmers Insurance Open champions Brandt Snedeker and Nick Watney are his closest competition.
1. Monday Fun-day: Woods has a good record in Monday finishes at Torrey Pines. It was on a Monday that he defeated Rocco Mediate in a memorable 19-hole playoff for the US Open title in 2008. Woods is hoping for not nearly as close a finish this time. “I’ve got to continue with executing my game plan,” he said. “That’s the idea. I’ve got 11 holes to play, and I’ve got to go out there and play them well.”
In spite of erratic play to start the fourth round, Woods was 3 under for the seven holes he completed before darkness. He saved par at the first two holes after hitting drives well left of the fairway, then birdied the par-3 third after hitting his tee shot to 11 feet. He chipped in for a second consecutive birdie after missing the fairway well right on No. 4. Woods had to hole an 8-foot par putt at the fifth hole after hitting his approach into a greenside bunker. He two-putted for birdie at the sixth hole after reaching the green in two shots with a 5-wood from the right rough, then parred No. 7.
He hit just two of six fairways in the fourth round, but scrambled well enough to grow his lead from four to six shots.
2. TV time: The final round will not resume until 11:10 a.m. PT Monday. No, the late start has nothing to do with the pesky fog that basically canceled Saturday’s play. This is all about television. Golf Channel and CBS will televise portions of Monday’s play. CBS, which will show the tournament’s conclusion, asked the PGA Tour to have the fourth round finish at 2:30 p.m. local time. “They’re our television partner, and if that’s what they want to do, that’s what we’re going to,” said Mark Russell, the PGA Tour’s senior vice president of rules and competitions. Russell couldn’t recall ever starting a Monday finish so late. There’s little question the desire to televise Monday’s finish was based on the man atop the leaderboard.
The late finish keeps any player who made the cut at Torrey Pines from participating in the Monday qualifier for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. That qualifier featured many of the Q-School and Web.com Tour graduates since only about five or six players in that category will get into the Phoenix field.
3. Like old times: The third round began Sunday morning, and Woods had built a six-shot lead by the time he came to the 18th tee. He bogeyed the easy par-5 and Brad Fritsch, playing in the group ahead of him, made birdie to reduce Woods’ lead to four entering the final round.
Woods is seeking his eighth title at Torrey Pines. His last victory here came in 2008. Woods’ play early Sunday was reminiscent of his form during those early years. He missed just two fairways on the front nine of his third round Sunday, often twirling his driver as another ball found the fairway. He hit 15 of 18 greens, as well. Four of Woods’ five birdies came on putts of 3 feet or less. The other was completed by a 6-foot putt.
4. In the rearview mirror: Woods’ closest competitors have had success here. Snedeker won last year after overcoming another large lead: He was seven shots behind Kyle Stanley at the start of the final round, and three shots back with one hole remaining. Nick Watney is the 2009 champion.
The Monday finish forced Watney to cancel his plans to go surfing. Instead of catching waves he’ll be chasing arguably the game’s best front-runner. “All we can do tomorrow is go out and try to make him think about it a little bit and see what happens,” said Watney, who’s playing two groups ahead of Woods.
Snedeker is back near the top of the leaderboard after a fantastic Sunday. He was tied for the 18-hole lead after shooting 65 on Torrey Pines North, but struggled with his putter Friday on the South Course and shot 75. Snedeker was 7 under for 31 holes Sunday to move up 29 spots on the leaderboard. He has just five holes remaining Monday.
“I’ve got a long way to go,” Snedeker said. “I’ve got a guy at the top of the leaderboard who doesn’t like giving up leads, so I have to go catch him.”
5. Short shots: Monday qualifier Adam Hadwin was in ninth place through 54 holes. He was 12 over through 15 holes when the fourth round was suspended, though, and had fallen into 83rd. . . . Phil Mickelson, even par for nine holes Monday, is T-72. . . . Erik Compton is T-5 with 11 holes remaining; he’s seeking his first top-10 in his 59th career Tour start. . . . Rookie Brad Fritsch is fourth, two shots out of second place; he’s trying to extend this streak: a 2012 Web.com Tour grad has finished first or second in each of the season’s first two full-field events. Fritsch needs a top-10 to have any chance of playing the Phoenix Open. The same goes for Compton. . . . The top two players on the 2012 Web.com Tour money list — Casey Wittenberg and Luke Guthrie — are both T-5.