Woods looks to make history at Torrey Pines
When Sam Woods sees something that she wants, she goes after it — much like father, Tiger.
Late in 2012, she was looking at her dad’s trophies in his Florida home. She noticed that he had quite a few trophies with small trees on them. The tree is a silhouette of a salt pruned Torrey Pine tree, indigenous to the San Diego area and the name sake for the golf course on which Tiger has been so dominant.
Sam, a fan of the movie "The Karate Kid" thought the trees on the six trophies looked like the bonsai trees in the movie. Her dad showed her pictures online and talked about how the trees line the ocean cliffs along the course and told her stories of how he earned them. She was satisfied with the lesson.
But she was not satisfied with the number of trophies. Like father, like daughter.
"I had all these trophies lined up and she said, ‘You need to get one of those,’" said Woods on Wednesday morning after his pro-am round in the Farmers Insurance Open. It was his first time addressing the media this year. "I said, ‘It’s not as easy as I need to get one of those. I have to go out there and earn it.’ She said, ‘Okay, go do it.’ "
Sam’s dad responded with a simple yes, ma’am. He proceeded to win his seventh trophy from the event and his eighth overall at Torrey Pines. He proudly brought it back to his daughter and her brother, Charlie, where it was welcomed with a victory dance.
"I got it, won the trophy, brought it home and they got a chance to just dance around it," Woods said. "They put it literally in the middle of the living room, everybody was dancing around the trophy."
Woods is back in San Diego this week seeking an unprecedented ninth career win at Torrey Pines Golf Course (eight PGA Tour wins, one U.S. Open). A win on Sunday would make him the first PGA Tour player to win nine times on the same course.
How does he do it? He goes low on the par-5s and his ball striking on the course has always been exceptional. The greens, fast and firm poa annua, which has never been a favorite of Woods, have posed challenges and gotten him into trouble at times. But Woods has displayed an almost supernatural ability to get himself out of trouble with his putter on this course more than others.
It’s a course that plays like a major championship course, which is perfect for a player that plays every tournament as if it’s a major.
"You’ve got to get the ball in the fairway here," Woods said. "The rough is thick; it’s a little bit more lush than we’ve seen it with these greens conditions. We’ve seen it like this when it’s wet, but not when it’s like this. This is very similar to an Open."
Throughout course redesigns, changes in holes, pin placement and length it’s a course that Woods has continued to dominate and adapt to as his game has evolved as well.
The last major that Woods won was at Torrey Pines. He battled Rocco Mediate in an epic 19-hole Monday round in the 2008 U.S. Open and practically did so on one leg. But then he took time off to rehab the knee and his life unraveled. With that, his game did as well.
His game is back, albeit a slightly different version of it, but last season’s five wins and a PGA Tour Player of the Year award is strong supporting evidence. He needs only three wins to tie Sam Snead’s mark of 83 – a remarkable accomplishment — but it’s been more than five years since he has furthered his quest to break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors.
Until he does, he’ll always have Torrey Pines.
"Everyone wants to talk about the majors you’ve won, just like, for instance, everyone wants to talk how many Slams that Fed has won. People don’t realize how many tournaments you’ve won or whether it’s (Roger Federer) or Jimmy Connors who won the most events, that’s something that gets overlooked is consistency over a long period of time," Woods said. "Sam won into his 50s and won on the Tour. To be able to do it for virtually 30 years, that’s unbelievable to have a playing career that long. For me to do it in, so far, under 20 years is something I’m proud of."