Tournament: Farmer’s Insurance Open, January 26-29, 2017
Course: Torrey Pines GC (South), 7,698 yards, par 72; and Torrey Pines (North), 7,258 yards, par 72
Defending Champion: Brandt Snedeker. The Commodore from Vandy finished his final round Sunday in a deluge of rain and wind, but the remaining field was forced to wait until Monday to complete their round. No one was able to mount a comeback, so Sneds won on Monday without striking a ball that day.
Fun Fact: It’s an old WWII army base turned into one of the better municipal courses in the country. The cliffs to the Pacific that hug the course allow for a serious marine layer of fog to come in most any time, but also allow for lots of hang gliders that you will certainly see during TV coverage.
Television: Thursday-Friday, 3-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, 1-2:30 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (CBS). Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. (GC), 3-6:30 p.m. (CBS).
Former 'Dawgs in the Field (Three): Harris English, Brian Harman, and Hudson Swafford
The big news in the golf world for UGA fans is that 4 year pro Hudson Swafford broke through for his first PGA Tour win last Sunday. The big righty has been consistently better every year, and now has the prestige of being the 9th Bulldog under current UGA coach Chris Haack to win on the PGA Tour.
But the big news in the golf world for everyone else is the return of Tiger Woods to an official PGA Tour event. His last official tournament was 18+ months ago, and he has undergone a serious of back surgeries that left him unable to play. He did compete in an 18 man field tourney in December, but finished 17th (still led the field in birdies). He is playing 4 times over the next 5 weeks so we will see if he really is healthy.
The South course gets all the love, as a 2001 redesign (and some subsequent lengthening) made it an absolute monster. So much so that the USGA decided to host the 2008 US Open there. Tiger Woods won that, famously on a broken leg, by making an incredibly clutch birdie on the 72nd (and last) hole to tie Rocco Mediate. The tournament went to a 2 man playoff for 18 holes on Monday, which Tiger eventually won by playing steady golf.
But the North course has decided to get in on the action. This tournament has historically used both courses, with each player teeing it up on each course over Thursday and Friday, but using the South course exclusively over the weekend. The North course previously played 4 or even 5 strokes easier, as it wasn’t near as long nor near as penal (snicker). But a Weiskopf redesign in the last couple of years has changed that tune so that the North course is just as much of a test as you want, and the pro scores reflect that.
For whatever reason, only three Bulldogs are entered this week. Russell Henley has played a decent amount through the late fall and the last two weeks so I guess he’s taking a break. Same for Chris Kirk and Kevin Kisner. Bubba Watson played in the early January winner’s only tournament, but has typically not played until Phoenix (which is in 2 weeks). Brendon Todd and Erik Compton don’t have status to play and are not attempting to risk it as an alternate. And Lee McCoy broke his wrist in a minor car accident in early November (h/t 05movingalum), and won’t be playing until February or March. But here’s who we got:
Harris English. Has only played once since Christmas, and missed the cut at the Sony Open. But he’s 62nd in FedEx Cup, and 79th in the world rankings (OWGR).
Brian Harman. Has played twice in January, and his T20 and T3 last week moved him up to 27th in FedEx, and 107th OWGR. He’s got half a million in the bank so far this season as well.
Hudson Swafford. The 2010 UGA grad got his first professional win last week (along with $1,044,000) and moved from 204th OWGR all the way to 89th. And 6th in FedEx Cup. The win gets him into all this year’s majors, and the OWGR jump will get him into most of the World Golf Championship events. A little surprised he’s playing this week, but he’s hot… as in he’s made 19 cuts in a row going back to last May, and his season so far has been: T62, T29, T46, T36, T13, and 1st. So he is trending in a big way.
You’ll notice above that CBS has the prime viewing times on TV, which means football is over (other than a certain big game) and the major networks are jumping back into old man sports. Flip it on over unless you really want to watch the Pro Bowl.
And as always….