Tiger returns to happy hunting ground at Torrey Pines

The Farmers Insurance Open boasts a star-studded field that includes the 14-time major champion, who is looking for his ninth win at the course.

Woods had an encouraging end to 2017.
Woods had an encouraging end to 2017.

TIGER WOODS WILL return to action at this week’s Farmers Insurance Open, a year on from missing the cut at the same event on his last official PGA Tour start.

The 14-time major champion is back this week to try to conquer Torrey Pines after looking sharp at the Hero World Challenge towards the end of 2017.

Woods managed three rounds in the 60s at the unofficial event he hosts annually.

He has endured four back surgeries in recent years but offered an optimistic review of his week in the Bahamas after taking things slow with his latest recovery.

Once golf’s dominant figure, he has not won a PGA Tour event since 2013 – a year that saw him claim five victories. Woods’ last top-10 finish on the PGA Tour came in 2015.

However, he can take heart from a stunning record at Torrey Pines. His eight wins at the iconic course include his famous 2008 US Open triumph, where he somehow defied a double stress fracture of his left tibia and significant knee damage to beat Rocco Mediate in a play-off.

Woods will not be short of high-level opponents this week. The Farmers Insurance Open boasts one of the PGA Tour season’s strongest non-major fields.

Torrey Pines, hugging the Pacific Ocean’s coast, nestled up against California’s breezy shores, has been the scene for countless memorable moments on the PGA Tour. Woods’ 2008 US Open win over Mediate might be the most famous in recent memory, but the course never disappoints.

Players will play the South course three times, including the final round, and play the recently renovated North course once. Historically easier, the North course played much tougher last season, barely offering players a respite.

In every way, Jon Rahm is this week’s defending champion. Not only did he secure his first PGA Tour win here last year, he added his second last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

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Rahm, now ranked second in the world behind only Dustin Johnson, looks poised to contend in majors this year. His powerful build and searing tee shots and iron game help him on California courses. While it’s tough to win consecutive events on the PGA Tour, Rahm is playing with a ton of confidence and will arguably be the man to beat.

Aside from Rahm, Jason Day and Justin Rose shape as likely contenders. Former world number one Day won here in 2015 after finishing as runner-up in 2014, while Rose finished 2017 in superb form and was tied-fourth in this event last year.

Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed and Hideki Matsuyama are other big-name stars in the field, while the likes of Patrick Cantlay and Tony Finau boast impressive recent form.

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