PGA Tour–Sights & Sounds at Torrey Pines”
Observations from Day 1-at Farmers Insurance Open.
It’s not about the leaderboard alone, it’s about the players, the f fans, the golf course.
An interesting day walking the course with the stars and the hangers on.
TIGER WOODS….He is back as a fans favorite. Not the long bomber he used to be, but rather as someone who has reinvented himself. It’s a mob scene walking up the fairway with him. The are 5-deep around the green, cheering, hoping he can be what he used to be. He admits he is no longer the mad bomber he used to be off the tee. He now knows what his body is capable of day-to-day, and what he has to do before he plays each day. But his re-emergence is amazing, not just from the four surgeries he had in 14-months on his back, not just from the knee surgery, but also from his decline as a human being, the whole mistress thing. His win last year at the Masters, validates how he has reinvented his game. He is humble, it is a different kind of fire he now has. He has streamlined his physique, and no longer looks like Barry Bonds in the upper body. And the fans still follow, and he recognizes them for the decades of support he still gets at age 44.
PHIL MICKELSON…You wonder how hard this must be for the fans man. It would be unfair to say Lefty is just holding on, but his ability to position himself at the top of the leaderboard no longer seems relevant. Hard to believe he has just 1-win since 2013, but then last year’s win at the ATT-Pebble Beach did prove there are still merits to his game. He is fit and trim, and can still bomb it 300-yards off the tee. But you also sense he knows, our at least sees the twilight just ahead, with his comments about playing on the Champions Tour.
XANDER SCHAUFFELE….The ex-Aztecs has arrived and been successful a lot quicker than most imagined. Rock solid consistent tee to green, you can always find his name in the top 10-on leaderboards most weekends. He is consistent, does not get rattled, and is building a following. So much infront of him from a career standpoint, he looks poised as the next local golfer about to elevate himself to being something special on the tour.
CHARLEY HOFFMAN….Local hero does good, but not good enough to stay up with the money winners. It takes grit to want to keep playing when things get rocky, but he soldiers on. We all remember big tourneys, and the players who wins those tourneys. One of my fun times as a TV anchor was watching Hoffman win his first tourney a couple of years back, jumping for joy like a kid who got his forever want Christmas gift. It is what fuels him, and so when you see him 3-under par early in the open round out here, you ;privately root there will be more good days for him this year.
PAT PEREZ….Local guy part of the next tier of veteran players you follow. Wins have been few and far between. Maybe there is disappointment his growth has stalled, but being middle of the pack allows you to cash checks, keep your Tour card, and playing the sport you love.
TORREY PINES….All the conversation this opening day was not just about the stars, but the course, the newly designed South Course. They changed it and did they ever, stretching it to over 7,700 yards. The repositioned bunkers. The rough is different. The undulations around the pins is something to see. All this as the lead in to hosting the 2021-US Open here. The fans say you used to get your birdies on the North Course, and you knew how tough the South would be. But they re-designed the North a couple of years back, and that is no easy day at the beach. And now the South Course could ruin a ‘Good Days Walk’ as the great author John Feinstein would say.