With a field of players that already will make it the most-watched PGA Tour event on the early schedule, the 2013 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines is awaiting word whether Tiger Woods will be a part of the stellar lineup.
The 72-hole event with a purse of $6.1 million will bring many of the world's best golfers to the bluffs above Black's Beach, and with or without Woods, golf fans are expected to flock to Torrey from Jan. 24-27. The TV ratings always are high, particularly when the tournament is in its usual slot (as it is this year) on the open weekend between the AFC and NFC title games and the Super Bowl.
But with six-time champion Woods in the mix, it's a whole 'nother ballgame.
"We have Fed Ex Cup champion and defending (Farmers) champion Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson—the greatest players in the world will be here," said tournament public relations manager Rick Schloss. "Hopefully that includes Tiger Woods. We'll know in a week or so."
Woods has until 2 p.m. Pacific time on Jan. 18 to commit to the event, which would make it his PGA Tour debut for 2013. He is scheduled to play in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship a week earlier, then would have to make the long flight back to the West Coast.
Woods took home the trophy at the then-Buick Invitational in 1999, 2003 and from 2005-08. His U.S. Open win here in June 2008 gave him a streak of five championships in five tries at Torrey Pines. He has played here just once since then, finishing in a tie for 44th in the 2011 Farmers. It was the only time he has failed to crack the top 10 in 13 tournaments at Torrey dating back to 1998.
Local favorite Mickelson won the Buick in 1993 for his first title as a professional, then repeated in 2000 and 2001, but he hasn't triumphed here since the South Course was redesigned and toughened a decade ago. His design firm is now involved in a makeover planned for the North Course, where the field in the Farmers Insurance Open plays one round.
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Woods ($5.74 million) and Mickelson ($3.01 million) are the top two money-winners in the history of the San Diego-area stops on the PGA Tour, which date back to the 1952 San Diego Open at San Diego Country Club. The event moved to Torrey Pines (from Mission Valley) in 1968.
Last year, Snedeker, who would go on to win the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta and with it the Fed Ex Cup and its $10 million payout, was fortunate to win at the Farmers. It took a triple-bogey 8 by Kyle Stanley on the 18th hole on Sunday that allowed Snedeker to get into a sudden-death playoff with Stanley. Snedeker won with a par on the second extra hole.
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