Published January 22, 2013
| Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA – The PGA Tour is at Torrey Pines this week, and this is a perfect time for them to grab the headlines.
The European Tour is playing Wednesday to Saturday and there are no NFL playoff games this weekend. That leaves the spotlight in Sunday's final round to the PGA Tour.
If this week can match the drama of last year, there will be plenty to talk about. Kyle Stanley led Brandt Snedeker by eight strokes to start the final round in 2012, but it was Snedeker who walked off with the trophy.
Stanley had seemingly played the 18th hole at Torrey Pines to perfection. After his drive found the first cut, Stanley laid up with his second shot. Disaster struck with his third, though.
The 24-year-old's third shot spun off the putting surface and into the pond fronting the green. That led to a triple-bogey, which dropped him into a share of the lead with Snedeker.
Snedeker went on to take the title on the second playoff hole.
With that type of drama this week, the ratings will be plenty high in the first week of CBS coverage for the season.
Tiger Woods would help those ratings, if he plays the weekend, of course. Woods is coming off an odd missed cut in Abu Dhabi last week. He was penalized for taking an illegal drop, and the penalty dropped him outside the cut line.
Woods excels at Torrey Pines, where he has won seven times. He has won this title six times, including four in a row from 2005-08. Woods also beat Rocco Mediate at the 2008 U.S. Open on the 91st hole.
Another reason this is a big week for the PGA Tour is to show that this is the best tour in the world. It may seem silly to some, but with Woods, the world's No. 2 golfer, playing alongside world No. 1 Rory McIlroy last week in Abu Dhabi, that event had more world ranking points available than the PGA Tour's Humana Challenge.
That should change back to the PGA this week, as five of the top 14 players in the world, and 17 of the top 50, are at Torrey Pines, as opposed to five of the top 19 and 14 of the top 50 playing the European event in Qatar.
Figuring out the world ranking points in events is a puzzle by itself, but the PGA event has a deeper field in terms of where players stand in the world rankings, therefore it will offer more points.
With a win this weekend, Woods could close the significant gap between he and McIlroy atop the rankings.
Woods contending down the stretch this weekend would be huge for the tour, and for the ratings. And if he were battling Phil Mickelson, that would be a perfect storm.
Mickelson has somehow dropped to 22nd in the world rankings, but, like Woods, has had plenty of success at Torrey Pines. Mickelson has won this tournament three times and finished second twice.
He has finished in the top 10 five times in the last 10 years. And when he struggles one year, like his missed cut last year, he bounces back with at least a top-20 finish the following year.
If Mickelson can continue that trend, and Woods turns his game around, those two titans will give the PGA a huge boost heading into the spring.
WILL IRWIN EVER SLOW DOWN?
Hale Irwin turns 68 years old in June, and shows no signs of slowing down. He opened the season last week with a tie for ninth at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii.
Among the numerous records he owns, that top 10 pushed his career total to 211 top-10 finishes on the Champions Tour. That is a far cry from Sam Snead's PGA Tour record of 358, but Irwin did it in less than half the time it took Snead to accumulate his total.
Irwin owns the most wins in Champions Tour history (45), the most wins at a single event (six at the Kaanapali Classic which became the Turtle Bay Championship) and the tour record for consecutive years with a victory (11).
And he won multiple titles in each of those 11 years.
Irwin shares the record for most wins in a year (nine) with Peter Thomsen, and has the second longest stretch between first and last wins (11 years, 5 months, 22 days).
One of his more remarkable records is his mark of most consecutive top-five finishes (19).
That helped him earn the two single highest season money totals, which in turn led to his record for times in the top 10 on the money list (12), of which 11 came in consecutive years.
Irwin has both the most $1 million seasons (11) and $2 million seasons (6).
And that leads us to the most impressive record of all - $26,633,422 in career earnings. He has made $6.4 million more than Gil Morgan, who's in second place. That total is nearly five times greater than his career total ($5,966,031) on the PGA Tour.
These are some, but not all of the records Irwin owns on the Champions Tour.
Surely, he'll slow down eventually, I just wouldn't count on it happening anytime soon.
* I think too many people are making too much out of nothing with McIlroy changing his putters last week in Abu Dhabi. He had a bad first round and was trying to rally to make the cut when he went from his new Nike back to his old Scotty Cameron. It was his first week with Nike, relax people. And, remember, Woods did this a few times, too.
* Mickelson made some odd comments about taxes and his potential for changing lots of things surrounding his golf game on Sunday. The lefty apologized on Tuesday. He claimed his tax rate was 62 or 63 percent. That may explain his failed attempt at buying a piece of the San Diego Padres. Regardless, a move to a more tax-friendly state could be in the offing for Mickelson and family.