Published November 20, 2014
Tiger Woods began a new year with his worst season debut.
Woods failed to birdie a par 5 for the second time this week and closed with a 3-over 75 on Sunday in the Farmers Insurance Open, ending his five-tournament winning streak at Torrey Pines with a middle-of-the-pack finish.
"I have some work to do," Woods said. "There's no doubt about that."
The biggest surprise of his 74-75 on the South Course is that Woods had won seven times on this public course, including the 2008 U.S. Open. He had never finished out of the top 10 in the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines.
This week, he looked liked anyone else.
Woods was out of the top 40 when he completed his final round, with the leaders just making the turn. He had never finished out of the top 10 in stroke play to start a season, and his worst result for a debut was two years ago in the Match Play Championship, where he lost in the second round and tied for 17th.
That was his first event after missing eight months following reconstructive knee surgery.
Woods opened Sunday with two short irons inside 10 feet, missing both birdie putts. On the par-4 fourth, he nearly holed a long birdie attempt, then missed the 3½-foot par putt.
"I hit it as pure as I could possibly hit it starting out, and got nothing out of it," Woods said. "As the round went on, I progressively got worse with my golf swing. And ironically enough, felt better and better with the putter. So it's one of those things."
But these things never seem to happen at Torrey Pines.
Woods won the Buick Invitational four straight times starting in 2005. He had never finished more than four shots out of the lead, but he was 13 out when he finished, the kind of deficit he experienced so much of last year.
Much more was expected considering how Woods finished last year, putting together three of his best rounds at the Chevron World Challenge until blowing a four-shot lead on the final day and losing to U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell in a playoff.
Woods was five shots behind going into the weekend at Torrey Pines and never got any closer.
For the fourth time in as many rounds, he failed to post the low round in his group. Anthony Kim was better the first two rounds, Jhonattan Vegas and Kevin Sutherland had better scores on Saturday, and PGA Tour rookie Brendan Steele shot a bogey-free 70 on Sunday.
How close is Woods to getting his form back?
"It's progressing," he said. "It's one of those things where I don't know where the end is. You never know where the end is until you're done with your playing career."
He now returns home to the practice range for a week before playing in the Dubai Desert Classic, where he has won twice and has never finished out of the top five.