Tiger Of Old Roars At Torrey Pines

When Tiger Woods began his PGA season at the Farmer’s Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, the whole world was eager to see how he’d fare. On one hand, he had seven victories over his career at Torrey Pines; on the other, he had just missed the cut in Abu Dhabi.

Not to worry. Woods had complete mastery of his game in the early rounds and jumped out to a commanding lead.

Even on Monday, with cold temperatures and long waits, he was never threatened. And while Tiger announced that all parts of his game were sharp, statistics showed he made only 57 percent of fairways off the tee, tying him for 17th. But everywhere else he was the Tiger of old. Fabulous out of the rough, terrific distance control with his short irons and wedges, and dialed in with his putter. He led the field in birdies, and very much like the Tiger of yore, he chewed up the par 5s, playing them in 12 under for the week.

When I asked Jonathan Wall of PGATour.com whether it was the comfort of Torrey Pines or a sign of a resurgent Woods, Walls didn’t hesitate. “Tiger’s game looked in great shape. You could really tell with his wedge and bunker play. He had absolute control from 125 yards and in.”

Not lost on the golf world was how good this is for the business of golf.

“There’s no doubt that Tiger winning is a boost to the industry,” says Wall. “It affects the number of people in the galleries and the number of eyeballs on the TV broadcast.”

Just about every revenue stream associated with golf swells with Tiger’s success. And though this was Woods’ 75th tournament title, moving him to within seven of Sam Snead’s record 82, Tiger is well known to judge himself by the number of major championships. He still has 14, four behind Jack Nicklaus. Last year, weekends at the majors were unkind to Woods, leaving many observers to wonder if the pressure to win another is exacting a toll.

If he does get No. 15 at Augusta, don’t be surprised if he wins another in short order. And it behooves us to remember that Woods will have 16 more chances before he turns 41.

He may not catch Nicklaus, but I wouldn’t bet against it.

The start of college baseball season is right around the corner, and the ‘Bows debut in the Big West, a conference known for the quality of its baseball. Mike Trapasso has put together another grueling non-conference slate – starting with No. 8 Oregon Feb. 15 – to go along with the challenge of the conference schedule. No longer will Hawaii’s RPI wither once conference play begins.

And mark your calendar for the annual Grand Slam event Sunday, Feb 10. This has become one of the most popular athletic fundraising events of the year, with many of Hawaii’s top restaurant and liquor companies providing great food and drink, plus live and silent auctions and introduction of the 2013 team.

Go to hawaiiathletics.com for more information and to purchase tickets.