Farmers Insurance Open Preview: Tiger Returns
Tiger Woods will undoubtedly be the star attraction at this week's Farmers Insurance Open, his first on the PGA Tour since a nine-month layoff in 2017 due to much-publicised injury problems that both he and we hope are now a thing of the past.
Given that this year's event will have many eyes in its direction, here's our preview to further whet your appetite.
Buoyed by a solid showing at his foundation's tournament back in November, and after having displayed a solid, athletic swing, Tiger will have the golf world abuzz when he steps on to the first-tee come Thursday's first round in California.
He's a seven-time winner of the event and, despite having rather more modest expectations this time around, many keen observers will be in attendance at Torrey Pines to dissect the next stage in Tiger's return to competitive golf.
A key focus at this stage in his career is arriving at each major championship as tournament-ready as possible. This week will be just another milestone and will allow the golfing world to predict and speculate on his chances at Augusta National in April however, ultimately, time will tell.
Here's some vintage Tiger from the 2003 event:
Rahm's 2017 win
Last year's champion Jon Rahm secured a dramatic first professional win by draining a snaking 60ft putt for eagle on the final hole, while his resultant celebration was, undoubtedly, one of the most memorable on Tour in the whole of 2017.
This would be only one of three wins during a stand-out season for the prodigious young Spaniard, as he would go on to win in Ireland and at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, the season-ender on the European Tour.
Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose and the returning Jason Day join Woods and Rahm at this week's event and help provide the Farmer's Insurance Open field with evident strength in depth.
An impressive playoff win at last week's CareerBuilder Challenge will fill Rahm with plenty of confidence as he seeks to go back-to-back at this event - mirroring the achievement of Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi just a few days ago.
This time last year Matsuyama was in a rich vein of form and he comes to Torrey Pines aiming to add to his current PGA Tour haul of five separate victories. With four top fives in his last five outings, we wouldn't be surprised if he comes out on top this week.
Day is a previous winner at Torrey Pines having prevailed in the event back in 2015 - one of 10 PGA Tour wins to his name. Now with a new caddie for this week in California, it will be interesting to see how the Aussie manages his return to Tour play.
Here's a lengthy birdie putt from Day en route to his dramatic playoff win in 2015:
Who wins it?
After Tommy Fleetwood's back-to-back tournament win at last week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, few would bet against Rahm prevailing and adding PGA Tour wins on consecutive weeks to his event double.
Justin Rose seems a reliable shout and he's unlikely to be far away. If we were pushed, we like the Olympic champ's chances.
Who do you expect to go well this week? Will Tiger make the cut? Let us know below.