2014 Farmers Insurance Open | Local Knowledge

Torrey Pines
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Torrey Pines, host of the Farmers Insurance Open, is one of the most scenic stops on the PGA Tour.
By T.J. Auclair
PGA.com
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Series: Local Knowledge

Published: Thursday, January 23, 2014 | 7:45 a.m.

Sure, the new PGA Tour season began way back in October, but -- unofficially -- it begins in earnest this week with the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

Why, you ask? Because this is the week that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson make their respective 2014 PGA Tour debuts.

Torrey Pines is a place that both players hold near and dear to their hearts. For Woods, the defending champion, he is looking for his ninth win as a professional at Torrey this week. Mickelson has won at Torrey three times previously (last time was in 2001), but has probably played there more than any other player on Tour.

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For the first two rounds of the tournament, competitors will play the North and South courses. Historically, the North course has yielded lower scores overall. Once the cut is made, the tournament moves to the more difficult South course, which played host to the 2008 U.S. Open.

Before the tournament started up, we checked in with Torrey Pines PGA Head Professional Joe DeBock for a little Q&A.

PGA.com: This will be an exciting week not just for you folks at Torrey Pines, but for the entire golf world, as Tiger Woods makes his 2014 season debut. We're all well aware of Tiger's unbelievable record at Torrey Pines, but watching him play there never gets old, does it?

DeBock: It never gets old watching him because winning never gets old, especially since he has won nine times here at Torrey Pines (seven Farmers Insurance Opens, a U.S. Open Championship and a Junior World Championship). He has probably won more here at Torrey Pines then any other golf course. But you're right, from my experience at Torrey Pines if there is 30,000 or 40,000 people at the event, it seems like half of those people are trying to watch him and I would say all want to at least get a glimpse of him. Watching Tiger never gets old because he plays like he might be the greatest golfer ever! Why miss out on that?

PGA.com: Over the last few years, there's another player who seems to have a knack for Torrey Pines. That's Brandt Snedeker -- twice a runner up and once a winner since 2010. What do you think it is about the Torrey Pines courses that fit his eye so well?

DeBock: We know Torrey Pines fits his eye because he sure does smile a lot here, plus I think he's comfortable because the fans really like him here as well. He definitely has that Southern California look with the bushy strawberry blond hair. Mainly I think he putts very good here and reads the putts well. Most of our past champions have won major championships or go on to win major championships. I think you have to watch out for him this week. Torrey South is hard and Brandt Snedeker is good!

READ: World's most beautiful courses -- Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

PGA.com: Weather-wise, we've seen just about everything in La Jolla at this tournament over the years. What's the forecast looking like for this week?

DeBock: The weather is supposed to be outstanding -- 70s all week. The gliders and paragliders are up over 300 days a year. That means most of the time we always get a nice breeze that hits our coastal cliffs and push the air up so the gliders are always right over head. The only thing we have to watch out for is fog. When we do get nice weather the hot air rises in our local deserts and can occasionally draw the fog or low clouds onto Torrey Pines. Keep in mind when the weather is good the scores can go low.

PGA.com: Back to Tiger for a minute. He's had countless highlights throughout his career. One of the best, though, was that putt on the 72nd hole at the 2008 U.S. Open to force that epic Monday playoff with Rocco Mediate. How many times have you tried that putt? And, forgetting the incredible circumstances Tiger faced in 2008, just how difficult is that putt?

DeBock: I have re-created that putt so many times with the local paper, television news teams and the Golf Channel. There's a big fascination with that putt, so to answer your question I've tried it hundreds of times. It's a slight right to left putt, sometimes it breaks and sometimes in doesn't. You have to get it just right. Too high and it stays there and too low it breaks hard. It's like walking a tight rope all the way to the hole. I never made it on my first try.

You can see that famous putt again here:

 

 

PGA.com: Finally, Joe, if there's one thing that separates Torrey Pines from many of the great places around the world it's the fact that it's open to the public. How special is that?

DeBock: Yes, it's open to the public and our local San Diegans get a great price break to play here. Our course is shared by many locals and visitors plus the course is enjoyed by our junior golf club, summer youth camps, boys and girls high school golf teams, men's and women's golf club, corporate tournaments, PGA Tour players and an occasional U.S. Open. It's for all to enjoy, which makes it very special.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.

 

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.