Tiger Woods makes his 2013 PGA TOUR debut this week in the $6.1 million Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, Calif. First prize is $1,080,000. Eight of the top 25 players in the world rankings are entered.
Woods has had tremendous success at Torrey Pines, winning six times, and he's only finished outside the top 10 once in his career. He also captured the 2008 U.S. Open Championship. Playing with a torn ligament in his left knee and on a broken leg, he birdied the 72nd hole to tie Rocco Mediate, then beat him on the 19th hole of a playoff the following day.
"I do think about that week often," Woods said Tuesday. "Every time I look at or see highlights of it is just the pure pain I was in. I don't ever want to experience that again. Having to go five days, I really don't know how I got through it."
Woods overcame horrible starts each round, making double bogey on the first hole three times.
"Sweet, huh?" he smiled sarcastically. "I had to recover from there and work my way back."
Coming into the tournament, Tiger didn't know if he could walk 18 holes, let alone swing a golf club. He hadn't walked 72 holes since Augusta two months earlier and walked only nine holes during a practice round at Torrey Pines.
"There were a lot of amazing things, but man, here I am just talking about it and my hands are sweating just thinking about the feeling I had to go through each and every day," said Woods. "I had to get through each and every day. Just trying to get up and having to warm up again and go to the gym. I just don't want to move. Then having to get here and warm up and not trying not to show you guys or any of my competitors what I was feeling. It was a very difficult week."
Asked why he chose to hide his pain, Tiger said, "Well, you never want to let any of the guys know you are hurt in any sport, doesn't matter, ever."
Woods said the key to winning was making three eagles to offset the three triple bogeys and staying patient.
"I had two runs of nine-hole stretches that got me into the tournament," he said. "And if you look at most U.S. Opens, you're looking for one nine-hole run, and that's usually what wins you a tournament."
Still, it all came down to a do-or-die 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th green on Sunday. Woods was equal to the moment, pouring in the pressure-packed putt to ignite the massive gallery gathered around the 18th green. He managed to outlast a game Mediate with a par on the first hole -- 19th overall -- in sudden death on Monday to capture his third U.S. Open title and 14th major championship.
"It was certainly a putt I'll never, ever forget," Woods said of the 18th hole.
Tiger shares the 72-hole tournament record at the Farmers Insurance Open of 266 with George Burns (1987). Woods posted his winning total in 1999 and also set the course record on the South Course with a 61.
Play will rotate between the longer South (7,698 yards) and North Course (7,045) on Thursday and Friday, and both play to a par 72. Following the cut, the final two rounds will be contested on the South.
"The (South) Course is on the quick side," said Woods, after playing 10 practice holes. "Obviously, they haven't had a lot of rain here. The fairways are quick. The greens are a little bit firm for this time of year; it's drier than we normally play it. So it will be a wonderful test."
Tiger missed the cut by one stroke last week in his 2013 season opener at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. It marked only the 10th time in his professional career he has failed to make a cut.
Woods was penalized two strokes for taking an illegal drop on the fifth hole on Friday after his drive plugged into the desert sand. This, despite getting a confirmation he was entitled to a drop by playing partner Martin Kaymer.
"I don't recall ever having one like that," Woods said.
As for his goals this year, Tiger said he would like to build on the three victories he achieved last year, and of course, add another major.
"Just improving what I'm doing," he said. "Becoming more efficient. I would say the majority of the year I hit it pretty good, but my putting and short game weren't quite there. I spent so much time on ball-striking that that finally came around.
"So towards the end of the season, I was able to spend more time with my chipping and putting, and that's come around. Now I've got to marry up both of those two combos and hopefully I can do it this year and do it on a consistent basis."
Woods begins first-round play Thursday at 1:30 p.m. ET on the first tee of the South Course with Nick Watney and Rickie Fowler. On Friday, the trio starts at 12:20 p.m. on the 10th tee of the North Course.