Field plays hurry up, wait at Torrey
SAN DIEGO -- Fog hung over Torrey Pines on Saturday like a canopy. From about 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT, when the third round at the Farmers Insurance Open was finally canceled, players loitered around the driving range and putting greens.
On the south end of the range, players were greeted with a funny lesson about corporate responsibility from protesters of the tournament sponsor. At the putting green, a handful of golfers huddled over a discussion about fall hunting adventures and the pretty women at next week's Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Never one for loads of small talk, Tiger Woods didn't make an appearance on the course grounds. But he did send this terse message.
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"I have been out here long enough to know that this is part of the game," he said in a statement. "I'll be ready to go tomorrow."
When play resumes Sunday morning at 7 a.m. PT on Torrey Pines' South Course, Woods will start his third round with a 2-shot lead over Billy Horschel and a 3-shot margin over Casey Wittenberg and five other golfers.
For the next 36 holes, these two winless young players will have the privilege of playing with a 74-time tour winner and 14-time major champion.
If you have to contend with fog and rain, you might as well do it with someone who knows the course better than anyone in the world.
Anxious and excited don't begin to describe Horschel's and Wittenberg's feelings about playing with Tiger.
"It kind of throws you out of your rhythm a little bit," said the 28-year-old Wittenberg. "You're used to playing golf every day, so to kind of have a dead day here in the middle of your four tournament rounds is a little different.
"But everybody's dealing with the same thing, so I'm sure we'll try to do our best out here tomorrow to play some good golf."
The 2011 McGladrey Classic was the last time Horschel played in the final pairing of a tour event. Early in the final round, he held the lead until he shanked a wedge into a hazard that led to a triple-bogey, a 75 and a tie for 20th.
This time around, the pressure is a little greater trying to chase down Tiger, but the 26-year-old Jacksonville Beach, Fla., resident is doing his best to not lose his cool.
On Saturday, he went through all the emotions that many of the players had on this long day.
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"I thought about going to hit balls, but I'm not going to hit any balls," Horschel said. "You know, the swing feels good. There is no need for me to go and hit balls. I could tinker a little too much and get too much in my own way."
Since learning Friday evening that he was going to be paired with Tiger, the former Florida Gator has been collecting advice from other players on how to handle the pressure of playing with the six-time winner of this event.
"Jim Furyk texted me this morning and said just play your game," Horschel said. "Do your thing. Don't try to do anything that you wouldn't do if you were playing with him or you weren't playing with him."
That's a sage piece of advice from someone who has battled Tiger through the years, but everybody gets that memo.
On Saturday, Horschel said he just wanted to play his best for the next 36 holes.
All 86 players trying to beat Tiger over the next two rounds must be saying the same thing. Whenever this tournament ends, be it Monday or even Tuesday, Tiger is likely to win his 75th tour title and seventh at this event.
The weather has just forestalled the inevitable.