SAN DIEGO, California—Tiger Woods returned to Torrey Pines, the site of some of his greatest triumphs, for a practice round Tuesday ahead of his US PGA season debut at the $6.1 million Farmers Insurance Open.
“I feel comfortable here. There’s no doubt about that,” Woods said. “There are a few courses like that where I’ve had my share of success.”
Woods won his most recent major title at Torrey Pines in 2008, limping to a playoff victory over Rocco Mediate for his 14th major title, only four shy of the all-time record set by Jack Nicklaus.
“I do look at that week often,” Woods said. “What comes back to me is the memory of pure pain.”
During his practice round, Woods was more concerned about adapting to a course that was firmer than usual.
“I didn’t really think about any of the past stuff,” Woods said. “I was just trying to get a feel for the golf course, what club to use and where my lines are going to be.
“This golf course was playing different. I can’t remember it playing this dry. It has been a while.”
Woods has not won a major crown since the 2008 US Open, struggling with injuries and the aftermath of his sex scandal.
But Woods has also won the course’s PGA event six times, including four in a row from 2005 through 2008 plus 1999 and 2003.
That gives him seven career titles at Torrey Pines as well as at PGA events at Bay Hill and Firestone.
Sam Snead holds the record for PGA titles at one event with eight at Greensboro. Snead also owns the career mark for PGA victories at 82 with Woods second at 74.
Woods, whose most recent triumph came last year at Congressional in the National, says his emphasis this season will be on improving his overall game.
“Improving what I’m doing, becoming more efficient at what I’m doing,” Woods said. “The majority of the year (in 2012) I hit it pretty good but my short game and putting weren’t there. Those were working better later in the year but I wasn’t hitting the ball as well.
“I just have to marry those two combos and hopefully I can do that on a consistent basis.”
But Woods said wins are harder to come by than when he began on the tour because of greater depth in the fields.
“It’s deeper now, no doubt. Each generation it gets tougher,” Woods said. “You have more guys going into the weekend with a chance to win and they can win from anyplace. The gap has gotten smaller in that regard.”
Woods is coming off a season debut at Abu Dhabi at which he missed the cut after taking a penalty for an improper drop.
“I don’t recall ever having one like that, no,” Woods said of the Abu Dhabi penalty.
Woods also said he moved from California to Florida in 1996 due to taxes, an issue that rival Phil Mickelson raised on Sunday saying that rising taxes might prompt him to move from the state.
“I moved out of here in ’96 for that reason,” Woods said. “I understand, I think, what he was trying to say.”