SAN DIEGO — Tiger Woods was right. The South Course at Torrey Pines is playing about as tough as it did for the U.S. Open in 2008.
But that’s the only similarity.
Woods won that U.S. Open. He won’t even have a tee time in the final round at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Gary Woodland used power to his advantage Saturday — oddly enough, everywhere but on the par 5s — to pick up five birdies in his round of 2-under 70 that gave him a one-shot lead over Jordan Spieth and Marc Leishman going into a final day that won’t include Woods.
Davis High graduate Nick Watney hit a birdie on the 18th hole to finish with a 2-over 74 Saturday, his second straight round with that score. He opened with a 70 Thursday and is tied for 63rd heading into the final round.
Instead of getting back into the tournament, Woods delivered a shocking performance. The defending champion and eight-time winner at Torrey Pines went seven straight holes making bogey or worse and wound up with a 79, matching his worst score on American soil.
Woods left town without speaking to reporters and with an “MDF” next to his name, which probably should have been “OMG.”
That’s the PGA Tour’s acronym for “made the cut, did not finish.” Because more than 78 players advanced to the weekend, there was a 54-hole cut for top 70 and ties. Only one other player, club pro Michael Block, had a worse score than Woods.
“You get going south on this golf course, you can definitely put up some numbers in a hurry,” Woodland said when he heard about Woods’ score. “I don’t think he’s too concerned about it.”
There’s plenty for everyone to be concerned about at Torrey Pines — a beast of a course, thick rough, rock-hard greens, and nearly two dozen players so close to the lead that Sunday could be wide open.
Woodland was at 8-under 208. It was the highest 54-hole score to lead this tournament since Dave Rummells at 4-under 212 in 1993.
Spieth had a one-shot lead to start the third round and it was gone quickly. He missed a 30-inch par putt on the opening hole and took a double bogey on No. 5. His biggest putt might have been a 6-footer for par on the 14th, and Spieth looked confident the rest of the way to salvage a 75.
Leishman had a relatively boring round of 72 on a gorgeous day along the Pacific — one birdie, one bogey, 16 pars. That might be what it takes on this monster of a course that features rough that might even make the USGA blush.