By Barry Jagoda
To hear the golf professionals playing this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, the New North course at Torrey Pines is as tough a golf venue as the much more famous, and previously considerably more difficult, championship south course.
But cumulative scoring totals reveal that the New North cost the entire field just 2.5 strokes less this year than did the south course. In previous years golfers tended to score four or five strokes better on the north. Thus the New North is a bit more difficult than in previous years, leaving the conclusion that the re-design has perhaps somewhat evened up the venues.
In a pre-tournament interview, the architect of the New North, Tom Weiskopf, predicted the two courses would be more even, with his re-design making the north easier by a couple of strokes.
As tournament leader Australian Justin Rose put it, the north “feels like a bigger golf course now. It still feels very familiar, but just the condition of it is incredible. The new greens are amazing.” Rose added, “there are a couple of great holes out there and it is difficult to keep everybody happy but I think he’s (Weiskopf) has done a great job.”
Meantime, the two players tied for second did considerably better on the south. This marked a big departure from previous years as these two, 2016 Torrey champ, Brandt Snedeker and the PGA’s newest star, Adam Hadwin of Moosejaw, Canada, required more strokes on the old south than on the New North.
All the top finishers echoed course architect Weiskopf’s appreciation of Torrey Pines. As Hadwin put it, “I just love walking around this piece of property. It’s beautiful. You look out at the ocean and get the sunset. Really love just coming back and love the city here, too.”
But each of the marquee group on the course — Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day — failed to qualify for the weekend championship and each performed equally poorly on both courses on Thursday and Friday.
Woods, who celebrated his 41st birthday last month, told reporters, “It’s a long process in the mornings trying to get warmed up and staying warm and loose, so we’ve been planning on how to layer up properly.”
Tiger has been practicing in his home turf of South Florida. “We haven’t had to deal with cold, damp conditions like this. It was different.” Woods added, “it was nice coming to the south course but the north course was brand new to me this year.”
San Diego star golfer Phil Mickelson — who had been tapped as architect to redo the north course, but was turned away due to local political conflicts — agreed with the consensus about the New North: “It was long, it was hard, but there were still a lot of good scores. The course is in great shape. “
Mickelson had a final overall score of one under par just making it to the weekend as did a total of 79 players who scored even par or above.
The final round leaders, Rose, Hadwin and Snedeker will tee off — on the south course—at 9:40 a.m.