FARMERS INSURANCE OPEN
Site: San Diego.
Courses: Torrey Pines, South Course (7,698 yards, par 72) and North Course (7,045 yards, par 72).
Purse: $6.1 million. Winner’s share: $1.08 million.
Television: Golf Channel (Thursday, 3-7 p.m., 7:30-11:30 p.m.; Friday, 12:30-4:30 a.m., 3-7 p.m., 7:30-11:30 p.m.; Saturday, 12:30-4:30 a.m., 1-2:30 a.m., 6:30-11 p.m.; Sunday, 12:30-4 a.m., 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 1-2:30 p.m., 8 p.m.-midnight; Monday, 12:30-5:30 a.m.) and CBS (Saturday, 3-6 p.m.; Sunday, 3-6:30 p.m.).
Last year: Brandt Snedeker won the first of his two 2012 tour victories en route to the FedEx Cup title, beating Kyle Stanley with a par on the second hole of a playoff. Stanley had a triple bogey on the final hole of regulation. He rebounded the following week with a comeback victory in the Phoenix Open.
Last week: Brian Gay won the Humana Challenge in La Quinta for his fourth tour title, closing with 9-under 63 and beating Charles Howell III on the second hole of a playoff. Swedish rookie David Lingmerth was eliminated on the first extra hole.
- Tiger Woods is making his first PGA Tour start of the year after missing the cut last week in his season debut in the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi event. He has won the tournament six times and also won the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
- Phil Mickelson, the 1993, 2000 and 2001 winner, is making his 23rd consecutive appearance in his hometown event. He tied for 37th in La Quinta last week in his first tournament of the year.
- Bubba Watson, the 2011 winner, also is in the field along with Snedeker, Tournament of Champions winner Dustin Johnson, Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Rickie Fowler.
- Howell is making his third straight start. He tied for third in the Sony Open in Hawaii and had his 14th career runner-up finish last week.
- The final two rounds will be played on the South Course.
- The Phoenix Open is next week, followed by the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Site: Doha, Qatar.
Course: Doha Golf Club (7,400 yards, par 72).
Purse: $2.5 million. Winner’s share: $416,660.
Television: Golf Channel (Wednesday-Thursday, 5-9 a.m., 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Friday, 4:30-8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Saturday, 4:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 3-6 p.m.).
Last year: Scotland’s Paul Lawrie won the wind-shortened tournament, beating Jason Day and Peter Hanson by four strokes. Lawrie also won the event in 1999.
Last week: Wales’ Jamie Donaldson won the Abu Dhabi Championship, edging England’s Justin Rose by a stroke. Top-ranked Rory McIlroy and No. 2 Tiger Woods missed the cut.
- Louis Oosthuizen, coming off a victory two weeks ago in the Volvo Golf Champions in South Africa, is in the field along with Rose, Ernie Els, Jason Dufner, Martin Kaymer, Sergio Garcia and Retief Goosen.
- Qatar is on an oil-rich Persian Gulf peninsula off eastern Saudi Arabia.
- The Dubai Desert Classic is next week, followed by the Joburg Open.
Next event: Allianz Championship, Feb. 8-10, The Old Course at Broken Sound, Boca Raton, Fla.
Last week: John Cook won the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii, beating David Frost with a birdie on the second hole of a playoff.
PGA TOUR OF AUSTRALASIA: Heritage Classic, Thursday-Sunday, Heritage Golf and Country Club, Chirnside Park, Australia. Online: http://www.pgatour.com.au
SUNSHINE TOUR: Telkom PGA Pro-Am, Wednesday-Friday, Centurion Country Club, Tshwane, South Africa. Online: http://www.pgatour.co.za
AUSTRALIAN LADIES PROFESSIONAL GOLF: Women’s New South Wales Open, Friday-Sunday, Oatlands Golf Club, Sydney, Australia. Online: http://www.alpg.com.au
Rejuvenated Ernie Els focused for ’13
After a lengthy holiday break in which he spent time with family in his native South Africa, Ernie Els changed things up this year by adding two events in the Middle East to give himself an early three-event start to the season.
A tie for 18th at the Volvo Champions in South Africa followed by a tie for 39th at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship had the reigning Open Championship winner fretting a bit about his form, and hoping to find it this week at the Qatar Masters in Doha.
At the 2012 HSBC Champions event in China, Ernie Els finished tied for second. That is his only top-10 finish since winning the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes in July.
“I’m playing much better than my score is indicating,” Els said after the final round in Abu Dhabi. “I want to play better and it’s not happening at the moment. But I’m looking forward to a good year. I want to get things moving in the right direction and it’s not quite there.
“A little frustrating. It’s been a busy week, too. There was stuff to do every night, so my patience is a little short.”
Of course, Els was being paid for his appearance in Abu Dhabi, so making himself available is part of the deal. Clearly, however, he is committed to performing better, and wants to build on the surprise major championship victory last summer at the Open Championship, where he won his fourth major title.
That victory got him an exemption into the other majors for the next five years, meaning all the drama that surrounded his run-up to the 2012 Masters is gone. Els had fallen outside of the top 50 in the world and ended up missing out on a trip to Augusta National.