SAN DIEGO (AP) — With nothing to gain, Tiger Woods was happy to take whatever victory he could find at Torrey Pines.
His goal Sunday in the Farmers Insurance Open, where he started the final round 13 shots behind, was to reach double digits under par. Woods birdied his last two holes for a 31 on the front nine of the South Course and finished at 10-under par.
“Got to have these little goals when I’m not in contention to win a tournament,” Woods said. “Still something positive to end the week on.”
Another tiny victory: It was the first time since 2008 that Woods broke par all four rounds at Torrey Pines.
Woods closed with a 5-under 67 and tied for 20th.
It was never going to be enough to catch Justin Rose, though Woods believes he got enough out of the week to feel reasonably well about the start of his year.
“I feel like I knocked some rust off, which was great this week,” Woods said. “Figured a few things out as the week was going along. I just felt like I got better each and every day. My rounds got cleaner, and that’s what I want to have happen. I’ll be ready in a couple weeks.”
His performance at a tournament he has won seven times was about the same as last year, when he shot 72 in the final round on a much tougher South course and tied for 23rd, never a threat to the win the tournament but picking up spots on the leaderboard.
The difference was his outlook the rest of the year.
He was just returning to the PGA Tour from his fourth back surgery last year, and Woods says he wasn’t sure how his back was going to hold up the early part of the year until he made it to Florida without any physical issues.
While he conceded to some tournament rust — this was only his second event since he won the Tour Championship on Sept. 23 — Woods says there is far less uncertainty about what he expects out of his game.
“Finishing the year the way I did, hitting it like I did was great because I finally built it to a place where I can take a little time off and I know what I’ll have when I come back,” Woods said. “I don’t have to go looking, searching for something. So that helps a lot.”
Woods was stuck in neutral for much of the day after starting on No. 10. And then he made a pair of 12-foot birdie putts early on the front nine, saved par with a 10-foot putt on No. 4 and hit it tight on No. 5 for another birdie. After a three-putt par on the par-5 sixth, Woods closed with two birdies for his 67, his best score on the South course at Torrey since a 66 on Saturday in 2008, when he won this PGA Tour event by eight shots.
The biggest question about Woods was the color of his Sunday shirt, which up close was red-and-white stripes, but with enough tiny streaks in the red that from a distance it appeared to be pink.
So, was it pink or red?
“Yeah,” Woods said with a smile.
He now heads home to Florida for two weeks before returning at Riviera for the Genesis Open, where last year he missed the cut.