By Jay Betsill
When the final putt dropped at famed Torrey Pines, the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open that was full of the PGA TOUR’s marquee names saw Scott Stallings atop its leaderboard. Stallings outlasted Gary Woodland, Dallas native Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Pat Perez, Marc Leishman, K.J. Choi and many others to win his third PGA TOUR event. The victory catapults Stallings into the Official World Golf Rankings top 64, thereby putting him in the field for the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, Feb. 19-23 at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz.
“You don’t get very many opportunities to win golf tournaments on this tour,” said Stallings, who birdied No. 18 to take the lead. “I didn’t necessarily understand the situation I was in as far as the score, but I did know I had an opportunity. I was playing to win.”
Tiger Woods, who has won this event seven times, fired a 7-over-par 79 on Saturday and missed the secondary cut — an additional reduction in the field that comes into play only when the 36-hole cut leaves more than 78 players in the event– in a PGA TOUR event for the first time in his career. In his career, Woods has missed nine cuts on the PGA Tour, with the last MC at the 2012 Greenbrier Classic.
“I wouldn’t say it’s rusty, just a fraction off,” Woods said. “At this level and golf courses like this it doesn’t take much.”
Phil Mickleson withdrew after making the cut at Torrey Pines this weekend because of his back injury. In hopes of defending his Phoenix Open title, Mickelson traveled to Georgia to see a specialist about his lower back pain.
“If it was any other tournament I’d skip it,” said Mickelson, who has already withdrawn from the Wednesday Pro-Am. “but I’m defending, it’s my second hometown and I love the event. I’ll have a light practice session and if it goes well I may try to play.”
In addition to Mickleson hoping to be healthy enough to defend his title, the field at this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open in Scottsdale includes such notables as Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Brandt Snedeker, Lee Westwood, Keegan Bradley, Padraig Harrington, Ian Poulter, Scott Stallings and Humana Challenge winner Patrick Reed. Thursday-Friday TV coverage is on Golf Channel with CBS taking over the weekend.
— Sergio Garcia took home the European Tour’s Qatar Masters, winning on the third playoff hole over Mikko Ilonen. He birdied six of his last 12 for a 7-under 65, leaving Ilonen to birdie No. 18 just to force the playoff. The victory jumped Garcia two spots to No. 9 in the Official World Golf Ranking released Monday, his highest placement in more than four years.
“I started the day thinking if I can shoot a 6 or 7 under, I can have a chance,” said Garcia. “I’m very happy to be able to win it.”
— This week’s stop on the European Tour is the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The 25th edition of the event at Majlis Course at the Emirates Golf Club features a star-studded field including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy three-time champion Ernie Els, No. 3 ranked Henrik Stenson and 1995 champion Fred Couples.
“I appreciate the support I’ve received from the people in Dubai, and I always enjoy playing the tournament, ” Woods said. “They have an outstanding field every year, and the golf course is always in really great shape.”
Coverage of the Dubai Desert Classic will be on Golf Channel.
— Jessica Korda won the season-opening Bahamas LPGA Classic in Paradise Island, Bahamas for her second career victory. She closed with a 7-under 66 for a 19-under 273 total on Atlantis Resort’s Ocean Club course to defeat Stacy Lewis by one stroke.