San Diego Gary Woodland didn’t have to overpower the par 5s to take the lead at Torrey Pines.
Woodland, a former Kansas University golfer, found his five birdies elsewhere Saturday on another tough day of scoring on the South Course for a 2-under 70, giving him a one-shot lead over 20-year-old Jordan Spieth and Marc Leishman of Australia going into the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open.
That final round won’t include a familiar figure. Defending champion Tiger Woods, an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines, went seven straight holes making bogey or worse on his way to a 79. That not only matched his highest score on American soil, he failed to make the 54-hole cut.
Woods had said at the start of the week that he hasn’t seen Torrey this tough since the U.S. Open he won in 2008. It sure looks that way.
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 course that features rough that might even make the USGA blush.
The average score on the South through three rounds is 74.24, compared with 74.97 during the U.S. 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.
And it’s far from over.
San Diego native Pat Perez, who used to work the practice range as a teenager during this event, salvaged a 72 and was two shots behind with Morgan Hoffman (72). Ryo Ishikawa had a 69 and was in a large group at 5-under 211 that included Nicolas Colsaerts (75) and Andres Romero of Argentina, whose 67 was the best score of the day.
Twenty-two players were separated by four shots going into today.
The only suffering might be CBS Sports. In the first network telecast of the year — and the first Sunday in golf without going against the NFL — Woods was out of the tournament and headed east toward Dubai, and Phil Mickelson pulled out Friday night after making the cut because of muscle pain in his back.
Woodland has been heading north since winning the Reno-Tahoe Open last year. He contended at The Barclays, lost in a playoff in Malaysia and now feels confident about who’s in charge at San Diego. Yes, the South is a beast. But the Kansas native hits it a long way.
“If I drive the ball in play, I have a lot of chances to make birdie,” Woodland said. “The par 5s, I can get to in two.”
Then again, he made par on all of them, including a three-putt pars on the sixth and 18th holes. That was OK, for Woodland had nothing more than a wedge in on No. 1, and he collected a pair of birdies on the par 3s.
“If I drive the ball in play, I’m playing a little different golf course than most guys are playing,” Woodland said.