Breathtaking La Jolla, Calif., is the spot the PGA Tour this week, as players head to Torrey Pines for the Farmers Insurance Open.
The tournament is played over two courses for the first two rounds - the birdie-friendly North Course and the brutal, but storied South Course, which hosted the spectacular 2008 U.S. Open duel between Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate.
In 2011, lefty Bubba Watson outlasted the local favorite, "Lefty," Phil Mickelson for the win.
Mediate, Watson and Mickelson will all be at Torrey Pines this week. Woods - a seven-time winner at Torrey as a professional - will not. He's instead playing on the European Tour this week in Abu Dhabi.
Before the tournament teed off, we caught up with one of our favorite PGA Professional's in the business, Torrey Pines Director of Golf Joe DeBock for a little Q&A.
PGA.com: Thanks for joining us, Joe. Let's go back to 2011 for a minute. Two of the most popular lefties in the game -- Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson -- battling it out down the stretch with Watson coming out on top. Could you have asked for a better finish?
DeBock:No, it could not have been better unless you're Phil Mickelson. Phil had his caddie tend the pin for him on his third shot from 72 yards away on the final hole to try and tie Bubba Watson. He was trying to make the shot and came pretty darn close too! Phil hit just behind the hole, spinning it back towards the hole, but came up just short. What a finish. Phil sure knows how to put on a show.
PGA.com: Obviously any tournament that ends on a par-5 hole is going to lend itself to some dramatic finishes. But, what is it in particular about No. 18 at Torrey Pines South Course that almost never fails when it comes to closing drama?
DeBock:A score of 3 to 6 is always a possibility on the 18th hole here at Torrey Pines. If you are two or three shots off the lead, there's a chance. The par 5 is reachable with two good shots for the guy trying to make 3. If you're a leader, playing safe hitting your third shot into this green can be tricky. Sometimes it can spin back into the pond. You just never know with this finishing hole and I think that's what makes it so great.
PGA.com: Can you tell us a little about the weather expected for this week? It's always important for guys to make their birdies on the North Course. Is there a particular wave that will have an advantage this week due to that weather?
DeBock:The weather is supposed to be in the 70s for all four days of the tournament. However, you never know with Torrey Pines. Sometimes when the weather gets warm at our courses, the heat has a way pulling or sucking in fog which has happened over the years. All in all I would expect great weather and low scores. With low scores a possibility, starting on the North Course I feel gives you an advantage. The North Course can play 3-4 shots easier then the South. Mentally, I think it helps to get off to a good start.
PGA.com: I'm sure you're happy with the great field you have assembled this week. However, is it a little disappointing to not have Tiger Woods there considering his unbelievable record at Torrey?
DeBock:Yes, I'm certainly surprised that he's not playing here. He won a Junior World Title here at Torrey when he was 16, won six times here on the PGA Tour and one U.S. Open Golf Championship. That is eight Championships here at Torrey Pines, all of which I personally watched and saw. Any PR decision says you play Torrey. I guess we'll see how it works out for Tiger at the end of the week.
Nevertheless, we have 10 major championship winners playing this week, plus all the new guns that are hot.
PGA.com: Final question for you, Joe. What's your outlook for the week? What do you think the fans can expect?
DeBock:The fans can expect great weather, golf courses in tip-top shape and views that are just awesome. The golf will be exciting; it always is here at Torrey Pines and having two courses the first two days makes for easy watching as it spreads players around.
My outlook for the week, having been here for 24 years, is to observe and get to know all these new younger, up-and-coming future greats. I have had great moments with many of the past Champions such as Phil Mickelson, Mark O'Meara, Davis Love, Craig Stadler, John Daly, Scott Simpson and Tiger Woods, but now the guard is changing and has changed. The names may start looking different.
Watch out for the names like Bubba Watson, Rickie Flower and the Dustin Johnsons of the world. I look forward to having great moments with them as well!
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