While many golf watchers wondered what in the world had befallen Tiger Woods at one of his favorite playgrounds, Jessica Korda was nailing down her second LPGA Tour victory, Sergio Garcia did far more than make the cut in Qatar, and Scott Stallings emerged from the pack at the Tiger- and Phil Mickelson-free zone at the Farmers Insurance Open to win at Torrey Pines.
Korda, who edged former No. 1 Stacy Lewis by a stroke on Sunday in the LPGA’s season-opening Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, drained a six-footer for birdie on the final hole to finish with a 7-under 66 and get to 19-under for the four-day tilt on the Ocean Club course at the Atlantis Resort.
Teen whiz kid Lydia Ko acquitted herself admirably in her first tourney as an LPGA member. The 16-year-old New Zealander with two tour wins, tied for seventh at 15-under.
Korda’s victory was not without drama and a touch of comedy. After hitting her 4-iron approach on the par-5 18th almost to the grandstand at the back of the green, the 20-year-old daughter of former tennis star, Petr Korda, needed a little help from her friends.
"It was like double-dutch," Korda told reporters about making her penultimate putt as officials lifted cables that would have hindered her shot. "I was jumping over wires with people holding onto them. It was really funny."
Half a world away, Garcia claimed there was no pressure on him to capture his first European Tour win in more than two years after he topped Mikko Ilonen on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff in the Qatar Masters on Sunday.
"I almost feel less pressure in playoffs because you feel like you've had a great week already," Garcia told Reuters after two-putting for par and the trophy on the 18th green.
"Obviously you're trying to win but by that stage it's all a bit of a bonus because you've already had an amazing week," he said. "I was more nervous over my tee shot at the 72nd hole than I was over any of them in the playoff."
Garcia’s 26th worldwide professional win got the Spaniard back among the top 10 of the world rankings. He enters the week at No. 9, with Steve Stricker falling from that spot to the 11th.
As for Stallings, the last man standing at Torrey Pines after Mickelson withdrew with a bad back and Tiger missed his first-ever 54-hole cut, the 28-year-old Massachusetts native rode his third PGA Tour win to a leap in the rankings, from No. 113 to 53rd.
Stalling’s last of six birdies in his final 11 holes sewed up a one-shot win over a handful of guys on a day in which Tiger and Phil, with a combined 10 Farmers wins, were but memories on Torrey track each has made his own over the years.
"It's pretty cool," Stallings told CBS Sports after posting a final-round 4-under 68 and outlasting some eight players who were in contention almost to the last shot. "It hasn't quite set in yet but it's nice to kind of hold up coming down the stretch."
More important, his 9-under Farmers Insurance Open victory earned Stallings his second start at the Masters.
Oh, and five-time women’s major winner Yani Tseng claimed her first win in almost two years, with a victory at the 54-hole 2014 Taiwan LPGA Tour Taifong Ladies Open. Now ranked 39th in the world, Tseng, who won by two strokes, was No. 1 for 109 straight weeks until she lost her throne in March.