California: Tiger Woods will face a strong field that includes four of the world’s top seven players at next week’s Farmers Insurance Open in southern California. Spanish world number three Jon Rahm, Japanese world number five Hideki Matsuyama, Englishman Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler head the stellar lineup for the PGA Tour event starting at Torrey Pines on Thursday. Former world number one Jason Day and five-times major champion Phil Mickelson also entered before Friday’s deadline. But they will all have to play supporting roles to Woods, who is certain to be the centre of attention in his first official tournament since a spinal fusion last April.
The groupings for the first two rounds have not been announced, though Woods is expected to play alongside two big names, with Rahm and Fowler prominent candidates. Woods played at the unofficial Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas in December, finishing a promising ninth in the elite 18-man field. But Torrey Pines, where he has won eight times, will be the first of what the 42-year-old hopes will be the start of a busy schedule up to the year’s first major, the Masters in April. Woods has won the Farmers Insurance Open seven times, but his defining moment in Torrey Pines came at the 2008 US Open, which he won, despite playing with multiple leg injuries, for his 14th major victory. Few suspected at the time that eight years later he would not have another major title under his belt. — Reuters