Woods stretched his lead to eight shots in the Farmers Insurance Open before losing his focus and his patience during a painfully slow finish by the group ahead.
Despite dropping four shots over the last five holes, he still managed an even-par 72 for a four-shot victory on the course where he has won more than any other in his pro career.
He won the tournament for the seventh time, one behind the record held by Sam Snead, who won the Greater Greensboro Open eight times. It was the eighth time Woods won at Torrey Pines, which includes his playoff win in the 2008 U.S Open.
This one was never close.
Woods built a six-shot lead with 11 holes to play when the final round of the fog-delayed tournament was suspended Sunday by darkness. He returned Monday — a late morning restart because CBS Sports wanted to show it in the afternoon on the East Coast — and looked stronger than ever until the tournament dragged to a conclusion.
Having to wait on every tee and from every fairway — or the rough, in his case — Woods made bogey from the bunker on the 14th, hooked a tee shot on the 15th that went off the trees and into a patch of ice plant and led to double bogey, and then popped up his tee shot on the 17th on his way to another bogey.
All that affected was the score. It kept him from another big margin of victory, though the message was clear about his game long before that.
One week after he missed the cut in Abu Dhabi, he ruled at Torrey Pines.
It was his 75th career win, seven short of the Snead’s all-time tour record.
“It got a little ugly toward the end,” Woods said. “I started losing patience a little bit with the slow play. I lost my concentration a little bit.”
He rallied with a two-putt par on the 18th hole to win by four shots over defending champion Brandt Snedeker and Josh Teater, who had the best finish of his career.
Like so many of his big wins, the only drama was for second place.
Brad Fritsch, the rookie from Canada, birdied his last two holes for a 75. That put him into a tie for ninth, however, making him eligible for the Phoenix Open next week.
Fritsch had been entered in the Monday qualifier that he had to abandon when the Farmers Insurance Open lost Saturday to a fog delay.
Woods effectively won this tournament in the final two hours Sunday, when he stretched his lead to six shots with only 11 holes to play. Nick Watney made a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-5 ninth when play resumed to get within five shots, only to drop three shots on the next five holes.
Everyone else started too far behind, and Woods wasn’t about to come back to them.
Even so, the red shirt seemed to put him on edge. It didn’t help that as he settled over his tee shot on the par-5 ninth, he backed off when he heard a man behind the ropes take his picture.
Woods rarely hits the fairway after an encounter with a camera shutter, and this was no different — it went so far right that it landed on the other side of a fence enclosing a corporate hospitality area.
Woods took his free drop, punched out below the trees into the fairway and then showed more irritation when his wedge nicked the flag after one hop and spun down the slope 30 feet away instead of stopping next to the hole.
He didn’t show much reaction on perhaps his most memorable shot of the day — with his legs near the edge of a bunker some 75 feet to the left of the 11th green, he blasted out to the top shelf and watched the ball take dead aim until it stopped a foot short.
He failed to save par from a bunker on the 14th, and he hooked his tee shot so badly on the 15th hole that it traveled only about 225 yards before it was gobbled up by the ice plant. He had to take a penalty drop and wound up making double bogey.
More than his 75th career win, it was a strong opening statement for what could be a fascinating 2013.
Before anyone projects a monster year for Woods based on one week — especially when that week is at Torrey Pines — remember that he just missed the cut last week in Abu Dhabi.
Woods said he wasn’t playing much differently, and would have liked two more rounds in the Middle East. Instead, a two-shot penalty for a bad drop sent him home.
Still, in healthier and happier times he usually was sharp coming after a long layoff. Throw out the trip to the Arabian Gulf, and he is.
Was this a statement?
Woods was eight shots ahead with five holes to play when he stumbled his way to the finish line, perhaps from having to kill time waiting on the group ahead. Erik Compton, Steve Marino and Fritsch had an entire par 5 open ahead of them at the end of the round.
Still, Woods played a different game than everyone else at Torrey Pines.
“I think he wanted to send a message,” said Hunter Mahan, who shares a swing coach with Woods. “I think deep down he did. You play some games to try to motivate yourself. There’s been so much talk about Rory (McIlroy). Rory is now with Nike. That would be my guess.”
Mahan got a good look at Woods this week, playing in the group behind him on the front nine because Mahan was first off on the two-tee start.
“He looked strong,” Mahan said. “He had great control of his swing. He was hitting some strong shots, different from any other player I saw out here.”
Woods is not likely to return to golf until the Match Play Championship next month.
FARMERS INSURANCE SCORES
Monday — Final
(FedExCup points in parentheses)
Tiger Woods (500), $1,098,000 68s-65n-69s-72s—274
Brandt Snedeker (245), $536,800 65n-75s-69s-69s—278
Josh Teater (245), $536,800 66s-70n-73s-69s—278
Jimmy Walker (123), $268,400 67n-69s-72s-71s—279
Nick Watney (123), $268,400 69s-68n-71s-71s—279
Robert Garrigus (92), $204,350 72s-69n-72s-67s—280
Rickie Fowler (92), $204,350 77s-65n-70s-68s—280
Aaron Baddeley (92), $204,350 71n-72s-68s-69s—280
Bill Haas (68), $146,400 69s-69n-72s-71s—281
Graham DeLaet (68), $146,400 68n-70s-72s-71s—281
Charles Howell III (68), $146,400 66n-72s-71s-72s—281
K.J. Choi (68), $146,400 65s-73n-71s-72s—281
Jason Day (68), $146,400 73n-70s-72s-66s—281
Brad Fritsch (68), $146,400 69n-67s-70s-75s—281
Hunter Mahan (54), $94,550 69s-72n-69s-72s—282
Brendon de Jonge (54), $94,550 74s-66n-73s-69s—282
Tag Ridings (54), $94,550 67s-70n-71s-74s—282
Erik Compton (54), $94,550 71s-65n-71s-75s—282
Steve Marino (54), $94,550 68s-68n-73s-73s—282
Casey Wittenberg (54), $94,550 69s-67n-72s-74s—282
Chez Reavie (48), $61,000 71s-70n-74s-68s—283
Nicholas Thompson (48), $61,000 69n-70s-72s-72s—283
Pat Perez (48), $61,000 72s-67n-70s-74s—283
Charlie Wi (48), $61,000 71s-66n-75s-71s—283
Ross Fisher (48), $61,000 66n-71s-73s-73s—283
Luke Guthrie (48), $61,000 68s-69n-71s-75s—283
Vijay Singh (41), $41,480 68n-73s-70s-73s—284
Gary Woodland (41), $41,480 72s-69n-69s-74s—284
Brendan Steele (41), $41,480 67n-73s-71s-73s—284
Cameron Tringale (41), $41,480 68n-72s-69s-75s—284
Jerry Kelly (41), $41,480 67n-71s-78s-68s—284
Seung-Yul Noh (41), $41,480 71s-72n-72s-69s—284
John Senden (41), $41,480 69s-68n-74s-73s—284
Boo Weekley (35), $31,476 74s-67n-73s-71s—285
Charley Hoffman (35), $31,476 70n-72s-74s-69s—285
Jonas Blixt (35), $31,476 70n-72s-72s-71s—285
David Lynn (35), $31,476 67n-75s-73s-70s—285
Martin Flores (35), $31,476 69s-69n-76s-71s—285
J.J. Henry (30), $25,010 69n-71s-75s-71s—286
Patrick Reed (30), $25,010 73s-69n-74s-70s—286
Lucas Glover (30), $25,010 69s-73n-70s-74s—286
Brian Stuard (30), $25,010 68n-74s-73s-71s—286
Billy Horschel (30), $25,010 66n-69s-76s-75s—286
John Rollins (24), $18,004 70s-71n-75s-71s—287
Brian Harman (24), $18,004 74s-68n-72s-73s—287
Roberto Castro (24), $18,004 71s-68n-75s-73s—287
Peter Tomasulo (24), $18,004 67n-75s-75s-70s—287
Jin Park (24), $18,004 72s-70n-74s-71s—287
Jeff Klauk (24), $18,004 71s-72n-72s-72s—287
Nicolas Colsaerts (24), $18,004 69n-74s-75s-69s—287
Dustin Johnson (16), $14,125 69n-72s-75s-72s—288
Hank Kuehne (16), $14,125 68n-74s-76s-70s—288
Justin Bolli (16), $14,125 72s-67n-74s-75s—288
Greg Owen (16), $14,125 74s-68n-71s-75s—288
Jim Herman (16), $14,125 69n-69s-76s-74s—288
James Driscoll (16), $14,125 68n-75s-77s-68s—288
Ben Curtis (16), $14,125 72s-71n-73s-72s—288
Phil Mickelson (16), $14,125 72n-71s-75s-70s—288
Eric Meierdierks (16), $14,125 69n-74s-72s-73s—288
Michael Letzig (8), $12,993 68s-73n-75s-73s—289
John Huh (8), $12,993 69s-71n-77s-72s—289
Tom Gillis (8), $12,993 69s-73n-73s-74s—289
Jeff Overton (8), $12,993 71n-69s-75s-74s—289
Trevor Immelman (8), $12,993 72s-71n-71s-75s—289
Martin Laird (8), $12,993 72s-71n-73s-73s—289
Matt Every (8), $12,993 69s-74n-73s-73s—289
Doug LaBelle II (8), $12,993 72s-71n-75s-71s—289
Mike Weir (2), $12,200 66n-75s-73s-76s—290
Bryce Molder (2), $12,200 68n-72s-78s-72s—290
Luke List (2), $12,200 66n-75s-78s-71s—290
Robert Karlsson (2), $12,200 69n-74s-77s-70s—290
Daniel Summerhays (2), $12,200 72n-71s-74s-73s—290
Colt Knost (1), $11,590 69n-71s-73s-78s—291
Will Claxton (1), $11,590 69n-69s-79s-74s—291
Harris English (1), $11,590 68s-70n-75s-78s—291
Justin Hicks (1), $11,590 67s-70n-80s-74s—291
Scott Gardiner (1), $11,590 70n-73s-74s-74s—291
John Mallinger (1), $10,919 67n-74s-77s-74s—292
Michael Thompson (1), $10,919 71n-71s-75s-75s—292
Bo Van Pelt (1), $10,919 67n-72s-72s-81s—292
Justin Leonard (1), $10,919 68n-71s-77s-76s—292
Neal Lancaster (1), $10,919 72n-71s-73s-76s—292
James Hahn (1), $10,919 71s-72n-70s-79s—292
D.H. Lee (1), $10,431 68n-74s-78s-73s—293
Steve LeBrun (1), $10,431 68n-75s-74s-76s—293
Sang-Moon Bae (1), $10,248 70s-72n-76s-76s—294
Adam Hadwin 66n-74s-69s-WD