THE SOUTH COURSE AT TORREY PINES was a brute, which made for a crowded leaderboard at the Farmers Insurance Open on Sunday. No one could get any separation. I wondered if there was going to be a five-, six-, or seven-man playoff. It was a scrum.
But then a guy who had trouble finding the fairway (and has won twice on the PGA Tour) slipped into the lead, the sole player to finish at 9 under. We have a winner. His name is Scott Stallings.
According to the Monday Finish column by D.J. Piehowski at PGATour.com, a putting tip made the difference. If you can call it a tip. It was actually a caddie (David Robinson) sharing an observation about the greens during lunch. Not the winner’s caddie either. Robinson carries for Blake Adams.
“[Robinson] actually didn’t watch me hit a single putt this week,” Stallings said.
“We were eating lunch in the middle of the day and he said, ‘Man, you cannot release the putter too much, especially on these greens.’ He said, ‘Almost feel like you’re trying to just over release every single time, I promise you won’t putt bad.’ That’s all I really thought about coming down the stretch.”
It worked. The 28-year-old hit only four of 14 fairways in the final round, but his putter kept him in contention. Stallings dropped birdies at 11, 13 and 14. At 15, he holed a 15-foot par putt to maintain his momentum. He survived a bogey at the par-3 16th, and not long after reached the par-5 18th in two pokes and two-putted for a birdie to seal the victory.
So many players had a chance during the final round, including Gary Woodland, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Marc Leishman, K.J. Choi, Pat Perez and Graham DeLaet. Stallings didn’t particularly stand out; he simply hung in there, kept grinding and got the win. Hats off to him.
By the way, Stallings’ total of 279 was the tournament’s highest winning score since 1979.