Torrey Pines will always bring fond memories for Marc Leishman who returns to the course that delivered him one of his finest PGA victories ever.
As the name suggests it’s a course lined with pine trees, as well as Eucalyptus trees, like his native home back in Australia.
But it’s his brilliant one-stroke win over Spaniard Jon Rahm, when he closed with a 7-under 65, that will remain with him forever.
“Yeah, it was a special day,” the Australian said before this week’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines which will also host the US Open.
“I’ve been in that position a couple of times before, one in particular I remember, I think I was leading by 1 or 2, playing the seventh hole and after that kind of fell away.
“You learn from those sort of things. I was just wanting to take all my experiences, put them in my basket, I guess, and use them all that day.
“Was lucky enough to have some good golf, make some putts and came out on top. So it was a really fun day that I’ll remember forever.”
Leishman will be making his 13th start in this tournament. He first played Torrey Pines during the Junior Worlds in 2001.
He knows Torrey Pines will play differently for the Open than it will for the Farmers.
“The good thing about knowing this course as well as I do is around the greens,” he said.
“The breaks don’t change on the greens. They have the greens quick for this tournament as they will for the US Open. … I think in that respect that’s what I’m going to take out of this week as far as preparation goes for the US Open, just really try and chart the greens maybe more than I have in the past and be ready to make those putts.”
Rory McIlroy will play in his third Farmers Insurance Open, looking for his first tour victory since 2019 when he won the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.
With seven-time winner Tiger Woods missing one of his favourite tournaments due to his fifth back surgery, McIlroy and former Farmers winners Rahm, Leishman and Jason Day top the field.
McIlroy finished third last year behind Leishman and Rahm, and tied for fifth with Rahm and Day in 2019.
“I didn’t really start playing this event until a little later on in my career, but it’s been a good venue for me,” the 31-year-old McIlroy said Wednesday.
“It’s good to be back. Also, with obviously playing this tournament, but looking ahead to June and the US Open here as well, it will be nice to at least have it fresh in the memory for then, too.”
The US Open returns to Torrey Pines for the first time since 2008, when Woods beat Rocco Mediate on the first hole of sudden-death following an 18-hole playoff.