Grades: Farmers Insurance Open onto Monday as Day, Noren tie in five-hole playoff

Author: Kyle Porter, CBS Sports
Published: Updated:
Alex Noren, of Sweden, hits out of the fairway during the second playoff hole on the 18th hole of the South Course at Torrey Pines Golf Course during the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

It wasn’t pretty coming home down the back nine on Sunday as Alex Noren and Jason Day both shot 2-over 38 to close out Round 4 at the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open. But then the fireworks started. The two made birdie on the first playoff hole, the par-5 18th, to oust the third member of their trio, Ryan Palmer.

Then Day hit one of the great shots of the year on the second playoff hole (the same par-5 18th). He missed the putt for eagle, though, and Noren matched him with another birdie to send it to a third. Day then narrowly missed two birdie putts on the third and fourth playoff holes, and it was back to No. 18 for the fifth.

Day had to lay up out of the rough after Noren reached the green in two. He again put it close and again made the putt for birdie, this time in the darkness. Noren matched him with a two-putt, and what seemed like it was going to be a ho-hum Sunday afternoon at Torrey turned into an eye-opening shootout between two of the top 20 players in the world.

“Alex is playing some tremendous golf,” Day told Peter Kostis of CBS Sports. “To be able to go shot for shot there was pretty special. I’m going to try and get some rest tonight, and I’ll play all day if I need to to get the win. This is why we practice.”

Their prize for the Sunday soiree is a date on Monday at 11 a.m. ET to finish the playoff as it got far too dark to continue on Sunday.

“I couldn’t even see the flag,” added Day of their fifth playoff hole where he made birdie. “I could barely see the yellow. I said ‘sit,’ but I didn’t know where I was. I was glad to get the birdie there.”

Their playoff performances were the antithesis of the way they finished. Day shot a 2-under 70 to get into the playoff, and Noren shot a 1-over 73. It was as lackluster a finish, even in difficult conditions, as we’ve seen so far this year.

They both did enough early in the week to get to this position, though. Day shot a round-of-the-week 64 on Friday, and Noren nearly matched him with a 66, which was the fourth-best round of the week. They did it in different ways all week, too. Day with his overpowering, towering tee balls, and Noren with his precise — dare I say, Swede-like — approaches. It’s a shame the playoff had to go the way of the sun, but tomorrow’s finish should be a great one, just like that five-hole battle we got to end the day. Grade(s): I

Here are the rest of our grades for the Farmers Insurance Open:

Rickie Fowler (MC): Fowler missed his third straight cut at this event after sniffing the lead early on Thursday morning. I’m a couple more of these from starting to waver on my pick of him to win the 2018 Masters. Grade: F

Phil Mickelson (T45): Lefty’s live score looked like a seismograph buried in the middle of San Francisco. At least he was symmetric, though. Mickelson made 40 pars, 15 birdies, 15 bogeys, an eagle and a double bogey. All that madness and color, and the wildest player in golf finishes at a boring even par. Grade: B-

Jon Rahm (T29): Last week’s winner played his first 53 holes of the event in 9 under par. He played his last 19 holes in 7 over and shot a 77 on Sunday.

It appears he ran out of gas in his title defense after going multiple playoff holes last week at the Humana Challenge. What’s interesting about Rahm is that he had a chance to get to No. 1 in the world this week, but he won’t have that opportunity next week at the Phoenix Open because of how quickly he rose in the Official World Golf Rankings. Now his old finishes (which were quite good) will start wearing off. Grade: B-

Tiger Woods (T23): I’m grading Woods on a curve here because of his lengthy layoff. A week that ended without him limping off the course was an auto-B. A week in which he made the cut and finished in the top 35 and didn’t limp off the golf course? Yeah, that’s an A.

Woods was lousy off the tee and not all that great with his irons. But he did what Tiger Woods does: he scored. He saved par after par after par, and he took full advantage of his best shots with 15 birdies on the week. We also got a bonus of Woods talking about “feels” in his post-Round 3 interview and about how he wanted to drop a 65 to try and get in a playoff in his post-Round 4 interview. Tiger, back, and 2018 is going to rock. Grade: A

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