LA JOLLA — Tiger Woods collected another trophy Wednesday, and this was before the tournament even started.
Woods split time in his news conference, the day before he was to play in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, between trophy-receiving and quote-making.
The trophy was the Jack Nicklaus Award, for the player of the year. It is voted on annually by the tour players, and this was Woods' 11th time winning it.
The rookie-of-the-year trophy was presented to Jordan Spieth, 20, who started last season with no tour status and ended up with nine top-10 finishes in 23 starts and a spot on the Presidents Cup team.
Woods said that watching Spieth last year was "quite remarkable." They will play together the first two rounds, along with Jimmy Walker.
Woods has won this tournament seven times, plus the 2008 U.S. Open and even a junior world title here.
It is his first start of the so-called wraparound 2014 PGA Tour season, which actually started in late 2013. He said the Torrey Pines courses, especially the challenging South Course, have more of a U.S. Open setup than courses at regular tour events. The rough is up, the greens are hard.
"It's hard to imagine watching wedges and nine-irons … balls bounce as high as the top of the flagstick," he said. "But that's what was happening this morning [during his pro-am round]."
Did that mean he didn't like the setup?
"I find it good," he said, smiling widely.
He's OK now
The best story on pro-am day was that of teenager Jake Reddington. He hit three shots, all on No. 18, from about 100 yards. Reddington, who has a seven handicap, hit one wide, one over the bleachers and TV tower behind the green and the third onto the green but well away from the pin.
For that, he was rewarded with a Rickie Fowler-signed golf glove with the words, "It only took 3."
Reddington, a junior and member of his high school golf team, was home in Moore, Okla., last May 20, when calls came from his parents, at work, telling him to take shelter. A tornado was coming. Reddington didn't react until the storm, with winds hitting 210 mph, was almost on him.
"It was about 100 yards away," he said Wednesday.
Reddington gathered his four dogs plus a giant cushion. He dived into the bathtub, covered himself and the dogs and called his sister on his cellphone to say goodbye.
"I told her I didn't think I was going to make it," he said.
The house was flattened. His bathtub was turned over. Of the seven people in homes on his block, six survived, including Reddington; 24 died in the tornado in Moore.
The Reddington family was insured by Farmers, the company that sponsors this tournament. The next day, the chief executive of Farmers, Jeff Dailey, was on the ground in Moore.
Nobody knew they were talking to the big cheese, but when he chatted with the Reddington family and heard the story about Jake in the bathtub, the wheels began to turn.
Fowler is one of Farmers' ambassadors. He is also a former Oklahoma State player.
Fowler made several trips to the tornado area, contributed his own money to the recovery cause and got to meet Jake. Three weeks ago, he surprised Jake and his golf team by showing up with lots of Fowler and Oklahoma State clothes and golf gear.
After a short clinic, he announced he was taking Jake to Torrey Pines so he could walk the 18 holes of the pro-am with him.
Wednesday afternoon, Reddington stood just off the 18th green and said, "I have watched this tournament on TV for years, and I can't believe I'm standing right here now."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun