SAN DIEGO - Tiger Woods began his 2008 season with a 67 on the South Course at Torrey Pines that featured only one bogey, one birdie on the par 5s and seemingly very little effort.
Standing behind the 18th green, one caddie made a quiet observation that surely was shared by others.
"He just won two tournaments with one round," the caddie said.
Woods left the Buick Invitational with only one trophy, but his eight-shot victory left some wondering if the U.S. Open would be the same kind of contest in June - which would be no contest at all.
He most likely will not compete again in California until June, when Woods will try for the second time this decade to win a U.S. Open on the same course where he earlier won a PGA Tour event.
But this is different from Pebble Beach.
Eight years ago, Woods won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am with his most exciting comeback, rallying from seven shots behind with seven holes to play to overcome a faltering Matt Gogel. He won the U.S. Open four months later with a performance that might never be repeated, winning by 15 shots, playing the final 26 holes without a bogey.
Those are his only two victories at Pebble as a pro.
Torrey Pines is a public golf course that appears to have private ownership. Woods has won six times on the cliffside course, which includes four straight titles at the Buick Invitational. The only other PGA Tour course where he has won that often is Firestone.
"I feel very comfortable here," Woods said. "I can read the greens. Even though they're a little bouncy, I can still read them, and I read them well. It's just one of those things where some people just have an affinity for certain golf courses. And somehow, this golf course seems to have been pretty good for me."
Woods has said the calendar Grand Slam is "easily within reason," and it's hard to doubt him. The rotation of courses - Augusta National, Torrey Pines, Royal Birkdale and Oakland Hills - would appear to be in his favor, and Paul Goydos thinks that might be overrated.
"I don't think that the rotation is going to make a difference with his talent," Goydos said.
Maybe not, but Torrey Pines certainly will help.
Even though he already has 13 majors, the U.S. Open is the one that has given Woods the most trouble. He has the fewest victories (two) of any major. He has finished out of the top 10 six times, far more than the others. And the U.S. Open is the only major where Woods has missed the cut.
But if he wasn't already the favorite at this year's U.S. Open, his victory Sunday only made him look more like a lock. Woods went 44 holes without a bogey, built an 11-shot lead midway through the final round, and settled for an eight-shot victory. The last three times he has played, including his unofficial Target World Challenge, Woods has won by a combined 23 shots.
Woods, however, knows that Torrey Pines won't be the same course in June.
The course was soft from rain and a late January chill, so on the occasions that Woods found himself in the rough or behind trees, he could rely on receptive greens to get out of trouble. His biggest concern was spinning the ball too much with even a 6-iron. That won't happen in June.