Our Intrepid Author Joins the Pro-Am Dawn Patrol
Leaving aside for now the issue of rightness (or not) of my mind, I hauled it out of the rack at this hour at the Hilton in nearby Jackson so I could be ready to play golf two hours later. Now, who in their right mind gets up that early to play golf at zero-dark-thirty?
Nearly a hundred people, as it turns out, who paid for the privilege of playing with a PGA Tour pro the day before the Southern Farm Bureau Classic. A healthy four-digit entry fee gets you into a group with a real professional golfer. Or, if youre a journalist on assignment, someone takes you on as the D player.
Either way, its a kick.
Its not as counterintuitive as it sounds. Sure, the Mississippi event is, in a sense, for the also-rans. The biggest stars (read: top 30 on the PGA Tour money list) are under the bright spotlight at the Tour Championship in Atlanta. No amount of prime rib in the Annandale Country Club restaurant can change the fact that this is the Tours No. 2 event this week.
Also, many of the players who come here know they need to have a good week to get into the magic top 125 in annual money so theyll be exempt for next year. But they may not know yet exactly how good a number they need to shoot or earn. And of course, 143 other guys are trying to do them out of every buck.
So I should expect my pro to be surly and distracted, right?
Mike Sposa, No. 130 on the money list and thereby the possessor of work cut out for him, as they say, probably has blood pressure in the 90/60 range. The guy simply doesnt get perturbed by an early morning with a collection of slicing hack monsters. Two kids, another on the way around Christmas, a big check to makeno problem. As we teed off in the gloaming, he was all smiles and handshakes.
I wont bore you with a blow-by-blow account of the round, but I will say that I was still sufficiently sleepy to stripe my first tee shot down the middle. Then I made the mistake of starting to think, and shots began to spray.
Too much brain, Mike said in condensed diagnosis. Just step up and hit it, like that first tee shot.
That remark dovetailed with something I had read about Ted Ray, the great British turn-of-the-century player. To think when we should be playingits madness, Ray said. How can you argue with that?
Of course, a big part of the pro-am experience is the inevitable tip from the pro. Not until our 16th hole did Mike come across. And tipwise, this guy can bring it.
Ive stood behind you for three driver swings, and when you lose it right, this is what happens, Mike said. And he proceeded to show me a simple move that regulated my shoulders through the swing and helped me into a Monty-like finish. Nothing condescending, just golfer-to-golfer help. On the next tee, I hit the ball so far they served an inflight meal on it ' and that flight didnt connect through the rough, Im here to tell you.
A lot of other fun stuff happened, some of which will be revealed in a TV story on Golf Central in the coming weeks. But heres what I really got out of my pro-am experience: The big-money entry fee for charity is worth it. The pros are, with few exceptions, engaging and fun to be with. The marketing good will for the Tour is immense. And the golf is a blast, no matter how you play.
Think about it: Can you run with Emmit Smith or shag fly balls with Barry Bonds? Exactly. Pro-ams are unique, and one of the best things about the pro game.
Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings
Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.
Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.
As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.
"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."
Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.
Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.
Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut
If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.
Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.
But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.
Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.
Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:
Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180
Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70
Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5
Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450
Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200
Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000
Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements
SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.
Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.
“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.
Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.
“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”
Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.
“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”
Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back
SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.
Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.
Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim.
Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.