Amateurs Pony Up 10K Play Golf Like Poker
Sixty amateur golfers each ponied up $10,000 to tee off Monday in a three-day golf tournament that uses poker betting in place of traditional scoring.
'It's a lot like poker in the sense that the whole thing is a game of pressure,' said Steve Dannenmann, one of five poker pros who traded the felt for the greens at the Primm Valley Golf Club, some 40 miles south of Las Vegas. 'But there are no bad bets on the golf course, until you chunk it.'
Unlike regular golf, it's not the score that matters most, but how many chips each player has left. Each golfer starts with 10,000, meticulously accounted for by a croupier in a cart who tallies the round of betting before each shot.
Players can go all-in after their tee shot, or, if they happen to be in a fairway bunker while their opponents are on the green, can fold, pick up their ball and walk to the next hole. The player with the fewest strokes on the hole wins the pot.
'You could have three good holes and clean someone out,' said Terry Leiweke, president of the tournament that airs in June on NBC. 'You don't even need to have a great round.'
In Dannenmann's group, the skills were so raw that the players took out their drivers more often to measure two club-lengths from the water hazards than to hit their ball off the tee.
Scott Tucker, a 44-year-old Las Vegas businessman, used his errant slice to keep himself from betting too much on early holes when antes were low.
'I'm hiding in the bushes,' he said. 'Let them wager a lot, at least for the first three holes when I don't lose a lot.'
Like in poker tournaments, small antes kept the betting reasonable early. But the automatic bets double, starting at $100, every three holes.
Grilon Rodas, a 34-year-old land use consultant from Palm Springs, Calif., folded so often that he didn't end up putting until reaching the 12th green.
'That's the second putt I've hit all day,' he said after sinking one from six inches.
Len Fattori, a 59-year-old retiree from New Jersey, breathed a sigh of relief after draining a two-footer to split a $4,400 pot.
Just like in poker, pot odds play into strategy.
Players with the best lie and closest to the pin tend to bet the most, while other players facing tough putts or even chip shots tend to fold.
On the par-4 13th, Dannenmann was in the best shape after two shots, needing a long putt for birdie and $13,900 already in the pot. Tucker was past the green in the rough, and Fattori was short and to the right.
After Tucker and Fattori checked, Dannenmann bet $3,000. Since Tucker only had $2,100 left, he called. 'I'm almost out, so I've got to try to be in the game,' he said.
Fattori eyeballed a difficult chip onto a two-tiered green. 'It's four-to-one to try to get it up and down,' he grumbled. He called.
Tucker chipped to within 10 feet, Dannenmann putted to within four.
Fattori chipped onto the slope and watched his ball roll away into the recesses of the lower tier. 'Fold,' he said, picking up his ball in disgust. Because he'd pushed all-in, Tucker had to make the putt.
He missed, and Dannenmann sank his to win the pot.
After shaking hands with the group, Tucker headed home. Dannenmann offered a consolation: 'You come to Vegas, we're partying all night.'
On the opening day's final hole with only Dannenmann and Rodas left -- good golf and good luck came into play.
With a $12,800 ante and only $13,600 left, Dannenmann hit his ball into the water on the challenging par-5 second hole (play extends beyond 18 holes if no one has won the round). Rodas landed in the rough off the tee and pushed all-in, which Dannenmann had to call.
Rodas' third shot went through the green and headed precariously toward the reeds of a green-side water hazard before an extra tall tuft of grass kept the ball from going in the drink. After Dannenmann hit his next shot into the water again, Dannenmann conceded the hole, the match and the $10,000 entry fee. 'He's the better player,' he said.
Rodas credited his late mother, who taught him the game of poker, with saving his skin. 'I've got to chalk that up to my mom's watching me now.'
Play continues Wednesday toward the $250,000 grand prize. The tournament is set to air on NBC Sports June 23 and 24.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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.
Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026
SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.
“Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.
“We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.
In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010.