Americans Near Perfect on Day 1

By Associated PressSeptember 27, 2007, 4:00 pm
MONTREAL -- Phil Mickelson pulled Woody Austin into his arms to celebrate another clutch putt from the 43-year-old rookie in the Presidents Cup, then they walked to the edge of the 18th green to see if it would be good enough for another American victory Thursday.
 
Mike Weir had chipped to 3 1/2 feet, certainly no gimme for his partner Vijay Singh.
 
The Canadian crowd that had cheered so wildly for Weir and the International team grew silent, enough for Mickelson to hear that familiar high-pitched tone of U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus.
 
What do you want to do with (his) putt? Nicklaus asked.
 
Mickelson understood the question to be a directive, and he didnt hesitate to concede the putt and halve the match.
 
It was the most poignant moment Thursday at Royal Montreal, a day filled with gray skies and American red numbers on the scoreboard. The concession assured the International team a half-point, and it turned out to be the only thing it earned in the biggest opening-session rout in seven years at the Presidents Cup.
 
With clutch play from rookies Austin and Lucas Glover, and solid play from Mickelson and Tiger Woods, the Americans won 51/2 points in the six alternate-shot matches to seize early control of these matches.
 
Our guys were sensational today, Nicklaus said. They finished the matches. They played great. And Im happy that Mike Weir from Canada got on the board.
 
Nicklaus made sure of that, although Mickelson believes Singh would have made the putt.
 
It was typical coming from Nicklaus, who conceded a putt about the same length to Tony Jacklin in the 1969 Ryder Cup that allowed those matches to end in a draw. That gesture became a symbol of sportsmanship in matches between countries and continents.
 
Captain Nicklaus was right. It was the right thing to do, Mickelson said after he and Austin rallied from 3 down over the final seven holes in a match in which only six holes were halved. It was a hard-fought battle. There didnt need to be a winner or a loser.
 
Then again, this was only Thursday. And it was clear the Americans were in charge.
 
It was the biggest blowout in the opening session since the United States won all five matches in 2000 on its way to the most lopsided victory in the short history of the Presidents Cup.
 
Steve Stricker and Hunter Mahan made a birdie on the first hole of the opening match and never trailed on their way to the easiest victory of the round, 3 and 2, over Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy. Woods and Charles Howell III were in the last match, the only other one that did not go the distance. Howell redeemed himself from an awful tee shot with a 15-foot par, and Woods closed out the 3-and-1 victory over K.J. Choi and Nick OHern with a tee shot to 3 feet on the 17th.
 
Weve seen this board the last two Ryder Cups, Woods said of the lopsided margin. On the European side.
 
The difference came from the matches in between.
 
All of them went to the 18th green with the International team poised to win two of them and halve the other two. Instead, the United States won three of those matches to seize control, and International captain Gary Player blamed it on poor decisions.
 
Weve seen a lot of majors in the last few years lost on the last hole by the incorrect decision, Player said.
 
The best decision came from Nicklaus.
 
Weir and Singh won five out of seven holes to built a 3-up lead, only to see the Americans run off three straight birdies. In position for a fourth straight birdie, Singh holed out from the bunker on the 15th for a 1-up lead, and Mickelson answered two holes later by pouring in a 15-foot birdie that set up the final hole.
 
Austin pulled his approach into a bunker. Singh leaked his right of the green. Mickelson blasted out to 12 feet, and Austin made his third big putt on the back nine, shoving his fist toward the hole and clasping fists with Lefty.
 
Then came the concession.
 
It doesnt surprise me with Jack or Gary, Weir said. They do the right thing, and they have for their whole career. Id like to think that if it was role reversal there, we would have done the same thing.
 
The other tight matches were a disaster for the International side.
 
Ernie Els and Angel Cabrera, after getting run over early by Jim Furyk and David Toms, won two straight holes and had all the momentum on their side when Els made a 15-foot par putt to stay 1 down on the 16th. It looked even better when Furyk hit his tee shot into the water, and the best the Americans could do on the 18th was a bogey.
 
From in front of a lip in the bunker, Els played a fade to the front of the green, and Cabrera lagged the long putt to 4 feet. Mickelson playfully told Nicklaus behind the green not to concede that putt, and it was a good thing. The Big Easy missed, giving the Americans a point.
 
Rory Sabbatini and Trevor Immelman were tied with Zach Johnson and Stewart Cink playing the 18th, and they made it easy on the Americans when Sabbatini hit his tee shot into the water. Johnson played a bunker shot to 2 feet for a conceded par, and another point.
 
Player said Sabbatini should have hit 3-wood off the tee, and said he spoke to him after the match.
 
I dont like to interfere with my players at all, Player said. He said, It was in my mind and I just made the wrong decision. When you have four matches go to the last hole, that split decision is vitally important.
 
Then there was Retief Goosen and Stuart Appleby, also tried to squeeze out a half-point with a win on the 18th hole. Appleby, however, pulled his approach so badly that it took 15 minutes to get a ruling, and Goosens best option was to take a penalty stroke and hit their third shot over a row of corporate chalets. Lucas Glover and Scott Verplank made a par from the bunker for a 2-up victory.
 
Six better-ball matches are scheduled for Friday, and the International team cant afford to fall further behind.
 
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    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    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.

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    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    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

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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    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.”

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    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.