Azinger Officially Named US Ryder Cup Captain
'I'm going to get the blame if it doesn't work,' Azinger said Monday. 'I would like some of the credit if it does.'
Azinger, a former PGA champion and cancer survivor, was introduced as the next U.S. captain at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., where the 2008 matches will be played.
The changes were bold, and Azinger feels the Americans have nothing to lose. Europe has captured the Ryder Cup eight of the last 11 times, winning by its largest margin -- 18 1/2 -9 1/2 -- the last two times. Two months ago at The K Club, Europe became the first team to capture all five sets of matches.
Azinger wanted a qualifying process that would give him the best players, and it reflects his personality. He has often said during his 20-plus years on the PGA TOUR that he got nervous only when cash or prestige were on the line.
'I just felt like it was time for money to be the barometer,' Azinger said.
Under the new system, one point will be awarded for every $1,000 a player earns in the 2007 majors, and in regular PGA TOUR events in 2008. Two points will be given for every $1,000 earned at the 2008 majors.
The PGA of America took care of one arguments -- tournaments held opposite majors -- by offering only a half-point per $1,000 at those events. Last time, John Rollins nearly made the U.S. team by winning the B.C. Open, which was held the same week as the British Open.
Because the Ryder Cup points system was to begin after the PGA Championship in August, PGA president Roger Warren said players would be awarded one-fourth of a point for every $1,000 earned over the last 11 weeks.
The new system eliminates some glaring problems under the old criteria, when points were based on top-10 finishes.
Several players complained that they could finish 11th at the Masters and get nothing, while someone could finish ninth at the Houston Open and earn points. And with so many international players on the PGA TOUR, there were some weeks when only a couple of U.S. players earned points.
Warren said only 58 percent of the Ryder Cup points were distributed last time.
Plus, it distinguishes between strong and weak events on the PGA TOUR. Previously, a player earned as much from The Players Championship as he did an opposite-field event.
'The goal is to try to get to the point where Paul feels that he has the players that he needs to come to ... win the Ryder Cup,' Warren said.
Azinger said no one would be assured of making the team starting the 2008 season because points will have been awarded only during the majors the first year. He thought that would make players feel as though they earned a spot on the team, instead of coasting for the final few months.
'That's better than what we had,' said Scott Verplank, a captain's pick in 2002 and 2006 and one of the few Americans with a winning record. 'Apparently, they spent some time on this and I commend them for trying to fix it. But I don't think anything is going to matter until we figure out how to play that game as a team.'
'Zinger is a strong personality, somewhat of a free thinker,' he added. 'I think he'll be super.'
Still to be decided is when Azinger will make his captain's picks.
The United States has never had more than two picks since 1989, and they were announced the morning after the PGA Championship.
Warren said the qualifying process again will end at the '08 PGA Championship, but that Azinger would have until Monday a week before the Ryder Cup to make his four picks.
Part of that is a massive change in the PGA TOUR schedule. Starting next year with the new FedExCup competition, a 'playoff' series begins two weeks after the PGA Championship, with three big tournaments leading to the Tour Championship. In 2008, the Ryder Cup will be held the week after the TOUR Championship.
'I like the idea of being able to pick four players,' Azinger said. 'I like the idea that I don't have to pick them immediately after the PGA Championship. I have an opportunity that no other Ryder Cup captain has had, and I really appreciate that.'
Azinger also said he was 'awe-struck' to get the job. He played on four Ryder Cup teams and was 5-7-3, going 2-0-2 in singles while usually taking on Europe's best.
His counterpart at Valhalla will be six-time major winner Nick Faldo, who has earned more Ryder Cup points than any other European. Faldo and Azinger were golf analysts for ABC Sports the last two years, and they have a rivalry in the Ryder Cup, battling to a draw in a 1993 singles match that had no bearing on the outcome.
He was diagnosed with lymphoma in his shoulder after the Ryder Cup, and won only one more time on the PGA TOUR the rest of his career.
Azinger said Faldo will be under more pressure trying to follow after Sam Torrance, Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam, all of whom guided Europe to victory.
'I've got more of an everything-to-gain situation,' Azinger said. 'There's going to be a little more heat on Nick to get it right, and I think a little more of the microscope will on Nick if he gets it wrong.'
Copyright 2006 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.