Big Names on Hand in Big D

By Associated PressMay 12, 2004, 4:00 pm
IRVING, Texas -- Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus were reminiscing last year at the Presidents Cup about similarities in their careers, not only the major championships they won but the rivals they faced.
Nicklaus ticked off a list of Hall of Fame players that challenged him - Arnold Palmer and Gary Player early in his career, Lee Trevino and Johnny Miller in the middle, Tom Watson toward the end.
Nicklaus told him that one thing never changed for 25 years: He was part of every conversation.
Woods can relate.
In the eight years he has played on the PGA Tour, Woods has had a revolving door of rivals. Still, they have never been bunched up quite like this.
Vijay Singh is a three-time winner this year who is closing in on No. 1 in the world.
Phil Mickelson is the Masters champion and has played better than anyone this year. Not only has he won twice, Lefty has been in contention on Sunday every week he has played. Only once has he finished out of the top 10.
Ernie Els is a two-time winner who played well enough to win the Masters, and was the first guy to start closing the gap when he won the British Open two years ago at Muirfield. He has not backed off.
And Woods?
More scrutiny than ever on his swing, his personal life, and whether he is still the dominant player.
'As long as your still in that conversation, you're doing all right,' Woods said Wednesday.
There is plenty to talk about this week.
The Big Four are in Big D - Woods, Singh, Els and Mickelson part of a strong field at the Byron Nelson Championship, which offers the richest purse ($5.8 million) among regular PGA Tour events.
Singh is the defending champion, yet all of these guys have won the Nelson over the last 10 years.
'It's more or less like playing a major event where all the top guys are in the field, and I think everybody is looking forward to playing this week together in one tournament,' Singh said.
The only one missing from the top six in the world ranking is Davis Love III (No. 4), the only one who has not won this year. Former Masters champion Mike Weir (No. 6) also is playing.
Woods is coming off a bizarre performance last week at the Wachovia Championship. He hit less than half his fairways on a course that had thick rough, yet still finished only one shot out of the playoff. His tie for third also enabled him to keep his distance from Singh on world ranking, expanding his 2.14 margin to 2.58.
Both players can't help but think about it.
'I do look at it because you keep telling me about it each and every week,' Woods said. 'Other than that, I'm still trying to work on my game, trying to improve, trying to win.'
He was on the defensive about his game during a short interview after his pro-am round, refuting theories of what he's trying to do with his swing, and laughing off suggestions getting engaged to Elin Nordegren has made him less a player.
'We started living together in 2002 and I won two majors that year,' Woods said. 'So, I think I'm doing all right.'
Singh knows he will have to keep up his amazing pace if he wants to replace Woods at No. 1, and it gets harder the closer he gets. Top 10s are no longer enough.
'At some point, I want to be that first-ranked player, but there's a lot of factors involved,' Singh said. 'I have to play well. Other people don't have to play as well. And I've got to win. Playing well is one thing, but winning, that's the only way I can get to the top.
'And winning on this tour is no easy task.'
It is tougher than ever at the EDS Byron Nelson Championship, with so many top players in the field.
Els is playing for the first time since he tied for third at Hilton Head the week after the Masters. The Big Easy had a tough time getting over his close call at Augusta National, where Mickelson shot 31 on the back nine and made birdie on the 18th hole to beat him by one.
Els is eager to see tape of the final round. He only heard the cheers behind him that day.
'That afternoon will go down in Masters history,' he said. 'I don't know if you'll see a much more exciting Masters than that. And I was part of it.'
Els has been home in London the last three weeks, but it's time to get back to work. The Byron Nelson is the start of six straight weeks through the U.S. Open, the result of Els not wanting to miss any of his favorite tournaments.
He leaves for London next week and the Volvo PGA Championship, followed by the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open in Germany. Then he returns for the Memorial, Buick Classic and U.S. Open.
'All my favorite events are right after each other this year,' he said. 'I haven't done that in a while.'
The focus now is on the Byron Nelson and a world-class field, with four guys sure to be part of every conversation.
Related Links:
  • Fantastic 4 Faces Off Again
  • Full Coverage - EDS Byron Nelson Championship
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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.