Cut Policy Stirring up Extra Drama

By Associated PressFebruary 16, 2008, 5:00 pm
Northern Trust OpenPACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- John Merrick was in a hopeless situation Saturday morning at Riviera.
 
He wound up giving hope to nine other players at the Northern Trust Open by missing a 4-foot par putt on his final hole that allowed 78 players to make the cut and keep playing.
 
If Merrick had made the putt he would have pushed the cut above the 78-player threshold and the field would have been reduced to the closest to 70 -- in this case, 69 players -- under the PGA TOUR's complicated new policy.
 
Merrick was among six players who had to return in the chill of morning to finish the second round. He was at 3-over par and needed a birdie over his final two holes to assure himself a tee time on the weekend. But when he came up short of the ninth green and chipped 4 feet by the hole, it came down to this no-win situation:
 
-- If he made the par putt, he would not get to play on the weekend and go home with about $12,000.
 
-- If he missed the putt, he would not play on the weekend and get nothing.
 
He missed.
 
The new 'Rule 78' policy allows for the top 70 and ties to make the cut. But if more than 78 players make the cut, only the closest number of players to 70 advance to the weekend, with the others getting official last-place money.
 
Merrick's miss meant nine players, including Sergio Garcia, Kenny Perry and Briny Baird, were given new life.
 
One of Garcia's managers, Carlos Rodriguez, was standing behind the ninth green watching this unfold and he called Garcia to tell him to get back to Riviera. Baird showed up about 20 minutes later, his clubs packed in his travel bag, asking an attendant to open his locker.
 
Baird was asked whether he expected to return, and he pointed to his bag that was stuffed and zipped.
 
'Obviously not,' he said. 'I had already checked out of my hotel.'
 
Marc Turnesa was in the final group and also at 3 over, and he had no idea what was going on.
 
Turnesa knew that if he or Merrick made birdie, the cut would be 2 over. If both made par, the cut would be 3 over, but 'Rule 78' would take effect and they still wouldn't play.
 
He hit 3-iron from 199 yards up the hill to 20 feet, but missed his birdie putt and figured he was going home. What he didn't factor was that if Merrick made bogey, 78 players would be at 3 over and he would keep playing.
 
'My caddie came over and told he that if John missed, I had a chance to keep playing,' he said. 'I didn't even think about that.'
 
Most players have criticized this 'Rule 78' since it first happened at the Sony Open, sending 18 players home with only a small paycheck. It happened again at the Buick Invitational, where 19 players offically made the cut, but did not qualify for weekend play.
 
The reason for the policy was to avoid a large field on the weekend, which caused rounds to last more than five hours and created log jams around the course.
 
The Players Advisory Council this week recommended that the policy be changed so that if more than 78 players make the cut, there would be another cut on Saturday for top 70 and ties. The policy board is to vote on the proposal Feb. 25.
 
'Thankfully, we only two more weeks of this,' Baird said, confident the proposal would pass.
 
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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.