Garcia leads Kuchar at Shell Houston Open

By Associated PressApril 5, 2014, 12:04 am

HUMBLE, Texas - Sergio Garcia has yet to finish lower than 16th in a PGA Tour event this season.

The Spaniard appears well on his way to keeping that streak intact this week after posting a 7-under par 65 and matching the course 36-hole record of 12 under overall after the second round of the Houston Open on Friday.

As well as Garcia played in taking a one-shot lead over Matt Kuchar, the focus afterward was a mix of this week - with a heavy dose of attention turned toward next week's Masters.

Garcia has eight PGA Tour wins in his career, but the 34-year-old world No. 8 - once thought to be Tiger Woods' challenger for the top spot in the world - is still in search of his first major championship.

He'd like nothing more than to end that quest next week, while taking full advantage of his prep time at the Golf Club of Houston's Augusta National-like conditions for the rest of this weekend.

''I mean, obviously I feel good, but every week is different,'' Garcia said. ''First of all, we got to finish this week, and hopefully next week I'll be feeling good (and) not too many things will be bothering me health-wise, and then just feel good on the course, hopefully play well and things happen.''


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Garcia, opening on the back nine, climbed the leaderboard with a birdie-eagle-birdie stretch on his front nine. His eagle on the par-5 13th came after sticking his 282-yard second shot to 5 feet, giving him a 4-shot lead following his morning round.

Kuchar, who opened with a 6-under 66 on Thursday, briefly tied Garcia at 12 under late in his afternoon round before closing with a bogey from the fairway bunker on the 18th.

The two will be paired with Matt Jones on Saturday after tournament officials decided to send threesomes off both tees early in the morning in an attempt to beat expected rain in the afternoon.

''If we get some rain and it doesn't blow too hard, of course the course will soften up and the scores will go even lower,'' Kuchar said. ''No telling ... It could be really tough.''

The weather was the clearest it's been all week on Friday, with the sun shining brightly and the wind gusting throughout the day at the 7,441-yard Golf Club of Houston.

The windy conditions limited first-round co-leader Bill Haas to a 2-over 74. Charley Hoffman, the other first-round leader, fell to 3 under par overall after a 4-over 76.

While the early leaders struggled, Phil Mickelson shot a 2-under 70 and is 6 under overall, six shots back of Garcia in ninth.

After a bogey-free opening round on Thursday, Mickelson - still recovering from last week's muscle pull that forced his withdrawal from the Texas Open - overcame a pair of bogeys on Friday with four birdies.

The five-time major winner, who won the Houston Open in 2011, had back-to-back birdies to reach 6 under where he is one of 11 golfers within six shots of Garcia.

''It was a lot more difficult today with this wind than it was the first day,'' Mickelson said. ''But either way, I feel like I felt better than I have in a long time with my game.''

Garcia finished Friday two shots off the course record of 63 in just his second visit to the former Redstone Golf Club - which switched names following an ownership change. He needed only 25 putts and showed he's ready for the slick greens and tight fairways at next week's Masters.

He equaled the course's previous low 36 holes set by Johnson Wagner in 2008 and matched in 2012 by Jeff Maggert.

Garcia, who opened with a 5-under 67 on Thursday, began Friday's round on the back nine. His first birdie came on a 12-foot putt on No. 12, and he followed that with a spectacular eagle on the par-5 13th.

He started the 592-yard hole with a 307-yard tee shot, following that with a 282-yard 3-wood to 5 feet of the hole. The eagle putt sent him into the lead at 8 under, and he then birdied the par-3 14th before putting together three straight birdies on his back nine.

''It was nice to kind of get going because as windy as it was, I knew there were a lot of difficult holes out there and a lot of shots that were going to test you,'' Garcia said.

Jones, Cameron Tringale, Jimmy Walker and Shawn Stefani are tied for third at 8 under, while Steve Stricker and Ben Curtis are at 7 under. Walker, who leads the PGA Tour with three wins this season, matched Garcia's 7-under 65 on Friday.

Defending champion D.A. Points missed the cut after shooting a 2-over 74 on Friday and finishing 1 over overall.

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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.