Golfing Greats Gear Up for Cup

By Associated PressNovember 16, 2003, 5:00 pm
GEORGE, South Africa -- Eight players are among the top 20 in the world. Six have won on the PGA Tour this year, including a major championship.
 
One guy has earned the most money. Another has won the most trophies.
 
It sounds like another stellar group of Americans who will be favored to win, as they have been in team competition for the last 75 years.
 
The Presidents Cup is different.
 
It doesn't have the history or hype of the Ryder Cup, only the best collection of golfers in the world. Many of them are on the International team.
 
'They're the favorites on paper,' Davis Love III said, rare words coming from an American.
 
Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and Masters champion Mike Weir lead an International team that will try to win back the Presidents Cup in its first venture to South Africa.
 
It's new territory for the fledgling Presidents Cup, which has been played overseas only one other time -- Australia in 1998 -- since it was created in 1994 to give foreign players born outside Europe a chance at team competition.
 
'It's a terrifically balanced match,' U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus said. 'It should be a heck of a competition. I think it will be a blast. I just hope it turns out that we win.'
 
The Americans are coming off a lopsided victory three years ago in Virginia (21 1/2 - 10 1/2), but motivation comes from a couple of fronts.
 
For starters, the Presidents Cup is all they have left.
 
The United States lost to Europe in the Ryder Cup last year. Two months ago, the European women whipped the Americans in the Solheim Cup. Unless this U.S. team brings back the trophy, it will be the first time ever the Americans did not hold any of the professional cups.
 
'As far as I'm concerned, the only two cups that I have an opportunity to make an impact is the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup,' Jim Furyk said. 'I want to keep a hold of the Presidents Cup.'
 
If the last road game is any indication, it won't be easy.
 
The International team handed the Americans their worst loss ever in team competition, 20 1/2 - 11 1/2 at Royal Melbourne, with Nicklaus at the helm.
 
They complained about playing the matches too close to the holidays, about having to travel so far at the end of a long season, about the Presidents Cup not being as meaningful as the tradition-rich, passion-filled Ryder Cup.
 
'Most of us had not been playing a lot,' Love said. 'We brought friends to caddie for us. We'd never take a new caddie and say, 'Hey, this new Ryder Cup will be fun. Why not come along?' We didn't treat it like the Ryder Cup.
 
'And the mistake most of us made was we didn't put enough emphasis on the fact Jack Nicklaus was our captain.'
 
The Americans have already shown commitment in one area: They're going.
 
When word first leaked that the matches were headed for South Africa, some players said they might stay home.
 
'I didn't want to go,' Tiger Woods said. 'We had just come back from Australia. We got beat. No one was in a good mood about the Presidents Cup, and that was still two Presidents Cups away at the time.'
 
For the United States not to send their best might have been a crushing blow to the Presidents Cup.
 
Els and Nick Price of Zimbabwe, who lobbied for the tournament to go to South Africa, never pressured any of the players. Instead, they quietly challenged the Americans to help generate interest in golf globally, just as Price and Els have done throughout their careers.
 
'It would have been a sad day for golf if some self-centered person had decided not to go,' Price said.
 
Nicklaus gathered his potential troops together in late May and gave them the option of staying home.
 
No one did.
 
The Links Course at Fancourt, a resort on the Indian Ocean, already is buzzing about what Els believes will be the biggest sporting event of the year in the nation of 41 million. He took his daughter for a visit last month and could feel the excitement building.
 
'They all wanted to know if Tiger was coming,' Els said. 'As you know, he can make or break an event.'
 
Els was never too concerned about Woods showing up. They share a common friend in Nelson Mandela, the former South African president expected to be at Fancourt.
 
Woods visited briefly with Mandela when he was in South Africa in 1998 for the Million Dollar Challenge and said he was the greatest man he has ever met.
 
'If I decided not to go, I'm sure I would have gotten a phone call from him,' Woods said. 'How can you not do anything for that man?'
 
Now it's time for Woods to do something for his country.
 
He is joined by Love, Furyk, David Toms and Kenny Perry, among the top performers on the PGA Tour this year. The Americans have four players who have never played in any cup -- ranging from 24-year-old Charles Howell III to 46-year-old Fred Funk.
 
And Phil Mickelson remains a question mark. Lefty failed to win this year for the first time since 1999, and he never seriously contended on the back nine at any tournament.
 
The International team counters with Singh, coming off his first PGA Tour money title; Els, who has won seven times around the world; and Weir, who treats the Presidents Cup almost as seriously as he does the majors.
 
Retief Goosen, Stuart Appleby and Adam Scott also won PGA Tour events for the International team, which is strong from top to bottom.
 
'It's got to be closely contested, just like the Ryder Cup,' Price said.
 
The Ryder Cup has 16 team matches -- alternate shot and better ball -- over two days, and Europe has been known to hide its weaker players. The Presidents Cup requires everyone to play -- six matches Thursday, 10 on Friday, and six matches Saturday before the Sunday singles.
 
Price believes the two cups already have one thing in common.
 
'I don't think they want to lose, just like us,' he said, referring to the U.S. team. 'Second place is no good at the Presidents Cup. This would be a wonderful one for us to win.'
 
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.”

Getty Images

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.