Haas Irwin with Hometown Advantage

By Associated PressJuly 28, 2004, 4:00 pm
2004 US Senior OpenST. LOUIS, Mo. -- Leave it to a St. Louisan to complain about the lack of heat and humidity.
 
Normally muggy St. Louis was unseasonably cool this week as golfers prepared for the U.S. Senior Open that begins Thursday at Bellerive Country Club.
 
Jay Haas barely broke a sweat on a practice round - and seemed disappointed.
 
'I just wish it was a little hotter,' he said.
 
Haas grew up across the Mississippi River in Belleville, Ill., and calls St. Louis home. He and Hale Irwin, a native of Colorado but a longtime St. Louisan, have both played Bellerive many times.
 
But that's only a small part of why both are considered top contenders at the 25th Senior Open.
 
Haas, at 50 a Champions Tour rookie, is having one of his finest years on the PGA Tour, ranking 27th on that money list. And Irwin, at 59, is still among the best on the Champions Tour, ranking second in earnings to Gil Morgan.
 
Defending Senior Open champion Bruce Lietzke sees Irwin as perhaps the man to beat.
 
'Hometown golf course, hometown hero,' Lietzke joked. 'This is his chance to shine again.'
 
Irwin conceded the thought has crossed his mind.
 
'Winning here in St. Louis would be absolutely terrific. A major championship here would be a huge bonus,' Irwin said.
 
Haas and Irwin will take any advantage they can get at Bellerive, the longest course (7,117 yards) in Senior Open history. The Robert Trent Jones-designed course hosted the U.S. Open in 1965 and the PGA Championship in 1992.
 
Irwin has won 20 PGA events, including the 1974, 1979 and 1990 (at age 46) U.S. Opens, and 40 Champions Tour events, including two U.S. Senior Opens and five other Champions Tour majors. He has won more money on the PGA and Champions tours combined than anyone except Tiger Woods.
 
This year, Irwin has won $1.1 million on the Champions Tour and won twice, including the Senior PGA Championship. He has overcome a bad back that kept him out of the 2003 Senior Open, and said he has his confidence back.
 
'I think I'm through the 'Can I play again?' thing,' Irwin said.
 
Haas has become the Barry Bonds of golf, playing his best at an age when most begin to see their game decline.
 
This year, Haas has earned nearly $1.5 million on the PGA Tour, and has finished in the top 10 in six PGA events. His scoring average of 69.84 is ninth on the PGA Tour.
 
Haas said the reason for his improved play is simple.
 
'Nothing more than really hard work, just trying to spend a little more time on the range, on the putting green, in the bunker, just working at it a little bit harder,' he said.
 
The Senior Open is just the second Champions Tour event for Haas. He finished second to Irwin in the Senior PGA Championship in May.
 
DIVOTS:@ The Senior Open is the third major this month for the Champions Tour, which has five majors. The Ford Senior Players Championship (Mark James) was July 8-11, and the Senior British Open (Peter Oakley) was July 22-25. ... Three players who participated in the 1965 U.S. Open at Bellerive are back for the Senior Open: Gary Player, who won the '65 event, Raymond Floyd, who tied for sixth, and Arnold Palmer, who missed the cut 39 years ago. ... Peter Oakley, who won the Senior British Open last week, has been added to the field. ... Among those who withdrew were Andy North, the 1978 and 1985 U.S. Open champion (back and knee) and Jim Colbert (hip).
 
Related Links:
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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.