Jackpot McNeill Wins First in Las Vegas

By Associated PressOctober 14, 2007, 4:00 pm
  LAS VEGAS -- Not until the 18th tee did George McNeill finally show just how special a day he'd had, smiling and waving to the camera.
 
Minus fanfare or frills, the 32-year-old rookie won his first career PGA TOUR title in commanding fashion Sunday, shooting a 5-under 67 for a 23-under 264 total and a four-stroke victory over D.J. Trahan in the Frys.com Open.
 
Now McNeill has something in common with Tiger Woods. In 1996, Woods also earned his first PGA Tour victory at this tournament.
 
'Any time you can be mentioned in the same sentence as him it's a good thing,' McNeill said.
 
McNeill did it with his only bogey coming when he three-putted on the 18th green at TPC Summerlin with the crowd cheering and four scantily clad Las Vegas showgirls ready to offer their personal congratulations.
 
His trophy arrived from 5,000 feet above, carried by one of two hangliders who took part in the awards ceremony.
 
Only in Las Vegas.
 
'That whole saying about what (happens in Vegas) stays in Vegas, I hope my game travels,' McNeill said, smiling. 'I felt like I didn't do anything that special. It's nice to kind of buzz around and win by four and not feel like you're doing anything all that great.'
 
McNeill did it with small galleries following him, save for a big group of his Florida buddies who showed up to play on their own starting Monday. He did it by maintaining that same calm demeanor from the start, an even keel personality more resembling a veteran than a first-time winner.
 
McNeill earned the winning share of $720,000 on a beautiful, clear day in the desert after strong wind played a big factor in Saturday in a tournament that featured not one top-20 player in the field.
 
McNeill, who last December won Q-school by five strokes, was coming off rounds of 66, 64 and 67. He began his final round at 18 under and five strokes ahead, matching the largest lead on the tour this year heading into a final round.
 
He secured his TOUR card for the next two years. All that after a discouraging stretch earlier this year when he missed six cuts and withdrew from one event in an eight-tournament span.
 
'I was trying not to think about all that stuff when I was out there playing,' McNeill said. 'I don't get too emotional. I'm having fun with this. It hasn't sunk in. ... In a sense, I know I have a job for the next two years and it takes the pressure off.'
 
After Trahan -- who shot a 66 -- birdied the first four holes and then No. 9 to pull within three strokes, McNeill made a 15-footer for birdie on No. 11 and also birdied 13 and 14. He sunk a 27 1/2 -foot putt on the 156-yard 14th.
 
Robert Garrigus shot a 70 to tie for third with Cameron Beckman (68) at 15 under after Garrigus started the day in the top group and tied with Trahan for second.
 
Las Vegan Bob May, who led after the first day, tied for fifth with a 69 to finish at 14 under -- a nice showing for May considering he has dealt with back injuries for years now and is still on the comeback trail.
 
The 39-year-old May returned to the PGA TOUR last year for the first time since 2003. He played 2006 on a major medical extension after not swinging a club for two-plus years because of his back.
 
After McNeill pulled his tee shot on No. 6 left and about a foot into a rocky and sandy desert area, he consulted a rules official about his options regarding the moveable obstruction.
 
He picked up a small rock just behind his ball, moved away a couple of others as well as a pine cone, then chipped onto the green for a chance at birdie -- and had to be happy just to save par.
 
Trahan, meanwhile, bogeyed after missing his par putt from 5 1/2 feet.
 
McNeill, who spent last year working in a golf shop before rediscovering his desire to compete, made only two birdies on the front nine but played his best golf over the final nine holes. He birdied four of his final eight holes.
 
Tournament chairman Gary Davis announced that Shriners Hospitals for Children is the new title sponsor, signing a five-year commitment to keep the tournament in Las Vegas through 2013. Its name: the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. The format will change starting next year from a Pro-Am to an all-pro event for the four days of competition, with a celebrity Pro-Am to take place Wednesday. All rounds will be played on the Summerlin course after groups split between it and nearby TPC The Canyons for the first two days.
 
The Shriners -- who also hope this will bring their hospitals more recognition -- are pledging $6 million to run the event each year, while also seeking other sponsors to help.
 
'The PGA TOUR is her in Las Vegas to stay,' said Davis, determined to find a way to bring in more big names. 'Everybody agreed it needs to stay in Las Vegas. That's the first step toward major sports in Southern Nevada.'
 
The tournament will remain in October for now, but organizers hope to eventually move to the spring. Davis said the purse would stay at $4 million.
 
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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.