Kraft Pleased with Steps Back to PGA Success

By Associated PressMarch 22, 2008, 4:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico -- Just a few years ago, Greg Kraft figured his golfing career was done, cut short by an illness that sapped his strength and led him to sue the PGA TOUR .
 
Now, the 43-year-old Kraft is in line for his first PGA Tour victory in 15 years at the Puerto Rico Open, his 66 on Friday leaving him three strokes behind leader Bo Van Pelt.
 
Van Pelt (68) held a one-shot lead over Jerry Kelly (66) and two over Ted Purdy (68) at this first-time event.
 
Kraft was in a group with 24-year-old qualifier Ryan Blaum (66) and Briny Baird (68) another stroke behind.
 
Kraft is grateful for the chance to compete at this level again, no matter if Tiger Woods and many of the worlds top-ranked players are on the U.S. mainland at the World Golf Championship stop, the CA Championships.
 
I didnt think Id be out here again, Kraft said.
 
Kraft had almost cracked the top 50 in money earnings a decade ago, his swing grooved to compete and his star ready to rise.
 
Then he contracted a disease called Valley fever that turned his life upside down.
 
Kraft says it happened at the Tucson Open in 2002. Valley fever is caused by a fungus released when soil is disturbed and debilitates the lungs.
 
Suddenly, Kraft was losing strength and didnt know the cause. Worse yet, neither did doctors, some pointing the blame at cancer.
 
Kraft underwent a year of painful chemotherapy and, eventually, a section of one lung was removed.
 
Golf was over, Kraft had no doubt about that. I basically lost three years out here, he said.
 
Kraft sued the tour in 2003, his attorney at the time saying the tour had a responsibility to protect its players health. The suit was dismissed, he said.
 
Kraft recovered slowly. He didnt play at all in 2004, then spent most of 2005 on the Nationwide Tour. He tied for 18th at Q-school that fall, earning back PGA TOUR privileges.
 
Kraft had to regain his confidence as well. He was in his 30s at the time of the disease and wondered, as he struggled to return, whether his diminished skill was simply the illness or the passage of time.
 
In Puerto Rico, Kraft has shown his skill with rounds of 69 and 66.
 
He hadnt opened with two sub-70 rounds since finishing sixth at the Wyndham Championship last August. First three rounds in the 60s? Kraft hadnt done that since a Nationwide Tour event three years ago.
 
Kraft began five shots off Van Pelts first-round lead and got his round going with birdies on the fourth, sixth and seventh holes. He took the lead with closing birdies on the 17th and 18th, the final one coming after he blasted out of bunker alongside the green to 2 feet.
 
That made my lunch better, Kraft said.
 
Van Pelt followed his first-round 64 with a second straight sub-70 round for the first time in eight events this season.
 
Kelly, who at No. 63 is the highest-ranked golfer here, also played well for a second straight round. He had five birdies in his first six holes and closed with a birdie on the 17th after blasting out of a bunker.
 
Kraft hopes to pick up his pace the final two rounds. If he keeps it up, he could collect his second PGA TOUR win'and second victory opposite another event.
 
Krafts 1993 win at the Deposit Guarantee Golf Classic in Mississippi came when that tournament was played during Masters week.
 
If he falters, Kraft says hes still satisfied with how far hes come. Hell ride it as long as he can.
 
Sometimes you play well for a round, sometimes its four days, sometimes its a month, sometimes its a year and sometimes its a career, like for Tiger, Kraft said, grinning.
 
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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.