Kuchar Henry Share Pebble Lead

By Associated PressFebruary 5, 2004, 5:00 pm
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Matt Kuchar and J.J. Henry, who slipped from view after such promising rookie seasons, returned to the spotlight Thursday on a spectacular afternoon on the Monterey Peninsula with rounds of 7-under 65 for a one-stroke lead in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
For Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson, only the scenery changed.
Singh, closing in on the PGA Tour record for most consecutive top 10s, recovered from a difficult start with two remarkable birdies on his way to a 5-under 67 at Poppy Hills. Mickelson, playing in the same group, continued his solid play with a 68.
''I had some putts that went in and some putts that didn't go in, just like it was for everybody,'' Mickelson said.
The AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is renowned for its celebrity field, stunning views and greens so soft and bumpy that only 6-inch putts are considered tap-ins.
On Thursday, it looked like a ''Welcome Back'' party for some of the leaders.
Kuchar, the former U.S. Amateur champion who had a charming run through the majors in 1998, won the Honda Classic two years ago but followed it up by finishing 182nd on the money list. Henry had two runner-up finishes as a rookie in 2001, but dropped into mediocrity the last two years.
''There's definitely a learning curve out here,'' Henry said.
The biggest surprise might have been Tommy Tolles, who shot a 66 at Pebble Beach.
Tolles, considered to be among the best young players when he nearly won the '96 Players Championship, watched his game slowly fall into disrepair until he was forced to play on the Nationwide Tour last year.
Getting back to the PGA Tour was a big deal. Starting his season with a 66, which included a chip-in on No. 17 that made him feel like Tom Watson, made it even better.
''On the Nationwide Tour, there were some tournaments you just didn't feel like this was a setting,'' he said. ''I was out here seven years, and I know what it's like. You can get competition wherever you go. But the atmosphere just isn't the same. There is only one PGA Tour.''
There's only one Pebble Beach, and Tolles really soaked it up.
It started on No. 1 with a birdie, ''a typical AT&T 10-footer, bounced around and eventually went in,'' Tolles said.
Despite hitting his approach onto the beach and taking a bogey at No. 10, he plugged away and got close to the leaders by chipping in from about 40 feet on the par-3 17th. It wasn't anywhere near the spot where Watson chipped in to win the '82 U.S. Open, but Tolles felt just as good.
''The feeling is incredible, but when there's 500 or 1,000 people around to cheer for you, it's icing on the cake,'' said Tolles, who was lucky to see that many people all year on the Nationwide Tour.
''It's just so unexpected that you just have this, 'Oh, I want to do cartwheels or somersaults.' But I'm too old for that,'' he said.
Defending champion Davis Love III was in no mood for acrobatics, opening with a 3-over 75 on the toughest of the three courses, Spyglass Hill.
Masters champion Mike Weir had a 73 at Spyglass.
Kuchar finished with three straight birdies at Poppy Hills.
Most of the celebrities, such as Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady, Kevin Costner and Ray Romano, were at Poppy Hills, but Singh and Mickelson were the top attraction.
Singh made a brilliant escape from the trees on No. 1, only to three-putt for bogey from just inside 4 feet. He also bogeyed the par-5 fourth hole to fall to 2 over.
''Two unforced errors, and I played well from there in,'' Singh said.
His fortunes changed on No. 10, one of the five par 5s on Poppy. His second shot went deep into the trees, leaving Singh no shot at the green except to take it over a pine. It came off perfectly, leaving him a short birdie.
''I had to hit it straight over the trees, but I've practiced that shot before,'' Singh said.
Then on the par-4 16th, he was in the trees to the right and hit an approach that caromed off the ridge and spun sideways down a ridge to about 10 feet for another birdie.
Singh has 11 consecutive top 10s, three short of the modern-day record held by Jack Nicklaus.
It was a good start to a long week, which features six-hour rounds with 360 players -- half of them amateurs -- scattered among three golf courses that have squishy fairways and bumpy greens.
Henry remembers watching Pebble Beach as a kid in Connecticut, when snow was piled up in his yard. To be playing is a treat, and to be tied for the lead -- even for one day -- was even better.
''You realize you're lucky to be out here,'' Henry said.
No need to tell that to Tolles.
Notes: Craig Stadler, 50, playing in his third PGA Tour event of the year, had a 68. He was one shot better than his son, Kevin Stadler, who is playing on a sponsor's exemption. ... Mickelson has begged out of the celebrity rotation the last two years at the Bob Hope Classic, but he's right in the middle of it at Pebble Beach. ''I forgot to call and request to get out of it,'' he said. ... Pat Perez, poised to win here two years ago until he hit two tee shots out of bounds on the back nine, opened with an 80 on Poppy Hills. The hot-tempered Perez is paired this week with Joe Pesci.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
  • Full Coverage - AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
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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.