Mickelson fires 63; McIlroy penalized in Abu Dhabi

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2014, 2:27 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Phil Mickelson surged up the leaderboard with a 9-under 63 to put himself in second place after the third round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, while Rory McIlroy was hit with a two-shot penalty for a rules infraction that dropped him into a tie for fourth.

Mickelson had barely made the cut, but had the best round of the day with nine birdies and an eagle coupled with two bogeys to sit two shots behind leader Craig Lee of Scotland. Lee shot a 69 for a 12-under 204 total.

''I just love the fact I am in contention and have an opportunity in my first tournament of the year here in Abu Dhabi,'' Mickelson said. ''The biggest thing for me is that each day as the tournament has progressed I have felt a lot sharper and sharper.''

McIlroy thought he was alone in second place a stroke behind Lee after finishing his round, but tournament officials then ruled that he had taken a drop incorrectly on the second hole and adjusted his score to a double-bogey 7. That gave him a 70 for the round to sit one stroke behind Mickelson and Gaganjeet Bhullar of India (66).


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McIlroy had to take relief on the second hole when his ball ended up on a gallery crosswalk and went on to par the hole, but was later told by the caddie of playing partner Ricardo Gonzalez that he had his left foot on the white line marking the drop area, meaning he had not taken ''full relief'' according to the rules.

Tournament officials reviewed the situation after McIlroy completed his round, with the golfer going back to the spot to show where he stood when he took the shot.

''I didn't even know my foot was on the line,'' McIlroy said. ''We went back to see it again there and see where my divot was, and it was clear that I couldn't have played the shot with my feet anywhere else. I guess I was so much into the shot I didn't even realize. ... There's a lot of stupid rules and this is one of them.''

To make matters worse, McIlroy said his drop had actually given him a bad lie and that he would have benefited from dropping again.

''If anything, it was a disadvantage,'' McIlroy said.

McIlroy had finished the round without a bogey, making his fourth birdie of the day on the 18th.

''To a spectator it may feel like I have been unduly punished, and that's what it feels like to me, but it's a rule of the game. I do feel like I have been hard done by but it's nothing that a fast start tomorrow can't fix.''

Mickelson shot his lowest score since a 63 on the opening day of the Deutsche Bank Championship in September, falling one shot short of the Abu Dhabi course record.

The American birdied four of his opening six holes, eagled the eighth and then also birdied five of his inward holes, including sinking a 50-foot birdie putt at the par-5 last.

That came after he tried to reach the green in two shots but ended up beneath some trees to the left and needed a pitching wedge on his third shot.

''(I) gave myself a 45- to 50-footer that you don't really expect to make too often but I had a good kind of feel on that one and it just rolled right,'' Mickelson said. ''But then I was getting a little tired mentally those last few holes and I could tell it was early in the season so I just wasn't as sharp mentally.''

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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.