Munoz, Miyazato share ANA Inspiration lead

By Associated PressApril 1, 2016, 2:08 am

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Azahara Munoz was so concerned about the water fronting the par-5 18th green that she ended up in nearly as bad a place late Thursday afternoon in the ANA Inspiration.

It ended up costing her a bogey that dropped her into a tie for the first-round lead with Ai Miyazato at 5-under 67 in the first major championship of the year.

In breezy conditions, Munoz was well back off the tee on her final hole and hit her second shot into the right fairway bunker. Wary of hitting it into the water, the Spaniard hit her third through the green to the back fringe. That left a difficult downhill putt that she did well to hit to 7 feet.

''Obviously, I didn't want to hit it in the water,'' Munoz said. ''I know you're not supposed to think that, but the lie wasn't the best. It was a little down, and the wind was really into my face, so we tried to play past the pin, and I mean, the contact was really good, so it just came a little too long and it was quite an impossible putt from there. But to be honest, I'm glad it just flew the water.''

Miyazato played in the morning before the wind picked up at Mission Hills.

The 5-foot-2 Japanese player birdied four of the first six holes and closed with a 12-foot birdie putt on 18. She won the last of her nine LPGA Tour titles in 2012.


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''I'm definitely happy to see my name on the board, but it's just the first day and it's a long way to go,'' Miyazato said.

No. 1 in the world for 11 weeks in 2010, she is 90th now after climbing 67 spots Monday with a third-place finish last week in Carlsbad. It was her first top-10 finish since 2013.

''That was huge,'' Miyazato said. ''I definitely gained my confidence and I really felt good with my game again. I was kind of really happy to play golf again. ... I was kind of struggling the last couple years. It was really hard.''

She has no aspirations to return to No. 1.

''I know how hard it is to be No. 1 in the world because I've experienced it before,'' Miyazato said. ''That's actually not my goal anymore because I went there before. But still I want to win. That's my motivation, especially this week.''

Munoz won the 2012 Match Play Championship for lone LPGA Tour title. She had surgery a year ago to remove a benign tumor from the base of the thumb in the palm of her left hand.

''I've been really working on my attitude, but the results haven't really showed, even though I've been doing so much better,'' Munoz said. ''I know I need to keep believing in myself and eventually it's going to happen. It obviously hasn't been the easiest of years for me since the surgery and all of that, but I know I'm a good player.''

Scotland's Catriona Matthew, South Africa's Lee-Anne Pace and Japan's Shiho Oyama were a stroke back.

Long-hitting Lexi Thompson, the 2014 winner, was at 69 in a large group that included Gerina Piller and South Korean stars In Gee Chun and Ha Na Jang.

''It was a pretty good day,'' Thompson said. ''I putted really well. I didn't hit too many fairways, and was a little off, off the tee, but they were very solid tee shots.''

Chun is returning from a back injury that sidelined her for a month. The U.S. Women's Open champion was hurt when she was struck by a hard-case suitcase that Jang's father dropped down an escalator at the Singapore airport.

''I say hi today in the morning to In Gee, and yesterday, too,'' said Jang, a two-time winner this year. ''There's no problem right now.''

Top-ranked Lydia Ko opened with a 70. The 18-year-old New Zealander won Sunday at Carlsbad.

''I was striking my irons and everything fairly good, but I didn't hit my drive very well, especially on the back nine,'' Ko said. ''I gave myself quite a few looks up the hill for birdie, but I just wasn't able to commit to my speed.''

Second-ranked Inbee Park and Michelle Wie also shot 70.

Wie stood more upright and crouched on her short putts, trying to emulate Jack Nicklaus. On longer putts, she continued to lower her torso almost parallel to the ground.

''I kind of always saw how Jack putted and it kind of worked out OK for him,'' Wie said. ''I've always been kind of like Jack in putting and stuff, and I decided to go a little more narrow.''

Defending champion Brittany Lincicome and 2011 winner Stacy Lewis shot 72. Last year, Lincicome eagled the final hole of regulation and beat Lewis on the third hole of a playoff. Lewis is trying to snap a 45-event victory drought.

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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.