NCAA Rules Change May End Masters of College Golf
It's been a late fall tradition that 30 of the nation's top male college golfers have looked forward to for 33 years, but a rule change by the NCAA may make the most recent showcase in November the last.
The NCAA eliminated the board responsible for deciding what college sporting events would be exempt from a rule that limits the number of playing days for student athletes. The El Paso tournament had previously been an exempt event for golfers.
For the golfers, the change means that they may have to choose between the El Paso tournament, a sort of all-star event, and regular-season team events that help their teams earn a shot at the national championship.
'One of my fondest memories as a college player was to be able to play in that tournament,' said Buddy Alexander, the men's golf coach at Florida. 'It's a travesty.'
Alexander was invited to the tournament's inaugural event and has consistently sent players to El Paso to represent the Gators as All-Americans.
To be invited to the Western Refining All-America Golf Classic players must be an All-American or Division II or III national champion. Organizers say that qualification ensures that the tournament is among the premier college golf events.
'Most of the golfers who end up here are going to end up on some kind of tour,' said Bernie Olivas, executive director of the Sun Bowl Association, which runs the tournament. 'They go up against the best.'
The NCAA e-mailed The Associated Press the rationale for the rule change. That document said the change would reduce students' travel and fatigue and lost class time. NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn declined further comment.
Past champions include Tiger Woods, David Duval, and Davis Love III. Tournament alumni have collected nearly $1 billion in winnings on professional tours.
Alexander, despite his fond memories of the tournament, said he would be hard pressed to let one his Gator golfers leave the team behind for the sake of the All-America Classic if the tournament isn't exempt.
'I am not going to give that (playing date) up for my best player,' Alexander said. 'I need to make the NCAA championship. That would be pretty tough for me.'
The tournament could be played during the summer, though Olivas said it may be difficult to attract the same level of talent because of completing Walker Cup events.
Arizona coach Rick LaRose said he hopes NCAA rules officials will see fit to grant the tournament a permanent exemption.
'It's the only individual event there is and it's a chance for these kids to have a reward for being an All-American,' LaRose said.
It's unclear exactly what prompted the rule change.
Olivas said he believes it was an effort to eliminate advantages for schools invited to high-profile events where a competitive advantage can be had. But the in the case of the El Paso tournament, he said, there is no such advantage, because invitations are based on All-American or champion status. And each school that sends a player is given a $1,000 scholarship.
Greg Grost, executive director the Golf Coaches Association of America, said the tournament is a victim of poor decision making.
'It's typical NCAA politics,' Grost said. 'We got thrown under the bus, in my opinion, because of apathy. We hope the Sun Bowl will be given its exemption back. There is no logical reason it shouldn't.'
A final decision is expected to be made sometime next year.
In the mean time, Olivas said he and the Sun Bowl Association will continue lobbying the NCAA for a permanent exemption.
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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings
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.
Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut
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
Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements
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.”
Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back
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.