Notes Big Perks for Players
It didn't seem like an event Toms would play, especially with LSU playing at home that week.
Then again, 84 Lumber made an offer that was hard to turn down.
'The free flight,' Toms said.
And not just any flight.
In the most lucrative perk of the year, 84 Lumber has offered any player eligible for the American Express Championship a free, round-trip flight to Ireland on a customized 747 with only first-class seats. Not only that, players can bring their wife or girlfriend, caddie and three guests.
The offer is worth at least $40,000.
The only catch is players had to commit by Aug. 4. As long as they tee off in the first round on the upgraded Mystic Rock Course at Nemacolin in western Pennsylvania, they get the free flight.
The early commitment list includes Toms, Vijay Singh, Mike Weir, Kenny Perry, Charles Howell III and Brad Faxon, none of whom played the 84 Lumber Classic last year.
'I'll tell you how big of a deal it is,' Toms said. 'I'm missing the Mississippi State game so I can get a free flight.'
The free charter is the idea of former tournament director Eric Mehl, who has since taken over at Colonial but is still working both tournaments. He ran it by 84 Lumber chief Joe Hardy, who loved the idea.
'He wanted to make a statement about how serious he was,' Mehl said. 'He also wanted to offset our tour date situation. We could have easily had a Nationwide or Hooters tour field, being between the Ryder Cup and the American Express. We took a negative and turned it into a positive.'
British Open champion Todd Hamilton also is on the list, and the luxury flight allows him to get home for the Oklahoma-Texas game before returning to Europe for the World Match Play Championship in England.
'It's awesome,' Hamilton said. 'All the tournaments are in competition to get the best fields they can. We got cowboy boots at the Colonial, and an iPod at Doral. You're already playing for $5 million a week. They shouldn't have to do that.'
The PGA Tour approved the perk, and Mehl said it was not appearance money in disguise because it was available to a qualified list of players. Even Arjun Atwal, who got into Amex from the Japanese tour money list, is on the flight.
'They're doing everything they can to attract a good field,' said Henry Hughes, chief of operations for the PGA Tour. 'And this is just a little more.'
RYDER CUP RESURGENCE
Justin Leonard failed to make the Ryder Cup team, but another past hero from the Ryder Cup is suddenly poised to make the European team.
Paul McGinley of Ireland, whose 8-foot par putt at The Belfry clinched the cup for Europe two years ago, surged into the 10th position with a a 69 on the final day at the PGA Championship and a tie for sixth.
The timing could not have been better. Because McGinley played on the '02 team - and the '04 European team won't be decided for two weeks - he was exempt to the $7 million NEC Invitational. The two players ahead of him in the standings, David Howell and Ian Poulter, are not at Firestone this week.
'I do have an advantage,' McGinley said. 'It's a window of opportunity for me to make some progress.'
Three years ago, the European tour decided to send the top 12 in the Ryder Cup standings to Firestone. This time, it will send the last Ryder Cup team.
That also gives one extra chance for Colin Montgomerie to avoid having to be a captain's pick.
Montgomerie and European captain Bernhard Langer played a practice round Tuesday.
The scenario to end Tiger Woods' reign atop the world ranking is more complicated than ever, and also closer than ever for Ernie Els and Vijay Singh.
Singh got to within .10 points after winning the PGA Championship, and he can get to No. 1 at the NEC Invitational by finishing ahead of Woods if both are in the top 10, or tying with Woods if they are outside the top 10.
For Els to return to No. 1, there are three scenarios:
- Els wins, and Woods does not finish second alone.
- Els is second, Woods does not finish in a two-way for fourth, and Singh is not in a two-way tie for third.
- Els is third, Woods finishes worse than 15 and Singh finishes worse than 19th.
Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els were the only players to finish in the top 10 in all four majors. Mickelson won the Masters, was second in the U.S. Open, third at the British Open and tied for sixth at the PGA. Els was second at the Masters and British Open, tied for ninth in the U.S. Open and tied for fourth at the PGA.
Tiger Woods was among 10 players to make the cut in all four majors. Along with Mickelson and Els, the others were K.J. Choi, Vijay Singh, Chris DiMarco, Charles Howell III, Steve Flesch, Shaun Micheel and Tiger Woods.
Nick Price and Retief Goosen had a chance to join them, but both withdrew from the PGA Championship.
On the other end of the spectrum was Thomas Bjorn and John Daly, who missed the cut in all three majors they played. Daly didn't qualify for the U.S. Open, while Bjorn withdrew from the PGA with an injury.
Dave Parker had a modest sports agency only a few years ago, representing quality players but none of the big stars. Now, Links Sports has the most Ryder Cup players - three - on the U.S. team. Parker represents David Toms, Chad Campbell and Kenny Perry. ... The Champions tour is moving to Seattle, starting next year with the Great Seattle Champions Classic. It will be played on the TPC at Snoqualmie Ridge, a Jack Nicklaus design with spectacular views of the mountains. ... The Byron Nelson Championship raised $6.09 million in net proceeds, the sixth straight year to raise at least $5 million. All proceeds benefit Salesmanship Club Youth and Family Centers.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Only one British Open champion over the last 10 years - Tiger Woods - will be represented on either the U.S. or European Ryder Cup team.
'I felt like I was on one of those reality shows.' - Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton, on having to decide who got left off the team.
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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.