Notes Skateboards and Special Invites

By Associated PressMay 5, 2005, 4:00 pm
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Richard S. Johnson gave up skateboarding for golf when he was a teenager - all for the affections of a girl.
 
Now, when he tries to get back on his board, he pays the price.
 
'The problem is when you fall now, you fall like a log,' the 28-year-old Swede said Thursday after an opening-round 4-under-par 68 left him tied for second at the Wachovia Championship. 'Before, it was more like a cat. It really hurts when you fall now, and it's the same with everything. When you fall, you fall hard.'
 
After finishing 148th on the PGA Tour money list last season, Johnson has only a partial exemption in 2005, and this is his fourth start. He tied for ninth last week in New Orleans - his first tournament since February - and continued the solid play at Quail Hollow.
 
He had the lead to himself at 6 under heading to the 17th tee, but hit his 5-iron long into the rough on difficult par-3. An indifferent chip left Johnson about 25 feet from the hole, and he missed the putt to make a bogey. Another one at the 18th left him in a group of four players one shot behind Sergio Garcia.
 
'I had a really nice day going,' he said. 'Of course, I'm really happy with 4 under coming in, as well. You know, it's too bad with the finish. The last three holes are really tough holes.'
 
As for the reason he took up golf in the first place, Johnson took a bet when he was 15 from his girlfriend's family, who jokingly told him he couldn't get the 'Green Card' required to play golf in Sweden. So he practiced for 10 straight days, 10 hours a day, and passed the test.
 
Before long, Johnson couldn't get enough of the game.
 
'I got hooked like everybody else,' he said.
 
He won several national junior tournaments in Sweden, then came to the United States to enjoy better playing conditions - he described his native land as a 'small country with very bad weather.' Now, he simply has to find his thrills on the golf course, something he would not have believed possible before he began playing.
 
'I did every other sport, and I really thought golf was kind of weird,' Johnson said. 'But if you pull off a really good shot or if you hole something, whatever, just the adrenaline flow is really probably what keeps me going. That's what I'm trying to get back to a little bit more, to get the adrenaline flowing.'
 
OPEN INVITATION
Pinehurst No. 2 is only a couple of hours down the road from the Wachovia Championship, and Nick Price won't have to worry about getting to the U.S. Open.
 
The USGA gave him a special exemption last week.
 
'That was sweet,' Price said Thursday after opening with a 73. 'It's the first invitation I ever got to a major championship. It was a big thing for me when (USGA vice president) Walter Drive phoned me. I said, 'Walter, that's one of the nicest phone calls I ever got.' I really needed it this year, too.'
 
Price thinks he's capable of becoming the first player since Hale Irwin in 1990 to win the U.S. Open after getting a special exemption.
 
'My game is not quite right, but it's close,' he said. 'If I can get rid of the junk in my game, just clean it out, I can have a chance, especially on an Open championship course. If it plays hard and fast, it will be awesome.'
 
Price tied for 23rd at Pinehurst No. 2 in 1999.
 
FURYK FADES
Jim Furyk came to the 18th hole at the top of the leaderboard and in total control of his game. A few wayward shots changed all that.
 
After playing without a bogey through the first 17 holes, the 2003 U.S Open champ chopped up his final hole and made a double-bogey 6, leaving him with a 3-under 69.
 
'Had I doubled 1 and played the rest of the way in, I'd probably be smiling and happy,' Furyk said. 'But finishing that way is never great.'
 
His trouble started when his drive unexpectedly bounced in the rough, and a weak approach shot found a bunker. An awful explosion left him with a 40-footer for par, and he misread the green from there.
 
'I hit a bad second shot, the bunker shot was terrible, and I got fooled on the putt,' Furyk said. 'I end up making a couple of mistakes on one hole after playing mistake-free.'
 
BEN ON THE MEND
Ben Curtis couldn't see his eagle on the 12th hole, and he was lucky to hear about it with only a dozen or so people around the green. He hit an easy 5-iron from 172 yards, the ball landing on the ridge and breaking some 15 feet before dropping into the center of the cup.
 
'I hit it to 3 feet on the last hole and no one clapped,' Curtis said. 'Tough crowd.'
 
It's been a tough start for the 2003 British Open champion, although he is seeing some progress. Curtis shot 71, the first time he has started with a round under par since his first start of the year at the Buick Invitational. He shot 75 the next day and missed the cut.
 
Curtis, who has made only one cut this year, began seeing Hank Haney three weeks ago. He is working on starting his swing more outside, and he already is seeing some results.
 
'I've always been about keeping the swing on plane,' Curtis said. 'I'm getting some of my power back now.'
 
DIVOTS
Tim Petrovic, who got his first career victory in a playoff last week in New Orleans, had a 77 in the first round, matching the score of James Driscoll, the man he beat. ... An odd scene caused a brief backup on the 16th hole early in the first round. Glen Day pulled his drive behind a couple of portable restrooms and needed a ruling, so his playing partners - Neal Lancaster and Michael Allen - finished out the hole by themselves. Meanwhile, all three members of the next group hit their tee shots, unaware of Day's troubles. He eventually completed the hole solo, making a bogey 5. ... Jay Haas had the best day among his family, finishing with a 73 to beat son Bill by one shot. Jerry Haas, Jay's brother and the golf coach at Wake Forest, shot an 80.
 
Related links:
  • Leaderboard - Wachovia Championship

  • Full Coverage - Wachovia Championship

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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.