Notes Welcome Back Monty Rare Birdies

By Associated PressJune 12, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. OpenOAKMONT, Pa. -- The last time Colin Montgomerie played at Oakmont, he forced a three-way playoff for the 1994 U.S. Open title with eventual winner Ernie Els and Loren Roberts. But Montgomerie wilted in stifling heat and humidity to shoot a playoff-round 78.
 
This time, Montgomerie put heat on himself by firing his caddie, Alastair McLean, before arguably the most important tournament of the year. McLean caddied for Montgomerie since 1991. The two also split in 2002, reuniting before Montgomerie's excellent performance in the 2004 Ryder Cup near Detroit.
 
The latest split came after Montgomerie missed the cut in last week's Austrian Open. Montgomerie is 30th in the European Order of Merit, but hasn't finished higher than 15th in his six tournaments there this year.
 
Montgomerie was in position to win last year at Winged Foot, but a poorly hit 7-iron on the final hole helped Geoff Ogilvy win. Still, the 43-year-old Montgomerie said his play last year proved he can still compete at the level needed to win a major.
 
WELCOME BACK, VAUGHN:
Vaughn Taylor stood on the Oakmont practice green for 30 minutes, then said being on a golf course never felt better.
 
Taylor got a scare last month at the AT&T Classic when he became dizzy bending over to stick a tee in the ground and could not see the ball when he stood over a putt. He withdrew after the first round, went to the doctor and learned he was suffering from vertigo.
 
I didn't know what was going on,' Taylor said. 'The further I bent over, the worse it go.'
 
He said the vertigo was a product of allergies, and Taylor learned he was allergic to just about everything -- pine straw, Bermuda grass, dogs, dust.
 
Taylor returned to the PGA TOUR last week in Memphis after missing two weeks, failing to break par any of the four rounds. But he's feeling good about his game and much better about his health going into this week's U.S. Open, the record eighth at Oakmont.
 
WATCH THE (LACK OF) BIRDIES:
Something to consider when pondering whether Tiger Woods can win his first major at Oakmont, one of the few elite American championship courses he has never played during competition: Can he win a tournament while playing over par?
 
Woods was a combined 62 under while winning his last four majors: the 2006 PGA (18 under), 2006 British Open (18 under), 2005 British Open (14 under) and 2005 Masters (12 under). Yet Woods says a plus-4 might win at Oakmont -- Geoff Ogilvy won with a plus-5 at Winged Foot last year -- and Vijay Singh predicts a plus-10 might do it.
 
Woods has shown he can win when the numbers are in red. This will be a different test, trying to win with scores that may be in the black.
 
For now, Woods is trying merely to tame his contrary driver. He didn't look comfortable hitting it Monday into Oakmont fairways that, on some holes, were as slender as a model's waist. At one point, he yelled to himself following a poor tee shot, 'Stay on it!' after he felt he prematurely pulled his right hand off the club.
 
PINK IS IT:
Among Woods' practice partners Monday was the long-hitter Bubba Watson, who could be seen at a distance -- and not just because of his long drives -- as he trotted out one of his pink-shafted drivers.
 
HOWELL OUT:
David Howell of England became the first to depart the U.S. Open, withdrawing Monday with a wrist injury.
 
Howell was replaced by Luke List, the first alternate from the Woodmont qualifier who lost a 3-for-2 playoff. It will be the third U.S. Open for List, who just completed his senior season at Vanderbilt. List will make his professional debut.
 
NOT A 'BURGHER:
Woods, interestingly, is playing a competitive event in the Pittsburgh area for the first time in his career. He once played an exhibition at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Fayette County, receiving about $1 million, and initially signed up for the 84 Lumber Classic there in 2004. But he pulled out following a disappointing showing at the Ryder Cup the week before.
 
Oakmont is 14 miles from downtown Pittsburgh, in a pleasant suburban community of about 7,000 that features numerous Victorian-style homes, brick streets, gas lights and, it seems, a clock tower on nearly every corner.
 
NOT-SO-HOT WEATHER:
Montgomerie still remembers the brutal weather during the 1994 Open at Oakmont, when highs were in the upper 90s every day except for the Monday playoff, when they cooled off to around 90. He can't remember playing in more oppressive conditions, even during Asian tour events.
 
Montgomerie hasn't had a very good season, as evidenced by his caddie firing, but at least he won't have to contend with such unseasonable weather again.
 
Forecasts call for temperatures in the low 80s each day, with mostly to partly sunny skies Thursday through Saturday and more clouds than sun on Sunday. More of the same is predicted on Monday, in case the U.S. Open goes to a fifth day at Oakmont as it did in 1983 and 1994.
 
Dry weather is enjoyable for the spectators and allows rounds to go off with no delays, but they could make Oakmont's super-fast greens even faster.
 
Currently, they're about 13.5 on the Stimpmeter, the device that measures green speed. If the USGA dictates, the greens can be made faster still.
 
'If it's dry, it will be unreal because these greens are so severe, obviously the speed and the rough that they have there, it will be everything you want,' Woods said. 'Only will it help the scores if it rains a little bit and slows it down.'
 
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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.