Perry tops Couples at Sr. Players for first major

By Associated PressJune 30, 2013, 7:10 pm

PITTSBURGH – Kenny Perry tried not to get ahead of himself Sunday on the 18th tee at the Senior Players Championship. He knew all too well how quickly fortunes can change on golf's biggest stages.

There was the devastation at the PGA Championship in 1996. Disaster at the Masters in 2009. Disappointment at the Senior PGA last month.

If there was a way to lose a major tournament, the affable 52-year-old Kentuckian seemed to have found it during his otherwise sterling career.

''I thought I was snakebit,'' Perry said. ''I got close so many times and I just seemed to mess up down the homestretch and not make it happen.''

This time, Perry didn't leave anything to chance.

After tap-in birdies at Nos. 16 and 17 gave him a two-shot lead over Fred Couples, Perry made par on No. 18 to close a spectacular weekend at Fox Chapel. His bogey-free 6-under 64 left him at 19-under 261, two shots ahead of Fred Couples and Duffy Waldorf.

''My word was patience,'' Perry said. ''I wasn't going to put any pressure on myself to win the golf tournament because I had so much heartache, so many losses. ... I was just thinking, 'You know what, I'm tired of worrying about that.'''

Instead of feeling the pressure, Perry exerted it. He withstood an early charge from Waldorf, who birdied his first four holes, then kept firing at pins on the back nine while Couples' putter failed him.

The Hall of Famer leads the Champions Tour in putting average but could generate little magic Sunday. He drove the green on the short par-4 seventh only to three-putt for par. Couples later knocked it within 8 feet on the 15th only to send his birdie attempt streaking past the hole. He pulled the comebacker to the left and the bogey gave Perry his opening.

Perry stuffed a pitching wedge within inches on the 16th, then hit a 6-iron to within 2 feet on the par-3 17th. He tapped in the birdie to maintain his two-stroke lead, then played smartly on the 18th. He left it just short of the green in two and watched as Waldorf and Couples both reached the long par 5. Their long eagle attempts never sniffed the cup, and when Perry rolled in his par putt, he thrust the ball in the air just before the sky opened for one last deluge on the water-logged course.

Fox Chapel took on more than 4 inches of rain during the week, turning what was supposed to be a stiff test into a pitch-and-putt for long hitters like Couples and Perry. The conditions begged for players to attack the pins. Rather than simply protect par as he did during his near-misses in earlier majors, Perry knew he could go for it.

It paid off with a $405,000 check and one very significant weight off his shoulders.

''I'm hoping the floodgates are going to open,'' Perry said. ''But I don't know, anytime you get into contention you get nervous, you get antsy. But today I had a peace about me ... if I can kind of draw upon this the next time I get into the heat of things hopefully I'll finish it off like I did today.''

Couples was hoping to polish off his third major victory on the Champions Tour, but after cruising through the first three rounds he couldn't match Perry's shotmaking on the final day. Couples now has four runner-up finishes this season, including each of the last two majors.

''There were a couple shots you always should have back,'' Couples said. ''The putt on (15) looked so easy and I just hammered it and I kind of flinched at it coming down the hill ... it was a little bit of a sour day the way I played after I teed off.''

Perry trailed by as many as eight shots earlier in the tournament before tracking down Couples over the weekend. He drew within two thanks to consecutive 63s in the second and third rounds and kept it going Sunday.

It was sweet vindication for a player who has won more than $31 million during his 31-year career but is better known for those rounds that went all wrong.

Perry led Mark Brooks by a shot at the 1996 PGA Championship at Valhalla just outside Louisville, about two hours north of his hometown of Franklin, Ky., only to bogey the final hole to fall into a playoff. Brooks birdied the first extra hole for the victory.

The agony grew exponentially 13 years later, when Perry stood on the 17th tee at Augusta with a two-shot lead. Consecutive bogeys dropped Perry into a three-way tie with Angel Cabrera and Chad Campbell. He failed to get up and down on No. 10, the second playoff hole, and Cabrera made par to capture the green jacket.

Perry had another close call at the Senior PGA in May. He led through three rounds at Bellerive in St. Louis but was dogged by knee pain and overtaken by unheralded Kohki Idoki.

On Sunday, there would be no folding.

Buoyed by a hot putter, Perry teamed with Waldorf to wear down Couples.

Waldorf began the day four strokes behind Couples but wasted little time making up ground. He rattled off four straight birdies to start his round and shot 29 on the front nine. He cooled off after making the turn and finished with a 6-under 64, giving Perry enough room to pull away.

''It's not surprising, (Perry) is obviously a great player,'' Waldorf said. ''Winning these majors isn't easy and he did a great job this week.''

Michael Allen and first-round leader John Huston tied for fourth at 12 under. Colin Montgomerie, playing in his first Champions Tour event, closed with a 65 to tie for ninth.

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Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:







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Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

"The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

"You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

"But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."