PGA Tour Goes from Underpaid to Fat and Sassy

By Associated PressJanuary 3, 2006, 5:00 pm
04 Mercedes ChampionshipsKAPALUA, Maui -- On a dreary morning of clouds and drizzle, all it took was a sudden burst of sun for Kapalua to produce a brilliant welcome to the start of the PGA Tour season. Stretching across the horizon was a massive rainbow, a 180-degree arc of colors that poured into the blue waters of the Pacific.
The rainbow was gone 10 minutes later, and reality returned to the winners-only Mercedes Championships, which has its smallest field ever because four guys didn't show up.
The pot of gold was never there.
In this case, that would be Tiger Woods, whose six victories in 2005 included the majors. He decided to skip the tournament for the first time that he was fit to play. He said he needed an offseason after playing five times in five weeks after the PGA Tour's regular season ended in November.
Also absent is PGA champion and four-time winner Phil Mickelson, who chose not to play for the fifth straight year, saying he wanted to spend time with his family. That's Leftyspeak for 'I just don't want to play.'
Retief Goosen, who once said the best way to start a season was holding a drink with a flower in it, is home with his family in South Africa. Padraig Harrington broke through on the PGA Tour last year with two victories, but he declined his invitation to paradise to recharge from an emotional year.
No one has a problem with Harrington staying in Ireland. His father, a former policeman, was diagnosed with cancer after Harrington won the Honda Classic, and died not long after he won the Barclays Classic. No one needs time off to reflect and find closure more than Harrington.
And frankly, no one would miss the other stars if the biggest one -- Woods -- had decided to play.
The immediate reaction from some of his peers was that was one less player to beat for the $1.08 million first prize, the Mercedes-Benz S500 and a ticket back for next year.
'I text messaged Tiger and said, 'No Hawaii for you, more cash for me,' Mark Calcavecchia said.
'From a selfish standpoint, that's two people who you know you'd have to beat,' David Toms said, referring to Woods and Mickelson, even though Lefty has never broken 70 on the Plantation course.
Both, however, saw a bigger picture.
There was a time not long ago when the best in golf were underpaid, especially compared with utility infielders or backup centers who logged five minutes of playing time. When the Mercedes Championships first came to Kapalua in 1999, David Duval won by nine shots and established himself as the best player in the world. He earned $468,000.
Now, one can only wonder if the players have become fat and sassy.
This is nothing new, of course.
Mickelson skipped the Tour Championship and its $6.5 million purse. And five years ago, when a $5 million purse meant something, a dozen Americans didn't go to Spain for a World Golf Championship. They were offered a charter flight, free lodging at a luxurious hotel in San Roque, five days on a picturesque course with views of the Mediterranean and the Rock of Gibraltar, and $30,000 for last place.
The Mercedes Championships is not much different.
Players are given a free room at the Ritz-Carlton, where it seems every corridor has a red carpet. Tournament host Gary Planos took a morning off to drive Toms and his son to the hill country to hunt pheasant. Others were ferried to the Big Island for a corporate outing.
'Obviously, money is not an issue,' Calcavecchia said. 'They don't need the money, which is nice to be in that position. But it's just golf, you know? It's not a marathon. It's not the Ironman out here, swim 26 miles or something. It's just golf. Take next month off.'
They could do that. They could skip the whole year except for four big weeks. The tour likes to say its players are independent contractors, and Woods misses more tournaments than he plays.
But there are some tournaments where players should feel an extra sense of obligation, this being one of them. It's not easy winning on the PGA Tour, and if you don't believe that, check out the guest registry at the Ritz. Only 11 players qualified who were in the field last year.
Bart Bryant had knee surgery two days after winning the Tour Championship, and they cleaned out more cartilage than he expected. The recovery took a little longer, and Bryant could have used two extra weeks to get ready.
'But how can you not be here?' he said with a big smile.
Mercedes is still deciding whether to sponsor the event the next four years, and the absence of Woods and Mickelson is not helping negotiations. And while there are four fewer players to beat, there is a buzz missing.
'It's going to be a great event -- it always is and always will be,' Bryant said. 'But for those four guys not to be here, even as a player it feels like there's a little something missing.'
Brad Faxon wasn't supposed to be here. He had knee surgery to repair torn ligaments in September wasn't supposed to play until February, but his victory at Hartford was his first in four years. No way he was missing this.
Maybe that's the problem.
Woods and Mickelson have 73 victories between them. Throw in Goosen and Harrington, and the four MIAs represent 27 percent of the tournaments last year. The PGA Tour could use a good start to its season, and it's not asking much for its stars to take one for the team.
A year ago, all the talk was about the Big Four.
Sadly, the Big Four this week takes on a new meaning.
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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.

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    Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

    “Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

    “We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

    In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010.