Phil Mickelson Padraig Harrington among Houston field

By Associated PressApril 1, 2009, 4:00 pm
2007 Shell Houston OpenHUMBLE, Texas ' The Shell Houston Open has gotten exactly what it wanted, three years after getting the event moved to the weekend before the Masters.
 
OK, the tournament still couldnt lure Tiger Woods, whos sticking to his usual routine of not playing the run-up event to a major.
 
But 15 of the top 20 players in the world rankings did come to The Tournament Course at Redstone for their final tuneup before Augusta, including Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Geoff Ogilvy and Padraig Harrington. Former top-ranked players Greg Norman and Fred Couples are also among the star-studded field, the best in the tournaments 63-year history.
 
Padraig Harrington
Padraig Harrington is looking for a good tune-up before the Masters. (Getty Images)
Word of mouth has been good and important to us, tournament director Steve Timms said. The golf courses reputation is growing, the players all seem to enjoy it. Its what we hoped for.
 
Organizers have tried to simulate conditions at Augusta 'fast greens, light rough and fairways mowed toward the tee ' and the Masters-like setup has generated enough positive buzz to lure top players from both the PGA and international tours.
 
A tournament-record 39 foreign-born players will play, including 21 whove already qualified for the Masters.
 
Theyve definitely done a magnificent job preparing it, as close as it can be, from what we might see at Augusta, said Garcia, playing in Houston for the first time. There are definitely a lot of similarities you can find.
 
Harrington, whos won the last two majors, has made Houston an annual stop since 2006, when the Tournament Course became the host. He also appreciates the Augusta-like conditions, but said the Houston Open has gained prestige of its own.
 
Nobodys turned up this week who doesnt want to win this tournament, Harrington said. The idea, when you build your schedule, is to peak for the majors. But youre never going to complain if it happens to be this week as well.
 
Vijay Singh returned after criticizing the new course in 2006 and skipping the last two tournaments. Singh won the 2004 and 05 Houston Opens at the older Redstone course across the street. After playing a practice round on Tuesday, Singh said the new venue had won him over.
 
Surprisingly, I did enjoy the golf course, said Singh, whos made only six starts this year because of a knee injury. Coming back here and looking at it from a different point of view, I think its not as bad as I thought. Its a pretty decent setup.
 
The Tournament Course also boasts one of the toughest finishing holes on the Tour. The 488-yard par-4 was ranked as the third-toughest 18th hole in 2008, with an average score of 4.389.
 
A pond lines the left side of the fairway and guards an elevated green. In 2007, Adam Scott dunked his drive into the water, then holed a 48-foot par putt to beat Stuart Appleby by three shots.
 
Every really good golf course should have a great 18th hole, architect Rees Jones said. If the event is close coming down the 18th hole, the muscles will tighten on that hole.
 
Last year, Johnson Wagner led the tournament after all four rounds to earn his first PGA Tour victory and first invitation to Augusta. He hasnt won since and has missed six cuts in 10 starts in 2009.
 
Maybe every time I get in position on a Thursday or Friday to get the lead or get up close, I start thinking about winning the golf tournament, Wagner said. I think thats the wrong way to go about it and I know that.
 
Wagner is one of 107 players this week who must win to earn a trip to Augusta next week. Another is Davis Love III, who had a streak of 70 consecutive major-championship starts snapped when he missed the Masters last year. Love tied for second at the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship, but missed the cut at Bay Hill last week.
 
Norman qualified for the Masters with an unexpected third-place finish at last years British Open. Hes hardly played since, and is back in the Houston event for the first time since 2002.
 
The 54-year-old Norman played in last weeks Champions Tour event in the Dominican Republic, finishing tied for 36th. His son, Gregory, will caddie for him this week, an ideal dry run for the Masters.
 
Its a good step for him, Norman said. Hes excited about it and just having him on the bag is going to be a great moment for both of us.
 
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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.