Piercy ties course record, leads by two in Houston

By Associated PressApril 3, 2015, 12:23 am

HOUSTON – After his record-tying round Thursday, Scott Piercy let his thoughts drift toward qualifying for the Masters with a win this week.

Piercy tied a tournament record with a nearly flawless 9-under-par 63 to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Houston Open.

''It's the first round,'' he said. ''If I'm sitting here Sunday, then I'll be super-excited. If I (keep playing) like I did today, I would say there's a pretty good chance of that.''

Alex Cejka, in an afternoon group, made four birdies on his back nine - the course's front nine - to finish with a 64, one stroke behind Piercy.

J. B. Holmes was next at 65, having also gotten to 8-under with four holes to play before finding a fairway bunker with his first shot at No. 6. After badly missing the green, Holmes had to scramble to a bogey.

Phil Mickelson, Luke Guthrie, Charles Howell III and Houston's Shawn Stefani each shot a 66 and trail Piercy by three strokes.

Piercy, who made five birdies in a row over one torrid stretch during the middle of his round, became only the fifth player to card a 63 since this PGA Tour stop moved to the Golf Club of Houston Tournament Course in 2003. Two of the others, Mickelson in 2011 and Johnson Wagner in 2008, went on to win the championship.

The 36-year-old Piercy, a pro from Las Vegas, missed only one green in regulation and needed just 26 putts. Two days earlier, however, feeling so discouraged by the way he'd been playing of late that it crossed his mind while he was out grinding on the driving range ''to go home and not waste my time.''

Piercy, instead, decided to keep practicing. He wound up hitting golf balls for ''12, 13 hours. ... In the 13th hour, something kind of clicked and I kind of figured it out. On Wednesday, I kind of engrained it, kept working and got pretty good. Today was awesome. It really was.''

Piercy was off the PGA Tour for six months last year while recovering from elbow surgery and said he still hadn't felt quite right before arriving in Houston. But he liked his form Thursday the moment he first swung his driver. He began the day with a birdie on No. 10 and capped it by sinking a 30-foot birdie putt on the No. 9, his final hole.

''Everything went right,'' said Piercy, who last won on the Tour at the Canadian Open in 2012. ''I hit the ball so good. It's been building. I kept hitting good shot after good shot. By the end, I was (only) trying to make birdies.''

Teeing off 20 minutes before Piercy, Mickelson made himself the early front-runner by chipping in for birdie on his first hole, then turning the corner at 3-under, about the time Piercy began his birdie run. Mickelson reached 7-under at one point but bogeyed the par-three ninth, his final hole.

The three-time Masters champion, one of at least 36 players in the Houston field who are headed to Augusta National next week for the season's first major, had skidded to a final-round 76 Sunday in the Texas Open. So, his late lapse here notwithstanding, Mickelson called his effort ''a good round, a good start to the tournament. I got off to a quick start, birdieing three of the first four holes, and kept it going.

''The course is in pristine condition. The greens being soft are going to allow us to get more aggressive (aiming for) the pins and make some more birdies. The scores are going to be low'' he said. ''I'm just glad I was one of them.''

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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.