Plenty of international flavor so far at Doral

By Associated PressMarch 13, 2009, 4:00 pm
2007 WGC CA ChampionshipDORAL, Fla. ' Jeev Milkha Singh is from India. Retief Goosen, South Africa. Prayad Marksaeng, Thailand. And Phil Mickelson, of course, hails from the United States.
 
Maybe thats why they call this a World Golf Championship.
 
Those four players from three continents ' four, really, since Singhs home base now is London ' shared the lead after Thursdays first round of the CA Championship, all shooting 7-under 65s on Dorals famed Blue Monster. Singh and Goosen got rolling with three straight birdies after the turn, Marksaeng closed his day with three in a row, and Mickelson joined the party by chipping in on his final two holes.
 
Oh, and Tiger Woods is looming in his first stroke-play event since last years stirring U.S. Open victory.
 
A tournament that touts itself as having one of the very best fields in golf is living up to that billing so far.
 
Its nice to see everyone here, said South Africas Louis Oosthuizen, who shot 67.
 
Just about everyone still has a shot, too.
 
Singh, who has never finished better than a tie for ninth on the PGA Tour, had eight birdies and a bogey. Goosen made just one real mistake all day, a bogey at the par-4 18th, his ninth hole of the opening round. Marksaeng met the same fate at 18, with that hole the lone blemish on his card.
 
And Mickelson vaulted up the leaderboard, making seven birdies in his last 10 holes. He made double-bogey at the par-4 third, hit into the water at the par-3 fourth hole before chipping in there, then chipped in again on 17 and 18 to cap his day.
 
I felt going into this tournament that I was playing as well as I ever have as far as I can remember, Mickelson said. From 50 yards in, my short game has never been this good and Ive never driven the ball this long and this straight without the fear of a big miss. My iron play is better than it has been in quite some time. And I expect that to improve as the week goes on.
 
Someone else who expects to improve as the week goes on?
 
Woods, of course.
 
His surgically repaired knee wasnt a problem, he said. The same wasnt the case for his putter.
 
Woods missed 10 of 11 putts from outside of 10 feet, saying at least three of them lipped out. The end result was a 71, putting him six shots back on a course where hes prevailed in three of his previous four visits.
 
Its just one of those things that we all know playing the game of golf, you are going to have days like today, Woods said. I would be obviously a little bit more disappointed, a little more frustrated if I had not played well. I felt like I hit the ball well, hit putts well, but they just didnt go in. Those putts go in (Friday) and the score will be a little different.
 
There was a group of four players one shot off the lead, including British Open and PGA champion Padraig Harrington, who didnt feel as though he did much of anything right and had his best score of the year.
 
I think I hit two fairways with my driver today. So its not like I played good golf or anything like that, Harrington said. It was all about the score.
 
Sean OHair began his round with consecutive eagles and was among the group at 67, as was Camilo Villegas, the Colombian whos always a fan-favorite in South Florida. Henrik Stenson (69) played a shot from the mucky water on the third hole after taking off everything but his boxer shorts and his golf glove.
 
For the love of the game, Stenson said.
 
Mickelson shot 3-3-3 on his final three holes, all of them thanks to his chipping. His short game is generally considered one of the best ' if not the very best ' in the game, and it was on full display Thursday.
 
After trying to drive the 355-yard 16th hole, he pitched up to 3 feet for birdie. Then he chipped in from short of the green on the 17th, and made it three straight birdies by chipping in from about 25 feet on the 18th.
 
It was just nice to see the ball go in the hole, Mickelson said.
 
Woods wished he could say the same.
 
When he returned to competition after his eight-month hiatus from knee surgery, he only had to worry about beating one player at a time in the Accenture Match Play Championship. Stroke play is about posting a score and maneuvering his way up the leaderboard.
 
But outside of a pair of birdie tap-ins Thursday, he didnt have much to maneuver with.
 
I was trying to figure it out, how to get the ball in the hole a little bit faster than what I was doing, Woods said.
 
Theres still plenty of time'but with nearly half the field already ahead of him after 18 holes, Woods would obviously prefer to turn things around quickly.
 
I just need to be a touch sharper, Woods said.
 
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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.