Presidents Cup Leaving Its Mark

By Associated PressNovember 19, 2003, 5:00 pm
GEORGE, South Africa -- The only black man in the bleachers behind the 15th green scampered down the steps when Vijay Singh passed below. He leaned over the railing and clapped furiously to cheer the Fijian on.
 
A few days earlier, a 21-year-old caddie from the Xhosa tribe talked excitedly about the Presidents Cup, the biggest golf event ever to come to South Africa.
 
'I hear Tiger Woods is already in Cape Town,' said the caddie, Leonard, his smile growing. 'He's the man. I'm telling you, he's the man!'
 
The face of golf, long considered a white, elitist sport, is slowly changing in a country that is only a dozen years removed from apartheid. And having Singh and Woods here for the Presidents Cup could be the catalyst to speed things along.
 
'Young kids sitting in Soweto and villages in South Africa, most of them have got a TV set somehow or another,' said Gary Player, the International team captain and South Africa's greatest player. 'When they can see the No. 1 and No. 2 players in the world are both black, it's an awful big dream. It's a dream that can be fulfilled.'
 
Player believes the Presidents Cup will deliver a powerful message, regardless of the outcome.
 
There are already junior programs in place, and more black men who have advanced into the corporate ranks are playing golf.
 
'History shows that people pick up the game because they follow professional players,' PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said Wednesday. 'When Tiger came on the scene, the percentage of African-American kids' interest in the game went up dramatically. With the amount of focus on this event, to some degree it will have the same impact.'
 
The matches begin Thursday on the Links Course at Fancourt Hotel and Country Club Estate, with Phil Mickelson and David Toms playing the first of six alternate-shot matches against Nick Price and Mike Weir.
 
Singh is paired with Retief Goosen in the second match. Woods and Charles Howell III are in the last match.
 
Ten team matches are scheduled Friday, six on Saturday and 12 singles matches Sunday will decide who wins the cup.
 
The competition is expected to be strong, particularly since the U.S. and International teams feature 15 of the top 20 players in the world ranking.
 
'It's very important that this is closely contested,' Price said. 'Everybody wants to see it come down to one game, one shot on Sunday. If that happens, then there will be a lot of interest in the event.'
 
Interest already is high.
 
The Presidents Cup is a sellout, with crowds of more than 20,000 expected all four days. Former President Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison for opposing apartheid, was to speak during opening ceremonies Thursday.
 
'We want to really see this be a great example to millions of young people that are watching golf, how it should be played, in the true spirit,' Player said. 'I'm delighted the way things are going.'
 
The real impact might be after the Presidents Cup is over.
 
The Sunshine Tour in South Africa has about a dozen black players at most tournaments. They are largely unknown compared to the country's biggest stars, such as three-time major winner Ernie Els and Goosen, a U.S. Open champion.
 
'Our tour in South Africa is small, so they don't see a lot of golf,' Els said. 'But they know what's happening in the world.'
 
They know Woods has dominated the game, winning 46 times in eight countries. They know Singh won the PGA Tour money list this year, and that he and Woods own green jackets from winning the Masters.
 
And they know there aren't many other stars in golf who look like them.
 
'We're 1 and 2 in the world, but we're the only two out there,' Woods said. 'You would think that there would be more players of color on tour by now, but it's going to take time for the junior golf programs to kick in.'
 
Player remains optimistic.
 
He has seen scores of black youth at Fancourt who are in junior golf programs. Some are working as volunteers, carrying rakes to smooth the bunkers. Others are simply watching, wide-eyed when Woods walks by.
 
'In time to come, I really believe that we will produce our own black Tiger Woods,' Player said. 'That would be fantastic because I want to tell you, we have got some wonderful young athletes in South Africa that are starting to play golf.'
 
Related Links:
  • Meet the Teams
  • Full Coverage - The Presidents Cup
     
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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.