Rookie Ready for Masters - and Pimento Sandwiches

By Associated PressApril 8, 2008, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Let Tiger Woods worry about the green jacket. Johnson Wagner is more focused on the orangish'or is that yellowish?'delicacy thats as much a part of Augusta National as the azaleas.
 
Celebrating his last-minute invitation to the Masters, Wagner made a run on the pimento cheese sandwiches Monday. He managed to woof down three of them right out of the chute.
 
Im going to OD on pimento cheese, Wagner quipped. I love em, just love em.
 
He might be feeling a little bloated by the time he strikes his first tee shot Thursday. After all, the listed ingredients include cream, sodium citrate, salt, sorbic acid, vinegar, ammonium sulfate, sugar, calcium propionate, soybean oil, and'oh yeah'those little red specks of pimento.
 
Not that Wagner is worried about such things.
 
Hes planning on experiencing Augusta to the fullest, right down to the menu.
 
Ive been pinching myself all day, Wagner said. This is just incredible.
 
Who can blame him for being so giddy?
 
A week ago, Wagner was a player going nowhere. He had missed six cuts in nine starts this year and ranked 193rd on the money list. Not exactly Masters material. But, with the first major of the year having reinstated its rule that gives all PGA TOUR winners a spot in the exclusive field, the 28-year-old had one more chance to get in.
 
The Houston Open.
 
He sure took advantage of it.
 
Wagner opened with a 63'matching Adam Scott for the course record'and zealously guarded the lead the rest of the way, earning his first Tour win by two strokes.
 
The first thought was, Oh my gosh, I just won on the PGA TOUR, said Wagner, who had planned on taking a trip to the beach with his wife and another couple this week. But immediately after that, I said, Holy cow, Im in the Masters.
 
In addition to his pimento cheese indulgence, Wagner relished some of the other traditions at this time capsule of a golf course.
 
He couldnt wait to get to the par-3 16th during his first practice round, yearning for a chance to skip his ball off the pond that runs nearly the length of the hole. The object is to hit a low screamer, have it ricochet off the water and come up dry somewhere near the flag on the other side.
 
Wagner actually thought of getting in a little practice after he arrived at his hastily arranged house near the course sometime after midnight.
 
They had a swimming pool, and theres just a perfect little grass hill next to it, he said. I thought, This is a great chance, but I think there was (another) house on the other side. They probably wouldnt appreciate it.
 
Going sans practice, Wagners first attempt lodged in the bank at the ponds far end'pretty pathetic, he said. The next one rolled up just in the front of the green, and he moved on with a smile on his face. Mark off another line on that Masters checklist.
 
For one day at least, Wagner even felt like a bit of a celebrity.
 
It seemed like every time I looked in the gallery, someone said, Hey, Johnson, congrats, great playing last week, he said. It was amazing that so many people knew my name and knew what happened. It was probably the greatest day on the golf course Ive ever had.
 
Otherwise, it was a typical Monday before the Masters. Some 40,000 fans milled around the one-time nursery, posing for pictures in front of the famous scoreboard along the first fairway or queuing up in lines that seemed to stretch on forever outside the merchandise store. Youngsters dressed in garish yellow coveralls and matching caps with Litter written above the bill got some last-minute instructions on how to keep the grounds looking immaculate.
 
And, of course, everyone strained for a look at Woods. The worlds No. 1 player, four-time Masters winner and overwhelming favorite arrived Sunday, played another 18 holes Monday morning and planned one more practice session before beginning his quest for a Grand Slam.
 
Hes the only player capable of doing that, Steve Stricker said. You know, I wouldnt be surprised if he does do it.
 
In recent days, Augusta National was softened by 3 inches of rain, with the chance of more thunderstorms this weekend. That could present a much different setup than a year ago, when bone dry fairways allowed Zach Johnson'all 160 pounds of him'to keep up with the big hitters.
 
Johnson was able to lay up on the par 5s and still do most of his scoring, finishing with a 1-over 289 that matched the highest winning score at the Masters.
 
It would be nice if the fairways could be dry again, said Nick OHern, the left-handed Australian who might have trouble outdriving some of the guys down at the muni. You just hit it as far and as straight as you can. Theres no shaping the ball, except to the greens. Just get up there and smash it.
 
Even on the rain-soaked grounds, plenty of players managed to get a sampling of Augustas fiendish greens.
 
Jeev Milkha Singh of India, who got in with a special foreign invitation, worked on some chipping from just behind the three-tiered ninth green. Two of his skittish attempts didnt even make it past the fringe. Another skidded by the cup and kept right on rolling down to the second level, finally stopping some 40 feet away.
 
And this was just practice. Imagine what that shot might look like when hes playing for real.
 
Wagner is a Masters rookie, but he does have some experience at Augusta National. He got a chance to play a few rounds for fun 4 1/2 years ago as a guest of his great-uncle, who happens to be a member. He even managed to get off a joke when he pulled up to the gate on Magnolia Lane.
 
Hey, do yall have any tee times for the morning? Wagner asked the security guard.
 
Good one, rookie.
 
Now go have another pimento cheese sandwich.
 
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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.