Rough No Joke at Bay Hill

By Associated PressMarch 15, 2006, 5:00 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Tiger Woods and the rest of a star-laden field at the Bay Hill Invitational can expect to see some extra length at Arnold Palmer's course.
Only this has nothing to do with yardage, typical of so many courses trying to challenge big hitters.
It's the length of the grass.
Palmer was positively beaming Wednesday morning when he talked about the Bay Hill Club being in the best shape it has ever been, especially rough that was thick enough for grazing.
'Of course,' Palmer said, turning to PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, 'the PGA Tour is trying to accommodate the players, continue to cut it down.'
'It's going to be like that, is it?' Finchem jokingly replied.
The rough is no joke.
Tour officials recently set the mower height to 3 1/2 inches, which Palmer accepted because he doesn't think it will make stray tee shots any easier to hit.
Woods played for the first time in a year during his pro-am round and couldn't agree more.
'It's certainly a little more lush than we're used to seeing,' he said. 'I think it's hit or miss whether you get a good lie, because the rough is a little bit higher and thicker this year.'
So high and thick that he can't advance a 9-iron?
'I can hit 9-iron out,' Woods said. 'How far? It's a different story.'
Woods will be trying to continue building his momentum toward the Masters when the Bay Hill Invitational starts Thursday under what is expected to be dry conditions. He already has won three times in five starts this year, two of those on the PGA Tour and once in Dubai on the European tour.
Bay Hill brings good vibes, a place where he won four straight times until his streak was broken in 2003. He also won the first of three straight U.S. Junior Amateur titles at Bay Hill, despite hitting his drive out-of-bounds on the 18th with a 1-up lead, winning in extra holes.
'It's one of those golf courses that fits your eye,' Woods said, a phrase he also throws around at Torrey Pines, where he won this year for the fourth time. 'Not too many golf courses you play all year that you have that happen, but this is certainly one of those for me.'
Another one is three weeks away at Augusta National, where Woods will be going after a fifth green jacket. He played Augusta on Sunday with Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz, and said the extra length on six holes made the home of the Masters as tough as advertised.
But the Masters can wait.
First up is competing against a top-heavy field at Bay Hill, which includes Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Vijay Singh and Sergio Garcia. The only player missing from the top six is former Bay Hill champion Phil Mickelson.
Els won Bay Hill in 1998, blowing past Woods and Davis Love III while playing with them in a 36-hole Sunday. That was his only chance to win here, and the Big Easy isn't sure why.
It didn't take him long to notice the thick grass lining the fairways, and Els had no complaints.
'If you hit the ball a long way, you should be reasonably accurate,' he said. 'Not one player on tour has the philosophy of just going out and hitting all over the place. It might work out that way, but we try and aim and get it in the fairway and give yourself the best opportunity to make birdie.'
It looks that way at times, especially considering the driving statistics.
Woods is hitting 47.9 percent of his fairways, which puts him at No. 179 in driving accuracy. The feeling is that big hitters blast away, believing it's easier to hit the green with a wedge in the rough than a 7-iron from the fairway.
But that isn't always the case.
Woods had a solid week off the tee at Doral, even if the statistics don't bear that out. He rarely missed the wrong side of a fairway, sometimes dribbling into the first cut or barely into the rough, but usually leaving himself the perfect angle to approach the pin.
He and his caddie, Steve Williams, went over his drives and found that Woods was in the first cut 13 times.
'If you add that into the fairway mix, it's not that bad,' Woods said. 'So it depends on your perspective. I feel like I'm driving the ball much better now than I was earlier in the year, because things we've been working on are starting to come together.'
Whether he can escape the rough at Bay Hill remains to be seen.
Palmer said the course is no different from what he plays with members. The greens are quick without running at warp speed. The fairways have ample room, although they aren't as generous as a resort course.
'The members play the same golf course as the pros, with that one exception -- the rough is going to be 4 inches,' Palmer said. 'We topped it at 3 1/2 , and we're not cutting it anymore.'
Kenny Perry won a rain-soaked Bay Hill Invitational last year at 12-under par, a winning score that Palmer found reasonable. If scoring gets out of hand, he still has a few options.
'We'll watch the scores this week, let the rough grow up a little bit, let the greens get a little faster and a little harder, and see what happens,' he said.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Bay Hill Invitational
  • Getty Images

    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.

    Getty Images

    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

    Getty Images

    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.”

    Getty Images

    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.