Some Excitement Injected into the US Open

By Associated PressJune 11, 2008, 4:00 pm
2008 U.S. OpenSAN DIEGO -- The June Gloom so typical of summer in San Diego gave way to sunshine on the eve of the U.S. Open, filling the blue sky with fighter jets from Miramar that until Wednesday could only be heard in the fog.
 
But that isnt the biggest buzz at Torrey Pines.
 
Rarely has there been so much enthusiasm for a U.S. Open, the major that tends to border on boring, where birdies are rare, bogeys are inevitable and par has been good enough to win the last three years.
 
I think youre going to see some excitement that we havent seen in several years, Senior Open champion Brad Bryant said.
 
Such excitement comes in so many packages.
 
Tiger Woods, racing toward history with every major he plays, has not walked 18 holes of golf since he had surgery on his left knee two days after the Masters. There is so much speculation over his knee that three dozen cameras followed him to and from the range Wednesday to capture him hit everything from wedges to a 5-wood out of the thick rough.
 
Im good to go, Woods said. I plan on playing competitive. Come game time on Thursday, Ill be ready.
 
But he will not have the spotlight to himself.
 
For the first time, the USGA purposely rigged the draw to put the top three players in the same group'Woods and Phil Mickelson, with Adam Scott along for the ride while nursing a broken pinkie on his right hand.
 
Woods and Mickelson are the two most popular players in golf, especially in these parts. Mickelson grew up in San Diego and played high school matches at Torrey. Woods won a Junior World Championship at 15 and has owned Torrey Pines as a pro, winning the Buick Invitational six times. His most recent victory was five months ago by a record eight shots.
 
The U.S. Open has sold 42,500 tickets. One might guess 42,000 will be trying to watch Tiger and Phil.
 
Not a chance in the world would I ever go out there and fight that gallery, not even for two holes, Jim Furyk said.
 
The last time Woods and Mickelson played together at Torrey Pines was in the final round of the 2003 Buick Invitational, when Woods was playing for the first time since surgery on his left knee'just like now'and he wound up winning by four shots.
 
I just dont see how its going to have a negative effect on him, Mickelson said.
 
As for the pairing?
 
Both say they like the idea, but it might be better to check with the players behind or in front of them, who have to deal with the bustling gallery and massive media movement.
 
Its perfect for me, said Mark Calcavecchia, playing in the group ahead along with Duke alum Joe Ogilvie. I get to turn around and watch the show, then get caught up on all the latest Duke news.
 
The USGA has hired 10 extra police officers to cope with the security and traffic, typical in these parts on freeways, not golf courses.
 
Its obviously going to be a lot of people out there watching them, USGA vice president Jim Hyler said. But I think thats a positive. It adds excitement to it. At the end of the day, we think its very special.
 
Beyond the circus, the real show could be Torrey Pines.
 
The city-owned golf course along the bluffs of the Pacific Ocean has been set up to encourage players to use as much brain as brawn. Even though it is the longest course in major championship history at 7,643 yards, the USGA has so many options on the tee boxes that it will not play that long.
 
The third hole could be either a 5-iron from 195 yards or a wedge from 142 yards. The 14th hole could play all the way back at 435 yards, or all the way forward at 277 yards, so close that players might be tempted to try to drive the green.
 
Even the 13th hole'about the only one getting any complaints, another U.S. Open rarity'features three tee boxes that will force players to lay up or allow them to take on an elevated green with a fairway metal.
 
And then theres the 18th.
 
Mike Davis, the senior director of rules and competition, persuaded the brass to leave it as a par 5 instead of changing it to a par 4. The hole is 573 yards, reachable in two shots for those who dare, but there is a pond guarding the left half of the green, and the bank in front of the green has been shaved, much like the ponds at Augusta National.
 
It really makes you think, Masters champion Trevor Immelman said. Youve got to decide if youre going to for it or lay up. If you hit it over the back and get a bad lie, you can chip it in the water easily. Its going to be a fantastic finishing hole.
 
Imagine a U.S. Open being won with a birdie instead of a par or bogey, as was the case the last five years.
 
Not since Bobby Jones at Scioto in 1926 has a U.S. Open champion birdied the final hole to win by a shot. Of course, theres always a chance someone could make double bogey to lose by the same margin (think Mickelson and Winged Foot).
 
We wanted to keep it the hardest championship in golf, Davis said. But we wanted to introduce risk and reward, and widen the scoring opportunities. Youll have a chance to make birdies, but if you dont execute the shot, you can make bogeys or worse. We just want to get them thinking more.
 
They already are thinking, which has replaced the U.S. Open tradition of griping.
 
All anyone has heard this week is praise.
 
I like the golf course'really like it, British Open champion Padraig Harrington said. Its a good, stern test, but it seems very, very fair. From what Ive heard, everybody is very pleased with the course, which may be a little disappointing. Its always nice when about half the field gives out about it. It looks like its going to be a good tournament.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Open
  • 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.