Things Change Remain the Same at PLAYERS

By Associated PressMay 7, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 THE PLAYERSPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- What some bill as the fifth-best golf tournament looked more like an open house Monday.
 
One by one, players pulled their courtesy cars to the front of the 77,000-square-foot clubhouse at THE PLAYERS Championship and were pointed in every direction. Volunteers guided them to the locker room, to a players-only dining room where not even their agents were allowed, and to the ``Tunnel of Champions'' that led them out a back door to the refurbished Players Stadium Course on the TPC Sawgrass.
 
TPC Sawgrass
Workers in March get the course ready to host THE PLAYERS Championship. (WireImage)
Most of them didn't know where they were.
 
``I'm a little lost,'' U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy said. ``It's such a big building.''
 
And despite the new look at THE PLAYERS Championship, one thing hasn't changed: No one is quite sure what it is.
 
The fifth major?
 
That won't get too many arguments because the golf course is superb, the field is the strongest and deepest of the year and the purse for this year's tournament will be $9 million, the richest of any tournament in the world.
 
But there are only four majors, which is why Jeff Sluman's famous line from four years ago still holds true.
 
``When you go to Denny's and order the Grand Slam breakfast, they don't give you five things, do they?''
 
One reason THE PLAYERS moved from March to May was to give golf a major event every month, starting with the Masters in April through the PGA Championship in August and even the FedEx Cup finale in September.
 
But even with a new clubhouse and a refurbished golf course meant to play firm and fast in any weather, there is still enough evidence to suggest that one of these is not like the other four.
 
Tiger Woods, coming off a two-shot victory at the Wachovia Championship, won't arrive until Tuesday. Woods arrives no later than Monday for majors, sometimes even Sunday.
 
Major championships attract fans from all over the country who come to watch. THE PLAYERS largely remains a local event, drawing most of the crowd from county limits, and a lot of them come to be seen. The PGA TOUR is starting a campaign to attract more fans from outside the state of Florida, although this will take time.
 
And it probably doesn't help that THE PLAYERS is held a week after the Wachovia Championship, which drew seemingly endless comparisons with a major championship last week, especially after Woods said he was ``ecstatic'' to have won considering the quality of the golf course against the strength of the field in such difficult conditions.
 
More than one player was asked at Quail Hollow what the difference was between last week and this week.
 
In every case, there was a pause for contemplation before a nod was given to THE PLAYERS.
 
But they had to think about it.
 
All this feeds into a broader problem at PGA TOUR headquarters: THE PLAYERS is its showcase event, but the conversation seems to always be what the tournament is not, rather than what it is.
 
``I think enough fun has been made of their place in the golf kingdom,'' Sluman said over the weekend. ``There are still only four majors, but it is an unbelievable golf course with bar-none the best field in golf.''
 
Shouldn't that be enough?
 
PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem has said that he only wants THE PLAYERS Championship to be the best it can be, and he has stopped at nothing to accomplish that. The TOUR wants the tournament to be known as ``THE PLAYERS,'' similar to ``The Masters.'' Television coverage will include only four minutes of commercials every hour, just like the Masters.
 
The winner of THE PLAYERS gets as many FedEx Cup points as the winner of a major. In the World Golf Hall of Fame ballots, THE PLAYERS is listed in bold print alongside the four majors.
 
``Nobody likes being force-fed,'' Sluman said. ``I think everybody associated with the tournament needs to let it take its course. It will find its spot wherever that ends up in five, 10, 15 or 50 years. But just let it happen.''
 
Ogilvy called it the fifth-best tournament in the world, which probably is what THE PLAYERS Championship is. But what inevitably followed were more examples of what it's not.
 
``It's not a career-defining win,'' he said.
 
Fred Couples and Davis Love III often get labeled as underachievers for having so much talent and only one major championship to show for it, even though both have won THE PLAYERS twice. Ogilvy also felt that while winning THE PLAYERS was as physically challenging as winning a major, it was not as psychologically demanding.
 
``I've gotten so tired of that six, seven, eight years ago,'' Jim Furyk said. ``Is this a major? Is it not a major? My answer was simply, 'Does it matter?' It's a good, strong field. I would say it's by far the strongest field in golf, year in and year out. And it's probably the best way to market it.''
 
Carl Petterson offered the best answer when asked his definition of THE PLAYERS.
 
``It's our championship,'' he said.
 
That should be enough.
 
Related Links:
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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.

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    Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

    “Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.


    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos


    “We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

    In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010.