Unknowns Worth Watching

By Associated PressFebruary 19, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007- WGC-AccentureTUCSON, Arizona -- Martin Kaymer was barely a blip on golf's radar screen until he shot a 59 on a mini-tour in Europe, then moved onto the Challenge Tour and finished fourth on the money list despite playing only eight tournaments.
 
That was 18 months ago.
 
Those who have watched him play are not surprised to see where he is now, nor do they put limits on how far he can go. The 23-year-old German is not only in the Accenture Match Play Championship, he is the No. 21 seed. He also is in the running for a spot on the Ryder Cup team, and likely will be eligible for all four majors.
 
'This is one worth watching,' Padraig Harrington said.
 
Kaymer was 41st on the Order of Merit last year in Europe to win rookie of the year, and his goal for 2008 was simply to keep his card. Then he won Abu Dhabi, and his birdie-birdie-eagle finish at Dubai put him runner-up to Tiger Woods.
 
'You've got to watch this kid play,' said Ernie Els, who was paired with him in Dubai the last round. 'He's going to be something, I promise you. He's long. He's got a great touch. You'll see a lot of him.'
 
This is a return trip to Arizona for Kaymer, a lean 6-footer who is dripping with enthusiasm and humility. With the winters so cold in Germany, he has gone to Phoenix the last two winters, playing mostly at Whisper Rock and Troon North this year.
 
'The facilities over here are perfect, the weather ... and I really like the American attitude in sport. They are so supportive,' Kaymer said. 'When I came here, I got to the golf course and I said, 'I play on the European Tour. Is there any chance I can practice here?' And they said, 'Yes, of course you can.' In Europe, you can't do that.'
 
The fact Kaymer beat Henrik Stenson in Abu Dhabi was sheer coincidence. Stenson's caddie is Fanny Sunesson, who has been working part-time with the German national team and still coaches Kaymer in course management and strategy.
 
Kaymer will play Boo Weekley in the first round Wednesday, and he knows what to expect. Kaymer and Alex Cejka played against Weekley and Heath Slocum at the World Cup in China.
 
'My first impression was he's a nice guy,' Kaymer said. 'Everybody asked me, 'Did you understand him?' I said, 'A little bit.''
 
TRIVIA TIME
Which player has lost to the most winners of the Accenture Match Play Championship?
 
SHARK HONORED
Greg Norman has been selected for the Charlie Bartlett Award by the Golf Writers Association of America for a commitment to charity that has spanned three decades and helped causes from children's cancer research to disaster relief.
 
Norman, inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2001 with two majors and 75 victories worldwide, has raised more than $10 million for charities, starting with children's cancer through his two-man team golf tournament formerly called the Shark Shootout.
 
He lent his helicopter to Katrina Relief efforts, teamed with former presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush to benefit Tsunami Relief to help raise $2 million.
 
The award is named after the first secretary of the GWAA and is given to a professional golfer for his unselfish contributions to society. Norman will be honored at the association's annual awards dinner April 9 in Augusta, Ga.
 
NEW CHAIRMAN
Masters champion Zach Johnson has a new title -- chairman of the Players Advisory Council.
 
With the polls closing Friday at Riviera and voter turnout higher than it had been in years, Johnson was elected chairman over Rich Beem and Brett Quigley. And for his acceptance speech?
 
'I was shocked I won,' Johnson said. 'Shocked because the two guys I was up against, Beemer and Quigley, have been out here for years and are great guys who don't mind sharing their opinions are care deeply about this tour.'
 
The election means Johnson will move up to the policy board next year.
 
EVERT OBSERVATIONS
For those who wonder whether it's tougher to win in stroke play or match play, consider the assessment of tennis great Chris Evert, who attended her first PGA Tour event two weeks ago at Pebble Beach while watching fiance Greg Norman.
 
'My observations of golf is that mentally, it's a tougher sport than tennis,' said Evert, winner of 18 Grand Slam titles. 'There are no freebies. In tennis, I've been down 6-love, 5-1, 40-15 and won the match. And in golf, you can't do that. You have to be relentless on every single shot.'
 
The other thing she noticed was a competition among 180 players at Pebble Beach. But this week at the Match Play Championship, the winner only has to beat six players.
 
'My first Wimbledon I won, I didn't play Billie Jean (King) or Yvonne (Goolagong) because they were beaten,' she said. 'I would have for sure lost to them on grass.'
 
TRIVIA ANSWER
Nick O'Hern. He lost in 2001 to Steve Stricker in the quarterfinals, in 2006 to Geoff Ogilvy in the second round, and last year to Henrik Stenson in the quarterfinals.
 
DIVOTS
Jim Furyk, who missed the cut at Riviera, was seen practicing with a belly putter at Dove Mountain. ... The World Golf Hall of Fame has new artifacts on display in its Jack Nicklaus exhibition, which includes the set of MacGregor irons he used to win the 1986 Masters, and the driver and wedge he used to win the 1975 Masters. ... The Tavistock Cup, matches between touring pros from Lake Nona and Isleworth in the Orlando, Fla., area, will have women on each team. Annika Sorenstam again will play for Lake Nona, while Paula Creamer will make her debut for Isleworth. ... The European Open will return to England for the first time since 1994 when it is held July 3-6 on the Jack Nicklaus-designed Heritage course at The London Golf Club in Kent.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Jeff Maggert (1999) and Darren Clarke (2000) are the only players to beat the No. 1 seed on their way to winning the Accenture Match Play Championship.
 
FINAL WORD
'Maybe they would have grown more if the same guy wasn't winning them.' -- Stuart Appleby on the World Golf Championships. Of the 26 that have been played for official money, Tiger Woods has won 14.
 

Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
  • Brackets - WGC-Match Play Championship
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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.