Wagner Out Front in Houston

By Associated PressApril 4, 2008, 4:00 pm
2007 Shell Houston OpenHOUSTON -- Johnson Wagner played Augusta National four years ago as a guest of his great uncle, a member there. Hes halfway to earning another invitation'for next weeks Masters.
 
Wagner shot a 3-under 69 on Friday to take the outright lead in the Houston Open before an afternoon storm delayed play for an hour and 45 minutes. More rain came later and the second round was suspended at 7:25 p.m. with 36 players still on the course.
 
Wagner was safely in at 12 under, three ahead of Charley Hoffman (70) and Mathew Goggin, who shot a 64 to continue the remarkable history of Australians at the tournament. Chad Campbell was at 7 under after matching Goggins 64 in the breezy, sunny morning.
 
Defending champion Adam Scott, who shared the first-round lead with Wagner after they set the course record with 9-under 63s, had five bogeys and a double in a 76.
 
Scott bogeyed No. 2, his first at the Tournament Course at Redstone in 56 holes dating to last years second round. He was playing the fifth hole when play was halted just before 2 p.m.
 
The round resumed at 3:34 p.m., with the course softened, but the temperature more than 20 degrees cooler. Scott missed the green with his tee shot on the par-3 ninth, then drove into the water on the 11th to slip to 6 under. He birdied 15 and 16 before finishing bogey-double bogey.
 
Phil Mickelson beat the bad weather and shot a 68 on Friday, but he was eight behind the leader, whos looking for his first victory in 45 career starts.
 
The 28-year-old Wagner admits hell have to control his emotions over the weekend as he tries to win a trip to the Masters.
 
You have to use it to your advantage, Wagner said. Nerves dont have to be a bad thing. They can always be a good thing.
 
He stayed in a house off the first hole at Augusta in 2004 and played 36 holes two straight days. During one round, his approach to the par-5 15th plugged in the side of the bank.
 
His great uncle promised that would never happen during the Masters. Wagner is determined to find out for himself.
 
I definitely know Im going to be there some time, whether its next week or five years from now, he said. I look forward to playing there in the tournament.
 
Wagner was in the second group to tee off Friday morning and he moved to 12 under on his opening nine. He got up and down from a greenside bunker on the par-5 fourth, sank a 6-footer for birdie on the 5th and added another birdie on the par-5 eighth, the third-easiest hole during the first round.
 
He sliced his drive into the water on the par-4 11th and bogeyed, then got the stroke back with a birdie on 13.
 
Wagner was born in Amarillo and that gives him an edge'Texas natives have won six Houston Opens.
 
On the other hand, six Aussies have won eight Houston Opens, including Scott last year and Stuart Appleby in 2006. Appleby was the runner-up to Scott in 2007.
 
Goggin offered nothing more than a tongue-in-cheek theory on why Australians have had so much success here.
 
Maybe were just better on courses you dont have to think around, he said. You just smash it and go find it. You dumb it down for us and we do all right.
 
Goggin blames erratic putting for his up-and-down year'two top-20 finishes and two missed cuts in eight starts. He finished tied for 50th in New Orleans last week and came to Houston ranked 136th in putts per round (29.62).
 
He solved that issue on the fifth hole Friday by holing an 8-iron shot from the fairway and holing a bunker shot for another eagle on the par-5 eighth.
 
All of a sudden, I didnt hit a bad shot for the rest of the day, he said.
 
Goggin added birdies on 10, 12, 13 and 15 and wrapped up his round with only 25 putts.
 
Hoffman birdied 4, 5 and 10 to get to 10 under. But he dunked a tee shot in the water on 12, then blasted a bunker shot over the 13th green for back-to-back bogeys. He birdied the par-5 15th to get back to 9 under.
 
Divots
 
Davis Love III, needing a win to qualify for the Masters, was 3 under after two rounds. Love has started 70 consecutive major championships, the longest active streak. John Daly played seven holes Friday, then withdrew because of a back injury. Rocco Mediate, Jim McGovern and George McNeill also withdrew with injuries. Alejandro Canizares took a 12 on the par-4 18th after hitting four tee shots into the water.
 
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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.