Watson Ready to Defend Sr PGA Title

By Associated PressMay 22, 2008, 4:00 pm
PGA of AmericaROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Somewhere between the champions dinner and the 5-inch rough he encountered during his practice round at Oak Hill this week, Denis Watson came to realize how difficult a test hes facing when he defends his Senior PGA Championship title.
 
It started sinking in last night, Watson said Wednesday, a day after being one of numerous past PGA winners to be honored. I started to see that this is a big deal.
 
A bigger deal, perhaps, was the rough Watson found himself trying to hit out of along the East Courses narrow fairways. The deep grass is an indication the ever-demanding Oak Hill wont prove to be the walk in the park he thought it might have been when he first played the course two weeks earlier.
 
Two weeks ago, they said they had the rough pretty much where they wanted it. And its probably at least two to three times that, Watson said. Its a brutal test.
 
Welcome to Oak Hill, the Donald Ross-designed course that current Champions Tour money leader Bernhard Langer believes will hold up forever.
 
No matter how long the guys will hit it off the tee, it doesnt matter, said Langer, whos playing Oak Hill for the fourth time of his career. This course is very, very difficult.
 
Established at its current site in 1926, Oak Hill has hosted two PGA Championships, three U.S. Opens and the Ryder Cup in 1995. Out of the five combined majors played at Oak Hill, only 10 players have finished under par. And its a course thats earned its credentials, boasting such champions as Jack Nicklaus (1980 U.S. Open) and Lee Trevino (1968 U.S. Open).
 
Add a good chance of rain and a forecast high of 52'unseasonably cold even for upstate New York in May'for the first round Thursday, and Oak Hills 7,001-yard, par-70 tight and well-protected course could prove to be an even nastier challenge for the field of 156 competing for the $2 million purse' $360,000 goes to the winner.
 
Langer is considered part of a group of favorites that includes Jay Haas, Tom Watson and Loren Roberts. And then theres Denis Watson, who has spent the past year quickly making up for two lost decades of golf.
 
A rising star on the PGA Tour in the mid-1980s, Watsons career was eclipsed for 22 years by an injury after he snagged his 9-iron on a hidden tree stump during a tournament in South Africa at the end of 1985. One operation after another failed to fix the effects of a ferocious whiplash that devastated nerves, bone, muscles and ligaments from his right hand all the way up through his shoulder and neck.
 
Though he kept playing on and off, and rarely well enough to climb onto the leaderboard, Watsons breakthrough didnt arrive until after his ninth surgery in 2006, followed by months more of rehabilitation and painful therapy.
 
The payoff finally came last year, his first on the Champions Tour when Watson achieved one of the great comebacks in sports history when he captured the Senior PGA on Kiawah Island, S.C.
 
Since then, the 52-year-old from Zimbabwe has picked up wins at the Boeing Classic in August, the AT&T Classic in March and the FedEx Kinkos Classic on May 4. Although he still has a hard time believing it all, every victory feels like a validation and hes hoping to maintain a high momentum.
 
They say if you pray for things , Watson said with a gulp of emotion. I say, just give me a chance to be there on a Sunday, I want to see if I can handle it. Golf is so much about overcoming yourself.
 
Although he needs to work constantly on his shoulders and neck because theyre never going to be 100 percent, Watson said hes playing without pain except for normal old age stuff and occasional numbness in his right pinky finger.
 
Getting a second chance has provided Watson an upbeat perspective on life and his career.
 
Its very easy to speculate, geez, if I hadnt gotten hurt, I might have won 20 times, like my friend Nick Price. I could have won the British Open. I could have won the U.S. Open, said Watson, who was a three-time PGA Tour winner in 1984 and runner-up at the 1985 U.S. Open.
 
I tend to look at the other side and say, You know, I might have had a miserable life!
 
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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.