Weir Maintains Slim Lead in Maui

By Associated PressJanuary 5, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007 Mercedes Benz ChampionshipKAPALUA, Hawaii -- Mike Weir finally got one last birdie putt to fall, and it was enough to put him in the lead Saturday at the Mercedes-Benz Championship.
 
But even after a 5-under 68 on the most gorgeous day at Kapalua this week, one look at the leaderboard told the Canadian he would need another one just like it on Sunday, if not better.
 
This working vacation suddenly turned into a grind.
 
Weir, who missed three straight birdie chances inside 10 feet on the back nine, hit a deft chip to 3 feet for birdie on the par-5 18th that put him at 13-under 206 and gave him a one-shot lead over Nick Watney, who birdied his last two holes for a 67.
 
'I'm going to have to shoot another low one tomorrow,' Weir said.
 
Daniel Chopra (67) and Jonathan Byrd (69) were another stroke back.
 
In the 10 years that the season-opening event on the PGA TOUR has been coming to the Plantation Course at Kapalua, there has never been so many players in contention going into the final round. Twelve players were separated by five shots, including defending champion Vijay Singh and Kapalua homeowner Jim Furyk.
 
'There's a lot of guys that have an opportunity tomorrow,' Steve Stricker said after a 68 that left him four shots behind. 'For me, it's going to take a real low one to catch him. But it's out there.'
 
Weir had to wait three years to make it back to Kapalua, the longest stretch without winning in his career, and he appears ready to make sure he won't have to do that again. Playing in the final group with Stephen Ames of Calgary, followed along by a gallery with shirts, flags and even tattoos of the Canadian flag, Weir played without a bogey on a soggy course with strong breezes and sensational views.
 
But he never could pull away, not with the numbers being posted ahead of him.
 
Weir had three great looks at birdie starting on the 14th, but all of them grazed the lip. He wasn't too worried because the stroke was good, and he had not forgotten the two par saves he made from 12 feet earlier in the round.
 
'I wanted to go as low as I could,' Weir said. 'I saw a lot of good scores out there and I wanted to keep going.'
 
Watney made up a lot of ground on his final two holes with an approach that caught the ridge and grain beautifully on the 17th hole that set up a 20-foot birdie, then came up just short of the 650-yard closing hole in two shots for a routine birdie that put him in the final group.
 
'I hit the ball really well. It was a pretty stress-free day as far as that goes,' Watney said. 'I made some putts coming down the stretch, which is nice, and I'm excited for tomorrow.'
 
It should be quite the shootout. One birdie can change everything. One mistake can send someone tumbling down the leaderboard.
 
Ames kept pace through nine holes and was tied with Weir at the turn, but he came up short of the 10th green, made bogey, and did not make another birdie until the final hole. He shot 70 and was alone in fifth at 10-under 209.
 
The group at 9 under included Furyk, whose 66 matched the low round of the tournament. Furyk, who bought a home years ago off the 18th fairway, had other plans for this week if he didn't win the Canadian Open last year to qualify. Having grown up in western Pennsylvania, he was invited by Pittsburgh Steelers coach to attend the wild-card game Saturday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
 
'I guess it's too bad I won last year,' he said. 'I would have enjoyed that immensely.'
 
Kapalua isn't too bad, especially because Furyk hasn't been at his best on the Plantation Course since winning in 2001. Also at 9-under 210 were Justin Leonard and Brandt Snedeker, while Singh, Chad Cambell and U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera followed at 8 under.
 
'For whatever reason, there just isn't much separation, which is good for me because I haven't done anything to separate myself,' Leonard said. 'There's a lot of guys there. It would be easier being four shots behind with only a couple of players ahead of you. I'm not going out there thinking about winning the tournament, but it is doable.'
 
Weir attributed the bunched leaderboard to the conditions, which have been soft all week. One year he was at Kapalua, Ernie Els hit a drive so far on the par-5 15th that he had only an 8-iron into the green, and most of the field could reach the downhill, downwind closing hole in two shots because of how fast the ball runs on the fairways.
 
With balls slowed by the wet grass, the advantage for big hitters isn't as great.
 
'I think maybe some of the longer guys can't separate themselves as much because the ball is not traveling out there as much,' Weir said. 'You see a lot of guys in the same areas. That's probably why the scores are a little more bunched.'
 
DIVOTS
Paul Goydos gets the award for most improved this week. After opening with an 81, he was eight shots better with a 73 in the second round, and followed that with a 67 on Saturday. ... Henrik Stenson and Joe Ogilvie are the only players who have yet to break par this week on the Plantation Course. ... With more rain overnight, rules officials allowed players to lift, clean and place their ball on the short grass for the first time this week.
 
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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.