Look Whos Back

By Brian HewittOctober 8, 2007, 4:00 pm
2006 Valero Texas OpenJustin Leonard, four shots back of leader Jesper Parnevik going into Sundays final round of the Valero Texas Open, knew the drill.
 
In 1997 when he won the Kemper Open he was five shots back of leader Mark Wiebe going into Sundays final round. He shot 67 and won the golf tournament.
 
Later that same year Leonard again found himself five shots back of, this time, Parnevik going into Sundays final round. He shot 65 and won the British Open.
 
The following year at The PLAYERS Leonard, one more time, trailed the leader (Lee Janzen) by five going into Sundays final round. This time he fired a sizzling 67 and won again.
 
So it came as no surprise'least of all to Leonard and Parnevik'that Little Justin fashioned a tight 65 Sunday in Texas Sunday and then ran down Parnevik on the third hole of a playoff.
 
Leonard has now won 11 times on the PGA TOUR. Hes 35 years old. Hes married and the father of three. And hes no longer little Justin, the youngish looking fresh face out of Texas who fearlessly stepped right out of amateur golf and onto golfs big stages in his early and mid-20s.
 
In fact, Leonard was starting to look a little long in the competitive tooth earlier this year when he missed his first six cuts. It hadnt been that long ago that Leonard had won twice in 2005.
 
But an ingredient was missing. Leonard had gone to Butch Harmon and done some good work. He had needed to get longer off the tee to keep up with golfs new generation of bombers. And he and Harmon had made progress.
 
Then at Bay Hill in March Leonard began seeing his former coach, the estimable Randy Smith, again. He had gotten what he needed from Harmon and there were things in his swing that Smith knew best.
 
Soon Leonard was starting to feel and look like the Justin Leonard of the late '90s. But the putter was holding him back. Hes been hitting the ball well now for two and a half months, Smith told me last week.
 
At Valero the flat stick magic finally returned. Leonard made just two bogeys in 72 holes. When hes striking the ball crisply and rolling it on the greens, hes a force. Its a little bit like the football team that passes to set up the run. When Leonards stacking his approaches to 10 feet and inside, it sets up his putting/running game.
 
And now he suddenly finds himself on the list of players U.S. Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger must start tracking more closely in the long run-up to next years Ryder Cup in Louisville.
 
You can never have too much putting, the axiom goes, in the Ryder Cup. Which is why Leonard could fit in quite nicely that way on a team that included Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, a healthy Chris DiMarco and a still-underrated David Toms. All of those players roll their rock like a dream.
 
Heady stuff for Justin Leonard, a player who had verged on being mostly-forgotten the last couple of years. To be sure, his climb back into the games elite is still a bit uphill.
 
But he has now done something no other Texan has done. Not Hogan, Nelson, Trevino, Kite or Crenshaw. He has won the Texas Open'now called the Valero Texas Open'three times.
 
Actually only one other man has accomplished that feat. And that player is an outlander from Pennsylvania. Guy named Arnold Palmer.
 
You know, Justin Leonard said late Sunday when reminded of the Palmer connection. Thats pretty special.
 
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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.