Major Season Upon Us

By Brian HewittApril 4, 2008, 4:00 pm
RANCHO MIRAGE, Ca. -- Paula Creamers penultimate shot of the second round of the years first major hung on the edge of the hole and refused to drop. Creamer slapped the head of her putter three times in frustration, frowned and tapped in for a 74 that left her one shot over par and miles off the lead at the halfway point of the Kraft Nabisco.
Its major season in golf now. This week for the women. Next week for the men at Augusta National. And everything is magnified. So three slaps to a balky flatstick where one sufficed as recently as last week.
Tiger Woods and Lorena Ochoa have been the dominant stories against their respective competition so far this year. But starting now we begin measuring their achievements through the prism of pressures presented by major championships.
Creamer is 21 years old. And she will probably have to wait until June now for the next two womens majors'The McDonalds LPGA and the U.S. Womens Open--for a defining moment.
She already has won once in 2008 (the Fields Open in February in Hawaii). And she is early enough on in her career to consider it a compliment when people categorize her as the best player never to have won a major.
I think its nice that I have that ability in peoples eyes to win majors as much as they believe in me to do that, she says. So thats exciting. But its not winning.
Creamer arrived at Mission Hills Country Club this week with just one top 5 finish in 14 major championship tries. Those arent the kind of numbers the No. 4 player in the world is supposed to produce.
Then she went out Friday in 39 on her first nine holes. She will need to step on it on the weekend to get back into contention. Contention was where she found herself last year here until posting a discouraging Sunday 78 that left her tied for 15th and puzzled.
Everybody puts emphasis on majors because they are the best tournaments to win and they are on this pedestal of being the top tournament to win, she said earlier this week. I think that going into them, mentally, its not been the same as any other week, and I think my best golf playing is when Im relaxed and know the golf course.
While Creamer, along with a laundry list of players that included Ochoa, Suzann Pettersen, Catriona Matthew, Se Ri Pak and Brittany Lincicome were stuck in reverse at the wrong time one the weekend at Kraft Nabisco last year, Morgan Pressel, 18, was quietly minding her onions.
She carded a closing 69 long before the leaders self-destructed. And by the end of the day she found herself the winner of a war of attrition and the youngest female winner of a major championship in golf history.
Thursday and Friday Pressel played in a twosome with Ochoa. She hit five greens but shot 71 Thursday because her 22 putts was the lowest number in that category in the field.
Ochoa consistently launched her drives 50 and 60 yards past Pressel. And when a reporter asked Ochoa if she felt sorry for Pressel, Ochoa squirmed in embarrassment. Finally, after being pressed, she said, No.
What Ochoa should have said is: I will answer that question only after you ask Morgan if she feels sorry for me that I have never won this tournament.
But Ochoa has won a major'the 2007 Womens British at the Old Course at St. Andrews. So that monkey is off her back.
There is a growing sense that Ochoa is poised to start stringing womens majors in Woodsian fashion. In fact, if she wins this week, she will beat Woods to the punch on the Hot Topic circuit:
Will Lorena Ochoa win the womens Grand Slam this year?
Woods wont have a chance to get his first leg up on the mens calendar Slam until next weeks Masters.
Its major season in golf now. Everything starts to mean more and happen a little faster. Fasten your seat belts.
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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.