PGA Tour Swinging For the Fences

By Brian HewittMarch 15, 2004, 5:00 pm
The West Coast Swing had fallen out of favor in certain circles. It was ailing. Then a few things happened:
 
The Tournament of Champions got a new name, a new sponsor and a new venue at Kapalua, Maui, in Hawaii.
 
Then a new and younger breed of golf-is-cool entertainers and jocks started falling all over themselves trying to wangle invitations to Pebble Beach. And if you really had juice, somebody asked you over to Cypress Point for an early week practice round.
 
Soon Torrey Pines got itself fixed on the USGAs calendar for a U.S. Open and suddenly the Buick Invitational was a semi-must play. Rivieras greens got better and players began to appreciate more and more the seminal work designer George Thomas had done all those years ago on one of our countrys finest courses.
 
Meanwhile the PGA Tour insisted on match play once a year. Its WGC partners signed on. Accenture staked them to a big pile of money. And all but a very, very few could pass up the world ranking points available.
 
By dawn of the new millennium, the West Coast Swing was no longer struggling. In fact, certain prominent players were quietly talking about needing time off from all these occidental events as golfs focus turned to the run-up to The Players Championship in late March and the annual rite of spring two weeks later at Augusta National.
 
Competitive hangovers were cited as a the reason why the Ford Championship at Doral and the Honda Classic up the road in Palm Beach Gardens werent necessarily as prized on the calendar as they used to be. This year oil money and global branding imperatives lured Tiger Woods and Ernie Els away from the early Florida Swing.
 
Then a funny and wonderful thing happened. Dorals Blue Monster produced a memorable tournament with a re-fanged 18th hole that terrified its field. Better yet, it got an unforgettable ending in which Craig Parry eagled the 18th on the first hole of a sudden death playoff, after which loser Scott Verplank could only shake his head and smile.
 
It was the kind of finish that pushes golf into the forefront of the mainstream sports medias daily bonfire. It was good for Ford, great for Parry and even better for the Florida Swing.
 
One week later Davis Love III was waiting in the clubhouse with a one-shot lead when a quiet 38-year-old rookie named Todd Hamilton birdied the last two holes to edge Love by a stroke and win his first event on the PGA Tour after a 17-year wait.
 
The Florida Swing had itself another terrific story: Hamilton had begun Sundays round with a four-shot lead, only to squander all of it before righting the ship at the end of the day. Tom Fazios Sunrise course at Mirasol, vilified by players early in the week, earned grudging respect before the last ClubGlove was packed and all the wheels were up for the three-hour drive to Orlando and this weeks Bay Hill Invitational.
 
This season is getting good, people. Four of the top five ranked players in the world already have won and the fifth--Love--is playing as well as anybody at the moment. John Daly, for better or worse, is back on golfs radar screen.
 
Honda tournament director Cliff Danley called the Parry-Hamilton parlay a huge boost for the Florida swing. It showed, he said, you didnt need Woods and Els in your field to have a compelling tournament.
 
He was right, of course. The Florida swing got just what it needed. Pardon the mixed metaphor: It got a couple of home runs.
 
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.”

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

“Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.


Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos


“We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010.