Short And Sweat

By Brian HewittMay 10, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 THE PLAYERSPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Paul Casey was going to be the guinea pig and he knew it.
He and Nathan Green and Charles Warren were the first threesome off the 10th tee Thursday morning at THE PLAYERS.
Which meant they would be the first group to reach the infamous island green that defines the par-3 17th at TPC Sawgrass.
So when Casey two-putted for birdie in the swirling, gusty winds at the par-5 16th it boosted him into a tie for the lead. It also earned him the honor on the next tee.
Dubious honor.
Thats always the problem with making birdie on 16, Casey said, moments after carding a 76 that could have been much better. There is a downside.
What Casey didnt know but might have guessed was that 17 would play the most difficult on the golf course in Rd. 1. Of the first 100 players that tested their mettle in the swirling winds, only 54 would find the putting surface; 33 of those first 100 would find the water.
The actual distance from the tee to the hole location at 17 Thursday was 128 yards. Casey figured it was 136 to the ridge in the middle of the green. And thats where he was aiming when he struck his 9-iron.
His ball, according to the TOURs Shotlink computers, traveled 124 yards. And found a watery grave. That left Casey, who arrived at the 17th 2 under on his round, with an awkward 92-yard pitch from the drop area. That shot didnt stop until it had rolled to the back of the green. Three putts later Casey had a triple bogey six from which he never really recovered.
It was a good round of golf, he said. Until 17. Bogeys followed on Nos. 18, 3, 7 and 8.
Casey is the 13th-ranked player in the world. And he took his medicine like an adult. Earlier this week Tiger Woods used the word gimmicky to describe the 17th. Casey, to his credit, didnt take the bait.
It is what it is, Casey said of, arguably, the most dangerous hole in golf. This is a great golf course. And 17 doesnt let the rest of the golf course down.
I do think they made it smaller, though, Casey said with a trace of humor. But I have no proof.
Woods had also suggested that 17 would be better positioned as the eighth hole. His contention was that the island green makes for too much drama on the 71st hole of the golf tournament late Sunday.
The irony is that 17 WAS the eighth hole of the day for Casey, Woods and everybody else who teed off on the back side. Woods managed a par at 17. But, ironically, he missed a 2-foot par putt on the eighth, his 17th of the day.
Woods, by the way, also pitched a shutout. The worlds No. 1 made no birdies and bogeyed three of his last six holes for an untidy 75.
But Casey had been the guinea pig and when he dunked that 9-iron it meant he was the first of many to get wet on 17. His 6 on the hole was the 173rd triple bogey in the history of the event.
TPC Sawgrass officials estimate that 120,000 golf balls a year are lost in the waters that surround the island green. Most of the year the golf course is open, for a stout greens fee, to the public.
Woods, by the way, was remarkably upbeat after his round in which too few putts dropped into the hole. Hit, he said, and pray.
Hopefully, you dont get the wrong gust at the wrong time, because you can look like a real idiot, he said of the winds that rarely dipped below 20 miles per hour all day. It got so bad at one point officials had to stop play on the eighth to use blowers to clear debris from the green.
Perhaps the most amazing accomplishment Thursday was Rory Sabbatini getting to 6 under through 15 holes. He finished with 67.
Meanwhile the only certainty here for the weekend is that there will be more train wrecks on the penultimate hole. When conditions get difficult here, the focal point of every round automatically becomes the island green.
I thought it was well-struck, Casey said of his 9-iron on 17. I was wrong.

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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.