USGA Puts Best Foot Forward

By Brian HewittJune 12, 2006, 4:00 pm
U.S. OpenThe Foot.
 
As in, Have you played The Foot? or have you seen. The Foot?
 
We are, of course, talking about Winged Foot, where the USGA will stage the U.S. Open this week.
 
St. Andrews in Scotland, we have been assured, is the cradle of golf. But there really isnt an official signature golf course in the United States. Not even Augusta National.
 
Pebble Beach, Pine Valley, Seminole and a handful of others can all lay claim. But Winged Foot may have more varied and memorable history than any track in this country.
 
Consider that A. W. Tilly Tillinghast, the man who designed Winged Foot, is also the man credited with inventing the golf term birdie.
 
Consider that one of Winged Foots early members, a chap named Mulligan, is credited with inspiring the golf term Mulligan. As in, Ill just take a Mulligan.
 
Winged Foot is private which severely limits its exposure. But winners of the U.S. Opens played there'Bobby Jones, Billy Casper, Fuzzy Zoeller and Hale Irwin are very public figures.
 
What kind of a man does it take to win a U.S. Open at Winged Foot?
 
In my opinion, Tillinghast said many years ago, the winner can only be a man who hits them far and true and who can stand the gaff from start to finish.
 
Ah, yes. The gaff.
 
Jack Nicklaus never won a U.S. Open at Winged Foot. But he took a lot of guff for famously putting his golf ball off the first green of the 1974 U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
 
Irwin won that year with a 72-hole total of 7 over par in a championship that came to be known as The Massacre at Winged Foot. Tom Watson said playing Winged Foot that year was like chewing glass. Jim Colbert called it probably the hardest course of all time.
 
While youre at it, chew on this: Since the 1997 PGA Championship which Davis Love III won at 11 under, the golf course has been lengthened by 277 yards to 7,264. Par is 70. The 12th hole alone has grown from an eminently reachable 540 yards to a beastly 640 yards.
 
Tiger Woods, who hasnt played a competitive round of golf since the Masters, and Phil Mickelson, who will be trying for his third straight major championship victory, will be the most watched players minute by minute. But the man of the hour will be the USGAs Mike Davis.
 
Davis has taken over course set-up duties from Tom Meeks. Green speeds, I promise you, Davis has said, will not be pushed to the limit.
 
They dont need to be. As course architecture expert Ron Whitten pointed out recently in Golf Digest, built atop granite, gneiss and basalt long before internal drainage, the greens were deliberately shaped so no raindrop had a chance of clinging to its purchase.
 
In other words, the greens will be slippery without trickery. Gneiss work Tilly. Call it Foot speed.
 
Jones, by the way, won his Open at The Foot in 1929 after squandering a six-shot lead with six holes to play. In fact, he needed to make a 12-foot putt on the 72d hole just to get into a 36-hole Monday playoff with Al Espinosa.
 
In a bow to history, Davis has indicated he will use the same Sunday hole location this year as the USGA did in 1929. Thats more than a nice touch.
 
Meanwhile, Winged Foot ranks eighth on Golf Digests 100 Greatest Golf Courses. But it may very well be the most American golf course of them all.
 
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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.