Springtime in Tampa brings hordes of Yankees fans

By March 18, 2009, 4:00 pm
Throughout March, GolfChannel.com will spotlight various MLB spring training locations throughout Florida. A total of 16 MLB teams visit Florida each spring during a time when the state's golf season is also in full swing. We highlight the options for golf and baseball in each region, giving you, the fan, the ultimate guide to golf and baseball in the Sunshine State. Play Ball!

 

TAMPA, Fla. – If you happen to be making your way into the Tampa area in late February or early March, whether it be coming east from Orlando or south down Interstate 75, don’t be surprised to look around on the highway and see your fellow travelers donning Yankee caps and shirts, as well as spotting license plates that read JETER NY or YANKFAN.

 

Escaping the cold from up north, thousands of Yankee fans make the annual pilgrimage to Tampa for a wonderful blend of spring training baseball and some long overdue fair-weathered golf.

 

The Yankees call the newly named George M. Steinbrenner Field home during spring training and the fans that flock south have an abundance of activities to choose from once the final out of a game has been made – from horseracing, fishing trips, beach excursions and, of course, plenty of golf and plenty of sunshine.

 

And topping the list of golf in the area is the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club, located a little northwest of Tampa in Palm Harbor, Fla. Best known as one of the more respected stops on the PGA Tour, Innisbrook is home to not one, not two, not three, but four championship tracks.

 

Often included in Golf Digest’s annual list of ‘Top 100 Courses You Can Play,’ the Copperhead Course is an absolute gem. With rolling terrain and tree-lined fairways, the course gives you much more of a Carolina feel, with giant pines framing almost every hole.

 

The course is in immaculate shape each spring as the PGA Tour event was moved from the fall and into the current Florida Swing. So ask yourself: How often do you get to play one of the best courses in America and with the added bonus of having it set up with PGA Tour-like conditions?

 

The only catch about playing at Innisbrook is that you have to stay at the resort in order to receive playing privileges. But they have made that an easy option as they have spring training/golf packages already set up. They do, however, cater more to the Philadelphia Phillies, as their spring training facilities are located just south in Clearwater.

 

And one thing is clear - both stadiums – Steinbrenner Field for the Yankees and the Phillies’ Bright House Field in Clearwater - are both fantastic venues to watch baseball games. The stadiums themselves and the die-hard fans wandering about are worth the price of admission.

 

'It's not just baseball,' said longtime Yankee and regular spring training fan Dan from Long Island. He was one of many who put together annual golf and spring training trips for large groups of friends.

 

Other courses in the area that don’t require a stay are Fox Hollow, The Eagles and Westchase.

 

Fox Hollow, north of downtown Tampa, holds the enviable distinction of being the last golf course in a long line of world famous courses to be built and designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. With rolling, undulating fairways, it’s a vintage Jones Sr. design. It also boasts one of Florida’s finest practice facilities.

 

The Eagles Golf Club features two 18-holes courses that offer entirely different personalities. The Lakes Course measures over 7,100 yards and features an abundance of water which, of course, inspired its moniker, as water comes into play on virtually every hole. The Forest Course measures 6,700 yards and features a signature island-green, the par-3 sixth hole, which rivals the famous 17th hole at the TPC at Sawgrass in Jacksonville.

 

Convenient to all parts of the Tampa Bay area including Downtown Tampa, Westshore, Tampa International Airport, St. Petersburg Clearwater Airport, Gulf beaches and only 10 minutes from Raymond James Stadium, Westchase Golf Club is easy to find and has a beautiful and challenging Golf Digest Four Star-rated golf course. Nationally known architect Lloyd Clifton designed Westchase's 6710-yard, par 72 course, which winds through natural wetlands, wooden bridges and bulkheads.

 

And like mentioned above, Tampa Bay Downs, located on the west side of town, offers a daily race card beginning around noon each day. If you plan your day right, this is one heckuva way to spend a day: 18-holes of golf in the morning, a little horse racing in the afternoon, dinner and drinks at sunset overlooking Tampa Bay, and finally a spring training night game.

 

That my friends, is what is meant by hitting for the cycle.

Getty Images

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.

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.