Donald takes early lead at the Memorial

By Doug FergusonJune 4, 2009, 4:00 pm
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DUBLIN, Ohio ' Tiger Woods hardly missed a fairway, a big improvement. Luke Donald hardly missed a putt, and that was far more rewarding Thursday at the Memorial.
 
Donald set a tournament record by taking only 20 putts, which allowed him to tie a tournament record by opening with an 8-under 64 and a three-shot lead over a group that included Jim Furyk and Jason Day, who bogeyed his last two holes.
 
What seemed like a normal round at Muirfield Village turned extraordinary for Donald when he rapped in a 12-foot birdie putt from the fringe on the par-3 eighth hole, starting a streak of six consecutive birdies. He one-putted nine straight holes until a routine par on the 18th hole to match the lowest opening round at the Memorial.
 
That doesnt happen very often, Donald said.
 
Even rarer is the sight of Woods spending so much time in the middle of the fairway.
 
Woods went with a slightly higher loft in his driver (10 degrees) and continued to make strides with his swing. He didnt miss a fairway until his 3-wood on the 18th hole deflected off a tree and landed in a bunker.
 
Scoring starts with the putter, however. Woods missed an 8-foot par putt on the final hole, and his other bogey came on a three-putt at the 13th. He had to settle for a 69, and few complaints.
 
Everything felt pretty good to some degree, Woods said. My swing felt good. Even my putting stroke felt good. A couple of bad pitches here and there, but overall, I felt like I controlled the ball well all day. With the wind blowing like this, you have to hit it flush. I did that all day. I didnt miss any shots.
 
Furyk, who won the Memorial seven years ago, birdied three of his final four holes for a 67. He was joined by Ted Purdy, Thomas Aiken and Day, the 21-year-old Australian who missed a playoff by one shot last week at Colonial. Day was at 7 under with three holes to play, but made bogey from the bunkers on his final two holes.
 
All of them were chasing Donald throughout a day that began cool and breezy and became warm and blustery.
 
Donald, who had only two sub-70 rounds at Muirfield Village, hit the opening tee shot and made bogey. He was headed for another bogey on the second hole until he chipped in from 80 feet short of the green.
 
I guess all good rounds start with a bogey, he said. It was just kind of a normal, everyday round until I got to the eighth and made a nice putt from the fringe. That kind of sparked off a run of six birdies. Just really got on a hot streak.
 
He made eight birdies over the last 11 holes. And his score was an eyesore for those teeing off in the afternoon.
 
Thats rough when you walk to the first tee and youre already eight behind, defending champion Kenny Perry. He finished the day eight shots behind after two late bogeys have him a 72.
 
Stewart Cink was among those at 68, while those at 69 with Woods included Mike Weir and British Amateur champion Reinier Saxton.
 
Donald felt putting was his weakness when he joined the PGA Tour. He has been working on fundamentals, and even switched to a mallet putter. He now is No. 1 in putting on the PGA Tour, and his success is no secret.
 
You start putting well, and you start believing in yourself a little bit, Donald said. Confidence on the greens breeds confidence. You keep making more putts. I think putting is very mental. Once you feel like youre a good putter, then it becomes easier.
 
Woods has a streak of 16 consecutive top 10s in stroke play, but scrutiny followed him home from The Players Championship last week because he played in the final group and couldnt break par.
 
He has said he is still making adjustments because of surgery last year on his left knee, and has said for the last month that he is still missing his power. But he is back to hitting balls on the range, which is where he could be found late Thursday afternoon. And he painted an optimistic view of his immediate future.
 
The swing is starting to come around, he said. Im starting to feel good now. Its been a long time. Im starting to get my power back. Everything is starting to come around now.
 
Even so, hitting 13 fairways can be misleading because Muirfield Village is known for its generous fairways. The key is putting on some of the purest greens on Tour, and Donald had that part figured out just fine.
 
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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.