How 'obvious' are U.S. Ryder Cup captain's picks?

By Doug FergusonSeptember 6, 2016, 5:40 pm

NORTON, Mass. - One week into the Ryder Cup auditions for the captain's picks, Davis Love III should have no trouble identifying the hot player.

Trouble is, Rory McIlroy plays for the other team.

The Deutsche Bank Championship, where McIlroy rediscovered his putting stroke, was the first of two big tournaments that essentially allow Love and the Americans to buy time so they can decide how to use three captain's picks that will be announced Monday.

Love will get a fourth pick after the FedEx Cup ends on Sept. 25, presumably before the boarding door closes on the flight to Hazeltine.

But is this really an audition?

Not according to Phil Mickelson, the senior member of the U.S. team who serves on the Ryder Cup task force.

''I think the picks are fairly obvious,'' Mickelson said before the first shot was struck at the TPC Boston. ''If they're not, or if we get a guy like Billy Horschel who just gets a hot hand and we need that hot hand to give us the best chance to win, then we have that option. For the most part, I think it's fairly obvious who the picks would be without even naming them.''

Maybe it's obvious to Mickelson, and perhaps to Love.

But not to everyone.

''I can't name them, either,'' said Steve Stricker, an assistant captain and task force member. ''I don't know who they are, I swear. I could put five guys down that are obvious. I don't think I could do three.''

Matt Kuchar would seem logical. He finished 12th in the standings, has the right game for match play because he is rarely out of position, and he likely played his way onto the team with that 63 on the final day to win the bronze medal at the Olympics.

Rickie Fowler makes sense, even though he has never won a match in two Ryder Cup appearances. Fowler is well-liked, he paired nicely with PGA champion Jimmy Walker at Gleneagles and tied for seventh at The Barclays in the final qualifying event. Then again, he squandered a chance to play his way onto the team at Bethpage Black by making a mess of the last four holes. He wound up 11th in points.

After that, the obvious becomes opinions.

Bubba Watson finished at No. 9 in the standings and he is No. 7 in the world. However, the two-time Masters champion hasn't had a top 10 on the PGA Tour in six months. Jim Furyk is under consideration, mainly because he finished at No. 15 in the standings despite missing four months at the start of the year to recover from wrist surgery. He also shot 58. But he didn't make it beyond the second stage of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

J.B. Holmes was No. 10 in the standings. Holmes is a power player and one of the few active Americans to have never been on a losing Ryder Cup team. His only appearance was in 2008 at Valhalla. He went 2-0-1.

That's five options, and there might be more.

But let's say the initial three captain's picks really are obvious.

Why wait?

Europe filled out its team with three captain's picks last Tuesday, two days after qualifying ended. Too soon? It might look that way with Alex Noren winning in Switzerland and moving up to No. 27 in the world. At least it has a team of 12 for a month leading to the opening shot on Sept. 30.

The Americans won't have a full team until they arrive at Hazeltine.

They were giddy about their trip to Gillette Stadium last week, even though only two-thirds of the team was there. It led to one awkward moment when someone asked Kuchar how he liked the home of the New England Patriots and the speech from 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey captain Mike Eruzione. Kuchar wasn't there. Neither was Fowler. Or the other ''obvious'' pick.

As for the final pick, Love is thrilled with the idea that someone could get hot and reach the Tour Championship and have a shot at winning the FedEx Cup ''and I get to pick him on Sunday night.''

That sounds great, as long as it's the right guy who wins.

Of the 70 players moving on to Indiana for the third playoff event, eight are Americans who have never won a PGA Tour event and, according to Love, still on his radar.

Love was asked a question in New York last week that he couldn't answer, and neither can anyone else.

''Is it easier for that guy to stay hot - or for that other guy to get hot?'' he said.

The Americans are looking for any edge they can find. It's hard to blame them since they have only won the Ryder Cup twice since 1995. But would it take anything away from the Ryder Cup if both teams had the same qualifying system? Start it one year out, take 11 players and give the captains one wild-card pick.

And then go play.

Because golf is supposed to be a sport that rewards a good score, not a good relationship.

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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.