McIlroy shares BMW lead; Woods 1 back

By Doug FergusonSeptember 6, 2012, 11:45 pm

CARMEL, Ind. – Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy seem to be spending a lot of time together lately. That includes the top of a busy leaderboard at the BMW Championship.

The biggest star in golf and his heir apparent put on a dazzling show Thursday at Crooked Stick, where the gallery caught a glimpse of the best players in the world for the first time since the 1991 PGA Championship.


Round 2 tee times moved up; Golf Channel to broadcast from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. ET


McIlroy, flawless with his irons, birdied his last two holes for an 8-under 64 and was part of a four-way tie for the lead with Indiana native Bo Van Pelt, U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson and Graham DeLaet, the Canadian who is quietly becoming the Cinderella of these FedEx Cup playoffs.

Just three days after McIlroy won the Deutsche Bank Championship, he looked just as impressive in the opening round at Crooked Stick.

''He hits it great, putts it great and top of that, he's just a really nice kid,'' Woods said in some of his strongest praise ever for another player. ''The game of golf is in great hands with him, and he's here to stay.''

Woods, who finished two shots behind Monday in Boston, isn't going away quietly. He was only sharp when it came to scoring, making enough birdies to stay in the game, including a 30-foot chip-in on his last hole for a 65.

McIlroy had every reason to be a little flat because of the short turnaround from the Labor Day finish. But that wasn't the case at the BMW Championship, not with fans lined three-deep down the entire 10th hole to see him and Woods in the same group for the second time in three weeks.

''It definitely gives you a little more of a lift, especially coming off a win and maybe being a little flat,'' McIlroy said. ''You're focused from the get-go, and you want to go out and shoot a good number, and I was able to do that today.''

They made it look easy, and Crooked Stick was every bit of that on a broiling afternoon north of Indianapolis.

Because of heavy rains earlier in the week - so fierce on Wednesday that the course was briefly evacuated - players were able to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the short grass before firing at the flags. Really, there was no other option in such soft conditions.

Sixty players in the 70-man field were at par or better. Forty players were in the 60s. All but five holes played under par, and the average score was 69.47.

''I think we all knew it was there for the taking today,'' said Justin Rose, who opened with a 67 and was tied for 10th.

Vijay Singh had a chance to join the leaders until he drove into the water on the 18th hole, though he escaped with par and was at 65. Luke Donald was in the group at 66. Phil Mickelson was at 69, worth noting because it looked as though he might quadruple bogey on his last hole. Instead, he made birdie.

His second shot from the fairway on the par-5 ninth sailed toward the corporate tents, and Mickelson feared it was out-of-bounds. He hit a provisional that went onto the driving range, which definitely was out-of-bounds. Before he could hit again, Mickelson discovered the first one was in play. Mickelson had a clear enough shot at the green, and he hasn't lost his magic with the short game – his wedge settled 2 feet away for a birdie.

''I got lucky,'' Mickelson said.

Mickelson played in the group in front of Woods and McIlroy, a dream for any gallery. Even so, cheers could be heard from all ends of Crooked Stick, a testament to how many people were on the course for a Thursday afternoon.

But the biggest crowd followed the two biggest stars at the moment.

''I definitely felt left out for a while,'' said Nick Watney, the Barclays winner who played with Woods and McIlroy. ''But it was fun to watch. Those guys ... they're really good. Rory swings so aggressively, but he never looks uncomfortable. I wish I could have kept up.''

Watney, who rallied for a 70, opened with four pars and coming off the 13th green said, ''I'm playing like the Giants' offense.'' He was talking football, not baseball.

Woods and McIlroy got after it from the start. Woods hit into about 10 feet on the opening hole, and McIlroy hit next to 12 feet. McIlroy made his putt, Woods followed that with his birdie putt. There was a two-shot swing for Woods when he hit 8-iron to 4 feet on the 13th hole and McIlroy went long of the green. There was a two-shot swing for McIlroy when he hit 6-iron to 6 feet on the next hole, and Woods came up short and missed his par putt.

Woods even popped up a tee shot – just like McIlroy did in the final round at Boston – on the fourth hole. It went only 186 yards, so short that marshals came running back down the fairway trying to figure out where it went.

There was a stretch in the middle of the round when on just about every hole, one player would hit it close and the other would match him. They made it look as though they were playing at their home club on a Saturday morning, chatting on the tee and down the fairway, Woods playfully shoving him after an exchange behind the 12th green.

''I've always enjoyed playing with Tiger, and every time that we're paired up, we seem to have a good time,'' McIlroy said.

It was the sixth time they played in the same group this year - three times in Abu Dhabi, twice at Barclays and Thursday.

For Woods, he didn't need the No. 1 player in the world – and the only player besides him in the last half-century to win two majors by at least eight shots – to concentrate on posting a good score. It was the soft ground beneath their feet, the gentle breeze and a 70-man field that meant the greens wouldn't be chewed up by spike marks.

''We just couldn't afford to have a bad start today,'' he said.

The surprise was DeLaet, the Canadian who started these playoffs at No. 106 until he tied for fifth at The Barclays. Now he's No. 60 and facing elimination – only the top 30 go to East Lake for the Tour Championship – but with an eagle on his last hole, he's tied for the lead.

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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.