Newcomers are making winning on Tour harder

By Doug FergusonMarch 10, 2014, 9:05 pm

DORAL, Fla. – The road to the Masters is just getting started, and already two players have combined to win five times on the PGA Tour.

They're not Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

How many would have guessed Jimmy Walker (three wins) and Patrick Reed (two wins) when the wraparound season began in October?

Reed might have had his hand up.

In a moment of bravado on national television after he went wire to wire (with ties) to win the Cadillac Championship, the 23-year-old Reed said, ''I'm one of the top five players in the world. I feel like I've proven myself.'' He has won twice this season, three times dating to August.

Reed and Walker are the latest newcomers to winning on the strongest tour in golf. Harris English won in Mexico last November for his second PGA Tour title in six months. Jordan Spieth won in July, and he started this year by giving himself three chances to win.

It's just another example that winning is getting hard, even for those who are used to winning a lot.

Each season seems to bring a new crop of younger players who have a lot of game and no fear. Russell Henley won the Sony Open in his debut as a PGA Tour member. Just over a year later, he overcame a two-shot lead playing with Rory McIlroy in the final group at the Honda Classic and won a four-hole playoff.

Scott Stallings won at Torrey Pines for his third PGA Tour win. He's 28.

The last three winners of the World Golf Championships – Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Reed – are all in their 20s. Ten of the 17 winners this season are in their 20s. That includes 26-year-old Chesson Hadley, who won the Puerto Rico Open on Sunday about the time Reed was beating the strongest field so far this year at Doral.

''Look at Russell Henley – he's won twice,'' Reed said. ''Harris English has won twice, Jordan Spieth won once. Myself, I've won three times. It's just one of those things that we've worked very hard – all of us – to get where we are. And it's definitely shown what we are doing is working. To see the young guys coming out and playing and putting it to the veterans is always nice.''

Walker turned 35 in January, so it's hard to consider him one of the younger players. Then again, injuries slowed the start of his career. And once he finally won at the Frys.com Open to kick off the new wraparound season, he has made it a habit. Over the weekend, Walker talked about new opportunities that have come his way following his three wins. He's not interested in anything but playing good golf.

Now that he has tasted winning, his appetite is only growing.

Walker leads the FedEx Cup and the Ryder Cup standings. Johnson is No. 2 on both lists, while Reed is at No. 3 in the FedEx and No. 4 in the Ryder Cup. Five of the top nine players in the Ryder Cup standings were not on the last U.S. team at Muirfield Village for the Presidents Cup.

Remember, it's still only March. The first of four majors has yet to be played. Reed has never even played in a major.

He rubbed a few people the wrong way when he declared himself among the top five in the world (he's actually No. 20). It showed what he thought about his game and that he's not afraid to say it.

So if he's top five, who are the other four?

''Tiger Woods, of course,'' Reed said.

And that was as far as he got before he smiled and said, ''You know, good question. I said top 5. I didn't know where I was going to be in the top 5.''

He then went on to mention Masters champion Adam Scott (No. 2 in the world) and Mickelson (No. 5). He mentioned how impressed he was with Graeme McDowell, and having played Saturday with Johnson, he acknowledged how good he could be when he gets on a roll. And the list stopped there, right when it was starting to grow.

The ranking (determined over two years) has Henrik Stenson at No. 3, Day at No. 4, McIlroy at No. 6.

It was clear that ''top five'' was more figure of speech than an actual number. Anyone's list of ''top five'' is likely to include as many as 10 players these days.

Years ago, Colin Montgomerie jokingly said that it was hard to win majors because Woods usually won two of them, Mickelson, Vijay Singh or Ernie Els won another and that left only one for everybody else each year.

Twenty-one players have won the last 24 majors. That would seem to make it even harder.

It's getting that way for regular PGA Tour events, too.

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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.