Notes: Arnie passes on exemption for grandson

By Doug FergusonMarch 19, 2013, 11:03 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Sam Saunders first played the Arnold Palmer Invitational as an 18-year-old. After leaving Clemson, he received a sponsor's exemption each of the past three years, twice making the cut without being in serious contention.

The exemptions were not surprising. He's Palmer's grandson.

Saunders, though, is playing this year on the Web.com Tour. He finished 50th on the developmental tour a year ago. He tied for 12th in Chile two weeks ago. He is in Louisiana this week. The hope is to try to finish among the top 25 to secure his PGA Tour card.

''That's where he needs to be,'' Palmer said. ''If he's good enough to play here, he has to prove it to me. He has to play on the dot-com tour first. He's aware of it. He's very aware of it. Why do they want to play here if they can play over there until they're qualified to be over here?''

Palmer believes his grandson is on the right track and now needs only some consistency, which he is likely to find in a full season on the Web.com Tour.

He also was aware that giving his grandson a spot at Bay Hill meant turning down a more deserving player.

''I've got to look at all these kids in the face when I gave Sam an exemption, which he doesn't deserve,'' Palmer said. ''How can I tell them they don't get an exemption if they're good? So it was an easy decision.''


TIGER TALES: Even if Tiger Woods doesn't win at Bay Hill and return to No. 1 in the world, he is assured of one record this week.

Woods will be among the top 10 in the world for the 789th week, breaking by one week the record held by Ernie Els. Woods first reached the top 10 after winning the Masters in 1997 (he went from No. 13 to No. 3 that week), and he stayed there for 736 consecutive weeks until May 15, 2011, when he dropped out of the top 10 after withdrawing from The Players Championship.

He returned to the top 10 after winning at Bay Hill last year and has been there ever since.

Meanwhile, Bay Hill is the first of two chances Woods has this year to break Sam Snead's record on Tour for most wins at one tournament. Snead won the Greater Greensboro Open eight times.

Woods has seven wins at Bay Hill and seven wins at Firestone. He won for the eighth time at Torrey Pines in January, but one of those was the U.S. Open.


PUTTING TIPS: Curtis Strange compiled plenty of experience in his 20 years playing the Masters, which included a runner-up finish in 1985. He can think of no other golf course where experience means so much, especially on and around the greens.

''There are chips, pitches and putts we don't get anywhere else, you can't duplicate it at home,'' Strange said. ''Speaking for myself, I was never comfortable on the greens until the weekend.''

Strange said if he could start his career over, he would spend more time on the practice green, which has some strange contours.

''I remember spending one afternoon with putting contests, just doing goofy stuff, and it helped enormously,'' he said. ''You cannot duplicate those putts anywhere else.''


DIVOTS: Dan Jenkins has been named winner of the APSE's Red Smith Award, given to a person who has made major contributions to sports journalism. Jenkins will be honored June 28 in Detroit, not far from where he first covered his first major at Oakland Hills in the 1951 U.S. Open. ... Yani Tseng now has gone a full season without winning. ... KPMG is giving its Lifetime Achievement Award to PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and European Tour chief executive George O'Grady. ... The European Tour is bumping the prize money at its flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. The purse will be more than $6.1 million (4.75 million euros). The winner will get more than $1 million. ... The Safeway Classic in Oregon will return to Columbia-Edgewater Country Club after four years at Pumpkin Ridge.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Stacy Lewis is the only American in the top 10 in the women's world ranking.


FINAL WORD: ''You just don't ever forget the shots you're faced with because you don't get them anywhere else.'' – Stewart Cink on Augusta National.

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.