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Phil's final mission: Win Ryder Cup in Europe

By Doug FergusonOctober 4, 2017, 10:58 pm

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Phil Mickelson hasn't had his fill, not when it comes to the Cup.

Especially the next one.

Mickelson saved some of his best golf in one of his worst years for when it really counted. Steve Stricker wanted to see some life from Lefty before deciding to use a captain's pick on him for the Presidents Cup, and Mickelson delivered with four rounds in the 60s at the TPC Boston to tie for sixth.

The pick extended his record streak to 23 consecutive teams, and Mickelson delivered another strong performance on the course and in the team room. He went 3-0-1 at Liberty National, one of four Americans to go unbeaten.

But it was a passing comment in Chicago, the week after he was chosen for the Presidents Cup, that shed some insight into his immediate future. He is starting a new season this week at the Safeway Open, which was expected because his management company runs the tournament.

''Looks like I'm probably going to go to China, too,'' Mickelson said.

China?



Mickelson is a two-time winner at Sheshan International, but he has played the HSBC Champions only once in the last four years. Why now? One reason - perhaps the only reason - is because the World Golf Championship in Shanghai is the only tournament in the fall that offers Ryder Cup points.

This is one team Mickelson doesn't want to miss.

He turns 48 next year and is still trying to manage psoriatic arthritis, which affected his energy and focus this year. Mickelson realizes his time is running out as a player in the Ryder Cup. He has played on three winning teams, all in America.

Next year's matches are in France. This might be Mickelson's last chance to win a Ryder Cup in Europe.

''That's the one thing I haven't done,'' he said in Chicago.

And the opportunity has never looked better.

The Americans suddenly look a lot like Europeans when only a gold trophy, not cash, is on the line. They have developed a formula of familiarity, and they have relationships that go beyond the team room. Not even Europe had that. Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Daniel Berger grew up together in junior golf and graduated high school the same year. Thomas lives down the street from Rickie Fowler.

''You look at the camaraderie of the young players and how they support each other, even outside of these team events,'' Mickelson said. ''They have a support system where they love competing against each other, love beating each other, but are genuinely happy for each other's success. And that leads to a very positive, uplifting energy in the team room.

''And I think that these young guys ... really lay a solid foundation for the U.S. teams.''

The performance in the Presidents Cup - a 19-11 victory, a beating so thorough the Americans were one match away from ending it on Saturday - made it tempting to look ahead one year to the Ryder Cup with the belief it will turn out the same way.

If the Europeans were watching, should they be nervous?

''It's more confidence for us than anything they would be worried about,'' Spieth said.

That alone might be enough to worry.

The Americans have figured something out, and Mickelson was behind that, too.

He's the one who put his image on the line at Gleneagles after the 2014 Ryder Cup with his passive-aggressive criticism of the way Tom Watson ran the team and his incredulous tone when asking why the Americans got away from what had worked for them in Valhalla when they won in 2008.

That led to the task force, in which the players lobbed for consistency and control.

And it appears to be working.

''They got better at doing what Europe does than what Europe did,'' said Geoff Ogilvy, an assistant captain for the International team. ''And we paid the price. Europe made America better. ... Europe plays with such spirit, and that's what it is. What you see with that U.S. team, isn't it a bit of that European spirit?''

Does that translate to the Ryder Cup? Not necessarily. The Americans have been feeling good about themselves after the Presidents Cup for the last decade and they have only two Ryder Cup victories to show for it.

The Ryder Cup is a different monster. Mickelson knows that better than anyone. And that's why he's so desperate to be there.

''There will be a point where I look back and I remember, cherish, talk about all the experiences and memories that have been created,'' he said of his 23 appearances in the Cups. ''Right now, I'm still trying to make more. I have not been a part of a Ryder Cup victory in Europe. It's a big goal of mine. We have the players, the foundation, and the direction. I want to be part of that team next 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.

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Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

“Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.


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“We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010.