Scott shoots 68, holds commanding lead at Bay Hill

By Doug FergusonMarch 21, 2014, 10:21 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Adam Scott keeps putting his name in the Bay Hill record book, each round moving him closer to another handshake with the King.

One day after Scott opened with a record-tying 62 in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he hit his stride around the turn Friday with five birdies in an eight-hole stretch to leave everyone else far behind. Even with a three-putt bogey on his final hole, Scott still had a 4-under 68 for a seven-shot lead.

He was at 14-under 130, matching the 36-hole record at Bay Hill first set by Tom Watson and Andy Bean in 1981. And his seven-shot margin at the halfway point shattered the previous record held by Tiger Woods in 2002 and Paul Azinger in 1988.

Scott sounds like he's not the least bit satisfied.

''The challenge might be just to start again and try and play a great 36 holes,'' he said. ''Start fresh and try to be the leader after the next 36.''

That would merit a visit with Arnold Palmer, the tournament host known simply as ''the King'' in golf circles. Scott has spoken glowingly all week about his first invitation to Bay Hill when he was 20. Walking off the first green, Palmer was in a cart to greet him with a handshake, and Scott was amazed that Palmer knew his name.

Now he's the Masters champion, and the 33-year-old Australian is playing like one.


Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, videos and photos


J.B. Holmes (69), Chesson Hadley (68) and Francesco Molinari of Italy (70) were tied for second at 7 under. Keegan Bradley had the low score of the blustery second round with a 67, putting him in a group at 138 that included Brandt Snedeker (71) and Jamie Donaldson of Wales (71).

''I think I'm 10 behind and playing pretty well for two rounds,'' said Snedeker, who was off by two. ''He's playing pretty phenomenal. He's going to be a tough guy to catch. A guy that hits it as good as he does and seems to have a complete game like he has, and the way he's playing now, he's not going to come backward. Seems like an awfully special week if you can get close to him.''

Scott played in the afternoon, when the course began to get firm under two days of full sunshine, and the pace on the greens began to quicken. No one ever got closer than his three-shot lead to start the round, though there were two pivotal moments.

He holed a 15-foot par putt on the first hole to calm his nerves, and he hit a gorgeous shot out of the rough from 167 yards and made a 12-foot birdie on the ninth. He went to the back nine 1 under par for his round, and he took off from there.

Scott hit a 7-iron to 4 feet on No. 11, got up and down for birdie on the par-3 12th, nearly holed a tough chip from behind the 14th green to save par, and then made consecutive birdies with a 30-foot putt on the 15th and a 7-iron to pin-high for a two-putt birdie on the par-5 16th.

He only made it look easy.

There were three rounds in the 80s, including by U.S. Amateur champion Matthew Fitzpatrick. U.S. Open champion Justin Rose, playing in the same group with Scott, had a 79 and missed the cut for the first time in a regular PGA Tour event since The Players Championship last May.

''This course will really start to bare its teeth,'' Scott said. ''I've got to take in the attitude of starting over again and trying to play a really hard 36 holes. And hopefully, if I can I can keep striking the ball like I am, I'll give myself enough chances for birdie - and hopefully, more birdies than bogeys.''

At one point, caddie Steve Williams was some 275 yards down the left side of the fairway on the par-5 16th. His boss was barely visible back on the tee, but Williams watched his swing and instantly said, ''Perfect.'' And that it was, 325 yards right down the middle.

Scott missed only two fairways and has taken just 52 putts over the first 36 holes.

He was in no mood to celebrate just yet. For one thing, he is still recovering from being sick. His energy was better Friday, though he could barely talk above a whisper during a brief interview with Golf Channel before his round. And the Australian knows how a big lead can get away, even on the final day. He had a four-shot lead with four holes remaining in the 2012 British Open when it all went wrong – four straight bogeys – and Ernie Els walked off with the claret jug.

That's a distant memory for Scott, who takes that green jacket from Augusta National with him just about everywhere he goes.

''Seven shots over two days is not enough,'' Scott said. ''I don't think you can ever be enough in the lead, to be honest.''

DIVOTS: Ryo Ishikawa had a 74 and was among those in the group at 5 under. The Japanese star has been working hard on his English. He used the words, ''sucker pin,'' in an interview, and then chatted comfortably with Jimmy Roberts of NBC Sports for about five minutes. ... Southern Amateur champion Zachary Olsen made the cut. ... Sam Saunders, the grandson of Arnold Palmer, had a 71 and was in a tie for 16th. ... Paul Casey made a 7-foot bogey putt on his last hole for a 79 to make the cut on the number at 2-over 146.

 

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.