Spieth: 'A bit too soon' to judge any new era

By Doug FergusonNovember 3, 2015, 8:31 pm

SHANGHAI - Jordan Spieth wore a black tunic with red trim around the collar to take part in a Chinese drum ceremony late Tuesday afternoon just as the Shanghai skyline began to glow with lights behind him and three other top players.

This was the traditional photo opportunity to kick off the HSBC Champions. One observer noted that Spieth had not dressed like that since graduation, which for him was only four years ago - from high school.

The landscape in golf is changing quicker than the rapid beat of those Chinese drums.

One year ago, Spieth wasn't even in the top 10 in the world and had only one win as a pro. Since then, the 22-year-old Texan has won seven times around the world, including the Masters and the U.S. Open, along with a Tour Championship that capped a record $22 million year. He is looked upon as the future of American golf.

At least for now.

Also on the stage with Spieth was 26-year-old Rickie Fowler, who is coming off a big year of his own. Fowler won three times, the biggest at The Players Championship where he delivered perhaps the greatest finish of the season when he made three birdies on the island-green 17th to win a tension-filled playoff.

Jason Day couldn't make it to China. The 27-year-old Australian is home awaiting the birth of his second child. And the drum beat had to go on without 26-year-old Rory McIlroy, who was coping with a stomach ailment.

Not to be overlooked are the three winners of the new PGA Tour season - Emiliano Grillo (23), Smylie Kaufman (23) and Justin Thomas (22).

That explains why PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem sounded at ease when asked Monday about golf moving along without Tiger Woods.


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Click here for photos from the WGC-HSBC Champions


''We are headed for a long period of parity with a lot of stars being developed,'' Finchem said at the HSBC Golf Business Forum. ''And in today's world, you can become a star in a hurry. It's a great thing. The professional game is in exceptionally good shape. But I think the next 10 years are the most exciting we'll ever see to this point.''

It sure seems that way.

The top three players - Day, Spieth and McIlroy - are all in their 20s and hail from three continents. Players in their 20s won three majors for the second straight year. That had occurred only twice in the previous four decades, and one of those years was 2000 when a 24-year-old Woods won three majors.

Woods had another back procedure last week - that's three in the last 20 months - for another clear sign that his time is about up, if it isn't already.

But leave it to Spieth, with his wise head on such young shoulders, to preach patience and perspective.

A new era in golf?

''I think it's a bit soon,'' Spieth said. ''For Rory, it's different because it's been consistent for years now. Jason and I, we've played solid golf the last few years. In order to create an era, you almost need a decade of years like this. Sure, we have the potential to do it. But this was the first year of it. But unless we keep our heads down ... unless we're aware of it, and it drives us, and we get the right breaks, there's a lot of factors. So maybe it's a big premature to say that.

''But,'' he added, ''I believe there was a step needed in the right direction, and it took place this year. If we can ride with that, it will be significant.''

Spieth looks at this as a new year, and the World Golf Championship that starts Thursday at Sheshan International is his first event of a new PGA Tour season. McIlroy, still catching up from the two months he missed this summer from an ankle injury, is wrapping up another Race to Dubai title the rest of the month.

The beauty of having a cast of stars so young, as Fowler noted, is that they can battle each other for the next 10 or 15 years.

Then again, maybe the conversation might include a different list - or a longer list - of players at this time next year.

That seems improbable now, but consider where golf was a year ago. McIlroy was No. 1 and the only debate was which player was best suited to challenge him. McIlroy now is No. 3, and the list is growing.

''The top five in the world ranking, we've seen now in the last two years how much that changed,'' Spieth said.

At the end of 2013, the top five included Woods, Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson. Spieth suspects things will stay in motion.

''I believe we'll all battle it out,'' he said. ''But to battle it out on highest stages and to stay up in the ranking and all that ... it can happen. But it's going to take more than just this year.''

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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.