Woodland, Choi tied at Torrey; Phil, Day, Fowler MC

By Doug FergusonJanuary 30, 2016, 12:38 am

SAN DIEGO – Phil Mickelson had to leave the golf course to play one of his shots at Torrey Pines, an early sign of the mass exodus Friday in the Farmers Insurance Open.

By closing with three straight bogeys on the easier North Course, Mickelson missed the cut.

At least he was in good company.

Jason Day, the defending champion and No. 2 player in the world, missed the cut for the first time in nearly eight months. Also leaving early was Rickie Fowler, the No. 4 player in the world who was riding high from his victory five days ago in Abu Dhabi.

Throw in Justin Rose (No. 7 in the world), and another gorgeous day along the Pacific bluffs felt like Black Friday.

Not losing sleep over the surprising departures were Gary Woodland and K.J. Choi, who shared the lead going into the weekend; and Dustin Johnson, who made a risky escape on the one wild tee shot he hit and wound up one shot behind.


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Woodland powered his way to a 5-under 67 on the South Course, which he prefers because of his length and the left-to-right shape of his tee shots. Woodland reached two par 5s in two and was just off the green on two other par 5s. He made birdie on all of them to help atone for a few mistakes on the back nine. He had to make a 15-foot putt on the par-5 18th to be the first player to post at 9-under 135.

Choi was a mild surprise, having not won on the PGA Tour in nearly five years. The 45-year-old South Korean shot his 67 on the North Course.

Their games are different, though they shared one thought - power always helps, but accuracy is paramount on the Torrey Pines courses with thick rough.

''When I drive the ball in the fairway out here I'm having some short irons into par 4s, I'm having mid-irons into some of these par 5s,'' Woodland said. ''So when I drive the ball like I did today, good things are happening right now.''

Johnson was pounding driver on the North Course and making enough short putts to move up the leaderboard. Then came a shout of ''Fore right!'' and the crackle of a ball through a Torrey pine on the seventh hole. He had a tree right in front of him, no path to the green except through a V-gap in the tree about a foot wide. Johnson managed, nearly made birdie and finished up his 66. He was at 8-under 136.

Scott Brown had a 71 on the South to join Billy Horschel (70 on the South) and Martin Laird (68 on the North) at 7-under 137.

The cut was at 1-under 143.

Mickelson never thought that would be an issue. He opened with a 69 on the South and was prepared to take advantage of the short par 5s on the North. Instead, he sliced his second shot so badly on the par-5 18th (his ninth hole) that officials had to measure to make sure it was not out-of-bounds. It was in play, by little more than the dimple of a golf ball, but it was under an iron fence.

Mickelson had to walk to the other side of the fence and punch at it with a hybrid into a bunker. He blasted out and three-putted for double bogey. Mickelson grew up in San Diego and has played Torrey Pines more than anyone. Asked if that was the first time he played from the parking lot, Mickelson replied, ''Probably not.''

''After that good round yesterday on the South Course, I thought, 'I'm going to go to the North Course and really light it up.' I think I tried to force the issue a little bit,'' Mickelson said. ''When I wasn't under par early, I kind of started to press a little bit. But that stuff happens.''

He didn't seem bothered, and neither did Day. The PGA champion got sick last Friday after a week in the desert working on his game and didn't touch a club again until the opening round Thursday. He said his energy was gone, his swing felt off and it showed. Day shot 74 on the South and missed the cut for the first time since the Memorial.

''You can't live and die by one week,'' Day said. ''It's not going to be the last cut I'm going to miss. Hopefully, it is the last cut I'm going to miss this year, but once again it's a process. I got to keep working hard and hopefully that delayed gratification is a lot more sweeter at the end of the year than it is right now.''

The 13 players separated by three shots at the midway point featured a collection of long and medium hitters, which didn't surprise Johnson in the least.

''If you look at the winners here, they're all over the board, as far as length,'' Johnson said. ''But you've got to drive it straight. And right now I feel like I'm driving my driver very straight, so that's definitely a key.''

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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.