Stat attack:! WGC-Accenture Match Play preview

By John AntoniniFebruary 17, 2014, 9:14 pm

The vagaries of match play preclude the use of advanced metrics to determine winners in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Don’t believe me, then how do you explain Shane Lowry over Rory McIlroy and Charles Howell III over Tiger Woods in the first round in 2013. Besides, this isn’t the NCAA basketball tournament, where a No. 16 seed has never beaten a top seed. The best 64 teams don’t play in that tournament, but the best golfers are in the Arizona desert this week. Well, most of them anyway. So if McIlroy, the top seed in the Ben Hogan bracket, loses to Boo Weekley Wednesday, let’s refrain from calling it as big an upset as Florida Gulf Coast over anyone in basketball. With that in mind, here's a look at each of the four brackets in the 2014 Accenture. (Click here for the full bracket and click here to play our Fantasy Challenge)

The Bobby Jones Bracket

 Best of the bunch

 Jason Day has best winning percentage in the bracket (8-3, .727 percent), and was third a
 year ago, losing to Matt Kuchar in the semifinals before beating Ian Poulter, 1 up, in the
 consolation match.

 Wednesday worries
 Henrik Stenson is 12-6 overall at the Match Play, but all that damage came early in his career.
 He hasn’t won his opening match since 2008.
 Who has the hot hand?
 No one, really. Of the five players who played the Northern Trust Open, none finished better
 than T-59 (David Lynn).
 First-timer to watch
 Patrick Reed and Graham DeLaet face each other on Day 1 and the winner gets either
 George Coetzee or the rested (but rusty) Steve Stricker Thursday.
 Major players
 If 2010 British Open winner Louis Oosthuizen and 2012 U.S. Open champ Webb Simpson
 win their first two matches, they’ll meet in Round 3. It will be a rematch of
 their singles match in the 2013 Presidents Cup, which they halved.
 Trending poorly
 Coetzee, who got into the field at the deadline by winning the Joburg Open, hasn’t won
 in the first round in his two previous Match Play appearances.
 Haven’t we met before?
 Simpson and Brandt Snedeker, who were 1-1 as teammates in the 2013 Presidents Cup,
 could meet in the second round if they beat Thongchai Jaidee and Lynn, respectively.

The Ben Hogan Bracket

 Best of the bunch
 Six players in this bracket have double-digit victories in the Match Play, led by Ian Poulter,
 whose 22 wins are the most in the field. Poulter has reached the semifinals three times and
 won it all in 2010.
 Wednesday worries
 Bill Haas is making his fourth appearance in the Accenture, and has never gotten out of
 the first round. 
 Who has the hot hand?
 Who else but Jimmy Walker? The three-time winner in 2013-14 faces Branden Grace
 Wednesday and could meet Poulter, the match-play buzz saw, a day later. 
 First-timer to watch
 Walker, not only because of his wins, but because of match-ups. While he plays Grace,
 the other rookies face daunting tasks. Harris English takes on Lee Westwood; Chris Kirk
 plays Jim Furyk; Marc Leishman plays Sergio Garcia; and Kevin Stadler
 plays Charl Schwartzel. 
 Major players
 Schwartzel and Furyk could face each other in Round 2. The winner of that bout might
 see Rory McIlroy in Round 3.
 Trending poorly
 Rickie Fowler hasn’t won a match since losing to Matt Kuchar in the Sweet 16 in 2011.
  Haven’t we met before?
 If Ryder Cup teammates Westwood and McIlroy get past opening day, a rematch of their
 2012 semifinal is on tap. McIlroy won that duel, 3 and 1.

The Gary Player Bracket

 Best of the bunch
 Matt Kuchar and Luke Donald, by far. Defending champ Kuchar has a 15-3 match record and
 was third in 2011. Donald is 17-8, and beat Kuchar, 6 and 5, in the semifinals on his way to
 the 2011 title.
 Wednesday worries
 Tournament rookie Bernd Wiesberger faces Kuchar; and Matteo Manassero plays Donald,
 who is 8-1 on opening day.
 Who has the hot hand?
 Scott Stallings (Farmers Insurance Open) and Stephen Gallacher are winners in 2014.
 Gallacher won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic for the second straight year.
 First-timer to watch
 Third-seed Jordan Spieth, who takes on another first-timer in Pablo Larrazabal on Day 1, is
 the headliner. A day-two match against the Francesco Molinari-Thomas Bjorn winner looms.
 Major players
 Defending U.S. Open champ Justin Rose is the top seed and takes on Scott Piercy. He could
 face four-time major champ Els in Round 2 and PGA winner Jason Dufner in Round 3 if
 things break properly.
 Trending poorly
 Something has to give in the Bjorn-Molinari match. Bjorn has only won once in the first round
 since 2005 and Molinari is 1-3 in opening-day matches.
 Haven’t we met before?
 Ryan Moore won three matches in 2012, losing to Luke Donald in the quarterfinals. They
 could meet there again in 2014.

The Sam Snead Bracket

 Best of the bunch
 Hunter Mahan’s 15-5 record includes an 11-1 mark over the last two years. He beat Rory
 McIlroy for the title in 2012 and lost to Matt Kuchar a year ago.
 Wednesday worries
 Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano has the unenviable task of facing Mahan on Day 1. But he did
 win two matches a year ago and took Tiger Woods to the wire in the 2012 opener.
 Who has the hot hand?
 Northern Trust Open champ Bubba Watson, of course, and runner-up Dustin Johnson. They
 could meet in Round 3 in what could be the week’s most appealing match-up.
 First-timer to watch

 It’d be tough for any rookie to get far in this Group of Death, but you can bet Martin Kaymer
 doesn’t envy playing Hideki Matsuyama on Day 1. The Japanese sensation would play Gary
 Woodland or Graeme McDowell Thursday before a showdown with Mahan Friday.

 Major players
 Seven players in this bracket played in both the 2010 and 2012 Ryder Cup: Dustin Johnson,
 Zach Johnson and Bubba Watson for the U.S and Peter Hanson, Martin Kaymer, Graeme
 McDowell and Francesco Molinari for Europe.
 Trending poorly
 Zach Johnson hasn’t advanced to Day 2 since 2010 and was pounded by Jason Day,
 6 and 5, a year ago.
 Haven't we met before?
 The most intriguing potential match-up involves McDowell and Mahan, who could revisit their
 2010 Ryder Cup singles match if they both advance to the Sweet 16. McDowell won that one,
 1 up, to clinch the Cup for Europe.
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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.