Major Battle to Secure Strong Fields
The weather is good, the course is better than average, the amenities are good and the purse is certainly OK. But the John Deere still struggles to get the games elite.
No fault of John Deere, certainly. But the British Open is next week, and the trip across the Atlantic takes a time adjustment. John Deere is unfortunate to fall into a time slot where many of the top players are going overseas. The tournament just moved into this spot, but the event has been saddled with a less-than-desirable date since its beginning.
So, how do the biggies pick their schedules? Money doesnt have much to do with it. The purse, a tournament director once told me, is down about fourth or fifth on the list. Much more important is your location on the schedule.
Somewhere behind that is your course. Then the amenities you are able to give ' child care, things for wives, and outside activities ' thats pretty important. But the purse ' all of the tournaments pay so much money nowadays that there are no bad purses. Theyre all in the neighborhood of $5 million, so regardless of where you play, if you make the cut, you know you are going to make some real money.
But where does your tournament fall on the schedule? You can strike off 10 or 12 tournaments that, through no fault of their own, have the misfortune of wrong timing. That means Honda, Houston, FedEx St. Jude, Booz Allen, John Deere, Milwaukee, the International, Hartford, and just about any tournament in September and October. Those events are either adjacent to majors, fall directly in front or directly behind key stretches during the year.
Sometimes your tournament is opposite an event elsewhere that pays big bucks in appearance fees. The Ford Classic at Doral goes up against an event in Dubai that, because of the cash, is always going to get the worlds top players.
Another thing that riles some players is having to play during the tournament with amateurs. That eliminates the Bob Hope, the AT&T and the Funai at Walt Disney. AT&T has the added disadvantage of having terrible weather almost every year.
The courses? Some have found Doral to have too much sand, Colonel to be too short, the International to be too long and hilly. Some courses are very good ' this week at John Deere, the Chrysler near Tampa, Pebble Beach, the 84 Lumber Classic in Pennsylvania, to name a few ' but their placement on the schedule dooms them.
In September and October, the big names have put it on cruise control and gone on vacation, aiming for two or three big events ' the Ryder Cup, the WCG-American Express, the Tour Championship. That means tournaments such as the Bell Canadian, the Valero Texas Open, 84 Lumber, Greensboro and the Chrysler in the Tampa area are going to fight it.
Purses, like the tournament director said, are already so lucrative that most of the biggies have already made their two million by September, leaving the small fish to battle over the end-of-the-year events.
Nick Price is one who showed up this week for the John Deere. He, like most of the big names, hasnt come in several years. But this year he has returned.
More than anything else, it was the golf course that got me back here, said Price, because, like most guys on tour, I like to play good golf courses. And you can see it's been designed by a golfer (D.A. Weibring), which is - he's done a great job, he really has.
Price doesnt mind playing in the States the week before the British Open ' the reason most of the top 10 has passed this up.
I've toyed with the idea of going over to play in Scotland the week before, he said, but the problem is that if the weather is poor, it really ruins your practice going in there. And there's really no better practice than playing a week before, I don't think.
Price has tried it both ways ' playing the week before a major, and resting the week before a major. Now - he has his own plane, which makes flying to Royal Troon decidedly less complicated. But he has decided that it doesnt make any difference ' playing or resting.
You've just got to go with what you feel best, and the way my scheduling worked out this year, it was a perfect fit for me, he said.
I sort of balk at going to play overseas this time of year because if the weather conditions - we're almost guaranteed good weather here. We may have a few rain delays, but that's not anything uncommon this time of year to play in the States. But I want to get a good solid four rounds in. There's nothing better than getting a win under your belt and going to the British Open.
So Price will be at the John Deere, along with a lot of solid, very capable players who just havent made a name for themselves yet. But tournament organizers live the life of the unfortunates on the PGA Tour. They are obliged to have this date. It doesnt mean the John Deere isnt a great tournament. It only means that a lot of the big names wont ever have the chance of knowing about it first-hand.
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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut
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
Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements
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.”
Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back
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.
Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026
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.
“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.