The Subtle Yet Scary Island Green

By George WhiteMarch 22, 2002, 5:00 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Its a short hole, only 140 yards long, with a flagstick that looks so inviting in the practice rounds. But the 17th at the TPC at Sawgrass during The Players Championship can be ' and often is ' terrifying.
 
The problem is that there is water all the way from the tee box to the green. There is water left of the green, to the right of the green, behind the green. The green is an island, and there is no fairway.
 
Its in the back of your head all day long, because you know youve got to play them (along with 18) sooner or later, said Mark Calcavecchia. Its like having a three oclock appointment for a root canal; youre thinking about it all morning and you feel like (spit) all day. You know sooner or later, youve got to get to it.
 
There is no bail-out ' none. Its just a little 9-iron, perhaps a very easy 8, but its position on the course is crucial ' the next-to-last hole, one which could very easily botch up an otherwise-impressive round. And there simply is no room for error ' miss the shot and youre wet. And the drop zone may be a more difficult shot, 70 yards from which it is difficult to spin the ball back.
 
Youve just got to step up and hit the golf shot, said Jeff Sluman. And until you play it under conditions when youre livelihood is at stake, its not that intimidating.
 
But Thursday through Sunday, your belly is jumping a little bit. You understand youre name is on your bag (meaning you are a pro), and there is a reason there is, and youve just got to step up and hit the shot. And sometimes youre going to hit balls in the water.
 
The little hole measured only 137 yards in length for Round 1, yet there were 26 balls that plunked into the water in the capricious winds. The hole was the second toughest on the course, playing to an average of almost a half-stroke over par. And yet, Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez aced it ' with an 8-iron, which he would normally use for a 150-yard shot.
 
Stuart Appleby was one of the unfortunate ones, his tee shot going way to the left, almost hitting the bank on dry land to mar what was an otherwise nifty round. He went into 17 with a 4-under-par score and left at 2-under.
 
I didnt hit a very good shot, said a disconsolate Appleby. I tried to hit a knockdown 8-iron. The wind was probably blowing about 11 oclock, probably a club (difference) into the breeze.
 
The hole makes you ' if youre not indecisive, it can really just throw things at you and theres a lot going on on that hole. Its an obvious awareness theres no grass to chip from.
 
Calcavecchia knows it is important to pick a club ' and a swing ' that you believe in.
 
You just walk around there and you look at it and you tell yourself, Commit to a club, pick a shot and hit it. You know, most of the time, you hit it the way you want it.
 
Of course, some of the time, you dont. This is what plays on the mind of the players. And if you dont, you might as well start walking to the drop zone. There is no chipping from the rough on hole 17.
 
You are fairly sure you can just get it to the middle of the green, said Calc. Sunday the pin is over there on the right, and the weather is nice, theres not a whole lot of gusty wind. You just aim for the ridge.
 
Its a 9-iron, you know. If it was a 5-iron or something, it would be a different story. You ought to be able to suck it up and concentrate hard enough.
 
You ought to, yes you should. But thats the point. Is there a more evil hole than that?
 
Probably not, confessed Calcavecchia. Thats a good word for it, on account of you can make an excellent swing and make double (bogey) or worse.
 
Full-field scores from The Players Championship
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.