Sutton Lights His Candle on Both Ends
He won seven times in his first five years as a professional. He won six times his last four years, the last time last week at the Shell Houston Open. But he won just once in the middle 12 years. Oh, how he wishes he could have rewritten fate those lean dozen years.
'I'm darn sure getting older. There's no question about that,' said Sutton. He has perennial facial stubble now. Nagging injuries occur with greater frequency. He's a little heavier. He is playing a sport where a supple, youthful body is an advantage, but thankfully not a necessity.
'If there is a sport that, maybe, an older guy compete in, it is golf,' said Sutton. 'And you know those three little girls you saw run out on the green - they have a way of making me feel younger than I really am.'
That would be his youngsters - Samantha, age 4, and twins Sara and Sadie, age 2. Hal became a father late in life. The girls came along when Sutton was teetering on a brink. That was the time he could have shut down the golf and became simply a great father. But he wasn't ready to read the old press clippings yet, not until he had shown that he was as good a golfer as he appeared in 1983 when he won the PGA in his second year on this traveling rodeo.
'I didn't want to go out of the game the way I was being forced out,' Sutton said. In 1992 he made just eight cuts in 29 appearances and there was less than $40,000 to be divvied up. His family had wealth so that wasn't a problem. But the pride that had been a Hal Sutton trademark for so long was just about gone.
He had won the '83 Players Championship, so he had a 10-year exemption. That kept him out of the Tour Qualifying tournament in '92. In '93, though, he had a repeat of the year before, finishing 161st on the money list. He had to do something drastic now to avoid a trip to Q-School, and so Sutton used his once-a-lifetime freebie, his top-50 career earnings pass. Given the mulligan, he finished 29th the following year and hasn't come close since.
'I just didn't feel I was that kind of player,' said Sutton. 'I wanted to prove to myself that I could play the way I felt I was capable of playing.
'And then I married Ashley (his fourth wife), and we had the three little girls. You know, I just wanted them to see their daddy play golf, not just read about it that he'd won a golf tournament once before.'
Life really isn't too complicated, Sutton was saying, in spite of some of the messes he made of it. You are dealt a certain hand and you play it. 'I learned my lesson about thinking ahead,' he said, recalling those days just out of college when golf seemed so easy.
'I'm just trying to put the right foot in front of the left foot and pull the right club on the shot at hand, deal with whatever I have to deal with after that. I deal with the things I can control and leave the things I can't control up to somebody else.'
Sutton will always be best known for the way in which he handled himself in the 2000 Players Championship, for the way he stood toe-to-toe with Tiger Woods until the final hole and won. Tiger has since gotten his revenge, not just on Sutton, but everybody. But Sutton thinks playing Woods has been an incredible experience, one that will leave its mark for a lifetime.
'How many good things can we say about professional golf right now?' he asked.
'I was thinking the other day, the guys that are my age (the 40s), we've got the privilege of having played with Jack Nicklaus when he was great, and playing with Tiger when he's great. I mean, we've played with two of the superstars of the game. It's fun to be part of golf right now and to get in Tiger's way occasionally.
'He's a great player. He proves every week that he is the best player in the game. And he handles most of the things that he does with a lot of class. We're lucky to have him in our sport.'
Golf, it might be added, is also lucky to have Hal Sutton. Just wait until Saturday when he turns 43.
'I'm going to learn something else next week,' he said, remarking that he is a much different golfer than he was as a young man.
'We all say that we're grown at age 24, and then at 34 we realize we weren't even close to grown.
Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings
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.
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.