Bunched 'board means big drama in Chapel Hill

By Ryan LavnerMay 15, 2015, 9:24 pm

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The top seven teams are separated by 10 shots here at the Chapel Hill regional. 

In other words, no spot is safe. 

Stanford may have recorded the low round of the day by nine shots Friday, but it still holds only a one-shot lead over Charlotte and is just eight shots clear of the all-important fifth spot. The low five teams after Saturday's final round advance to the NCAA finals later this month.

“You can’t slow down in this deal,” Stanford coach Conrad Ray said. “You have to put the gas pedal down. We have been in this position before, both on the other side of it and leading, so they will handle themselves hopefully and believe that every putt you make now is one you don’t have to make later.”

Among the teams that might lose a little sleep Friday are No. 1-ranked Florida State and host North Carolina. Most expected those two squads to cruise, but through two rounds the Seminoles (-6) and Tar Heels (-1) are third and tied for sixth, respectively.

Let’s start with FSU.

No. 1 man Jack Maguire turned in a second-round 69 Friday, but that’s the lowest score for any Seminole this week. If not for solid contributions from fourth man Josh Lee, who is 1 under through two days, Florida State could be in real trouble. 

The Seminoles, though, can take comfort in the fact that they've been within five shots of the lead heading into the final round of every tournament they've played this season, and won six times.

“These guys know what to do,” coach Trey Jones said. “They’ll be trying to win the tournament (Saturday).”

Every team feels pressure this time of year. Even the top team in the land isn't immune to that.

NCAA men's regional team and individual scores

Full coverage: NCAA men's regionals

“As good as the guys have played this year, how do they handle it when they get discouraged and things aren’t going their way?” Jones said. “We’ve been on offense so much this year.”

North Carolina, meanwhile, has struggled mightly on its home course.

Standout freshman Ben Griffin made a triple bogey on his last hole Friday to spoil what had been a 5-under round. Only one UNC player, Will Register, who held the first-round lead after an opening 66, is under par after 36 holes at Finley Golf Course.

“I’m glad we’re still in it,” coach Andrew Sapp said, “because we’ve played very poorly to this point. We’ve just been playing too conservatively. We’re not attacking like we normally do.”

Part of that is playing in front of the home crowd, with all of the expectations to succeed. The Tar Heels have combined to make three doubles and a triple so far, and those are costly miscues in an event where every shot is magnified.

This looks nothing like the confident team that won their home event in the fall here by 23 shots.

“I just need to remind the guys of how well we’ve played here,” Sapp said. 

Every other team will be freewheeling Saturday.

Charlotte is the No. 9 seed and ranked 50th in the country. The 49ers took the first-round lead with a 275, then followed it up with a 291.

The good news is that they’re still within a shot of the lead. The bad? They’re only seven shots clear of a pair of fourth-place squads.

"We tried to play with no expectations entering this week," coach Ryan Cabbage said, "and that won't change now." 

Florida didn’t realistically expect to be in this position either, not after No. 2 man Alejandro Tosti was left home with bacterial meningitis. Instead, the Gators have rallied around the crew that they do have here, and at 6-under 570 they’re squarely in the mix for one of the five spots. 

Kennesaw State is the No. 4 seed in the region, but the Owls are on the bubble after two rounds at 3-under 573. Austin Vick’s 69 and Jimmy Beck’s 70 helped keep their team within striking distance with one day to go. 

“Everybody knows what’s at stake,” coach Jay Moseley said. “The nerves are just something you’ve got to learn to embrace.”

Clemson appeared to be on its way to shooting itself out of the tournament when four of its players signed for a 74 or worse on Friday. Then came Austin Langdale, whose career-best 68 put the Tigers two shots out of fifth place. 

“With all of the teams this close,” coach Larry Penley said, “it may come down to a swing or two. You’ve just gotta have fun with it, but you can almost want it too much sometimes. You’ve just gotta be able to channel it.” 

The final round of NCAA regionals is always the most stressful day of the year. With so many teams in the mix, this site should be particularly entertaining. 

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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.