Kjeldsen small in stature, big on confidence ... now

By Mercer BaggsJuly 15, 2016, 12:53 pm

TROON, Scotland – Soren Kjeldsen is no Phil Mickelson.

The two are close in age, Kjeldsen 41 to Mickelson at 46. But Mickelson has won five major championships. Kjeldsen has won four European Tour events. Mickelson is a World Golf Hall of Fame member. Kjeldsen admits to watching Phil highlights on YouTube. Mickelson is 6’3” and averages nearly 300 yards off the tee this year. Kjeldsen is 5’7” and is in the 273 range.

But the two are now separated by just three shots after two rounds of the 145th Open, with Kjeldsen having shot 67-68 (7 under).

It’s been a rough few years for the Dane. Nearing 40, he had a bit of a professional crisis. He was winless since 2009, watching a younger crop push the older guard aside, and playing from a disadvantage off the tee.

“I felt very insecure on the tee shots. I just felt really weak. Because I don't hit it a long way, but when I hit it nicely, I get it out there, but I didn't at the time so I was hitting it short and pretty crooked. It was tough. There were certain times like when I was struggling off the tee that you play with guys that they're flying 320 [yards] and seem to hit it down the middle every time, and you do sort of wonder,” Kjeldsen said on Friday at Royal Troon.

“But I look at most of the top players, and I think one thing that's helped me quite a lot is getting to know the top players, I know what they struggle with. They've all got something. It doesn't matter how good you are, there's always a little ‘if’ in there, some part of the game. So I've accepted that, and I would probably say that it's pretty much totally gone out of my system.”

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Kjeldsen credited caddie Alistair Matheson for helping turn his attitude and his game around. The two teamed up two weeks before last year’s Irish Open, and Kjeldsen ended up ending his six-year winless drought.

He’s since finished runner-up three times on the European Tour and was T-7 at this year’s Masters.

And now he finds himself in contention at The Open, chasing one of the game’s legends.

While Kjeldsen might not have the stature or status of Mickelson, the two share something other than their 40s in common: minds that never turn off.

“[A] good state of mind is where everything teaches you something. So every bad shot might be the best thing that ever happened to you because you felt something,” Kjeldsen said, before offering the following example:

“When I played Memorial like a month ago, on the second day on the Friday I hit a terrible 9-iron into the ninth green, and it was the best thing that could have happened. Because when I was thinking about that shot at night, I felt exactly what happened through the ball there. So I knew exactly what I needed to go out and change. I came out the next morning and shot 64.

“So if you can learn from everything, that's when you're in a good place.”

Like three shots off the leading heading into the weekend of a major.

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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.

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Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

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.

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“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. 

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Woods impresses DeChambeau, Day on Tuesday

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 11:27 pm

SAN DIEGO – Bryson DeChambeau played with Tiger Woods for the first time Tuesday morning, and the biggest surprise was that he wasn’t overcome by nerves.

“That’s what I was concerned about,” DeChambeau said. “Am I just gonna be slapping it around off the tee? But I was able to play pretty well.”

So was Woods.

DeChambeau said that Woods looked “fantastic” as he prepares to make his first PGA Tour start in a year.

“His game looks solid. His body doesn’t hurt. He’s just like, yeah, I’m playing golf again,” DeChambeau said. “And he’s having fun, too, which is a good thing.”

Woods arrived at Torrey Pines before 7 a.m. local time Tuesday, when the temperature hadn’t yet crept above 50 degrees. He warmed up and played the back nine of Torrey Pines’ South Course with DeChambeau and Jason Day.

“He looks impressive; it was good to see,” Day told PGATour.com afterward. “You take (Farmers) last year and the Dubai tournament out, and he hasn’t really played in two years. I think the biggest thing is to not get too far ahead, or think he’s going to come back and win straight away.

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“The other time he came back, I don’t think he was ready and he probably came back too soon. This time he definitely looks ready. I think his swing is really nice, he’s hitting the driver a long way and he looks like he’s got some speed, which is great.”

Woods said that his caddie, Joe LaCava, spent four days with him in South Florida last week and that he’s ready to go.

“Before the Hero I was basically given the OK probably about three or four weeks prior to the tournament, and I thought I did pretty good in that prep time,” Woods told ESPN.com, referring to his tie for ninth in the 18-man event.

“Now I’ve had a little more time to get ready for this event. I’ve played a lot more golf, and overall I feel like I’ve made some nice changes. I feel good.”

Woods is first off Torrey Pines’ North Course in Wednesday’s pro-am, scheduled for 6:40 a.m. local time.