'Developmental model' to nurture U.S. junior golf talent

By Randall MellNovember 16, 2016, 2:39 am

American LPGA pros struggling to keep up with Asia’s rise to power need help.

“We’re outnumbered,” Cristie Kerr said Tuesday at the CME Group Tour Championship. “That’s what people seem to lose sight of.”

A flood of talent from the Far East is filling the LPGA ranks, with Asian-born players occupying 10 of the top 12 spots in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

But American help may be on the way.

“Junior golf, girls especially, is the fastest growing segment of the game,” PGA of America vice president Suzy Whaley told GolfChannel.com. “We are seeing an incredible surge of girls participating.”

With LPGA-USGA Girls’ Golf and PGA Junior Leagues growing impressively, the task now is advancing that influx of new interest up the ladder of talent development. And there’s a new effort to do that.

The PGA of America, LPGA, USGA, PGA Tour and Augusta National are joining forces to devise an “American developmental model” for junior boys and girls.

“The allied associations are realizing that together we are stronger in growing the game,” Whaley said. “The PGA of America is looking to take the lead with the collaboration of all the bodies to develop a model, a structure, that creates a clear vision for a parent, of where do I start, what program is best for my child through a PGA professional, and how do I navigate that for my child’s interest and skill level.”

The joint effort is in the early stages, but women’s golf advocates are eager to move it forward. While the plan’s focus is broader than just developing elite talent, the model should help more motivated juniors get there.

“That’s part of what we are creating, an easier way for parents to understand that if they want their daughter to be the next Stacy Lewis, here’s what they need to get her there,” said Nancy Henderson, president of the LPGA foundation.

Henderson said LPGA-USGA Girls’ Golf is designed to nurture interest in the game in a “fun environment,” but this can lead to more competitive interests. Henderson said 45 LPGA and Symetra Tour pros in the game today came through LPGA-USGA Girls’ Golf.

“The more girls we get into the pipeline, the more there will be with a chance to play for college scholarships, or to play at the highest level,” Henderson said.

Six years ago, before LPGA commissioner Mike Whan made LPGA-USGA Girls’ Golf a charity beneficiary of the Founders Cup, there were 5,000 girls in the program. Today, there are 60,000.

The PGA of America is also boosting girls numbers with its highly successful PGA Junior Leagues, where boys and girls compete together in a team format with jerseys. In four years, the leagues have grown from 9,000 boys and girls to 36,000.

The “American developmental model” is designed to make the most of junior interest, whether it’s developing avid recreational players who will better enjoy the game, or high-level competitors.

“As an industry, we realize that in order to get more juniors into the game, we have to be a little clearer in terms of the pathway for development,” Henderson said.


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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.