Euphoria in Eugene: Oregon wins national title

By Jay CoffinJune 2, 2016, 3:09 am

It’s rare to know before the first ball goes in the air that, virtually no matter what happens, the day is going to produce an epic result.

Oregon, the 20th-ranked team in the country which had won only one tournament all year, was playing on home turf at Eugene Country Club and had the entire Pacific Northwest in its corner. Coach Casey Martin called it a “fairytale” that the Ducks were in the finale in the first place. A win at home would be damn near unthinkable.

Texas, the No. 1 seed and winner of seven events this season, was trying to win its fourth NCAA Championship and become the first top seed to win it all since match play was instituted back in 2009. To make matters more interesting, the Longhorns were without the assistance of their best player, Beau Hossler, who conceded his match before it began because of an injured shoulder. The better team was playing the role of underdog.

Drama was oozing from both sides.

Then they played the matches.

Fast forward to the end, because that’s truly all that mattered on this day. With the matches tied 2-2, the championship was decided by a PGA Tour winner’s son (Texas sophomore Taylor Funk, Fred’s son) and a man who grew up in Eugene (Oregon junior Sulman Raza), the two playing in front of hundreds of Ducks fans hanging on every swing.

Then that match went three extra holes.

You can’t make this stuff up.

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In the end, Raza made birdie on the 21st hole to win the NCAA Championship for Oregon, its first ever in men’s or women’s golf. The putt dropped from 6 feet and hundreds of Raza’s closest friends swarmed their hometown hero on the green and formed a dogpile on top of him. Yes, a dogpile on a golf course.

“I felt like everybody was watching, and I just felt like everything was on my shoulders,” Raza said. “I think I handled it great.”

Said Martin: “It’s all about these guys. I haven’t hit a shot. I just told them to breathe; that’s pretty much the extent of my work. It is a special group, and it’s so awesome to bring it to Oregon.”

Hossler, a five-time winner in his junior season, woke up Wednesday as a game-time decision. He injured his shoulder late in Tuesday’s semifinal match against USC's Andrew Levitt and knew that it’d be a tough ask to go out and give it another go. Hossler attempted to warm up but was in too much pain and conceded his match against Zach Foushee about an hour before they were set to tee off.

“It’s not about me, it’s about my teammates and my university,” Hossler said. “I don’t want to do any further damage to my shoulder…and my playing at 30 percent…I’d get smoked out there.”

The first two matches were over fairly quickly. Edwin Yi dispatched of Gavin Hall, 4 and 3, to give Oregon a 2-0 lead. But Scottie Scheffler put the first Texas point on the board when he beat NCAA individual champion Aaron Wise, 4 and 3. When Texas’ Dough Ghim beat Thomas Lim, 2 and 1, the score was tied 2-2, with Funk and Raza headed to extra holes.

Neither player had more than a 1-up advantage at any point, but Funk was 1 up after 16 holes and lost the 17th with a nervy bogey. Both players made par on Nos. 18, 19 and 20, as each missed short birdie putts to end the match during that stretch.

Finally, on the 21st hole, Raza won the national championship for the Ducks, making up for a birdie miss two holes prior. Funk had already two-putted from 20 feet for par.

“I loved every minute of it,” Funk said, classy in defeat. “That’s what you live for. We didn’t come out on top this time, but there’s going to be many more opportunities and I’m looking forward to those.”

Said Texas coach John Fields: It’s going to be stinging and will sting until next year when we get here. They did not lose this golf tournament, a guy made a birdie to win the golf tournament from us.

We had some tough circumstances and almost got the job done. Not quite, but I’m really proud of our guys.

The ensuing Oregon celebration was like nothing we’ve seen in a college golf setting. The Ducks were instant rock stars at home, and Martin, a man born in Eugene who won an NCAA Championship as a player at Stanford, was standing there leading the charge despite battling his own health struggles for more than a decade.

He summed up his squad’s fairytale succinctly.

“This is a track school, and a football school and a basketball school,” Martin said, “and now it’s a golf school, too.”

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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 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, 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.