Garcia, Fowler among four Masters co-leaders

By Will GrayApril 7, 2017, 11:32 pm

After another day of blustery conditions, it's crowded atop the leaderboard at the Masters. Here's how things look at the halfway point, as four players share the lead - each in search of his first major title:

Leaderboard: Sergio Garcia (-4), Rickie Fowler (-4), Charley Hoffman (-4), Thomas Pieters (-4), William McGirt (-2), Justin Rose (-1), Fred Couples (-1), Jon Rahm (-1), Ryan Moore (-1)

What it means: Hoffman started the day with a four-shot lead, but he quickly came back to the pack with a 75 and at one point was passed by Garcia. PIeters and Fowler joined them in the afternoon wave, setting up an enticing weekend where conditions are expected to be a little bit easier and Rose is the only player among the top six who has already won one of golf's four biggest events.

Round of the day: Fowler contended last week in Houston, and he's again in the mix after a 5-under 67 in the second round. Fowler got things jump-started with a hole-out eagle from the bunker on No. 2, then added three more birdies before a watery bogey on No. 15 that he neutralized with another birdie on the very next hole.

Best of the rest: Garcia has had plenty of chances to snag that elusive major, but this may be his best in the last few years after a 3-under 69 gave him a share of the lead. Garcia's score was in question for part of his round after a scoring error on No. 10, but Garcia was ultimately absolved and played the last 15 holes in even par after opening with three straight birdies.

Biggest disappointment: Lee Westwood started the day in third place after an opening-round 70, but last year's runner-up has some work to do after fading with a 5-over 77 in the second round. Westwood opened with a bogey, one of eight he made in a round that concluded with four bogeys over his final five holes. At 3 over, he now trails by seven shots.

Main storyline heading into Saturday: It's difficult to pick five, let alone one. Each of the co-leaders have compelling angles, including PIeters who became the first Masters rookie to share the 36-hole lead since Brett Wetterich in 2007. But don't lose sight of the compelling group of Masters winners just four shots off the pace: Adam Scott, Phil MIckelson and Jordan Spieth, each of whom has a great chance to add to his collection in the champions' locker room.

Shot of the day: Branden Grace earned a piece of Augusta National crystal with his approach to No. 15, a 95-yard wedge that landed behind the hole and spun back in for an eagle. It turned out to be an important shot, given that Grace made the cut on the number at 6 over after a second-round 74.

Quote of the day: "I just feel like if I'm healthy enough to swing hard at it, I can play this course." - Couples, who trails by three shots on the 25-year anniversary of his Masters win.

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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.

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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.