Kuchar, Simpson, Thomas share Sony Open lead

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2015, 2:45 am

Matt Kuchar and Webb Simpson played the first two rounds together at the Sony Open, and they'll tee it up together once more in Saturday's final pairing. Here's how things look in Honolulu, where Kuchar and Simpson share the lead along with an upstart rookie:

Leaderboard: Matt Kuchar (-12), Webb Simpson (-12), Justin Thomas (-12), Tim Clark (-10), Troy Merritt (-10), Rory Sabbatini (-9), Russell Knox (-9), Jimmy Walker (-8), Robert Streb (-8)

What it means: Kuchar led for much of the afternoon before Simpson caught him with a birdie on the final hole, while Thomas joined the party just before play finished. Simpson remains in contention while using a regulation-length putter for the first time on the PGA Tour, while Kuchar is in position for his fourth straight top-10 finish at this event.

Round of the day: Thomas closed birdie-birdie-eagle, playing his final five holes in 5 under to card a bogey-free, 9-under 61, the lowest at this event since 2006. The 21-year-old had seven birdies and an eagle across his final 12 holes and now holds a share of the lead on the PGA Tour for the first time.

Best of the rest: After an opening 73, it looked like Jerry Kelly would be slamming his trunk Friday. Instead, Kelly bounced back with an 8-under 62 that moved him to 5 under for the championship and well inside the 36-hole cut line. It marked the lowest round at Waialae for Kelly, a 48-year-old veteran who won this event in 2002.

Biggest disappointment: Paul Casey was out in front after an opening 62, but the Englishman was unable to back it up with another low round. While an even-par 70 is good enough at some Tour stops, it meant that Casey got lapped at Waialae, where the scoring average approached 67 and where Casey dropped four shots off the pace.

Main storyline heading into Saturday: Kuchar and Simpson appear poised for a weekend duel, but members of the pack are sure to challenge and Thomas, who won last year during the Web.com Tour Finals, will continue to press them. Other likely contenders include Clark, a runner-up here in both 2011 and 2013, and Walker, the defending champ coming off a playoff loss Monday at Kapalua.

Shot of the day: Jhonattan Vegas was flirting with the cut line and had missed the 16th fairway when his fate changed rather quickly. Vegas' approach from the left rough cleared a greenside bunker, took three hops and dropped after squarely hitting the flagstick. The unexpected eagle took Vegas from 2 under to 4 under and secured his spot in the field this weekend.

Quote of the day: "I drove it really well, and when you drive it well this course becomes much more attackable." - Kuchar

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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.