LPGA notes: Park's chance to catch Ko at Ochoa

By Randall MellNovember 11, 2015, 11:54 pm

With just two weeks left in the LPGA season, much is still uncertain in the battle for some of the tour’s biggest prizes.

The Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Race to the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and even a potential Hall of Fame qualification hang in the balance.

Inbee Park can still claim the LPGA’s most important season-long awards, but she needs a good showing at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational this week to have a chance to wrestle them away from Lydia Ko.

Christina Kim is back in Mexico looking to rekindle the form that helped her win there last year.

Sei Young Kim is also at Ochoa’s event looking to add a bonus prize to her already successful debut as the LPGA’s Rolex Rookie of the Year.

Brazil’s Candy Hannemann is in Mexico looking to find her way to the Olympics next year.

Some LPGA news and notes with just two events remaining in the 2015 LPGA season:

Inbee vs. Lydia for all the marbles – Ko is in position to have a monster finish at the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., next week, but Park could still end stealing it, instead.

All the big awards are down to these two players.

Ko is the Rolex world No. 1 with the lead in Rolex Player of the Year points, the race for the Vare Trophy for low scoring average and the money-winning title. Ko is also the leader in CME points in her bid to win the season-long battle for the $1 million jackpot for the second year in a row.

Park is second to Ko in all those races, but Ko isn’t playing this week. She withdrew from Ochoa’s event to gain an extra week of rest for the big finale.

Park needs to finish tied for eighth or better in Mexico City to have a chance at the Rolex Player of the Year Award. If Park finishes worse than T-8, Ko will clinch the award before going to Naples.

Park, by the way, reports she is feeling just fine after having a cyst removed from the middle finger of her left hand in South Korea early last week.


 

Kim looking for more magic in Mexico – Christina Kim won her third LPGA title claiming the Lorena Ochoa Invitational last year, her first LPGA triumph in nine years.

Kim, 31, crafted one of the feel-good stories in 2014. She was a broken player who put herself back together, overcoming a back injury, a torn tendon in her right elbow/forearm and bouts of career-threatening depression to win. She arrived back in Mexico this week saying she wasn’t able to take that winning momentum into this year.

“I just completely lost everything in terms of any sort of sensibility with the golf swing,” Kim said. “It’s been a tough year. I haven’t been nearly as calm . . . I’ve been really anxious with everything, and more demanding on myself.”

Kim is looking for her first top-10 finish this season. She’s 69th on the LPGA money list and has secured a spot in next week’s CME Group Tour Championship.

What will it take for Kim to win again this week?

“A hot putter,” she said. “And just playing to the level that I know I can.”


 

Sei Young Kim looking for a bonus – Kim clinched the Rolex LPGA Rookie of the Year award last week, but she can still add some tasty frosting to her successful LPGA start.

Kim is fourth on the CME Globe points list, but she would like to leapfrog Stacy Lewis for the third spot after Sunday’s conclusion of the Lorena Ochoa Invitational. The top three in points going to Naples are guaranteed winning the $1 million CME jackpot if they win the Tour Championship.

Ko has locked down the top spot for the points re-set at Naples, and Park has locked down the No. 2 spot, but Lewis can still be passed. Kim is 343 points behind Lewis, but Kim has to win in Mexico to overtake Lewis, who is not playing this week.


 

Top nine eyeing $1 million CME Globe prize – The top nine players on the CME points list in the re-set at Naples have a shot at winning the $1 million CME Globe jackpot, but only the top nine.

Ko, Park, Lewis, Kim, Lexi Thompson, Amy Yang, So Yeon Ryu and Anna Nordqvist have secured spots among the top eight, but No. 9 Shanshan Feng is still vulnerable this week. Feng isn’t playing in Mexico.

Minjee Lee, Cristie Kerr, Na Yeon Choi, Brittany Lincicome and Suzann Pettersen could jump into the top nine with victories. Lee and Kerr can also get among the top nine with runner-up finishes.

The top 72 in points earn the right to play in the CME Group Tour Championship. Those spots have been secured with Min Lee holding the 72nd spot.


 

Hannemann’s Olympic dream – At 35, Hannemann made a return to professional golf this year looking to qualify for the Olympics in Brazil next year. The dream has a special dimension to it because Hannemann is from Brazil and grew up in Rio de Janeiro, where the Olympics will be staged.

As the host nation, Brazil is assured that one woman from that country will have a place among the 60 players in the golf competition.

Hannemann is playing the Lorena Ochoa Invitational on a sponsor’s exemption. She won the NCAA Women’s Championship while at Duke in 2001, and played the LPGA for nearly six seasons before a wrist injury and surgery led her to leave the game. She moved to Boston, married a Red Sox executive and gave birth to two daughters.

The Olympics wooed her back to the Symetra Tour this year.

“It’s been very humbling, but I don’t feel like I’ve lost that edge you need to compete,” Hannemann told the New York Times. “It’s still there, but it’s taking time to get the physical and the mental parts to match up.”

The Olympic field is based on the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, with the field set in July of next year. Victoria Lovelady is the highest ranked Brazilian woman in the world at No. 544. Hannemann was once ranked as high as 109th but isn’t among the top 1,000 today. She is headed to LPGA Q-School’s final stage next month looking to climb into Olympic consideration.

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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.