McDowell follows McIlroy in withdrawing from Rio

By Will GrayJune 23, 2016, 12:30 pm

The Irish Olympic golf team lost its second potential member in as many days when Graeme McDowell followed Rory McIlroy in withdrawing his name from consideration for Rio.

McIlroy withdrew on Wednesday, citing concerns over the Zika virus and leaving McDowell in line for the second and final automatic qualifying spot for Ireland alongside Shane Lowry. But McDowell's wife is pregnant with the couple's second child and is expected to give birth in early September, leading the Ulsterman to announce via Twitter that he won't make the trip to Brazil:

"I made the decision many months ago, before I was on the team, that I would not play or travel outside the U.S., where my family and I live, in the weeks running up to the birth," McDowell said. "Unfortunately, I will therefore not be available to replace Rory on the team. I have informed (Irish Olympic golf captain) Paul McGinley and the Olympic Council of Ireland of my decision."

The International Golf Federation issued a statement, saying in response, "We recognize the unique circumstances for Graeme and his family and, while we are disappointed that he is not available for the Olympic Games, we sympathize with his position. There are many considerations for players but those who compete will have the opportunity to be part of a truly global celebration of sport."

The virus, which can be transmitted sexually, has been shown to produce birth defects in pregnant women who get infected.

McDowell's withdrawal means the second Irish spot among the 60-man field is expected to go to Padraig Harrington, who is ranked No. 167 in the world.

McDowell, 36, told "Morning Drive" that when he laid out his schedule early in the year in light of his wife's pregnancy, he knew that a trip to Rio was not in the cards.

"This was always potentially on my radar, that the automatic spot might come to me with Rory and Shane both being young guys," he said. "I knew it potentially could've been on my radar, but unfortunately for me it was never really going to be an option."

McDowell becomes the ninth player to withdraw from the upcoming Olympics, most of whom have cited either Zika concerns or the busy summer golf schedule for their decision. Others skipping the event include McIlroy, Adam Scott (Australia), Marc Leishman (Australia), Charl Schwartzel (South Africa), Louis Oosthuizen (South Africa), Vijay Singh (Fiji), Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spain) and Tim Wilkinson (New Zealand).

McDowell admitted that a "little sort of spark" went off in his head once he realized McIlroy's withdrawal put him in line to represent Ireland, but ultimately after weighing the options with his wife he decided to stick with his original decision.

"I don't want to be away from my family at that stage of the year. I'm going to spend the entire month of July away from them, and I want to be here," he said. "I want to be here in Florida a couple weeks before my baby boy gets born, and unfortunately the Olympics is just not something that can happen for me.

"Hopefully I'll be fit and healthy and well enough to play in 2020 in Japan, because this is something special," he added. "Until the first golfer stands there with a gold medal around his neck, we're not really going to sort of grasp the concept of what the Olympic Games mean for golf. But it's going to be a big deal, and something I want to be a part of going forward."

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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.