Punch Shot: Major champions in 2016

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 4, 2016, 5:00 pm

Jordan Spieth (Masters, U.S. Open), Zach Johnson (Open Championship) and Jason Day (PGA Championship) won major titles in 2015. Who will win the four biggest events in 2016? Our writers weigh in.

By RYAN LAVNER

Masters: Rory McIlroy. Entering 2016 with plenty of motivation, the former world No. 1 should be in fine form after logging seven starts before Augusta. There is always a concern that he wants the Slam too much, but he has trended in the right direction over the past few years at the Masters.

U.S. Open: Jason Day. He’s going to win an Open eventually, and beefy Oakmont should set up perfectly for his power game. In five Open starts, he has finished inside the top five three times.

Open Championship: Dustin Johnson. He has better imagination than he’s given credit for, and he’ll need it at Troon. Don’t forget, he was in good position to atone for his U.S. Open collapse before a 75-75 finish at St. Andrews. Still, he has four top-15s in his last six Opens.

PGA Championship: McIlroy. Predicted a monster year for the former world No. 1, and two majors certainly fits the bill. He typically plays well at the PGA after heating up during the summer – all but one finish inside the top 20 – and this year should be no exception.


By RANDALL MELL

Youth will distinguish itself again in 2016 with the majors swept by four 20-something stars.

In a dreamy major season, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Jason Day will all win majors.

Masters: McIlroy claims the career Grand Slam, becoming the sixth player in history to do so. He joins Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods sweeping the four majors in men’s golf.

McIlroy’s game is built to win at Augusta National, with his power, his ability to score on the par 5s and to hit short irons into tough hole locations. He wasn’t quite ready to win at Augusta National in 2011, when he lost a four-shot lead in the final round shooting 80. He will be teeing it up for the eighth time in the Masters next spring, and he’ll be coming off back-to-back top-10 finishes at Augusta National.

U.S. Open: Spieth makes it back-to-back U.S. Open titles with a victory at Oakmont, where his great putting stroke will set him apart. Oakmont’s challenging greens require the kind of touch, skill and attitude Spieth will bring.

Open Championship: Fowler steps up to claim his first major at Royal Troon in Scotland. He won on some big stages in 2015, beating strong fields with terrific closing efforts at The Players Championship, the Scottish Open and the Deutsche Bank Championship. Royal Troon’s the place to do it. It has a history of crowning first-time major winners.

PGA Championship: Day won’t leave 2016 disappointed at the majors. He’ll claim another PGA Championship. His fate at Baltusrol will depend on how the PGA sets up the course, whether it goes more USGA than PGA in fairway and rough setup, and whether that setup allows Day to shrink the course with his driver. Either way, Day should be at another level again as defending champ.



By REX HOGGARD

While another historic run at the single-season Grand Slam seems unlikely, the play of Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day in the last few years suggests a multi-major winner in 2016 is not out of the question.

Masters: McIlroy, who rebounded from an injury-impacted year to win the European Tour’s season finale in 2015, will take the year’s first major at Augusta National, where he’s finished in the top 10 the last two years and took a four-stroke lead into the final round in 2011.

U.S. Open: Oakmont Country Club may be the most demanding test in the U.S. Open rotation, but Dustin Johnson has shown that he is at his best when the conditions are most challenging. The bomber finally avoids another costly miscue to win his first major.

Open Championship: After missing last year’s Open at St. Andrews, McIlroy heads to Royal Troon in search of redemption and etches his name into the claret jug for the second time to cap another spectacular year.

PGA Championship: The last time the year’s final major was played at Baltusrol, Phil Mickelson took the title in 2005, and it will be another creative southpaw, Bubba Watson, who will win this year’s PGA Championship and expand his major portfolio.


By WILL GRAY

Masters: Patrick Reed. If he’s going to take home Player of the Year honors, as I predicted earlier this week, he’ll need to include a major in his trophy haul. What better place to do it than Augusta National, just down the road from the school he led to two NCAA titles and a course where his tight draw can be carved to perfection. A post-round ceremony where he receives the green jacket from former Ryder Cup teammate Jordan Spieth will be icing on the cake.

U.S. Open: Hideki Matsuyama. Make no mistake, Oakmont will take a toll on the field this summer. But few players are as well-equipped to weather that particular storm as Matsuyama, whose tee-to-green consistency will be a huge asset on the penal layout. Oakmont has been the site of surprise victories from foreign players each of the last two times it has hosted the U.S. Open, and that trend will continue when Matsuyama leaves with the trophy.

Open Championship: Louis Oosthuizen. Perhaps no other player outside of Angel Cabrera more efficiently saves his best play for the majors. Oosthuizen rekindled his game this past year, highlighted by back-to-back runner-up finishes at Chambers Bay and St. Andrews that seemingly came out of nowhere. The South African seems to have trouble shaking the injury bug, especially relating to his back, but when he is healthy he is among the very best ball-strikers around. That talent should shine at Royal Troon, where he will avenge last year’s playoff loss and lift the claret jug for the second time.

PGA Championship: Rory McIlroy. Just like the San Francisco Giants, McIlroy prefers to play for the Wanamaker Trophy in even-numbered years. After triumphs in 2012 and 2014, McIlroy will win his third PGA at Baltusrol before representing Ireland in the Olympics. While the year begins with talk of the “Big Three” – McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – only the Ulsterman will notch a major win in 2016.

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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.