Punch Shot: PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 2015?

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 4, 2015, 1:00 pm

Sometimes players take a while to get acclimated to life on Tour. Others come out of the gates firing. So who will get their career off to the best start this year? Our writers look into their crystal balls and predict who they think will win the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 2015:

By JASON SOBEL

Unlike the NFL, where the latest crop of rookies is always less experienced than the veteran majority, the PGA Tour doesn’t necessarily work that way. Some rookies might have way more tournament experience than players who have been competing already. Just check out the world ranking and you won’t have to scroll too long to find players younger than most of this year’s freshman class.

By that same measure, many of these rookies will continue competing in this wraparound schedule emboldened by this knowledge. One of ‘em is Justin Thomas, who played junior and collegiate golf against the likes of Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed – and knows he can hang with ‘em.

Last year on the Web.com Tour, he had a win, a second, a third and 13 overall top-25 finishes to earn a promotion to the big leagues. Already this season, he’s pulled a T-4 result at the Sanderson Farms Open.

More importantly, he owns the confidence necessary to beat some of the world’s best players. But don’t take it from me. Just listen to the words of those he’s played against in the past. They all expect him to join the ranks of PGA Tour winners without much delay.


By RYAN LAVNER

Tony Finau.

Book it: This guy will win on the PGA Tour in 2015.

Still just 25, it seems like Finau has been around forever. He turned pro at 17 and starred on Golf Channel’s “Big Break” before finally coming into his own in golf’s minor leagues. Now that he has his PGA Tour card, his brawny game reminds of Dustin Johnson. He’s crazy-long off the tee (already has two pops of 370-plus yards this season) and makes birdies in bunches (5 per round).

Even better, he’s well on his way to keeping his card for next season, after opening the fall slate with four top 15s in five starts. It appears as though he won’t have the added pressure of trying to play every week to earn a buck.  

In a strong rookie class, Finau is the one who possesses the most potential.


On the Clock: Who wins 2015 Rookie of the Year?


By REX HOGGARD

Following one of the weakest rookie classes in recent history – only two first-year players kept their Tour cards in 2013-14 and Rookie of the Year Chesson Hadley posted just a single top-10 finish after his breakthrough victory in March in Puerto Rico – the 2014-15 line up has all the markings of something special.

Atop that list of potential first-time phenoms will be Justin Thomas. The 21-year-old proved himself surprisingly consistent during his rookie year in 2014 on the Web.com Tour, missing just two cuts in 20 starts, posting 13 top-25 finishes and closing the season with a playoff victory at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship in September.

The University of Alabama product has a history of fast starts in his young career having won the Phil Mickelson Award in 2012 as the top college freshman.

He also showed signs of what fans can expect in the prelude portion of the 2014-15 schedule with his tie for fourth at the Sanderson Farms Championship in November, which helped pad his priority ranking for the first reshuffle and will make it easier for him to secure starts during the circuit’s West Coast swing.

Although he will have plenty of competition for this year’s Rookie of the Year hardware from the likes of Carlos Ortiz, Andrew Putnam and Blayne Barber, Thomas will emerge as this season’s top newcomer.


By RANDALL MELL

It’s hard to bet against the 2014 Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

Carlos Ortiz proved something winning three Web.com Tour events last season. While Nick Taylor is on the board with a rookie win already this PGA Tour season, Ortiz is off to a solid start. He made the cut in all four of his PGA Tour starts this fall with a T-9 at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, where he posted four rounds in the 60s.

Wiry at 6 foot and 150 pounds, Ortiz is a big hitter with a nice putting stroke. It’s a formidable combination that should give him a consistent edge against his fellow rookies.


By WILL GRAY

He’s gotten off to a bit of a slow start, but by the end of 2014-15, Justin Thomas will be the PGA Tour’s Rookie of the Year.

Thomas has the pedigree for success at the highest level: a strong junior career, followed by a stint at Alabama where he anchored a team that won the national title, followed by a quick stop on the Web.com Tour. There, he was one of the circuit’s best players in 2014, leading in birdie average and the all-around ranking.

After several close calls, Thomas broke through for his first win as a professional during the Web.com Tour Finals, a victory that ensured he would carry a high priority ranking into his first season on the PGA Tour. He struggled out of the gate but got on track with a T-4 at the Sanderson Farms Championship, followed by a T-23 in Mexico in the final official event of 2014. That momentum should carry into the new year.

Thomas has all the tools to thrive on the PGA Tour, and if he has any questions about strategy, he has a pretty good resource at his disposal in friend and former college foe Jordan Spieth. Once he gets going in 2015, though, there won’t be a need for many tips.

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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.