Punch Shot: Player of the Year in 2017?

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 2, 2017, 1:30 pm

Dustin Johnson was the Player of the Year in 2016. Can he repeat in 2017, or will someone else step up? Our writers weigh in.

By REX HOGGARD

Rory McIlroy’s career has followed a rather predictable path, bouts of greatness when he appears unbeatable (even-numbered years) followed by pedestrian seasons, at least by his lofty standards (odd-numbered years).

There are exceptions, but starting in 2012 when he won the PGA Championship and two of four FedEx Cup playoff events, the Northern Irishman has played his best golf in even-numbered years which is little surprise considering he always plays his best with the Ryder Cup approaching.

But 2017 will be the exception. After a solid if not spectacular ’16 season, he didn’t win a major but finished strong with two post-season victories and the FedEx Cup title, all of the questions about his game seem to have been answered.

Always among the game’s best power players, McIlroy’s putting at East Lake and Hazeltine National was nearly flawless and he appears poised to win his third Jack Nicklaus Trophy.


By RYAN LAVNER

When trying to predict the future – at least when it pertains to golf – I usually ask myself this question: Who needs a great year the most? Hungry players typically perform best, which is why Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth are prime bounce-back candidates.

Dustin Johnson doesn’t need a great year, of course. He just had one. The three wins, the major, the Player of the Year award. This could be the beginning of something special. Already one of the best drivers in the game, he shored up his wedges to better capitalize on his awesome power. He made significant strides with his putting, too.

The only question mark about Johnson (in his prime, at age 32) is whether he burns to dominate the sport, because he certainly possesses the necessary skill set. Here’s guessing that he begins to impose his will in 2017.


By WILL GRAY

This year Rory McIlroy will parlay a FedEx Cup title into another season spent towering over the game’s best.

McIlroy was pushed to the side of the stage for much of 2016, passed by the likes of Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson. But as he showed at East Lake – and as he reinforced at Hazeltine – few if any can hang with the Ulsterman when he’s firing on all cylinders.

McIlroy has used the news of Nike’s equipment exit to his advantage, tailoring a custom set of clubs that best complements his physical gifts. While all eyes are currently trained toward his stroll down Magnolia Lane in search of the fourth leg of the career Grand Slam, the season will close with him cruising to a third Wanamaker trophy as the PGA Championship shifts to one of his favorite venues: Quail Hollow. Multiple wins, including a major, will mean McIlroy reigns again as Player of the Year.


By RANDALL MELL

Jason Day has made himself the best all-around player in the world today, with the most impressive combination of strength and touch.

He didn’t win a major like Dustin Johnson did last year, but Day’s all-around skills will put him in the mix to win more than anyone else in 2017. He’s a better putter than Johnson and Rory McIlroy, has a better short game than Johnson and McIlroy, and he’s nearly as long off the tee as they are. He was a better putter than Jordan Spieth last year and better around the greens, and he’s a lot longer off the tee than Spieth.

Those skills have helped Day finish among the top 10 in six of the last seven majors. It all comes together again for Day in 2017.

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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.