Punch Shot: Who will win Tour Rookie of the Year?

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 26, 2015, 8:00 pm

Two events into the new PGA Tour season, two rookie winners. That's already one more rookie champion than the entirety of the previous season. So, looking very far ahead, who will take home Rookie of the Year honors? Our writers weigh in.


Emiliano Grillo was an emerging star even before he won the season-opening Frys.com Open.

The 23-year-old Argentine was a heralded part of the high school class of 2011, as much of a talent in those days as Jordan Spieth or Justin Thomas or Patrick Rodgers or Ollie Schniederjans. They went their separate ways – to the pros, to college, to Europe – but now have reconnected on the PGA Tour.

Grillo apprenticed on the European circuit for the past few years, and was in position to win the PGA Tour's Puerto Rico Open last season before blowing a 3-footer on the 72nd hole. A few months later, he ripped through the Web.com Tour Finals, a run that saw him win the Tour Championship with a cold-blooded 25-footer on the last.

Keep in mind that he’s had three major life changes recently – he got married, earned his card and won on Tour in a matter of weeks – so he’s due for a letdown at some point. But once he settles into a rhythm, he’ll be a weekly contender, just like the old days, with Spieth, Thomas and Rodgers. 


Emiliano Grillo is tough to bet against, but Smylie Kaufman came from seven strokes back and won in the betting capital of the world Sunday taking the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas with that brilliant 61.

Kaufman, 23, is yet another big-hitter, but he’s also a terrific putter. It’s a tough combination to beat these days. Kaufman was sixth in driving distance on the Web.com Tour this past season, but he ranked even higher with the flat stick. He was fifth in putting average and third in birdies. Sunday’s victory combined with his T-10 finish at the season-opening Frys.com makes Kaufman the early – yes, very early – man to beat in the Rookie of the Year race. He’s also atop the FedEx Cup standings.


Emiliano Grillo and Smylie Kaufman have gotten off to impressive head starts in the race for the 2015-16 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, but fellow first-timer Patton Kizzire has proven he has the consistency to claim the title.

Kizzire finished second to Kaufman on Sunday at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open after skipping the season-opening Frys.com Open, which was won by Grillo, to get married.

But it’s what the 29-year-old did in 2015 on the Web.com Tour that makes him the favorite among a particularly strong list of rookies this season.

In his first full season on the secondary circuit, Kizzire finished in the top 10 in 12 of 23 starts, including two victories (Utah Championship and News Sentinel Open) and a pair of runner-up showings.

The former Auburn University standout won the regular and Finals combined money list on the Web.com Tour to secure his first trip to the PGA Tour and, more importantly, full status this season.

Kizzire will be able to play a full schedule, at least relative to this year’s other rookies, free from the worries of the priority list that dictates what events newcomers can play.

Kizzire may have spotted Grillo and Kaufman an early victory but he still has the time and the track record to emerge as this year’s top rookie.


It’s hard to pass on Emiliano Grillo, especially after his season-opening win, but I’ll side with the player who nearly followed Grillo to the winner’s circle last week: Patton Kizzire.

It took some time for Kizzire to find his footing in the professional game, but the 29-year-old experienced a breakthrough season last year on the Web.com Tour that was marked by impressive consistency. Kizzire won twice en route to challenging the circuit’s all-time, single-season earnings record, and his 12 top-10 finishes in 23 starts showed that his results were the product of steady play throughout the year.

Kizzire took a week off earlier this month to get married, then promptly finished T-2 in Las Vegas in his first start as a member, highlighted by a Sunday 63. PGA Tour courses aren’t the same as on the Web.com, but Kizzire hits it plenty long and should his putter remain reliable – he led the tour last year in birdie average, scoring average and total putting – he could challenge for a spot at the Tour Championship.

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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.