Punch Shot: Who's under most pressure at D. Bank?

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 1, 2015, 8:00 pm

There's a lot on the line at this week's Deutsche Bank Championship: A chance at advancing toward a $10 million bonus, a berth on the U.S. or International Presidents Cup team, a chance to impress a captain for a wild-card pick. Who is under the most pressure at TPC Boston? Our writers weigh in.

By RYAN LAVNER

Phil Mickelson.

It’s been another forgettable year for Lefty, but there’s still plenty to play for – and no, it has nothing to do with the FedEx Cup, where he sits in 52nd place, in need of a decent showing in Boston just to ensure that he moves on to the third stop.

Why is this week important? Because Mickelson’s streak of 20 consecutive international team competitions played is in jeopardy.

He’s played each of the past 10 Ryder Cups. He’s played each and every Presidents Cup – the only man who can claim that distinction. He’s valuable in the team room. He’s an important member of the Ryder Cup task force. But Mickelson said last month that he doesn’t want to be a captain’s pick for this year’s event in South Korea.

“I haven’t been a pick in 20 years,” he said. “I don’t want to be a pick now.”

Well, at No. 29, he doesn’t have a choice – he can’t play his way onto the team. Not even a win this week in Beantown will be enough to automatically qualify.

But he needs to play well, if only so captain Jay Haas can avoid the potential backlash of picking Mickelson over players who have had better seasons, including Brandt Snedeker (14th), Robert Streb (18th) and Brooks Koepka (19th).


By RANDALL MELL

Nobody has more to gain winning this week than Sangmoon Bae. As a South Korean, Bae may never get another chance to play the Presidents Cup in his homeland, if he’s allowed to do so in his current predicament. The biennial international competition will be played in Incheon Oct. 8-11. In that golf loving nation, a South Korean making the International team would be a tremendous source of nationalistic pride. It would be a festive occasion where Bae’s honor would be shared by fellow citizens.

With Bae’s military obligation looming, we’re not even sure if he would be allowed to play. But if he wins this week, there would be a compelling reason for South Korean officials to delay his reporting for compulsory military service, if that’s required. If he wins, he still might make the team on points. Even if he doesn’t qualify for the team, Bae’s a captain’s pick possibility with a strong FedEx Cup finish. If he wins this week, all of South Korea should be rooting to see him play for the Internationals.


By REX HOGGARD

Just one player in the FedEx Cup era has never missed a playoff start, a perfect 33 for 33 since the circuit introduced the postseason in 2007.

It’s a distinction unmatched by Tiger or Phil or Ernie and something Hunter Mahan ranks right alongside his six PGA Tour victories and his combined six Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup starts.

“I'm proud of that fact. I think everybody wants to get to the Tour Championship because you were [among] the 30 best players that year,” Mahan said last week at The Barclays, where he was the defending champion. “It's a combo of playing good all year and then playing good kind of at the right time.”

That streak is in jeopardy after what has been the most lackluster season of Mahan’s career. He begins this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship 91st on the FedEx Cup point list, 128 points outside of the top 70 and a spot in the third playoff stop.

Mahan will also need a good week at TPC Boston if he’s going to have any chance of making this year’s U.S. Presidents Cup team, another streak that dates back to the 2007 matches.

There are plenty of players on various bubbles this week, but few with as much at stake as Mahan.


By WILL GRAY

The guy facing the most pressure this week is the player with one final shot to join his father in Korea. Bill Haas enters this week in the precarious No. 11 spot in the U.S. Presidents Cup standings, with the top 10 all clinching spots when the final putt drops. In most years his resume would probably earn him one of two captain’s picks – except for the fact that the man making those picks this time is his father, Jay.

Haas won earlier this year in California and challenged at TPC Sawgrass, but his last brush with contention ended poorly down the stretch at the Quicken Loans National. While his merit as a pick would help to temper any thoughts of nepotism, it seems likely that the former FedEx Cup champ will need to earn his spot on the team rather than relying on an invite from dad.

The field of potential picks also has strength, namely Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson, the latter of whom has never missed a Presidents Cup. So needing at least a top-5 finish to pass Chris Kirk in the standings, Haas faces an uphill battle in the final event of qualification – and all of the pressure that comes with it.

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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.