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Thomas leads Tour Championship, FedExCup

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 22, 2017, 10:20 pm

Halfway through the final event of the season, we have a three-way tie atop the Tour Championship, led by Player of the Year front-runner Justin Thomas. Here's how things look after 36 holes at East Lake, where all eyes are on Thomas as he looks to lock down the FedExCup:

Leaderboard: Justin Thomas (-7), Paul Casey (-7), Webb Simpson (-7), Patrick Reed (-6), Justin Rose (-6), Gary Woodland (-6), Jon Rahm (-6), Xander Schauffele (-5), Jason Dufner (-5), Brooks Koepka (-5)

What it means: The top five players in the season-long points race coming into the week (Jordan Spieth, Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Marc Leishman and Jon Rahm)  can win the FedExCup with a tournament victory. But suddenly, they have some company as they battle for the season-long trophy. Paul Casey, Webb Simpson, Justin Rose and Brooks Koepka all shot under par on Friday and could jump up and steal the title and the $10 million in prize money if the top 5 - namely Thomas - should falter. 

Round of the day: Hard to argue with Thomas’ 4-under 66. The 24-year-old showed the same resolve down the stretch Friday as he did winning his first major title just last month, eagling the 18th hole to pull into a share of the lead and overall FedExCup lead. Thomas made back-to-back birdies at Nos. 6 and 7 to go out in 33, and then made another birdie at 13 before giving a shot back on the next hole. On the par-5 finishing hole, JT nuked a 5-iron from 229 yards to 5 ½ feet and sank the putt for the eagle 3.

Best of the rest: Rose and rookie Xander Schauffele matched Thomas' Friday 66, but one man bested it with a Friday-best 65 ... Patrick Reed. Captain America skyrocketed up the leaderboad with six birdies and just one bogey to sit only a shot off the lead. Simpson (67) also shares the lead and, at No. 16 entering the week, is trying to become the lowest-ranked player to win the FedExCup since Bill Haas (25) won it in 2011.

Biggest disappointment: A case could be made here for Jordan Spieth (the pre-tournament FedExCup No. 1) after following up a 3-under 67 with an even-par 70, but the three-time major champ can still get himself back in the mix with a low weekend. The same cannot be said for Rickie Fowler, who is 7 over after rounds of 73-74. Fowler is one shot in front of last place and will be in the first group out on Moving Day with fellow Presidents Cup teammate, Kevin Chappell.

Main storyline heading into Saturday: Thomas is the man to beat. Not only did he come in to East Lake in the driver’s seat for PGA Tour Player of the Year, but the PGA champ eagled his final hole of the day to grab a share of the tournament lead and the No. 1 spot in the race for the FedExCup with just 36 holes to play. Thomas’ challengers for the FedExCup title and $10 million prize include a couple of guys who haven’t won this year in Casey and Simpson, as well as Spieth, Johnson, Rahm and Leishman.

Shot of the day: Pat Perez was having a rather pedestrian Friday at East Lake until his approach shot at the par-4 16th hole from 173 yards away that took a couple of bounces before hitting the pin and dropping in for an eagle. Perez capped it off with an epic club flip before finishing with a 2-under 68 on the day.

Quote of the day: "I’m just trying to play the best I can, just trying to win the tournament … the rest comes with it." – Thomas, on how he keeps the event and the FedExCup title in perspective.

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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.