Report: Va. golfer makes 3 aces, shoots 57

By Will GrayJune 27, 2015, 12:10 am

The report that appears on the website golfstylesonline.com is, to put it mildly, an eye-opener. 

Michael Keating, publisher of the GolfStyles Media Group, bluntly states in his first paragraph, "What happened at Laurel Hill Golf Club in Lorton, Virginia, on June 22 has been met with incredulity, astonishment, outright disbelief and, eventually, incomprehension."

That about sums it up.

"What happened," according to Keating, is that Patrick Wills, a 59-year-old retired Marine, while playing in a 54-hole summer solstice tournament, shot a 57 in the second round, highlighted by three holes-in-one. Two of them came on par-4 holes.

Wills' three playing partners were witnesses: sons Charlie, an engineer, and Christopher, an Afghanistan combat veteran, as well as Air Force major Matt Ghormley.

Wills plays to a plus-4 handicap and he shot a 58 in this same event a few years back. He understands, however, that this report will be met with skepticism in some quarters. 

“I’ve been around the world 10 or 12 times, fighting for this country’s freedom," he said. "People are allowed to believe what they want to believe - I fought for that freedom. But I know what I shot, my playing partners know what I shot and the people at the tournament do as well. I mean, I’m an accomplished amateur. I set my first course record when I was 16, shot a 65 or 66, and I’ve added a few since then. Anyone that has ever played a competitive round with me, they know what I’m capable of. They’ve seen it. So people are entitled to believe what they want, but I’ve always been drawn to golf because it aligns with my morals. I’d rather call a penalty on myself, or even disqualify myself, because I respect the game.” 

Laurel Hill, a par-71 layout which hosted the 2013 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, was set up by Keating, the tournament director, to get easier as the day of endurance progressed, meaning players moved up a tee box with each subsequent round. The second round was played from the white tees, which measured 6,021 yards.

Wills birdied four of the first six holes, even dropping a shot on the par-3 fourth hole. But the highlights began on No. 7, a par-4 measuring 278 yards. Wills said he lasered the distance as 250 yards to the front of the green, hit a "baby-draw 3-wood" and then went to go find the ball.

"I was trying to be realistic, so I started looking on the back of the green," Wills said. "I was pleasantly surprised to say the least."

Wills made the turn in 29. Three holes later, he hit a driver on the 311-yard 10th hole. The shot looked pretty good, but Wills was still shocked when his playing partners told him the ball was in the hole - again.

"I literally said to myself, 'Get real.' I thought they were teasing me," he said. "Never in my wildest imagination did I think I could get multiple ones in the same round."

His imagination needed to get even wilder. He pulled up to the par-3 14th hole, playing 176 yards uphill, and jarred a 5-iron. At this point, Wills' playing partners were "dumbfounded," but he tried to keep calm.

"I still had four more holes to play," he said. "I knew I had a special round going, and I didn't want to throw that away."

Wills played his final four holes in 1 under to post a 14-under 57, but the score could have been even lower. He reached the green on the par-5 18th in two shots, only to three-putt from 18 feet, drawing similarities to Dustin Johnson's painful close the same day at the U.S. Open.

"I almost would say that I can empathize with him now," Wills said. 

The round is an all-time best for Wills, but he is no stranger to low scores. He said he has carded "numerous" rounds of 59 and entered the day with 22 career aces, including four on par 4s. Those numbers have now been beefed up to 25 and six, respectively.

Wills also took a shot at the Champions Tour upon turning 50, but he wasn't able to make it out of qualifying and had to put his competitive aspirations to the side when his wife's health took a turn for the worse. 

Gene Orrico, Laurel Hill's director of golf, verified the score for GolfChannel.com.

"He's a good stick. A very, very good player," Orrico said. "I've been playing for 43 years, throw one of those aces at me."

Wills had a short turnaround time before the third round, shooting a 5-under 66 from the gold tees to close out the 54-hole event. But it's the middle round of his solstice journey that remains an all-timer.

"I had never imagined anything like this in my whole life," he said. "I was literally out of my mind."

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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.