Z. Johnson shakes off terrible start for 67 at Honda

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 27, 2014, 8:18 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Zach Johnson walked into the scoring room at PGA National, examined his card and wondered how, exactly, he was signing for a 3-under 67.

After all, five hours earlier, he had begun his opening round of the Honda Classic with a quadruple-bogey 8.

The details are gory: After a good drive on the par-4 11th, he was stuck between a 6- and 7-iron and opted for more club. He “pured” the shot, he said, but also eased into it, blocking his approach into the pond.

He walked about 10 yards ahead and decided to “jump” on the 7-iron. Splash.

So he stepped back two paces, grabbed the 6-iron, and put his sixth shot on the left fringe. Two putts later, he walked off the green at 4 over.

Honda Classic: Articles, videos and photos

“The day could have gone the other way quickly,” he said afterward, “but I felt good about my game coming in.”

And for good reason. Johnson is playing the best golf of his career, rising to No. 7 in the world on the strength of three victories in his last nine starts. So, fittingly, he shook off the big number and rolled in seven birdies – four of which were inside 6 feet – on his way to a 67.

After the morning wave, he was just two shots off the lead.

After the round, Johnson’s two playing competitors, Tiger Woods and Keegan Bradley, were effusive in their praise. So, apparently, were the caddies, particularly Bradley’s looper, Steven “Pepsi” Hale.

“Evidently he was pretty impressed,” Johnson said, smiling.

Said Woods: “Not surprising knowing how tough this guy is. ... He definitely had a comeback player of the day award. I imagine if you flip it around and start off that way and finish that way, yeah, he would be pretty pissed.

“So he would much rather have it this way and fight back and earn it and get it this way. You have a certain feeling going into the next day than if he would have flipped it around.”

Of course, this gritty effort was no shock to Woods. He recently saw Johnson’s comeback heroics up close.

One of the forgotten aspects of Johnson’s dramatic victory last December at the World Challenge was the fact that he was four down with eight holes to play against the No. 1 player in the world on a track that he has won on five times.

Since then, Johnson hears about it when he’s walking down the fairway or practicing at home or scrolling through his Twitter mentions. Yes, he denied Woods yet another victory, but he’s particularly proud of the way he played down the stretch, closed the gap and pulled out a win.

“Those are the kinds of thoughts that I’m trying to keep,” he said.

Thursday’s comeback at the Honda reminded the 38-year-old grinder of his Q-School experience years ago, when he took an 8 (without a penalty stroke) on his opening hole at Hombre Golf Club. It was second stage, the make-or-break juncture for many pro hopefuls, and he responded by making just two bogeys the rest of the way and finishing second, by one.

“I like being patient, perseverant,” he said.

This turnaround was even more impressive when considering his lack of history here at PGA National. Curiously, it is just his second career start (2008) at a track that places a premium on driving accuracy while rewarding strong iron play and sublime putting – in other words, Johnson’s bread and butter.

“I don’t know why I haven’t come back, pretty foolish,” he said. “I think if my game is sharp, I think I can put up some good results.”

These days, it’s more of a surprise when he doesn’t.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.”

Getty Images

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.