Big Names Carry on Nelsons Legacy

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 24, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 EDS Byron Nelson ChampionshipIRVING, Texas - For the first time in a long, long time, the Byron Nelson Championship will be missing the most important figure in event's history -- Byron Nelson.
 
Mr. Nelson passed away last fall at the age of 94. His name has been attached to this tournament since 1968. Surely the players will miss greeting Mr. Nelson and his wife after completing their rounds.
 
Phil Mickelson
All eyes will be on Phil Mickelson and how the coaching change affects his play. (WireImage)
Nelson won 11 consecutive events in 1945 and claimed 18 titles overall that year. In a two-year span of 1944-45, Nelson won 31 of 54 events he played in, including the 1945 PGA Championship. In all, Mr. Nelson collected 52 tour wins before retiring at the age of 34.
 
Last year, Brett Wetterich held off Trevor Immelman by a single stroke. Immelman, who blew a late lead the week before, needed to birdie the last to possibly force a playoff.
 
However, Immelman pulled his tee shot into a lake. He did manage to save par, but Wetterich calmly two-putted for par from 18 feet to secure his first PGA TOUR crown.
 
'This makes me feel really good,' said Wetterich after the win. 'To come out here and win this great golf tournament, it's just an unbelievable feeling. And being Mr. Nelson's tournament, also, it's truly an honor.'
 
With the new PGA TOUR schedule, this event is being played three weeks earlier than it was last year. The last several years, the Byron Nelson and the Colonial, were played back-to-back, but this year the Colonial will be contested the final week of May.
 
The event will use two courses -- TPC Four Seasons Resort Las Colinas and Cottonwood Valley Golf Course -- for the opening two rounds. Las Colinas will host the final two rounds once again.
 
The GOLF CHANNEL will cover the opening two rounds as usual before handing it over to CBS for the weekend. Next week, the PGA TOUR moves to North Carolina for the Wachovia Championship, where Jim Furyk won last year.
 
Here are five key players in the Byron Nelson field:
 
Phil Mickelson
Mickelson has played well in this event, although his best results came from 1996 through 2000 when he posted a win, a tie for second, a T-6 and a T-12. Lefty withdrew from the event last year for personal reasons and the year before had missed the cut. He comes into Dallas after a disappointing Masters Tournament, but should be refreshed and ready to add to his lone victory thus far of 07 at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. He ranks in the top-5 on both the money and FedExCup points lists. And, of course, all eyes will be on Phil to see if he will reap immediate results off the tee after leaving his long-time coach Rick Smith for Butch Harmon.
 
Sergio Garcia
Ever the enigma, Sergio had a great start to the 2007 season with three top-6 showings ' including an impressive T-3 at the WGC ' CA Championship - before falling flat on his face at the Masters, where he missed the cut. He does, however, like the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, as two of his six career PGA TOUR wins have come here and at the Colonial. But in true Garcia form, he has also missed the cut here in three of his last five starts. His win came in 2004 in a playoff over Robert Damron and Dudley Hart.
 
Shigeki Maruyama
Shigeki Maruyama hopes to continue to build on his recent success in Dallas. (WireImage)
Shigeki Maruyama
The Smiling Assassin has good reason to grin when he rolls into Dallas for the Byron Nelson Championship. In addition to it being the site of one of his three career PGA TOUR victories ' his win here coming in 2002 ' he has posted three straight top-7 finishes at Lord Byrons event, including back-to-back T-6s. He also owns the best scoring average of those who have played in the event over the past five years with a 67.83 average.
 
Vijay Singh
Right behind the aforementioned Maruyamas scoring average over the previous five seasons is Singhs 68.61. And that would be much lower if not for a couple un-Singh-like closing Sundays in 04 and 06, when he posted a 78 and a 73, respectively. His win here in 2003 preceded his monster nine-win season in 2004 and he also finished in a tie for third two years ago. The Fijian already has two wins this year and sits atop the FedExCup points list.
 
Bubba Watson
The hard-swinging style of Watson should be looking forward to playing on a couple of the shortest courses on TOUR, even though both play as par-70s. He leads the TOUR in driving distance at 314.2 yards and with a strong start to his sophomore season has risen to 90th in the world rankings after starting the year in the 162nd spot. Currently sitting 17th on the money list, Watson has yet to win on TOUR but has four top-10s already this season, including a tie for fifth last week and a runner-up to Adam Scott in Houston.
 
Four others to keep an eye out for in Dallas:
 
Justin Leonard
The Dallas-born-and-bred Leonard will be hoping that his hometown event will allow him to show friends and family in the area that his game is truly back on track. After a disastrous 2006 season and a rough start of 07, Leonard has made the cut in three straight events, including his best result (T-16) in over a year at the Verizon Heritage.
 
Scott Verplank
Like Leonard, Verplank was born in the area and, also like Leonard, is still looking for his first win in his hometown event. He will be making his 21st start; and although without a victory, Verplank has three top-6s in the last six years.
 
Chad Campbell
Campbell is another Texan who will be looking to build on his solid effort a year ago when he tied for fifth. He has struggled somewhat this year after his strong showing at the WGC Match Play Championship, where he made it to the semifinals.
 
Nick Watney
Confidence is a very powerful thing in golf and Watney has loads of it as he heads west into Texas. Although he missed the cut two years ago and finished T-61 last season, he did manage to shoot a second-round 64, one of the best rounds of the tournament. He won last week in New Orleans.
 
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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.