Defending Champ Out But Masters Winner In

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 14, 2007, 4:00 pm
AT&T ClassicDULUTH, Ga. -- The PGA TOUR moves from the TPC Sawgrass to the TPC Sugarloaf this week, where last week's winner at THE PLAYERS Championship, Phil Mickelson, has decided not to defend his title at the AT&T Classic.
 
Last year, when the tournament was named the BellSouth Classic, Mickelson successfully defended his 2005 title by sprinting to a 13-shot win at Sugarloaf a week before he won his second Masters title.
 
Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson
Phil Mickelson gets a fist bump from Zach Johnson during his 2006 blowout. (WireImage)
Like THE PLAYERS, this event was moved back in the schedule to give the TOUR a different May lineup in the weeks before the U.S. Open.
 
Mickelson, the new world No. 2 after his win on Sunday, isn't the only top-10 player who is skipping this week's event. Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk, Vijay Singh and five of the other six top-10 players are also taking the week off.
 
Only No. 7 Henrik Stenson is in the field, where he will be joined by just three of the last 13 champions (Zach Johnson '05; Paul Stankowski '96; and John Daly '94).
 
The purse is $5.4 million, with $972,000 going to the winner.
 
As always, the GOLF CHANNEL will have coverage of the first two rounds and CBS will broadcast the weekend. Next week is the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial (the Colonial), where Tim Herron beat Richard S. Johnson in a playoff last year.
 
Next week, the TOUR will head on back to Texas for the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. But here are the guys to watch out for this week:
 
Zach Johnson
The recently crowned Masters champion has been on a whirlwind tour of America since his victory, but will feel right at home this week in Georgia. Playing just a hop, a skip and a jump from Augusta, Johnson apparently has quite the feel for Georgia courses. His one other TOUR victory came here at the TPC Sugarloaf three seasons ago. He also had a runner-up finish here last year and is coming off a solid week at THE PLAYERS where he tied for 16th.
 
Henrik Stenson
Although he missed the cut in his only appearance last year, Stenson does come into the event as the highest ranked player in the field. The long-hitting Swede has played steady golf this year following his breakout win at the WGC-Match Play Championship, where he took down Aussie Geoff Ogilvy. He finished 23rd last week in Ponte Vedra Beach.
 
Peter Lonard
Lonard doesnt have a strong history at Sugarloaf, but he did manage to finish fifth in 2004. He has played this tournament three times, making the cut on each occasion. What may favor him most, however, is his recent form. The Aussie played quality golf last week at THE PLAYERS, tying for sixth. It was his best finish since a third-place showing earlier in the year in Mexico.
 
Stewart Cink
The Georgia Tech grad and Duluth resident is a local favorite. Hes had some success at Sugarloaf, but hasnt yet climbed into the winners circle. Cink has played this tournament every year since 1997 and has six top-10 finishes. His best result came in 1999, when he finished runner-up to David Duval. This may be his week to breakthrough (just like Dallas Scott Verplank did at the Byron Nelson). Cink has finished inside the top 5 each of the last two weeks, including a T3 at THE PLAYERS.
 
J.J. Henry
If not for Mickelson, the 2006 tournament would have gone right down to the wire, and Henry would have been in the mix. He closed in 4-under 68 to secure a tie for fourth, one back of runners-up Johnson and Jose Maria Olazabal. He also tied for ninth here in 03. Henrys length is an asset on the 7,343-yard layout.
 
Here are four other players to keep an eye on at TPC Sugarloaf:
 
Jonathan Byrd
After missing the cut in his AT&T debut in 2004, Byrd tied for 32nd in 05 and was solo sixth a year ago. If he continues to improve along those lines, he could be hoisting the trophy over his head this time around.
 
Rory Sabbatini
Sabbatini has made more headlines recently with his mouth than with his play. The South African has never had much success in this particular event, missing the cut five times in the last six years, but past results mean little to him. He had only made one cut at the Masters before this year and tied for second. He has three top-3s in his last four starts. And with no Tiger in the field, maybe he can keep his focus on his own game.
 
Charles Howell III
For the first time in five years, CHIII will tee it up in this event. He missed the cut way back in 2002, but did tie for sixth in 01. Hes certainly worth keeping an eye on this week.
 
Rich Beem
Beem was among the four unfortunate losers to Mickelson in the 2005 playoff. He returned last year and tied for 19th ' one of only four top-20 finishes on the season. He could use a good finish this week, as he hasnt broken the top 20 since the Nissan Open in February.
 
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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.