Phil Fans Ready for Wild Times in the Desert

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 30, 2007, 5:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)The PGA TOUR makes its annual stop this week in Scottsdale, Ariz., for the long-running FBR Open -- and the list of superlatives that come with it: wild, raucous, unpredictable.
 
And no, we're not talking the fans surrounding the infamous 16th green at the TPC of Scottsdale.
 
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson has had four straight top-10s at the FBR Open. (WireImage).
Rather, we're talking about Phil Mickelson's scorecards thus far this season.
 
Mickelson, who once was a resident in the area and was a college star at nearby Arizona State, returns to the desert as a two-time winner of the event. Yet, it is the scorecards from his opening two tournaments that scream of rust and perhaps too much time away from TOUR play.
 
After a much publicized retreat from golf following his dismal Ryder Cup performance, Phil the Thrill has seemingly gone back to the style of play that prompted the commercial, 'What will Phil do next?'
 
At the 90-hole Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, Lefty somehow parred just half the holes (45) - the other half were birdies, eagles, bogeys or worse. Somewhere an amusement park should come up with a roller-coaster named after the man.
 
It was pretty much the same last week at the Buick Invitational. Plenty of birdies, several doubles, too many bogeys and a lone eagle - in perfect Lefty-style - on the 72nd hole.
 
The results - a tie for 45th and a tie for 51st. Hardly the start the reigning Masters champion was looking for to possibly quell the talk of his now legendary meltdown at Winged Foot. But a homecoming of sorts this week could be just what the doctor ordered for Phil.
 
Another homecoming of sorts is that of J.B. Holmes, even though he hails from Campbellsville, Ky.
 
It was here last year that one of the PGA TOUR's biggest bombers landed his first TOUR win - in a spectacular, runaway fashion. His seven-shot margin of victory was the largest in a player's maiden TOUR victory since Jose Maria Olazabal's 12-stroke romp at the 1990 NEC World Series of Golf.
 
Heres our list of players to watch for from four different categories: Superstar (top-10 ranked player from the Official World Golf Ranking); Second Tier (guys outside the top 10, but no lower than 100); First-Timer (a player who has never won before on TOUR); Veteran (a guy who has played 10-plus years on the PGA TOUR and may or may not have won in some time).
 
Fred Funk
Fred Funk is coming off a bogey free week in Hawaii.
Superstar
Although with just three top-10 players in the field again this week, Mickelson's up-and-down play is too suspect to be the pick. Geoff Ogilvy, a definite star in the making, has little to draw from so far this season. The pick for this week then falls into the lap of Vijay Singh. Twice a winner of this event, his last in 2003, Singh will come into Scottsdale with a bit of a chip on his shoulder after two straight sub-par - by his standards - efforts at the Hope and the Buick. Singh has had five straight top-20 finishes in the event.
 
Second Tier
Fred Funk. The Funkmeister is coming off a big win on the Champions Tour that saw him trounce the competition to the tune of a staggering 11-shot victory. Maybe even more impressive was this stat: 54 holes, 0 bogeys. Funk, who turns 51 in June, intends to spend most of his time on the PGA TOUR this season due his exempt status from winning the Players Championship in 2005.
 
First-Timer
If J.B. Holmes can have his breakout party here Arizona, why not Bubba Watson? Watson did edge out Holmes for the driving distance title last season and had the best finish of his young career just south in Tucson at the Chrysler Classic. Currently 24th on the money list due his fourth-place tie last week, Watson again is leading the TOUR in driving distance at 323.1 yards off the tee. It's just too bad that the wild 16th hole in Scottsdale is a par-3 instead of a par-5, or a short par-4. If it was, Watson would no doubt be crowned the king.
 
Veteran
Mark Calcavecchia was the pick in this space a week ago, and he gets a well-deserved nod again this week. A three-time champion in Scottsdale, Calc is playing inspired golf at the moment, racking up his second straight top-10 after his tie for fourth at the Buick. With his confidence growing, the 12-time PGA TOUR winner will be ready when he arrives at the place where he has had his most success.
 
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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.