The Stars Come Out in La-La Land

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 13, 2007, 5:00 pm
2007 Nissan OpenEven before they tee it up at famed Riviera Country Club for this week's 81st edition of the Nissan Open, there are two big stories surrounding the event.
 
First, there was the story about a certain someone who was or was not going to be in the field to try and extend his consecutive PGA TOUR winning streak to eight. That certain someone was, of course, Tiger Woods and unfortunately for the fans coming out to Pacific Palisades, the answer was no; he passed on the event.
 
The second story also dealt with another certain someone who no one thought was going to originally be in the field but then surprised event organizers by throwing his hat into the ring. And that someone was Phil Mickelson, who then added another surprise by bouncing back from a horrendous start this season to run away with the title at Pebble Beach.
 
Ernie Els
Ernie Els is making his 2007 PGA TOUR debut at the Nissan Open. (Wire Images)
So Phil's in and Tiger's out, end of story, right? Well, not quite.
 
Perhaps the bigger story line is: Who else will be showing up at Hogan's Alley? Answer - easily the strongest field of the year. Eight of the world's top-10 and 19 of the top-25 will be on hand to try and win the event that started all the way back in 1926 as the Los Angeles Open.
 
Names scheduled for the red carpet in L.A. - Els, Scott, Furyk, Goosen, Garcia, Donald, Ogilvy, Harrington - just to name a few.
 
And with such a loaded field, expect plenty of Oscar-worthy drama to play out just down the road from Hollywood. Last season, two-time champion of the event Fred Couples bogeyed three of his last four holes to hand the title over to Rory Sabbatini, who in turn had to hold off a hard-charging Adam Scott.
 
The year prior, it was Scott who needed a playoff to capture the first-place check - albeit it didn't come with all the other perks. Due to the fact that it was shortened to just 36 holes because of heavy rains, the No. 3 ranked Aussie was not credited with an official PGA TOUR victory.
 
And speaking of playoffs, since the turn of the century, every odd year has produced extra holes - Robert Allenby over five other players in 2001, Mike Weir over Charles Howell in 2003, and Scott's rain-shortened playoff over Chad Campbell in '05.
 
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 Couples
Fred Couples has good memories when he arrives at Riviera CC. (Wire Images)
Superstar
Of the two times he has teed it up in this event, Adam Scott has placed no worse than second, making his average finish a mere 1.5. That's a hard stat to ignore. And couple it with the fact that Scott has risen to No. 3 in the world and he figures to be the man to beat at Riviera. His results, although limited to just one event so far, include a runner-up in the only other strong field this season at the winners' only Mercedes-Benz Championship.
 
Second-Tier
In his lone start last year at Riviera, South Africa's rising star Trevor Immelman challenged for the lead before a couple of late bogeys dropped him into a tie for seventh. The narrow, tree-lined fairways this week could be an advantage to Immelman as he currently ranks 14th in driving accuracy. Ranked 62nd in the world at the end of 2005, he has steadily risen all the way up to 12th. He has a pair of top-3 finishes between the PGA and European tours' '07 schedules.
 
Veteran
Back in the early '90s, when he briefly held the No. 1 ranking in the world, fan favorite Fred Couples used to own this event. During a seven-year stretch from 1990 through 1996, Couples produced two victories and an impressive three runner-up showings. Yes, that was in his prime, but there's no denying Freddie still has a feel for the place as shown by four top-10s in his last seven starts. (editor's note: Couples withdrew from the field on Tuesday due to an injury.)
 
First-Timer
Still just 23-years-old, Kevin Na is unfortunately having to play this season with conditions usually associated with players much older than him - under a Major Medical Extension. The Korean-born Na not only bypassed college but also his senior year in high school to turn pro at the ripe age of 17 back in 2001. He had a breakout year in the 2005 with two runner-up finishes, one coming in a playoff to Geoff Ogilvy in Tucson. But he played in only 11 events last year due to hand injury and will be looking to right the ship at Riviera.
 
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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.