Pooley Prevails in Open Playoff

By Golf Channel NewsroomJune 30, 2002, 4:00 pm
Don Pooley outlasted Tom Watson in a sterling five-hole playoff to capture the U.S. Senior Open.
 
The 50-year-old Pooley birdied the 77th hole of the championship to become the sixth player to win the event in his maiden appearance. He also became the first qualifier to win the tournament.
 
The two finished regulation at 10-under-par 274 to enter a three-hole cumulative playoff ' the first such playoff in Open history.
 
Both men parred each of the three extra holes to force sudden death. They then matched birdies on the fourth extra hole. Pooley ended the suspense with his second straight birdie one hole later.

The victory was Pooley's first in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event since his triumph in the 1987 Memorial Tournament.
 
'This is my first win on the Senior Tour, and to win the best tournament on the tour, it's just huge,' said Pooley. 'I mean, it's amazing.'
 
Pooley talks more about his win.
 
Pooley won twice on the PGA Tour, creating a David vs. Goliath scenario Sunday against the eight-time major champion Watson.
 
The two combatants started the additional session with 4s on the par-4 16th. Both men missed the fairway and the green. Watson rolled home his eight-footer for par, while Pooley did the same from six feet.
 
They again posted pars at the par-4 17th, with Watson two-putting after playing his tee ball into a fairway bunker, and Pooley getting up and down from 40 yards.
 
Pooley finally hit a fairway at the par-4 18th, and took advantage of his accuracy by knocking his approach shot to seven feet. Watson, however, found another fairway bunker and was forced to try and save par from 50-plus feet.
 
Watson lagged his first putt 12 feet short of the hole, but made the save to force Pooley to putt out to win.
 
He missed on the low side.
 
For the third time Sunday, the two played the uphill, 455-yard 18th. Pooley hit his second shot 15 feet left of the hole; Watson stuck his to 12 feet on the opposite side.
 
Pooley made his birdie effort - his first birdie in 18 holes, returning the pressure to Watson's shoulders.
 
He responded, drilling his putt dead-center.
 
Again they played the 18th. Watson's approach flew the green and landed in the deep rough. He pitched out to seven feet, but it proved irrelevant, as Pooley, after backing away once, made his 12-footer to earn the $450,000 first-place prize.
 
'I thought I was having a heart attack out there,' he joked.
 
Watson earned his fourth runner-up finish in his last 10 starts.
 
'I'm finishing second way too many times,' he said. 'I feel like Phil Mickelson to Tiger Woods. It's not a lot of fun to finish second.'
 
The playoff was the fifth in Senior Open history, and the first since Jack Nicklaus defeated Chi Chi Rodriguez in an 18-hole Monday endeavor in 1991.
 
Pooley almost didn't make this week's field. He was one of 116 players vying for five qualifying spots. He birdied the final hole to enter a playoff, and then birdied the first playoff hole to punch his ticket.
 
Pooley, who shot a tournament-record 63 in round 3, began the day with a three-stroke lead and birdied the first and third holes. Watson matched the birdie at 3, but still found his deficit increasing as the remaining holes were decreasing.
 
Pooley maintained a four-shot advantage entering the back nine, with Watson, Tom Kite (68) and Ed Dougherty (70) all tied for second.
 
The latter two were unable to challenge coming home, but Watson was a different story.
 
He stuffed his approach shot at the 10th inside of three feet. And despite a putting stroke that would have made Billy Mayfair cringe, he sliced in the birdie to move within three of the lead.
 
Throughout the week, only Watsons flatstick had kept him from running away with the title. He led the field in greens hit in regulation and was tied for second in driving accuracy. However, he was tied for 30th in putting.
 
Nonetheless, the putter proved to be his biggest asset en route to forcing the extra session.
 
Watson rolled in a seven-footer at the 13th to get within one, and then holed a 20-foot curler at 15 to tie Pooley at 10-under.
 
While Watson continued to split fairways, hit greens and make putts, Pooleys nerves started to show.
 
He pulled a metal wood on the 227-yard, par-3 15th, but got a reprieve when his ball caromed off the embankment onto the green. He two-putted for par, only to find the right rough off the tee at 16.
 
With the ball well above his feet, Pooley slapped his second shot out of the weeds, through the fairway and onto the green.
 
Watson was only 119 yards out, but missed the green with his pitching wedge. His pitch third shot then checked up 15 feet short of the hole, from where he failed to get down.
 
Pooley, on the other hand, two-putted for par to reclaim sole possession of the lead, and then scrambled for another save at 17.
 
Watson continued to apply the pressure, sticking his approach shot at the penultimate hole to 10 feet, and coaxing in the delicate downhiller.
 
Tied at 10-under, both men were neck and neck off the tee at 18. Pooley hit first, pushing his approach into the right bunker. Watson followed suit by hitting his second shot 35 feet beyond the hole.
 
Pooley blasted out to 2 feet, the same distance to where Watson lagged his birdie effort.
 
Both made their putts to force the three-hole playoff.
 
Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Open

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.