Playing the Old White after a 59

By Scott WalkerAugust 3, 2010, 4:10 am
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. – There was so much talk about how easy the Old White golf course played after we spent the week on 59 watch at the Greenbrier Classic ... then watched Stuart Appleby and his dramatic performance to shoot that magic score to win on Sunday.

A number of us who talk about golf for a living got the chance to play the course that Appleby & Co. lit up this week. We had the same pins, and played from the tips. As we discussed later, there has only been one previous opportunity to play a course where 59 was shot the day before on the PGA Tour.You learn quite a bit about the skill of a Tour player by doing that. Yes, the Old White course can be overpowered. I can carry the ball about 280 when I am really hitting it well. I didn't have to hit driver on most holes, but I did because attacking certain bunkers and blowing it over trouble was the best play. When you can carry the ball as far as Appleby or Jeff Overton, your caddie should break your 3-wood if you ever try to reach for it. It is no surprise that the two players at the top can play the long game with the best of them.

But, before you diminish Appleby's 59 because the scoring was so low and because the course is not long by modern standards, consider this: the architecture allowed that strategy.

So many times on the tee box at Old White, CB MacDonald told you exactly the best strategy to make birdie. Hit it over this bunker, and the hole opens up for you, he said through the design. But, if you miss, you will suffer the consequences.

The 12th hole is an eagle opportunity, but only if you hit it up the right side, where trees can knock down greedy tee ball out of bounds. On the 13th, you can drive it up the right side, but if you do you can't see the flagstick. And as you saw on the 18th hole, if you hit the wrong club on the finishing par 3, you will have the craziest putt of your life.

Length helps. Length puts wedges in your hands. But what we saw distinctly on Monday was that precision mattered from inside 100 yards. So many pins were three paces from a severe slope or a bunker that could turn birdie into bogey if your short game was not sharp.

What made the Old White such a pleasure to play was the fact that great reward was possible when a bold tee shot was matched with short game precision. Modern golf courses have a tendency to bludgeon a player with length as the defense. Swing as hard as you can, then do it again, and again, and again. This MacDonald/Raynor gem refurbished by Lester George takes a more surgical approach. The course invites you to overpower it if you can. But you had better be a wizard with the wedge to score. There is more than one way to play the course, based on your skill and nerve.

But you better have both.

Most pros do, which is why the scores were low. But only one of them shot a 59. Only one put a new tournament on the map with a putt on the 72nd hole that showed great confidence as well as great skill.

What can a truly classic golf course do? It can avoid the trap of trying to handcuff talented players. By allowing them to display their talents, those same players can put on a brilliant show.
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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.