What We Learned: Volvo, Byron Nelson

By Jason SobelMay 19, 2013, 11:02 pm

Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the world of golf. In this edition, our writers weigh in on Graeme McDowell's victory in the Volvo World Match Play Championship, Peter Uilein's first win as a pro and the remarkable collegiate performance of the California Golden Bears.

The list of 'best current match-play competitors' doesn't extend very far, for the simple reason that the format is implemented in only a few professional tournaments per year. Tiger Woods and his three WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship titles place him firmly at or near the top of this list. Ian Poulter's one such title and Ryder Cup fire and brimstone act has him there, too. Graeme McDowell is one of the few others who can stake a claim to this placement, as well, with his Volvo World Match Play triumph serving as the latest example. McDowell has shown a tendency to make more clutch putts when the pressure is greatest. It's one reason why he won't be a one-time major champion for too much longer – especially if his next major title hope turns into a match-play type of scenario. – Jason Sobel

Peter Uihlein has never been afraid to leave home. At age 13, he gave up his New England youth for Bradenton, Fla., to attend the IMG Academy golf program. Upon graduation, he chose faraway Stillwater, Okla., to test himself in the college hotbed of Oklahoma State. And when it came time to pursue a professional golf career, Uihlein picked countries like Germany and Spain on the European Tour over a barnstorming life through the minor leagues of American golf.

On Sunday, his vagabond existence paid off in his first professional victory at the Madeira Islands Open in Santo Antonio Da Serra in Portugal. The 2010 U.S. Amateur champion birdied four of his last eight holes in the final round, carding a 68 to win by two shots over Denmark’s Morten Orum and Chile’s Mark Tullo.

Uihlein acknowledged Sunday that he has faced many challenges navigating countries where he doesn’t speak the language. The simple tasks we take for granted – finding a warm bed or a hot meal – hasn’t always come easy. But the life experiences the 23-year-old Uihlein has gained will serve him both inside and outside the ropes. In so many ways, they already have. And once he lands on the PGA Tour, he will feel at home wherever he plays. – Damon Hack

I'm not normally one to follow astrology, but there had to have been something in the stars this week. Sang-Moon Bae pulled a lunar eclipse in topping Keegan Bradley Sunday at the Byron Nelson. Jennifer Johnson switched to a spaceship putter, and then gravitated to the top of the Mobile Bay leaderboard for her debut LPGA victory. A few Blue Moons and some moonwalking seems in order. – Bailey Mosier

Closing is an art form. For the second time in three weeks, an established player took a lead into the final turn on a PGA Tour Sunday and lost. Two weeks ago at the Wells Fargo Championship it was Phil Mickelson and Nick Watney, a shot clear of the field heading into the final turn, who lost to little-known Derek Ernst. This week at the Byron Nelson Championship it was Keegan Bradley pacing the field through 54 who came up short to Sang-Moon Bae. – Rex Hoggard

While the focus remains on Tiger and Rory and Keegan, a remarkable story continues to play out among the college ranks. The top-ranked Cal Golden Bears won their NCAA regional Saturday, their 11th win in 13 tournaments this season – a new single-season NCAA record. The team has no world-beater, yet all five of Cal’s starters – Michael Kim, Max Homa, Brandon Hagy, Michael Weaver and Joel Stalter – have won an individual title this season. Dating to last season, the Golden Bears have won 17 of their past 27 tournaments and finished inside the top five in all 27. The best part? It still doesn’t guarantee an NCAA title, at least not yet. The finals begin in nine days, in Atlanta. Cal has to navigate not just three days of stroke-play qualifying, but then three rounds of match play against the top eight teams. Could even more history await the winningest team in college golf history? – Ryan Lavner

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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.