Grill Room: Following the Tiger crowd at Valhalla

By Jason CrookAugust 7, 2014, 4:55 pm

“Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!”

That was my response to the thought of an inside-the-ropes badge that would allow me to follow Tiger Woods’ group on Thursday at the PGA Championship. I write for the Grill Room, a real blue-collar blog, a blog for the people, by the people.

Rookie move. Here’s what I encountered when I found the marquee grouping on the 13th fairway on Thursday. Pretty, huh?

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Despite being 10 rows deep at most times while following the greatest golfer of his generation, I wasn't going to get down. I love being in close, confined spaces with strange people I don't know. If you didn't pick up on the sarcasm font there, you need to get your computer screen checked.

Anyways, here are some of the highlights lowlights of my day with with Woods, Phil Mickelson, a few thousand of their biggest fans from Louisville, and Padraig Harrington, or “The Other Guy,” as they so politely referred to him.

On 14, Tiger missed the green to the left. A wife complained to her husband that she didn’t see the shot. His response, “Honey, you have to watch the ball flight.” You think? She looked like a nice lady, who didn’t want to cause a scene, but there’s a good chance that conversation will have a thrilling conclusion on their ride home tonight.

I couldn’t make it over to the 14th tee in time to watch the trio hit - something to do with the thousands of people in my way - so I stayed back near the 13th green, about 200 yards away. Phil was up and pulled a club. The guy behind me stated emphatically that it was his Phrankenwood. I shot a look back to see if he was a hawk eating a bag of carrots, or if the man was just full of it. I’ll let you decide which it was.

While walking to 16, two men engaged in a back and forth of, “Go Tiger!-Go Phil!” because of course they did. But it was at this point that I noticed a complete lack of “Mashed potatoes!” and "You da man's!” I smiled briefly.

There’s quite a logjam after 16 and we were stopped for several minutes. Being the man of the people that I am, I didn’t (visibly) mind being trapped inches from all of these strangers. The Best Comment of the Day Award goes to a couple of guys stuck in the pack with me.

“This is like being stuck in Walmart,” one said.

“On Christmas,” his friend responded.

These people ... are the best people.

While waiting for the threesome to tee off on 18, a marshal came running over with her hands up, reminding the gallery to be silent and stay still. The cameraman, whose camera she just butted in front of, obeyed her rules by quietly telling her to get out of his shot. She was not heard from again.

By the 18th green, Tiger fans had enough of the stink … from their fellow fans.

One man backed away from the crowd while Tiger was lining up his putt saying, “I ain’t getting up in that stinkin’ a** s*** up there!”

But by the first hole, this group’s 10th of the day, the fans had moved on to Woods’ game.

“I’ve seen Tiger hit three shots today, and two of them have been awful,” one man exclaimed after Woods’ shot ended up way left and in the thick stuff.

Tiger went on to make bogey. Joe Dirt was not deterred.

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I looked down, sweaty and gross, and oh so close to the media center. I decided that was enough for me. I would have to suffer through the rest of the round without the running commentary. 

I'm not exactly sure why anyone would choose to spend their day this way, but after just six holes, I've got to give some credit to Tiger Tracker. You're a better man than I am.

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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.