2014 Newsmaker No. 3: Tiger Woods

By Jason SobelDecember 18, 2014, 12:00 pm

If there was ever a single snapshot which could vividly illustrate Tiger Woods’ domain as the most polarizing and prominent figure in golf, it occurred on the afternoon of Aug. 6 in the Valhalla Golf Club parking lot – and he wasn’t even there.

One day before the start of the PGA Championship – and just three days after he’d withdrawn from the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational with a recurring back injury – Woods’ parking space was surrounded by a few dozen television crews and reporters, all eagerly awaiting his expected arrival. As they affixed their lenses on the empty spot, the game’s No. 1-ranked player emerged. Carrying the claret jug and wearing a bemused grin on his face, Rory McIlroy surveyed the scene and strode past without so much as a double-take from the awaiting throng.

Now, it can be argued that this scene is more of a statement on the media’s obsession with Woods than that of the public, but I’d argue in return that such attention is simply a reflection on overall interest. Call it the law of supply and demand. If the public didn’t demand this type of coverage, the media wouldn’t supply it.

During a year in which Woods failed to add to his major championship total, didn’t win, didn’t claim a top 10, dropped to 29th in the world, missed three months after undergoing microdiscectomy surgery and still remained a headliner in more ways than one, it was a stark reminder that, as one of my colleagues so deftly puts it, he doesn’t move the needle. He is the needle.

All of which has resulted in Woods becoming Golf Channel’s No. 3 Newsmaker of 2014.

This announcement should come as less of a surprise than just about anything else in Woods’ ever-changing world this year.

2014 Newsmakers: 4. Social Media | 5. Bishop | 6. Wie7. Reed8. R&A9. Bubba | 10. DJ | Honorable mentions

Fresh off a five-win season, many predicted this would be the year Woods finally inched closer to Jack Nicklaus’ all-time major record and once again asserted his dominance over the ever-expanding field of elite-echelon players. It never had a chance to happen, though.

His first start of the year came at Torrey Pines, a course on which he’s won eight times as a pro. A third-round 80 kept him from making the secondary cut. The next week he competed in Dubai, with only a marginally better result – a share of 41st place.

And that was actually the good news.

Woods withdrew from the Honda Classic with that aforementioned back injury. He gutted his way through a painful final round at Doral. Following surgery and ensuing recovery, he returned to miss the cut at his own Quicken Loans National, then finish T-69 at the Open Championship, WD at Firestone and MC at the PGA – a maelstrom of unfortunate alphabet soup.

If his on-course performance – or lack of it – wasn’t enough to grab attention, then the never-ending news cycle swirling around him certainly was.

Hardly a week went by when there wasn’t some tidbit of varying newsworthiness emanating from Camp Woods.

After the PGA, he announced he’d take himself out of Ryder Cup consideration. Then he severed ties with swing coach Sean Foley and hired “consultant” Chris Como.

He went into the restaurant business. He went on “The Tonight Show.” He signed endorsement deals with Muscle Pharm and Hero. He flamed author Dan Jenkins for a satirical column. He opened the first course from his design business.

He was even in the news when it wasn’t him causing it. His former coach Hank Haney said he was too muscular. Fellow player Graeme McDowell insisted he’s lost his invincibility. Rory McIlroy claimed he’s on the back nine of his career.

Toward the end of the year, following a four-month layoff, Woods returned. With a new sponsor, a new (for one year only) venue and a new reason for optimism, he competed in the Hero World Challenge at Isleworth, home to his former residence. While his swing looked better than it had all year, his short game resembled a high-handicapper’s, as he duffed nine chip shots during four rounds that left him in a share of last place when it was over.

As he slammed the trunk on a lost year from a performance perspective, words he uttered just before that final event still echoed.

“Father Time is undefeated,” he said. “We all eventually are losing some of the things we are able to do when we were younger.”

When he returns in 2015, Woods will again be chasing his former self, trying to turn back the clock on a career that was stuck in neutral this year.

Whether he can accomplish that remains perilously in doubt. The only thing we know for certain is that when the next year ends, win or lose, he’ll undeniably be one of the game’s top newsmakers once again.

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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.