Donald lacks respect befitting world No. 1

By Jason SobelAugust 2, 2012, 6:34 pm

AKRON, Ohio – Under a clear, blue, early Thursday afternoon sky, Luke Donald is doing what Luke Donald does best. His ball firmly entrenched in the bunker directly left of the ninth green – his final hole of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational opening round – Donald extricates it with the delicate touch of a surgeon, then calmly raps in a 3-foot par putt to punctuate a 4-under 66 total.

The impressive up-and-down that Donald decrees all too normal on a regular basis and its resulting score are each met with a smattering of applause from the relatively sparse gallery. Relatively sparse, that is, for one of the tournament’s co-leaders at the time and relatively sparse for the game’s No. 1-ranked player.

That isn’t a knock against the ever-burgeoning northeast Ohio crowds. It’s more of a statement on the reception Donald finds on a week-in, week-out basis – at least here in the United States, where his lack of a rainbow-colored wardrobe, lack of a silver tongue and lack of a major championship leave him with a lack of due respect. The truth is, he’s a snappy dresser, is among PGA Tour leaders in eloquence and the major, well, he’s working on that.

Even so, he’s got a little bit of Rodney Dangerfield in him right now – and not always the Al Czervik-everybody-loves-me kind.

“Amongst my peers, yeah, absolutely,” Donald says about the respect he receives. “Obviously there isn't as much fanfare around me. I kind of go about my business. You know, I don't really know how to answer that. I think certainly the fact that I haven't won a major distracts away from some of the fan base, and I understand that. But in terms of myself and knowing what got me there, I'm certainly very proud of everything I've done.”

If, as the old baseball commercial stated, “chicks dig the long ball,” then it takes a special kind of connoisseur to dig the wedge-and-putter game.

It may not be sexy – Donald isn’t Bubba Watson bending approach shots around trees or Phil Mickelson flopping ‘em from hardpan lies – but that’s the type of game that wins tournaments, even if it doesn’t necessarily win fans and influence people.

“I’m not too sure the fans follow the No. 1 player in the world just because he’s the No. 1 player in the world,” says caddie John MacLaren. “Tiger [Woods] is one of the greatest players who’s ever lived and he does have that special quality that perhaps Rory [McIlroy] has and very few players have that – it’s not just handed out to everyone. So I think that’s probably what they follow, the extraordinary talent as opposed to No. 1 in the world.

“His achievements are better than anyone else playing the game in the last year-and-a-half, but I’m not sure the American public quite gets that. They do in Europe, I can assure you of that.”

Donald is currently in his fourth stint atop the Official World Golf Ranking, totaling 55 overall weeks so far. Treat the OWGR as gospel or dispute its importance, there’s no denying the fact that any player elevated via formulaic equation to the No. 1 ranking for more than a full year of his career deserves a modicum of respect for the achievement.

Still, each week headlines blare the potential scenarios for other players to overtake Donald atop the world order. This week is no different.

If Woods wins and Donald finishes third or worse, Woods will be the new No. 1. If McIlroy wins and Donald finishes 12th or worse, McIlroy will be the new No. 1.

Well, how about this scenario: If Donald keeps playing the way he’s been playing for the past 18 months, the new No. 1 will be the same as the old No. 1.

Since the beginning of 2011, Donald has competed in 41 events worldwide, compiling 26 top-10 finishes and a half-dozen victories. Last year, he won the money titles on both the PGA and European tours in unprecedented fashion. He isn’t the game’s longest hitter nor is he the most electric, but he easily has the consistency title locked up.

“I love being No. 1,” he maintains. “It just reminds me of how consistent and how well I've played the last couple years. I mean, it's a great plus in terms of the mental side, just knowing the results that got me there. I think it's great to be there and it pushes me harder to work harder to try and stay there, as well.”

The bull’s-eye firmly affixed to his back once again, Donald keeps on doing what he does best. On a course that shouldn’t suit his game at 7,400 yards, he has now posted five consecutive under-par rounds, following last year’s runner-up finish with another strong start this week.

It may not be the brand of golf that wows spectators and draws rave reviews, but it is the type that delivers results. And that’s all Luke Donald really needs.

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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.