Ryder qualifying looming large over U.S. hopefuls

By Jason SobelJuly 31, 2014, 7:59 pm

AKRON, Ohio – Anyone who has witnessed Keegan Bradley’s stutter-step approach to his ball or constant club-twirling while standing over it understands that he’s quirky and eccentric and …

“I’m a really weird guy,” he stated matter-of-factly on Thursday. “I do a lot of weird stuff.”

One such example came after the last Ryder Cup. Despondent following the United States’ loss, Bradley arrived at his South Florida home and left his team-issued travel bag completely intact. Didn’t touch a zipper, didn’t empty a single pocket.

Nearly two years later, he still hasn’t opened it.

“I’m not even 100 percent sure what’s in there,” he said. “It’s sitting in my house. I just saw it before I left. For a split-second, I thought about opening it. Get a little motivation just to see what was in there.”

Like others who are currently on the bubble for automatic qualifying to this year’s roster, Bradley doesn’t need much motivation.

This week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and next week’s PGA Championship offer opportunities to climb inside the top nine on the points list and – to use a cliché – control your own destiny, rather than remain beholden to captain Tom Watson for a potential wild-card selection. Dustin Johnson was No. 5 on the U.S. points list, but Johnson announced Thursday that he is taking leave of absence "to seek professional help for personal challenges," one that will keep him out of the Ryder Cup. His absence opens up one more spot for guys fighting to make the team.

“It’s brutal,” admits Bradley, currently 16th in the standings. “It’s stuff you don’t think about when you’re younger, grinding it out for spots on Ryder Cup teams. You think about having fun out here. That’s not very much fun.

Therein lies a problem, though. Every player within shouting distance of making the team has those thoughts in the forefront of his mind – and every one of ‘em maintains that he’s trying his best not to think about it.

“It's about the farthest thing from my mind,” Ryan Moore, 14th on the points list, said after an opening-round 5-under 65 at Firestone. “It's just simply, I've got two chances to go play good and hope I can get it done.”

“It's one of those things where you have to take care of yourself,” explained Patrick Reed, another bubble boy who opened with a 67. “If so, then everything will fall into place.”

That’s the goal, at least – and with double points available at Valhalla next week, the qualifying process is far from a done deal.

“I’m so far out of it that I’ve got to play spectacular golf the next few weeks,” said Brandt Snedeker, who shot 68 on Thursday. “I’m playing better golf now than I have all year. I know I’m hitting it really good. I’m excited about that. I have no doubt in my mind I can win one of these next two tournaments and put myself right in the mix.”

Most players also understand, though, that with a few notable superstars – namely, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson – currently on the outside looking in, the chance of securing one of the three captain’s picks is even less than in years past.

“Every year there’s a couple of guys who seem like they’re locks for captain’s picks,” Snedeker continued. “I would find it hard to see a Ryder Cup team without those two guys on it. I think there’s one spot that’s available and I think that’s how everyone views it.”

Neither of them are taking anything for granted, though.

Woods has repeatedly stated some form of his longtime mantra: “Winning takes care of everything." Mickelson has been echoing those sentiments, as well.

“It's been a really good streak that I've had going,” the lefthander said after a first-round 1-over 71. “I have not had to rely on a captain's selection in two decades and I'd like to keep that going. I definitely want to be in Scotland, a country that I've played some good golf in the last few years and I always enjoy going back to. So it would be nice and beneficial, I think, if I were able to play my way on the team by myself. And I feel like I'm starting to play well enough to do it now.”

From those firmly on the bubble to those who need to make a major move in the standings, every potential U.S. team member is thinking about the Ryder Cup without actually trying to think about over these next two weeks.

That’s a difficult conundrum, one that might even flummox the best mental gurus.

There’s not much else these players can do, though, other than block it from their minds and post some low numbers over the next two weeks.

At least one players has a little extra motivation, too.

“I want to play on that Ryder Cup team,” Bradley said. “If good stuff happens, I’ll open that bag.”

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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.