Tiger, Rory in constant praise of one another

By Jason SobelAugust 19, 2014, 12:09 pm

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – As Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy met the media for a Nike product launch at Liberty National Golf Club on Monday evening, more than one attendee noted that the Statue of Liberty looming in the background could have symbolized not only freedom and independence, but a not-so-subtle passing of the torch.

This was not long after the world’s erstwhile No. 1 and its current top-ranked player traded barbs during a taping of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” with McIlroy landing a seemingly innocuous blow to Woods’ dominance by painting it in the past tense.

This night, though, wasn’t about any sort of budding rivalry between Generation X and Generation Next.

If anything, it once again shined a spotlight on a developing camaraderie between two of the few golfers who know what it feels like to walk in the other one’s spikes. It was a reminder that Woods has served in the same big brother type of role for McIlroy that players like Mark O’Meara and John Cook did for him when he was in the midst of becoming a mega-superstar.

Wearing matching black hats imprinted with the word “VAPOR” – Nike’s newest line of three sets of irons – Woods and McIlroy flanked emcee Fallon on a stage set with the Manhattan skyline as a backdrop. They spoke in concert about the benefits of the clubs, from hitting them longer distances to dialing in more preferable spin rates.

Mostly, though, it was a two-way dalliance between two men who were repeatedly referred to by their equipment sponsor as not just golfers but “elite athletes.”

Following a brief Q&A session with the late-night host, it was time to give the new product its first public test drive. With Tiger playing the role of judicious observer – he later divulged that because of his back injury, he won’t swing a club for at least another month – Rory and Fallon took a few hacks of predictably varying degrees.

Rory and Tiger on Monday night's "Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon"

Even during this time, though, the praise never left its alternate shot format.

When Fallon waxed poetic about a towering McIlroy 9-iron to a 150-yard target, Woods echoed the rave review. For his part, the young Northern Irishman simply deflected the compliments. “That’s a Tiger shot right there,” he offered in a tone more sheepish than boastful.

He has reason to gloat, of course. McIlroy captured the year’s final two major titles, which likewise captured the attention of the man who owns 14 of them.

Like the rest of the world that witnessed Rory’s recent dominance, Tiger was also unduly impressed.

“It was just a matter of time,” he explained. “We’ve seen him have runs like this before. He made a wholesale equipment change and also at the same time made a few changes in his swing. It’s tough to make all those changes work at the same time, especially at the elite level.

“When he puts it together, he can get on hot streaks and runs like this. To win two major championships and a World Golf Championship, that’s tough stuff. That’s not easy to do and not many people have.”

In a way, McIlroy foreshadowed his latest run in generalities months earlier.

When asked at one point earlier in the year as to whether golf needed a dominant player, he suggested that he would like to – and possibly could – fill that void while Woods was sidelined by injury.

“As a sports fan, I like to see dominance,” McIlroy said in qualifying that statement. “I like to see people achieving great things and dynasties in sports. That’s what I enjoy watching.

“I wasn’t saying that golf is crying out for a new Tiger Woods. Just a few people to put their hands up and say they’re going to challenge for majors these next few years. I felt like I was part of that group. It’s obviously worked out well for me this summer. I have put my hand up. I have been that dominant player the last few weeks. Now it’s at a point where I want to continue doing that and hold on to that position.”

This was the narrative that flowed throughout the evening, as McIlroy and Woods appeared more like teammates than rivals.

It was a company’s product launch masked as a meeting of the mutual admiration society, a fact that was never clearer than when Rory was asked about shouldering the weight of being the so-called “next Tiger.”

“It’s a huge compliment for me to be compared with Tiger,” he said. “But I'll never be able to do what he's done for the game.”

Here in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, where on Monday evening one could look across the harbor and confuse the symbolism, this was no passing of the torch. It was just two players in matching hats, effusively praising each other and the equipment manufacturer which brought them together.

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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.