Watson missing two hottest players on U.S. team

By Jason SobelSeptember 12, 2014, 7:51 pm

ATLANTA – Back at his home in Kansas, Tom Watson must be watching the last few PGA Tour events with clenched fists. He must be wistfully examining the developments. He must be feeling pangs of regret every time a leaderboard flashes across the screen.

All for reasons he easily could have avoided.

Two weeks ago, the United States Ryder Cup captain announced his three wildcard selections to the roster. Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson will each join the team at Gleneagles. Excellent golfers, proven winners, experienced competitors.

And yet, the choices still left plenty of observers befuddled. After all, since accepting the captaincy, Watson has persistently claimed he wanted hot hands entering the festivities.

Well, just two weeks before the first shot will be struck in Scotland, the two hottest hands are both American players – and neither of them are on the Ryder Cup team.

Chris Kirk and Billy Horschel are not only 1-2 in the FedEx Cup standings, they are currently listed in reverse order atop this week’s Tour Championship leaderboard. Meanwhile, Bradley didn’t qualify for the season finale and Simpson and Mahan are tied for 25th place in the 29-man field.

That’s not to say any of them was the “wrong” pick, because that won’t be determined until they actually compete overseas. But they certainly don’t fall in line with the captain’s personal edict.

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Watson shouldn’t be blamed for not seeing these performances in his crystal ball. He shouldn’t be blamed for making what he considered were the best choices for his team at the time.

No, here's where the blame can be traced to the captain: There exists no rule which states these wildcard picks must be decided by a certain date. As captain, Watson could have mandated that he was moving the announcement back two weeks in order to choose players who were in form.

There’s no reason why he couldn’t have done this. Did they need time to prepare passports? Heck, every pro golfer in the world has an updated one. To ensure they’d have tailored uniforms? Every candidate was fitted for clothes long ago. To get the hotel rooms set? It’s not too difficult to change names on a room – especially when that room is being held for a Ryder Cup team member.

It even made sense logistically. Unlike previous years, the current schedule includes an off week between the Tour Championship and Ryder Cup – which ostensibly would have given three picks a full week to prepare for the rigors of the competition.

Such a move would have been very much within Watson’s jurisdiction, too. In fact, it wouldn’t even be an original concept. Just six years ago, Paul Azinger pushed the captain’s picks announcement back three weeks, from its previous spot directly after the PGA Championship.

Moving it back this year might have resulted in a different team dynamic – not that the two guys for whom it likely could have affected are whining about the situation.

“I don't feel like I deserve to be on this team,” said Horschel, who won last week’s BMW Championship. “Two weeks doesn't mean you should be on a Ryder Cup. It may mean you may be the hottest player, but doesn't mean you've played a good enough year to be on the team.”

“I don't care anymore than I did a week or two ago,” added Kirk, who took the Deutsche Bank Championship two weeks ago. “I mean, it's not really that big of a deal. Those guys that he picked are great players, and they're going to go do great. I'm a little tired, and I'm looking forward to my rest.”

They’re not the only players who potentially could have made a last-minute rally, either. Of the top 13 on the leaderboard at East Lake, 10 are U.S.-born players – and seven (Horschel, Kirk, Kevin Na, Ryan Palmer, Cameron Tringale, Russell Henley and Bill Haas) aren’t members of the Ryder Cup team.

Many of ‘em wish they still had a chance.

Palmer hit an approach shot to 18 inches for a tap-in birdie on the eighth hole Friday. His playing partner and European team stalwart Sergio Garcia turned to him and exclaimed, “I’m glad you’re not on the Ryder Cup team!” – a compliment by any measure.

“I think it would be a good question to ask the PGA,” Palmer said. “Why is it chosen so early?”

Horschel, who will take a two-stroke lead into the weekend, isn’t asking that question. But he has been asked a question recently from the man in charge of the team.

“Tom Watson sent me a text the other night,” he divulged. “It's exactly what I thought it was going to be, just sort of said, ‘Where was this sooner?’ People said, ‘Does Tom Watson think he's kicking himself?’ I said, ‘No, he's not kicking himself. He's going to kick me for not playing better sooner.’”

Maybe he isn’t kicking himself, but there’s no doubt he’s watching on TV at home. It won’t be much longer until Watson arrives in Scotland, understands that he’s without the two hottest U.S. players and realizes he’s not in Kansas anymore.

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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.