Woods relaxed, upbeat heading into Phoenix Open

By Jason SobelJanuary 27, 2015, 6:24 pm

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – If you're the world's most famous athlete and inherently image-conscious and were last seen in public missing a front tooth and you've got to speak with the media – the same meddling media that for two decades has asked you every question from "Was that a 7-iron or 8-iron that you hit from 205 yards to the tucked pin?" to "What did you have for breakfast this morning?" – there might not be a better time to schedule this interview session than at nearly the same moment as Super Bowl Media Day, where just across town behemoth football players embarking on one of the world's biggest sporting events were about to be grilled over deflated balls.

Call it a brilliant coincidence or an astute conspiracy theory – after all, Tiger Woods doesn’t make a habit of playing Tuesday practice rounds at non-majors, let alone a pre-dawn Tuesday practice round that left him finishing up right before the New England Patriots were taking to their podiums in nearby Glendale – but Woods unquestionably repositioned himself in a spotlight that any other place, any other time, would have been firmly affixed to his pearly whites.

Oh, right – about those. Woods showed up at TPC Scottsdale with all previous toothless gaps filled in. Despite appeals from the masses on social media to leave it be - or at the very least, replace the missing chicklet with a gold substitute in the most (OK, only) gangsta move in professional golf history – he returned to the public eye with all chompers in proper working order.

He also offered an explanation of the incident after girlfriend Lindsey Vonn’s skiing victory in Italy that was equal parts believable and amusing.

Waste Management Phoenix Open : Articles, videos and photos

“Yeah, that didn't feel very good,” he said. “I had my mask on, so no one knew who I was; trying to blend in, because there is not a lot of brown dudes at ski races, OK? That was the whole idea of why I wore the mask, and then I came up above. I was looking down, and all the camera guys are below me on their knees or moving all around, trying to get a picture because she's hugging people, saying congratulations to the other racers as they are coming down. Dude with a video camera on his shoulder, right in front of me, kneeling, stood up and turned and caught me square on the mouth. He chipped that [tooth], cracked the other one. And so then, you know, I'm trying to keep this [mask] so the blood is not all over the place.”

Those conspiracy theories that Woods was ducking additional attention seemed to wilt in the brisk desert air, as he spent 12 minutes largely showing off that reworked smile during a series of relaxed, engaging answers prior to his first start on the 2015 calendar.

All of which is just as well, because even though the Scottsdale scene looks like the perfect backdrop for “Hangover 4,” it’s not the kind of place which takes kindly to embarrassment. Tiger won’t have that missing tooth to provoke catcalls from what’s expected to be more than a half-million spectators this week, and he believes he’s cured himself of the embarrassing chipping woes which plagued his last competitive performance eight weeks ago.

“I was caught between techniques, between my old release pattern and body movement when I was working with [former instructor] Sean [Foley] and then my new release pattern,” he explained. “We had to basically just hit thousands upon thousands upon thousands of chips and just get it out of there, and now it's better.”

That’s not the only thing that’s better. As if to only refute those conspiracy theories even more – you know, the ones questioning why he’d be grinding away with the PGA Tour’s great unwashed on a Tuesday morning of non-major tournament – the explanation comes in the form of his health. For years, he’s insisted that he needs “more reps,” yet he’s simultaneously played less and, more telling, practiced less, especially in the days leading up to tournament rounds, when his fellow competitors are putting the final touches on their preparation.

Even though it was just a nine-hole practice round followed by another range session, it should symbolize Woods’ commitment now that his body is healthy enough to allow him to prepare the way he needs.

Or as he put it, in an economical use of words that might say everything about not just his impending season, but the current of electricity which for so long has run through the game when he is competing at his very best: “It’s going to be a fun year.”

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.”

Getty Images

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.