Fort Myers PGA Tours George McNeill welcome Red Sox to Florida

By Jay CoffinMarch 12, 2009, 4:00 pm
Throughout March, GolfChannel.com will spotlight various MLB spring training locations throughout Florida. A total of 16 MLB teams visit Florida each spring during a time when the state's golf season is also in full swing. We highlight the options for golf and baseball in each region, giving you, the fan, the ultimate guide to golf and baseball in the Sunshine State. Play Ball!
 
Fort Myers isnt the most historic golf city in golf-rich Florida, but if you dig Americas pastime as much as you do golf, the former winter home of Thomas Edison could make for a spiffy jaunt for those looking for a break from chillier climates.
 
george mcneill
PGA Tour winner and Fort Myers native George McNeill
Both the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins have called Fort Myers their spring training home since the early 1990s. Its no coincidence that those were the years where business began to prosper in March on many of the citys public courses.
 
March has been our busiest month for a long time, said Rich Lamb, director of golf for the City of Fort Myers, which includes Fort Myers Country Club and Eastwood Golf Club. You have longer days, you have the Red Sox and Twins in town, the weather is better and kids typically have spring break. Add it all up and were usually rocking in March.
 
Fort Myers Country Club, affectionately dubbed The Fort, benefits most from the New Englanders because it is 2 miles from the Red Sox spring training facility, City of Palms Park, and it sits along Cleveland Ave., the citys most popular drag.
 
The Fort was designed by Donald Ross in 1916, opened a year later and is one of the oldest facilities on the west coast of Florida. Thomas Edison and Henry Ford frequented the course in the 1920s and for the last 46 years Fort Myers Country Club has hosted the Coors Open, a pro-am format that is the longest running golf event in southwest Florida. PGA Tour winner and Fort Myers native George McNeill won the Coors in 2008.
 
Other public tracks with reasonable rates within 10 miles of the Sox are Eastwood Golf Club and Heritage Palms Golf & Country Club. Eastwood, like Fort Myers Country Club, is owned and operated by the City of Fort Myers. Said McNeill of Eastwood: Its a really neat golf course. No homes on it, just golf. Its in the middle of town but it doesnt feel like it.
 

General Info on Red Sox Spring Training
According to McNeill, your best bet to see baseball players on the links is at Heritage Palms, a 10-year-old facility that is equidistant from City of Palms Park and Hammond Stadium, the Twins home ballpark.
 
Dont be misled. The odds of seeing big-named major leaguers are rare unless youve found access into one of southwest Floridas many private clubs. It seems that these days many use spring to hone their shortgames as much as they do to hone their fastball. Hence, they rent houses at private clubs during March so they can take full advantage of golf privileges.
 
Fiddlesticks Country Club (former Red Sox star Dwight Evans owns a house on the course), the Club at Renaissance (where former Red Sox and current Atlanta Brave Derek Lowe recently built a home) and Olde Hickory Country Club are where most of the avid players take refuge according to several Fort Myers golf nuts.
 
Derek (Lowe) hits it absolutely forever, said McNeill, a member at both Fiddlesticks and Cypress Lake Country Club. He hits it so far its a joke. Hes 6-5 or 6-6 and generates a lot of speed. Hes a decent player. (Bert) Blyleven is a decent player. None of those guys are really good, but a lot of them are decent.
 
Then there is John Smoltz ' the longtime Atlanta Braves stud who is in his first year with the Red Sox ' who always find a place to play and someone to play with. Smoltz reportedly made the 3-plus hour trek from Fort Myers to Orlando last week to play 36-holes at posh Isleworth Country Club with Tiger Woods. The two were joined by Atlanta Braves rightfielder Jeff Francoeur for the final 18 holes in the afternoon, just after Francoeur got in an at-bat during the Braves afternoon tilt with the New York Yankees at Disneys Wide World of Sports Complex.
 
McNeill said that Smoltz reached out more than a week ago looking for a game when McNeills Tour schedule permits. The two havent played yet but McNeill will likely contact the future baseball Hall of Famer when he gets a break in the next couple weeks. McNeill doesnt know where theyll play, but he knows theyll have plenty of options.
 
There are a lot of private clubs, but there are also a select few public courses, said McNeill, winner of the 2007 PGA Tour Frys.com Open. There are so many of them that you can find a place to play, whether its Fort Myers or Naples or even just a little north in Charlotte County. Youve got the every day place for $50, or you can pay quite a bit more.
 
And if you visit in March, theres plenty of time left to catch a ballgame.
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.