USC hopes to end national championship drought

By Jay CoffinJune 3, 2015, 1:51 am

BRADENTON, Fla. – Southern Cal coach Chris Zambri sat down at the end of a 15-hour day, one that saw his Trojans defeat two of the best teams in the country to advance to the final matches of the NCAA Championship, and he still couldn’t believe the facts.

USC has won three NCAA women’s titles. The men have appeared in 57 NCAA Championships and haven’t won once. Their best finish is third place, something they’ve done seven times.

“It doesn’t make sense to me that we haven’t won,” Zambri confided.

He then rattled off mind-boggling stats that his alma mater has collected over the last half century that included the number of touring professionals, major-championship winners, All-Americans and Pac-12 Conference Championships.

After playing 126 holes the past six days – including a practice round – USC is staring at its best chance at its first national title. The Trojans will play LSU in the championship matches Wednesday at Concession Golf Club. The action will be live on Golf Channel at 11:30 a.m. ET.

Zambri referred to his playing time (1989-93) at USC as the “darkest years” although he was taking a jab at himself more than he was the performance of the team. He took over the helm in 2006 and has had decent success during his tenure. Last year though was a kick in the pants when USC finished dead last (30th) at the NCAA Championship.

Asked if he thought last year that his team would be strong enough to be in its current position, Zambri, simply said, “I don’t know.”

Since that depressing week in America’s Heartland, the Trojans have won three tournaments, are ranked No. 13 in the Golfstat rankings and are the first Pac-12 team to reach the championship matches since the tournament moved to a match-play format in 2009.



“It’s amazing where we are now,” Zambri said.

USC toppled second-ranked Texas in the quarterfinals Tuesday then took down fourth-ranked Illinois in the afternoon semifinals. Sophomore Rico Hoey and junior Bobby Gojuangco each won both of their matches.

On the other side will be LSU. The Tigers are looking for their fifth NCAA title, but first since 1955. Or as LSU coach Chuck Winstead says, since the days of black and white TV.

LSU, ranked ninth, has won four times this year including the SEC Championship. They took down conference rivals Vanderbilt and Georgia on the way to the final and got over a hurdle they were not able climb a year ago when they lost to Alabama in the semifinals.

Junior Zach Wright won both matches Tuesday for the Tigers and sophomore Eric Ricard never trailed in a key momentum match in the semifinals against Georgia’s Greyson Sigg.

This marks the fifth year in a row, and the sixth time in the last seven years that an SEC team has advanced to the championship match. Alabama won the last two years but failed to advance to the NCAA Championship this year.

It’s been a long, grueling year for both teams and an even longer, taxing week here at Concession. But now, somehow, USC and LSU must find a way to summon their respective bests one last time.

“When you’re playing for a national championship tired doesn’t work,” Winstead said bluntly. “I’m comfortable that tomorrow will be decided by the guys one way or another.”

Said Zambri: “It’s high pressure because we care. We’re dealing with it.

“The program is in good shape, but this would be a real big shot in the arm.”

CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH PAIRINGS:

10:30AM ET: Rico Hoey (USC) vs. Brandon Pierce
10:40AM ET: Bobby Gojuangco (USC) vs. Benjamin Taylor
10:50AM ET: Sean Crocker (USC) vs. Zach Wright
11:00AM ET: Jonah Texeira (USC) vs. Eric Ricard
11:10AM ET: Eric Sugimoto (USC) vs. Stewart Jolly

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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.