Fab Four Wows the Crowd at Boise
None other than the king himself, Arnie, once played on Monday. Another year it was John Elway playing (Tuesday this particular year) the day after his jersey was retired on Monday Night Football. The list of past invitees is impressive, and this year didn't disappoint.
John Daly and Hank Kuehne were present. Both men of legendary length off the tee, who make the golf ball wish it was a hockey puck, had a go at each other for nine holes.
But they weren't alone. Nancy Lopez, the Hall of Fame former LPGA star of 48 career wins, was Kuehnes partner. And if the event didn't have enough star-power, Michelle Wie was Dalys partner.
Ironically, it could be argued that Wie and Lopez are roughly equal distance from their primes, but on opposite sides of the spectrum. Perhaps the same for Daly and Kuehne - time will tell. Nonetheless, it was an intriguing cast of characters, and the fans came out of the woodwork to witness something akin to golf's heavyweight tag-team match. And speaking of woodwork, the enormous drives of Kuehne and Daly, and even Wie for that matter, were worth the price of admission.
Daly and Kuehne were the source of most of the awe-inspiring moans throughout the crowd, and the curiosity surrounding the 13-year-old phenom was very evident. And of course, Nancy Lopez is always a fan favorite and one of the classiest people in all of golf.
Most interesting to me was the interaction between four players who don't really know each other that well and come from four distinctly different corners of the golfing world. And did I mention four completely different personalities? I was curious to see if Daly would crank it up a notch to show the new long drive leader, Kuehne, that respect for ones elders is a virtue. But I was most curious to watch Michelle's interaction with Nancy.
At 13 years old, political correctness and interpersonal manners arent a given. But from the press conference preceding the event through the entire day, Wie was obviously respectful of the legend even though the dominance Nancy had on the LPGA Tour occurred before Michelle was born. And Nancy acted exactly as weve come to expect'in a nurturing manner with the best interest of the game, and its fans, at heart.
It would have been understandable if Michelle Wie would have felt a bit out of place amongst some of the games brightest stars. However, as shy and uncomfortable as a 9th grader might seem on camera, inside the ropes and over the shots Michelle looked as poised as a veteran three times her age. The innocence of youth was evident at every interaction, but her game is scary. The length, the accuracy, the touch, the game-management decisions, the entire package is eerily vintage.
Whether she ever lives up to her immense promise is pure speculation, but given the way she plays the game, conventional wisdom becomes obsolete, and the unthinkable becomes believable. Could she someday become the greatest golfer in the world - period? Impossible! Right? Frightening that the thought could even cross my mind. But Annika proved me wrong, Suzy Whaley proved me even wronger, and Im determined not to be a slow learner. After all, this is professional golf'part of the PGA Tour'anythings possible.
In the end it was the power, the reputations, and the curiosity that brought out over 15,000 fans to watch an exhibition, but it was the short game that made the difference.
From tee to green, Michelle Wie played the best golf of the group. But it was the flatstick that made the difference. With the two longest hitters in the history of the PGA Tour in the group, it all came down to who holed the putts'many of which were for par. And Lopez and Kuehne beat Wie and Daly by a narrow margin to win more money for their charity.
Now the fun begins. Michelle is teeing it up Thursday in the Albertsons Boise Open. Shes the first female ever to play in a Nationwide tournament, and the first ever female amateur to tee it up in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event.
Can she make the cut? Can she contend? I beg the forgiveness of my chauvinistic brethren, but Im trying not to be a slow learner. Absolutely not, but definitely maybe. Tune in this week to find out. You wont be disappointed.
One last parting shot: The Nationwide Tour was started three months after Michelle Wie was born.
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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut
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
Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements
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.”
Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back
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.
Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026
SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.
“Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.
“We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.
In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010.