Hawks Nest: Money, motive and manners

By John HawkinsNovember 4, 2013, 3:00 pm

It’s always nice to see a mega-talent like Dustin Johnson win a real golf tournament, even if it is a WGC with some big names MIA or AWOL, depending on your POV. It’s not Johnson’s fault that Tiger Woods traveled 8,169 miles to China for a $3 million game of pattycake with Rory McIlroy, then couldn’t schlep it 902 miles north to Shanghai and join a decent field three days later.

Conventional wisdom tells me Tiger needed the time off to prepare for this week’s Turkish Airlines Open. I’m gonna be dead honest with you – I didn't even know Turkey had its own airline. Now it has its own European Tour event, although it should be pointed out that Turkey is one of those rare countries that is part of two continents: Europe and Asia.

I know, I know. You couldn’t care less. All anyone wants to know is, how much free money is Woods getting to show up in Antalya with a clean red shirt and a golf swing? Again, $3 million seems to be the magic number – roughly the same amount Eldrick split with McIlriches last Monday at Mission Hills.

Does the $3 million come with a complimentary tank of jet fuel from the title sponsor? It’s a long way back to Jupiter, be it the town in Florida or the planet next to Saturn, and the last thing anyone wants is a 14-time major champion leaving town unhappy. With that in mind, I suggest that a local caterer handle the clubhouse spread. You know what they say about airline food.

YOU’LL BE SADDENED to hear that Englishman Simon Dyson has withdrawn from the TAO after he was accused of cheating at the BMW Masters, which necessitated his appearing before an independent disciplinary panel to address the charge last week. Multiple published reports refer to Dyson’s illicit action as “tapping down a spike mark,” which, at least technically, wasn’t really the case.

Dyson obviously broke a rule by flattening the ground a few inches in front of his mark – the defendant himself admitted as much. As is often the case in these situations, however, things get more complicated from there. What I find particularly appalling is Dyson’s description of the infraction as an “accidental mistake,” a term he used in a statement on the matter last week.

Rarely could a pro golfer’s intent appear more obvious. Dyson’s use of the ball as a “flattening tool” is so unusual that any denial of a motive will be hard to justify and harder to believe. As a golf fan who doesn’t always believe the crime fits the punishment, I’m certainly hoping level-headed justice is served here.

WHILE PLAYING IN an inter-club match a couple weekends ago, I was asked the question a veteran golf writer hears more than any other. “Who are the nicest guys on the Tour?” one of our opponents inquired, which usually precedes a request to identify the biggest jerks. Only in safe company will I bother responding to the follow-up, but my nicest-guy answer has been the same for a decade or so.

Kenny Perry.

There are more than a dozen worthy candidates, and though I may not be the world’s fairest judge of character, I didn’t get this space by being wishy-washy, either. Perry is an exceptionally kind-hearted human being without a phony nerve in his body. He is the ultimate family man, a giver and a pleaser, and though every tour pro I’ve ever met has at least a little ego, Perry is a Kentucky boy with tremendous balance and clear perspective in his soul.

Now that he’s won the 2013 Charles Schwab Cup as the best player on the Champions Tour, I feel compelled to share a few Kenny Perry stories. My favorite actually emerged from the lone dust-up we’ve had – I wrote a column for Golf World in the summer of 2008 criticizing Perry’s decision to skip the British Open and play in the John Deere Classic.

“Hawkins and those guys have said some pretty rude things about me,” Perry quipped at the Deere, which didn’t bother me because it wasn’t exactly true. Having won the Memorial and Buick Open that June, KP was the hottest golfer on the planet, and I simply thought it was a shame that he wasn’t heading over to Royal Birkdale in search of that elusive first major title.

Anyway, it wasn’t until late August at The Barclays that I finally caught up to Perry. I had tried to contact him by phone through my longtime colleague, Tim Rosaforte, but KP was on a houseboat at the time and told Rosaforte he didn’t want to talk to me. So I drove down to New Jersey not knowing what to expect. I just knew I had to do whatever it took to work things out.

There he was on the practice range, one of three or four guys hitting balls late Tuesday afternoon. Perry saw me coming, put down his club and broke into a million-dollar smile. “Ancient history,” he would call our difference of opinion, and for the next 15 minutes, we chatted like a couple of guys creeping up on our 50th birthdays.

A few years earlier, I’d flown into Nashville and driven about 45 minutes north to meet Perry at his pride and joy: Country Creek GC, a cute little public track in his hometown of Franklin, Ky. I found it rather funny that it was snowing when I landed in Tennessee, knowing how much Perry dislikes cold weather, and made it a point to let him know about it when I arrived in Franklin.

We spent the day filling microcassettes and hanging out with 14-handicaps in denim overalls. When you write a lengthy feature on someone, you don’t always like them as much as when you started the project. When I turned in the Kenny Perry piece, I liked him about 10 times more.

Fast-forward to the 2009 Masters, where Perry bogeyed the final two holes and lost in a playoff to Angel Cabrera. As the twilight turned to darkness, there was KP explaining himself in front of maybe 15 television cameras just outside the Augusta National media center. Both of his daughters, who were 20 and 24 at the time, were crying, as was Perry’s daughter in-law.

Justin Perry, Kenny’s lone son, had this blank, faraway look on his face that I’ll never forget, listening to his dad beat himself up and second-guess crucial decisions down the stretch. The whole scene was agonizing to watch but impossible to walk away from – a painful family portrait no journalist could adequately capture with syllables.

Maybe I would have felt differently if it had been somebody else, but it wasn’t. Nice guys hardly ever finish last. Sometimes, they finish second and shatter the hearts of all the good people around them.

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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.