Putting holding Dufner back

By John HawkinsMay 15, 2014, 9:58 pm

IRVING, Texas – You can prosper on the PGA Tour for years without anyone noticing, make a couple million each season without winning a thing and bask in the splendor of utter anonymity. Not everyone wants to be famous. Some people like being invisible. Especially when it pays seven figures annually.

Then something happens, dadgummit, and the same guy wins a tournament. Then another. Then he wins a major. And now a lot of people know who Jason Dufner is, as his 380,700 Twitter followers will attest. The social media phenomenon escorted Dufner to the mainstream, making him the first and only Tour pro to gain widespread recognition for sitting on the floor of a classroom while looking bored out of his gourd.

Dufnering was all the rage for a bit, although the golf ball doesn’t seem to care about the success of your Twitter account or, for that matter, the PGA Championship you won last August. “When you need 33 putts a day, you’re not gonna shoot low numbers,” Dufner said Thursday after opening with an even-par 70 at TPC Four Seasons.

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It certainly wasn’t a bad score, but like so many rounds he’s played in 2014, it could have been better. At the par-4 eighth, for instance, Dufner drove his ball into the left fairway bunker, hit a fine recovery shot to the center of the green and had an uphill, 35-footer for birdie. He left the putt 3 ½ feet short, then missed his par attempt.

When you hit 15 greens in regulation and get nothing out of it, you really don’t want to talk to some dude with a media badge and a notebook. Dufner’s understated demeanor and sarcastic chops explain why he is well-liked among his colleagues, but when it comes to explaining himself to the public, uh….

“Good players don’t play bad forever,” is how he put it.

He’s right, of course, but mediocre putters don’t play well all the time, either. Dufner’s lone top 10 in a full-field, stroke-play event this season came at Doral. His only missed cut occurred at the Masters, where poor putting comes with a very high price; the rest of his year is a collection of good rounds after bad and vice versa.

“Been a little bit of everything,” said his caddie, Kevin Baile. “He’s showing signs.” In other words, a player who went 163 starts before picking up his first victory isn’t all that different from the player who has won three times in his last 44.

At this same tournament two years ago, Dufner validated his emergence on the radar by winning the Byron Nelson just three weeks after his inaugural triumph in New Orleans. Baile received a new Cadillac as part of the winner’s package—Dufner had to make do with $1.17 million and an all-expenses-paid trip into the spotlight.

He made the 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup team and played very well (3-0), winning both his alternate-shot matches with Dustin Johnson and beating Peter Hanson in the eighth singles bout. At that point, you wouldn’t have been laughed at for thinking Dufner was becoming a better-late-than-never superstar.

In 2013, however, he was having a rather lackluster season (by his own admission) until claiming the PGA at Oak Hill. And at that point, an average year becomes a very good one. The purpose of all this background? Hitting the ball as well as Dufner does will make you a lot of money, but only good putters win consistently.

Since 2009, the only year Dufner has finished on the positive side of the strokes-gained ledger was 2012, the year he won twice. He finished 142nd in putting last year and is 167th in 2014.

“Nothing,” he said when I asked him what he was doing to improve his prowess on the greens. At that point, you didn’t need a translator to tell you he didn’t want to talk about it.

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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.