Championship Performances

By Mercer BaggsDecember 5, 2005, 5:00 pm
Briny Baird had just completed perhaps the most rigorous tournament in all of golf, and he just wanted to go home. So much so, that he wasnt about to stick around and see whether or not his final score was good enough to earn his PGA Tour card for next season.
 
Headed to my car, he said. Got a two-, two-and-a-half hour drive ahead of me.
 
Baird was quite congenial considering the situation. He had just made a 10-foot birdie on the 108th and final hole of the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament to post 10 under. But, having finished a few hours ahead of the final group, he knew that wasnt likely good enough.
 
Bill Haas
Bill Haas' birdie-birdie finish will make him a rookie on the 2006 PGA Tour.
When asked how he felt about his position, Baird responded: Not good. About as good as I felt about finishing 126.
 
Baird was referencing his finish on this years tour money list. The south Florida native missed holding onto his card by $2,545.
 
And, just as he thought, he missed regaining it this week by one stroke.
 
Bairds birdie at the last was clutch considering that he needed to make it just to have any chance of finishing inside the top 30 this week. But thanks to three bogeys on his back nine, his overall performance cannot be considered Championship.
 
A friend of mine likes to use this word, Championship, to describe a quality competitive performance. Championship is not based on merit; its based on the result produced.
 
By his definition, doing what is needed to be done in the throws of competition is considered Championship. It could relate to a kicker making a 45-yard field goal to win the Super Bowl or it could relate to guy chugging a beer faster than everyone else at the bar.
 
Championship would best describe the performance of many at this weeks Q-school, including Bill Haas.
 
Haas, the son of nine-time tour winner Jay, had been in this precarious position before, on the cusp of earning his card.
 
The 2003-04 NCAA Player of the Year, Haas was primed to make it through the qualifying tournament a year ago, but could only manage a closing 71. He missed the cut by two strokes.
 
That relegated him to the Nationwide Tour -- where he definitely did not want to be, and where he entered this years Tour Championship on the money bubble. That bubble burst and he ultimately finished 23rd in earnings.
 
That sent him back to school.
 
It appeared that history would again repeat itself this Monday. The 23-year-old Wake Forest All-American made the turn on the Panther Lake course at Orange County National at 12 under for the tournament, a stroke inside the cut line. He then proceeded to bogey 10, 11 and 15.
 
This Deacon was seeing demons.
 
I thought I was going the wrong way. I thought I was going to be doing it again next year, talking about how close I had come, he said.
 
Instead, with the support of his father in the gallery, Haas made a tough 6-foot par save on 16 ' one that he called the biggest putt of his round, and then a slick 8-foot birdie putt at 17.
 
That put him back to 10 under, which he thought would be good enough to get his card. That also put the pressure back on his shoulders.
 
I was definitely nervous on the last hole. (On) 17 I felt good; I had nothing to lose. I had to make birdie. And then once I made the birdie I had something to lose, he said.
 
Thats the same time when the nerves woke up inside Papa Haas.
 
It wasnt that bad until the last hole, the elder Haas said. It was gut-wrenching.
 
This from a guy who knows well the rigors of the Ryder Cup.
 
Haas ultimately made birdie at the last, surviving an extended wait in the fairway and a 45-foot downhill, two-tiered putt after reaching the green in two.
 
To birdie those last two holes will definitely make the drive back to Greensville (S.C.) pretty sweet, he said.
 
Much sweeter than Bairds drive down to Jupiter after getting confirmation of his finish.
 
Haas par-birdie-birdie finish to capture his card on the number definitely qualifies as Championship.
 
So, too, does Danny Ellis eagle chip-in at the last to earn his card on the number; and Brian Batemans 50-foot eagle putt on 18 to seal a return to the tour; and Michael Connells birdie on the final hole to secure his first trip to the big leagues; and Alex Aragons closing 65 to make it by one.
 
Not everyones performance, however, could be classified as Championship.
 
Certainly not Scott Hends. He started the day tied for sixth place, shot 78, and finished two off the cut line at 9 under.
 
And not Joseph Alfieris. He also shot 78 and fell from a tie for 10th into a tie for 54th.
 
And not Tommy Tolles. After a run of six birdies in nine holes, he was dead on the number heading to the last hole. And then he hit it dead in the water off the tee and finished with a dreadful double bogey.
 
Tolles was left to make the lonely walk back to his SUV, his hands clasped together atop his head. His caddie followed behind him, his head hung low. Dead silence.
 
Of all the clutch performances Monday, none was more Championship than that of John Engler.
 
It took the former Clemson All-American four years to make it to the PGA Tour. But even time doesnt tell how long that road really was.
 
Engler was in a March 2003 car crash that killed two passengers in the colliding vehicle. Englers leg was badly broken. It required six surgeries, and doctors feared he would forever walk with a limp.
 
Dont ever give up, was Englers message to any and everyone faced with adversity. Whatever cards youre dealt, keep your head up.
 
Englers next card will be dealt to him by the PGA Tour.
 
Fully recovered, the 27-year-old Augusta, Ga., native closed in 67-68 to finish tied for 13th.
 
Now thats Championship.
 
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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.