End Game for Skins Game

By Mercer BaggsNovember 26, 2006, 5:00 pm
This past week was the 24th Skins Game. Perhaps it should be the last.
After nearly a quarter-century, it would appear that this annual Thanksgiving weekend tradition has run its course.
This years installment included a guy who finished 193rd on the money list, a guy who has one PGA TOUR win in the last eight years, a guy who is a member of the senior circuit, and a guy who many casual golf fans ' who this event was made for ' couldnt identify with his name on his bag.
Stephen Ames, Fred Funk, Fred Couples, John Daly
Do these four players make you want to watch the Skins Game?
I asked my wife, a casual golf fan, Saturday afternoon while watching the Skins Game if she knew who John Daly was. Obviously she did.
I asked her is she was familiar with Fred Couples. He usually wins this thing, she responded. How about Fred Funk? He won last year and had to wear a skirt.
Stephen Ames? Who? No. Should I?
And about two minutes later, she left the room not to return. I imagine that was probably a good representation of the general population.
There are several reasons that the Skins Game has lost its luster. For one, star power, or lack thereof.
When Tiger Woods five-year contract with Disney concluded last year, it also put an end to his obligation to this competition. Hes not likely to return, which means the loss of millions of eyeballs.
This problem that the Skins Game faces is the same problem that the PGA TOUR faces ' a serious deficiency in personality.
Daly and Couples have solid fan support, but they are not overly entertaining to watch on TV. Funk, who tried to inject a little humor on a couple of occasions over the 18 holes, is a really good guy who can pump up a crowd on occasion. But he's not going to steal away a football audience. And this was a great opportunity for Ames to gain some recognition, but, honestly, how many people really care about getting to know Stephen Ames?
So who would be a good replacement? The answer is nobody from the modern game, at least not from the mens side. The ladies might have some good substitutes, especially ' and forgive me if this sounds crass, but its true ' if you factor in sex appeal.
Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb, Se Ri Pak and Lorena Ochoa might make for a highly competitive event, but it probably wouldnt get bigger numbers than a foursome of Natalie Gulbis, Paula Creamer, Sophie Sandolo and May Wood.
(How many of you are Googling Sandolo and Wood right now? Word of warning: Sandolos Web site contains partial nudity.)
Sex appeal, while beneficial to many womens sports, doesnt mean nearly as much in the mens arena. But what does is entertainment.
Todays game doesnt have a Lee Trevino or Chi Chi Rodriguez. Theres not even a Fuzzy Zoeller or Payne Stewart.
There is no flash. There are no showmen.
And there are no legends. No Arnold Palmer or Gary Player or Jack Nicklaus or Tom Watson, like they had in the inaugural Game in 1983.
Today, aside from Woods, there is Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh and Ernie Els and Retief Goosen. These are your multiple major winners.
Maybe its just me, but I really have no interest in seeing any of these four players competing in a Skins Game. They are all very talented, but they are also all quite boring.
Its understandable, to a certain degree. I imagine it must be difficult to play to a crowd when you are playing for so much money.
And thats another thing thats wrong with the Skins Game ' even if its not its fault.
There is so much money on the line each week that playing for a million dollars in an event like this just doesnt present any Wow factor (Sixteen events on the 2006 PGA TOUR schedule paid their winners at least $1 million).
Back in 83, the total purse for the Skins Game was $360,000, which was huge money.
Player, Palmer and Nicklaus never earned that much in a single season in their TOUR careers. Nicklaus made $316,911 in 1972, but it took seven wins, including two major titles, to get to that number. And, prior to that inaugural Game, Watsons best financial season was $530,808 in 1980, when he won six times.
Player was the first Skins Game winner, taking home $170,000 ' or just $7,336 less than his richest TOUR campaign in 1978.
One more problem is the location. Each year, the event takes place at a non-descript course in California. Perhaps a change of venue ' to Pebble Beach or Pinehurst or Whistling Straits ' might help. Or even better yet, to somewhere like Bandon Dunes or Pine Valley or Seminole ' places youve heard of but probably never seen.
The Skins Game does have a few things going for it. Twenty percent of the money won went to charity and not into the players pockets. And ABC Sports did air a nice feature on J.T. Townsend, a young man who was crippled during a high school football game and has developed an emotional and financial friendship with Funk.
Then, of course, there is tradition. But a glorious past can carry an undesirable present only so far.
The Skins Game has hit a wall. In fact, it probably hit the bricks a few years ago. It just keeps stubbornly plugging along, trying to break through.
There are several reasons why the Skins Game should die a merciful death. For one more: Ames was the big winner this year ' now he has to be invited back in 2007.
Unless there is no 2007.
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs
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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.