Hughes Having a Ball
It seems to have worked.
Hughes fired an 8-under-par 63 to take a three-shot lead at 11-under-par over David Sutherland, who posted a Friday 66. Seven others, including last week's winner David Duval, are four shots back at 7-under.
Hughes got off to a good start in 2000. He collected three top-15s in his first five events, including a tie for 5th at the Nissan Open. Then things fell apart.
Leading up to the Westin Texas Open two weeks ago, the 33-year-old Australian had missed the cut in 16 of his previous 22 starts. Once again, Hughes missed the cut in San Antonio, but not all was lost. After opening in 78, Hughes switched from a wound ball to a two-piece. He shot a Friday 70, not good enough to qualify for weekend play, but certainly a big step in the right direction.
'I've been playing a wound ball for a long time,' said Hughes, who is currently 126th on the money list. 'I have changed clubs and my swing, and my hairstyle, done everything, nothing was working. So I just thought I'd try something different and it's really helped.'
Last week, using his new ball, Hughes shot rounds of 73-68-68-73 to tie for 32nd at the Buick Challenge. It was his best finish since the Nissan Open in February.
Through two rounds in Williamsburg, Va., Hughes has carded back-to-back rounds in the 60s for just the third time in his last 25 starts. In fact, his second-round 63 is his lowest aggregate score ever on the PGA Tour.
'When I first came out on Tour, I was one of the longest hitters and this year I was like 111th going into last week in distance,' Hughes said. 'My confidence got down because I didn't know whether to take an extra club and then I'd ease it and mess it up.
'With the two-piece, I am hitting (my irons) 10, 15 yards longer with each club for no apparent reason except for a different ball.'
In case you're wondering, Hughes switched from a Titleist to a Nike golf ball.
'Good enough for Tiger, good enough for me,' said Hughes, a five-time winner in Australia. 'I knew if I didn't (make the change) I might not have a contract anyway next year because I wasn't going to keep my card. So I had no choice really. It was nothing against (Titleist.) It was just something I needed to do.'
No need for Duval to change balls. His Titleist seems to be working just fine. After opening in 70, Duval carded a 6-under-par 65 at the Kingsmill Resort.
'I played noticeably better today, although I don't feel like I played my best today,' said Duval, who won this event in 1997. 'I did a very, very good job of capitalizing when I did hit some good shots, so all and all - very successful.'
At 7-under-par, Duval is tied with Loren Roberts, Tommy Armour III, Steve Pate, J.P. Hayes, Michael Bradley and Tom Scherrer.
Hayes led after a first-round 66, but a second-round 69 has him now four off the pace. Scherrer shot 64 on Friday, but it could have been better. This year's Kemper Insurance Open champion was 9-under-par before bogeying the 17th and 18th holes.
Bradley also made his way to 9-under-par in the second round, but a double-bogey at the par-4 9th, his 18th, dropped him into the pursuing pack.
Defending champion Notah Begay III did not make the cut. Begay shot rounds of 77-71 for a 5-over-par total.
Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings
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.
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.