Monday Scramble: The Spieth Train keeps rolling

By Mercer BaggsJuly 13, 2015, 2:50 pm

Jordan Spieth won the John Deere Classic, Jordan Spieth won the John Deere Classic and Jordan Spieth won the John Deere Classic in this Jordan-Spieth-won-the-John-Deere-Classic edition of Monday Scramble.

Jordan Spieth said he never considered skipping the John Deere Classic. He said contending at TPC Deere Run would best help him prepare for the Old Course at St. Andrews.

And then he went Bill Murray (more on him later) à la Peter Venkman on the event (warning: adult language below).

Spieth birdied four of his final six holes Sunday and then defeated Tom Gillis on the second hole of sudden death. Will this past week's performance hinder or help his chances to win the third leg of the single-season Grand Slam? Considering no man has ever won the first three professional majors in a season (the PGA was held the week before the Open Championship in '53, when Ben Hogan won the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open), it would seem inconsequential. But Spieth is a rare breed. Like Tiger Woods, and more recently Rory McIlroy, you have to consider the unimaginable possible when it comes to Spieth.

1. After Spieth shot even-par 71 and was T-101 after the first round, you had to consider: Maybe a missed cut and a head start on Scotland would be for the best.

Maybe you (or I) considered this, but not Spieth. He shot 63 on Friday and never looked back. Here are some historical numbers, via the Golf Channel research department, relating to Spieth's win:

  • Youngest since World War II to win the same Tour event twice (also won Deere in 2013)
  • Third player in Tour history with five or more wins at age 21 (Woods, Horton Smith)
  • Second youngest to win consecutive starts on Tour since WWII (Woods)

2. Speaking of Woods, he arrived at St. Andrews (site of his 2000 and '05 Open victories) this past weekend to participate in a Nike camp at the Old Course. He also got in a practice round with Jason Dufner on Sunday. Most notable, aside from playing alongside Dufner, was Woods' assessment of the greens. He was "shocked" at how soft they were. That doesn't figure to change with wet conditions in the forecast.  Move aside feels, patterns and baseline shift. We're anticipating a return to one of the great Tiger standards: The I-couldn't-adjust-my-putting-these-greens-are-rolling-so-slow refrain.

3. One person who won't be at St. Andrews is the world No. 1. Rory McIlroy informed the public on Wednesday that his left ankle "rupture" would prevent him from participating in the season's third major. What a bummer. Despite Spieth's monumental stretch, McIlroy would have been (at least my) Open favorite. The course is perfect for him, and if it's playing soft - though, Geoff Shackelford disputed Tiger's notion - forget about it. Except, forget about it. He's not playing.

4. Rickie Fowler added a Scottish Open title to his growing resume. Following his breakthrough victory at The Players, Fowler had slumped with missed cuts at the Memorial and U.S. Open, and had an unimpressive T-30 at the Irish Open. But Sunday, he birdied three of his final four holes to win his first European Tour trophy. So ... let's spin the Rickie Fowler Wheel of Narratives! Where will it stop?!? Where will it stop?!? C'mon, "Who says Rickie can't close?" No, wait - c'mon, "Still think he's overrated?" Or maybe, "Now he just needs to win a major." Oh, there's just too many to choose from. Can't we hear about them all?

5. Scott Stallings was suspended by the PGA Tour after admitting to violating the Tour's anti-doping policy. Stallings never failed a drug test, but his admission was tantamount to a positive test under the anti-doping program, as Rex Hoggard reported. Stand-up guy? Fool's mistake? Judge him how you will. What's not open for debate is the Tour's ineptitude when dealing with drug matters. Commit a felony? Six months. Spend $11 at GNC, based on the advice of your doctor? One year. Yes, Stallings only got 90 days, and that raises another concern. The first two players (Doug Barron and Bhavik Patel) to run afoul of the program were banned for a year.  Nothing says trust like secrecy and subjectivity.

6. On the same day Stallings' suspension was announced, a caddie at the U.S. Women's Open was kicked out for what the USGA decribed as taking cell phone photos of “internal course setup documents.” Paul Fusco, Sei Young Kim's bagman, was escorted off Lancaster C.C. property on Tuesday. Fusco said Monday that he would be back on Kim's bag at this week's Marathon Classic and called the incident "an honest mistake."

7. In Gee Chun won the USWO in her major championship debut. The 20-year-old closed in 4-under 66 to prevail by a stroke. Chun, who has won seven times on the Korean LPGA Tour, is the sixth South Korean in the last eight years to win this major.

8. Part of you had to be rooting for Tom Gillis to win the John Deere. Just a little? The soon-to-be 47-year-old entered this week with nine top-10s in 171 Tour events, dating back to 1993. This was a much of a David vs. Goliath battle as you'll see in this sport. But, unlike the original outcome, the big guy won. Still, Gillis earned a trip to the Open Championship and made $507,600. That's about 1/10th of his career Tour earnings in one week.

9. Oh, forgot to mention that Spieth shot a career-low 61 in the third round and did this on 17. And did we mention he won the John Deere Classic?

10. Danny Lee was in contention to win a second Tour title in as many weeks, before a bogey at the last kept him out of the playoff. His biggest gaffe, however, came at the fourth hole when he picked up his ball in the middle of the fairway to clean it. Except they weren't playing lift, clean and place. That was on Saturday. That cost him a shot. He lost by a shot.

11. Bill Murray competed alongside regular Pebble Beach partner D.A. Points in the John Deere Classic pro-am, and was at his Bill Murray best. Why was he in Silvis, Ill.? Nick Menta explains here. This give us a chance to highlight Murray's turn as a cinematic sporting icon ... Ernie McCracken.

Murray's golf affection was highlighted in his "Zombieland" cameo. We'll link to that here rather than showcase it, since there's profanity and drug use in the clip - and we've already reached our Scramble quota on both for the week.


Tim Clark won't be in the British Open because of a visa issue. Chris Kirk will likewise be absent, after breaking his hand while playing with his child. Did Kirk learn nothing from McIlroy? When you're not playing golf, this is what you should be doing at home:

Woods said McIlroy contacted him about how to deal with injuries. Woods said it was good that McIlroy was "taking care of his body first." Yes, maybe while he has no choice. But will he be as patient when he's closer to 70 percent healthy?

Martin Piller won for a fourth time on the Tour, shooting a tournament-record 28 under par to capture the Albertsons Boise Open. His wife, LPGA player Gerina, watched it via the Golf Live Extra app (company plug).

Michelle Wie battle through pain and discomfort to tie for 11th in her USWO title defense. We might not see her for a while. But we are closer to seeing more of Brooke Henderson, as Mell writes, as she tied for fifth.

Stacy Lewis blew a great chance to end her winless campaign and capture her first U.S. Women's Open title. But she made two double bogeys in the final round and finished T-3, three back.

The USGA announced a new attendance record for the U.S. Women's Open, with a reported 134,016 for the week at Lancaster Country Club.

And we leave you with this. When that happens, do you wash the pants to try and save them or just throw them away?

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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.