Open for Opportunity

By Mercer BaggsJune 17, 2006, 4:00 pm
U.S. OpenMAMARONECK, N.Y. -- This is the good and the bad of the U.S. Open.
 
The good is that you get a variety of storylines. The casual fan, and even the more hardcore version, gets introduced to players of whom theyve never even heard. Darlings are born, world-wide identities created; the slightly recognizable players can achieve mass appeal.
 
Colin Montgomerie
Colin Montgomerie still has a chance to win his first major championship.
Thats what you get from a true Open championship, where everyone, boy or girl ' with a 1.4 handicap or less ' is eligible to try and make the field.
 
What you dont get sometimes is buzz. And that was the case this Saturday.
 
The better part of the third round lacked any true excitement. There was the hole-in-one courtesy Peter Hedblom, and a few hole-outs here and there, but, overall, Saturday didnt register very high on the Excitement meter ' at least until the end, when Phil Mickelson moved forward while everyone else fell back.
 
And thats always a possibility at a U.S. Open.
 
Due to the extreme difficulty of the layout and the assortment of the field, there is always the possibility that an Open affair will be dressed in black and filled with party crashers.
 
But rarely do we look back and recall vividly the third round of a major championship; we usually only remember the final performance. And if Act III was a bit of a dud, at least it managed to set the stage for what could be a dramatic dnouement.
 
What transpires on Sunday is anyones guess; thats because this Open is wide open.
 
Without question, Mickelson enters the final stanza as the overwhelming favorite to win his third consecutive major championship. He birdied two of his last five holes Saturday to finish at 1 under for the day, and earned a share of the 54-hole lead when Kenneth Ferrie bogeyed the last.
 
Ferries choke job at 18 ' his 4-foot putt to save par wouldnt have fallen in a New York sewer hole ' could be an indication as to what to expect on Sunday. Though hes won twice on the European Tour, and these greens may be strikingly similar to the bumpy surfaces they navigate overseas, he may be ill equipped to handle performing under golfs brightest stage light.
 
This is his first U.S. Open. Should he defeat Mickelson head-to-head on Sunday, and hold off everyone else in the process, this would have to rank among the biggest ' if not the biggest ' upsets in major championship history.
 
It would trump Ben Curtis triumph in the 2003 Open Championship. Curtis, who was playing in his first major championship event, won at Royal St. Georges by sneaking up on everyone and passing them from arrears. The Englishman will have to claim his title from the forefront, which is a much more daunting task.
 
Add in the fact that hes going up against the worlds best player ' based on form, not ranking ' and it damn-near seems impossible. Ferrie wears a belt buckle with the Superman symbol ' only he's the one in need of kryptonite on Sunday.
 
'It's going to be something I've never done before, kind of the first time I've ever contended, being up there in a major,' he said. 'So it's going to be an experience, hopefully a good one.'
 
If he should do it, Ferries would be a wonderful, life-altering story. And that could be said for so many more.
 
Wearing the label of major champion changes everything. It changes the way youre viewed, by your peers and by the public. It changes your way of life: where and what you play; your earning potential. As defending champion Michael Campbell noted earlier in the week, I have new responsibilities as a major champion What I say now really matters back home in New Zealand. My opinion matters, which is quite scary sometimes.
 
Being a major champion, whether right or wrong, increases your worth in the eyes of others.
 
Mickelson knows that. So, too, does Vijay Singh, who is just three back and vying for the third leg of the career Grand Slam. Jim Furyk and Mike Weir, who are both at 6 over, also understand that, as they are major champions as well.
 
But while Mickelson and Singh are both major winners three times over, Furyk and Weir have won but one. One-hundred-and-16 players have won one major title. Just 32 of them have won another.
 
As great as the gap is between winning multiple major championships compared to winning one, there is an even greater chasm between winning one and never winning one at all.
 
Just ask Colin Montgomerie. Better yet, ask him Sunday evening if he can overcome his three-stroke deficit.
 
Tied with Monty are Englishman Ian Poulter and American Steve Stricker. Poulter would love to become more than just a fashionable oddity in this game. Stricker would just love to have a permanent place to play.
 
Two in front of them, and just one off the lead, is Geoff Ogilvy. The Australian can be transformed from an up-and-comer to someone who has suddenly arrived.
 
And while we spent the early part of this week envisioning a scenario of a son winning the U.S. Open and paying tribute to his late father on Fathers Day, we may still get to see that.
 
Padraig Harringtons dad passed away about a year ago this time. Despite a triple bogey at the last, hes just four back.
 
In all, there are 13 players within five strokes of the lead with 18 holes to play. Each and every one has their own story to tell. And each and every one hopes to have the opportunity to do so on Sunday.
 
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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.