Bunker Shots Playoff Time

By Randall MellAugust 24, 2010, 8:16 pm

Blasting into the week ahead, from the FedEx Cup playoffs cumulatively weighing like a major to the LPGA’s ongoing battle for No. 1 ...

PGA TOUR

PGA Tour (75x100)

The Barclays

A season searching for meaning beyond Tiger Woods’ swoon crashes at the door of the FedEx Cup playoffs.

The PGA Tour’s postseason creation has never opened to more head-spinning or head-scratching possibilities.

At 112th in the FedEx Cup standings, Woods could get bounced quickly from these playoffs with an unspectacular showing at The Barclays, the first of the four playoff events. The top 125 in points will get trimmed to the top 100 for next week’s Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston. The winner of 14 major championships is under pressure to show he’s better than a journeyman this year.

But there’s also the possibility Woods magically finds his mojo and starts a spectacular late run at winning his 11th PGA Tour Player of the Year award. With nobody else staking a serious claim so far, just about anyone is still eligible with three of the four major championship winners not even in the playoffs.

What if Dustin Johnson rebounds from his PGA Championship debacle with a couple of playoff victories and hoists the FedEx Cup? You know a legion of his peers would be eager to give him the award in a vote.

Then again, we could have four first-time winners claim playoff titles and leave us feeling like this was a season that nobody stood out as Player of the Year.

In the year of Woods’ swoon, where his competition’s been unable to take the No. 1 world ranking from him despite his offering it up on a platter, maybe that’s the overriding theme of 2010.

Bunker shot: It’s a hideous thought for those who hold the FedEx Cup playoffs in low regard, but as a whole they look like they’ll mean as much or more than any major in the equation that decides who is this year’s best player.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Steve Stricker. Contender – Paul Casey. Dark horse – Kevin Streelman.

  • Course: Ridgewood Country Club, Paramus, N.J.
  • Purse: $7.5 million (winner’s share, $1,350,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday – Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m. (ET). Saturday – Golf Channel, 1-2:30 p.m. (ET); CBS, 3-6 p.m. (ET). Sunday – Golf Channel, noon-1:30 p.m. (ET); CBS, 2-6 p.m. (ET).
  • Last year: Heath Slocum holed a 21-foot putt for par to win by a shot over Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington and Steve Stricker.

LPGA TOUR

LPGA Tour _new

CN Canadian Women’s Open

Ai Miyazato bids to win her sixth LPGA event this season after prevailing in the Safeway Classic last weekend.

If Miyazato pulls it off, she’ll be in Hall-of-Fame company. Nobody who has won six or more LPGA events in a single season has failed to go on and qualify for the tour’s Hall of Fame.

Here’s the select group of players who have won at least six LPGA events in a season: Babe Zaharias, Mickey Wright, Kathy Whitworth, Betsy Rawls, Louise Suggs, Patty Berg, Nancy Lopez, Marlene Hagge, Carol Mann, JoAnne Carner, Sandra Haynie, Betsy King, Beth Daniel, Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb and Lorena Ochoa.

The top 15 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings are all in this week’s field in Winnipeg.

Bunker shot: Suzann Pettersen is due. She’s been knocking hard on the door to victory all season despite a bad hip. She hasn’t won an LPGA event since winning the CN Canadian Women’s Open last year. She has done everything but win this season. Eight times she’s finished fifth or better, four times she’s been runner-up. That run of contention has her at No. 3 in the women’s world rankings, a victory away from becoming the fourth player to ascend atop those rankings this year.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Suzann Pettersen. Contender – Song Hee Kim. Darkhorse – Vicky Hurst.

  • Course: St. Charles Country Club, Winnipeg, Canada.
  • Purse: $2.25 million (winner’s share, $337,500).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday – Golf Channel, noon-2 p.m. (ET); CBC, 4- 7 p.m. (ET). Saturday – Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m. (ET); CBC, 2-6 (ET). Sunday – Golf Channel, 2-6 p.m. (ET); CBC, 2-6 p.m. (ET).
  • Last year: Suzann Pettersen won in a five-stroke romp.

CHAMPIONS TOUR

Champions Tour

Boeing Classic

What? No major on the Champions Tour this week?

After three majors in a five-week spell, the over-50 circuit settles back into its regular rhythm.

Bunker shot: Mark Calcavecchia is 0 for 6 in his bid to win since joining the Champions Tour, but he’s got to like the raise in pay he’s getting. Calcavecchia’s made $439,496 so far this season. That’s almost four times what he made in his 15 PGA Tour starts earlier this year. With a second-place finish and a T-4 in his last two Champions Tour starts, Calcavecchia looks ready to win his first Champions Tour title.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Mark Calcavecchia. Contender – Mark O’Meara. Darkhorse – Hal Sutton.

  • Course: TPC Snoqualmie Ridge, Snoqualmie, Wash.
  • Purse: $1.9 million (winner’s share, $270,000).
  • TV times: Golf Channel – Friday, 6:30-8:30 p.m. (ET). Saturday – 6:30-9:30 p.m. (ET). Sunday – 7-9:30 p.m. (ET).
  • Last year: Loren Roberts made birdies at the final two holes to win by a shot over runner-up Mark O’Meara.

NATIONWIDE TOUR

Nationwide Tour

Knoxville News Sentinel Open

The season’s nearing its stretch run.

Ten events remain before the top 25 money winners earn PGA Tour promotions.

Bunker shot: Tommy Gainey and Martin Piller won’t have to wait until season’s end to earn PGA Tour promotions if they win this week. They’re both looking for their third titles of the season, a magic number that is supposed to earn instant promotion. But with the FedEx Cup beginning this week, there won’t be any room for them until the Fall Series. Even then, there’s no guarantee they’ll actually get to play with the priority ranking so low Michael Sim struggled to get into fall events after he won three Nationwide Tour events a year ago.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Tommy Gainey. Contender – Martin Piller. Darkhorse – Bradley Iles.

  • Course: Fox Den Country Club, Farragut, Tenn.
  • Purse: $500,000 (winner’s share, $94,500).
  • TV times: No TV.
  • Last year: Kevin Johnson birdied the second extra hole to defeat Bradley Iles in a playoff.
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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.