Healthy Hurst on verge of LPGA return

By Randall MellOctober 13, 2015, 8:01 pm

Vicky Hurst is on the doorstep to a return to the LPGA.

With her ailing left wrist feeling stronger than it has in nearly three years, Hurst will tee it up Thursday at the season-ending Symetra Tour Championship in Daytona Beach, Fla., looking to secure LPGA membership for 2016.

Thanks to a summer resurgence, with two victories in her last six starts, Hurst has moved to sixth on the Symetra Tour money list. The top 10 on the developmental tour’s money list at week’s end will earn promotions to the LPGA next year.

“I missed the LPGA a lot, but I knew I had to come back out here,” Hurst said. “I had to stay focused on what I needed to do here to get back out there.”

Hurst, 25, won five times on the Symetra Tour as a 17-year-old after turning pro and topped the tour’s money list. A former junior phenom from Melbourne, Fla., she was a rising young LPGA talent when she made the U.S. Solheim Cup team in 2011. Her career, however, took a downward turn after she began experiencing pain in her wrist three seasons ago. She tried to play through it, but by last year the pain was intense and her game and confidence were slumping.

“The pain got pretty unbearable,” Hurst said. “Trying to play through it, my swing changed a lot, which wasn’t good. When you’re injured, your body quickly compensates. I started developing some bad habits.”

In the middle of last season, Hurst was diagnosed with a pair of cysts and a slight cartilage tear. She stepped away from the LPGA, putting away her clubs for three months to rest and rehabilitate the injury with physical therapy. She was granted an LPGA medical extension for 2015, which left her needing to make $129,000 in five starts this year to keep her card. Her game still wasn’t right enough to meet that challenge, and she missed the cut in all five of her starts this year. She returned to the Symetra Tour.

“It’s been a process getting my swing back in order, to where it needs to be,” Hurst said.

After that sluggish start this season, Hurst is back on an upward climb. She won the W.B. Mason Championship in Massachusetts in August and the Garden City Classic in Kansas last month.

“My wrist is a lot stronger, a lot better now,” Hurst said. “I’m still recovering. It will be awhile before it gets back to 100 percent, but right now it feels pretty good.”

A field of 108 players is scheduled to tee it up at the Symetra Tour Championship on the Jones Course at LPGA International. A $150,000 purse is in play with $22,500 going to the winner. The top 23 on this week’s money list still have mathematical chances to crack the top 10 and earn LPGA cards for next year.

Italy’s Giulia Molinaro leads the money list with $68,632 in earnings. Hurst is sixth with $57,814 in winnings. Rachel Rohanna is holding down the 10th spot at $52,314.

Hurst could have tried to keep playing the LPGA through Monday qualifiers and sponsor exemptions this year, but she believed the Symetra Tour was a better place to rebuild her game.

“I think it was a good decision,” Hurst said. “If you’re not playing well, the LPGA is just not an easy road. The competition here on the Symetra Tour is still really good. To be able to get out here and have the pressure of being in the final group, or coming down the stretch in the lead, or near the lead, I think it’s good for developing confidence.”

Hurst is hoping renewed confidence will help her in a return to the LPGA in 2016.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.”

Getty Images

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.