Homecoming week for No. 1 Park, other Koreans

By Randall MellOctober 16, 2013, 1:10 pm

Homecoming is an American fall football tradition, but it works internationally for women’s golf, too.

Because that’s what the LPGA KEB-HanaBank Championship feels like this week.

It’s a homecoming celebration for the 35 South Koreans who will be teeing it up at Sky 72 Golf Club’s Ocean Course in Incheon, South Korea.

There’s even a homecoming queen, of sorts. That would be the “Queen Bee” herself, South Korea’s Inbee Park.

This week’s event marks the first time Park will play in her homeland since she ascended to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings back in April.

“It’s an honor to be able to come back home as the No. 1 player,” Park said in a pre-tournament news conference. “It’s very meaningful to me.”

For all she has achieved this year, Park probably ought to get a crown, an arm full of flowers and a red-carpet walkway to the first tee for Friday’s start of the 54-hole event. She has won six LPGA titles in 2013, three of them major championships. Babe Zaharias (1950), Mickey Wright (1961) and Pat Bradley (1986) are the only other women to win three majors in a single season.

“Probably one of the most significant accomplishments in golf in a very, very long time,” American Cristie Kerr said this week.

The South Koreans have achieved just about everything in women’s golf. They’re the dominant force internationally, but there remains a missing jewel. No South Korean woman has won the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year Award since its inception in 1966.

Park looks like she’s going to put South Korea’s mark on that, too. A victory this week would put her on the brink of clinching the award.

Park has built a commanding lead in the Rolex POY standings. With 290 points, she sits 77 ahead of Suzann Pettersen and 90 in front of Stacy Lewis. The top 10 finishers in an event earn POY points. A victory is worth 30 points, second place 12 points, with points awarded down to a single point for 10th place.

With just five events remaining this season, Pettersen and Lewis probably have to win at least two of those to have a chance to overtake Park for Player of the Year, possibly three, depending on how Park finishes.

Park has won six times this year, but she is looking for her first title in more than three months, since she claimed the U.S. Women’s Open in June. Though Park has the large lead in the POY race and in money winnings, she feels Pettersen and Lewis pushing her.

Pettersen is the defending champion this week.

“Although I’m No. 1 in the world, I still have a lot of things to get better at,” Park said. “I wouldn’t say I’m a complete player as of yet. I’ve had a lot of wins this year, but I don’t think I have been as consistent throughout the year as Suzann or Stacy. I think my second half has been a little slow, but I think I’m learning a lot from watching those two players and how consistent they are.”

Park has made seven starts with one top-10 finish since her last victory at the U.S. Women’s Open at Sebonack. She spoke of the exhausting nature of trying to become the first man or woman to win four professional majors in a year when she fell short of doing so at the Ricoh Women’s British Open in August.

This “homecoming” game might be just what Park needs to find that winning spark again, but there are a lot of South Koreans this week looking for the same spark.

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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.