Inkster relishes chance to captain on American soil

By Randall MellDecember 19, 2015, 12:24 am

Juli Inkster wondered how her leadership style would work going to Germany as the American captain for the Solheim Cup earlier this year.

She admitted Friday that she wondered if the fact that she isn’t the most organized person in golf would matter when so many important details go into the two-year run up shaping a team.

Her players laughed when she showed up for a practice round at St. Leon-Rot wearing the wrong outfit early in the week. They laughed again when she took the team out for a nice dinner in Heidelberg and forgot her credit card.

They marveled, though, when she was out front when it mattered, challenging European assistant captain Annika Sorenstam amid American concerns Sorenstam was improperly giving advice. She was out front again amid controversy over whether Europe’s Suzann Pettersen was being unsportsmanlike in the controversial phantom concession before singles.

“It’s just B.S. as far as I’m concerned,” Inkster told an international TV audience.

In the end, you got the sense the Americans learned what’s important and what isn’t watching Inkster lead, because they left a lot of nonsense behind following the seven-time major championship winner in their comeback victory in Germany.

Now, they’re going to follow her again, this time to Iowa with Friday’s news that Inkster will reprise her role as captain when the biennial matches are played in Des Moines in 2017. She joins Kathy Whitworth, Patty Sheehan and Judy Rankin as the only Americans to captain two teams.

Here’s all you need to know about what kind of leader Inkster turned out to be.

Her team wanted to be just like her.

You saw that right from the opening ceremony, when the Americans marched on stage wearing Converse basketball shoes. And remember, many of these American women were being criticized for being more concerned about style than substance, about how they cared too much about how they looked in six-inch stilettos, shiny bling and elegant dinner dresses.

Inkster, you may remember, showed up in flip flops at the news conference when she was first named the American captain in the spring of 2014. She joked about her fashion skills in leaning on experts in team uniform selections.

The Americans got rid of the face paint in Germany, and their elaborate red-, white-and-blue manicures.

They shook hands with their teammates after making big putts, instead of strutting, prancing or high fiving their way off greens. They fought hard, but they played with a lot of class.

“I think each one of us had a little bit of Juli in us,” Stacy Lewis said in the aftermath.

That says everything about Inkster’s leadership.

And the thing is, Inkster managed to put the emphasis on substance over style without forcing herself on her players. She wasn’t Tom Watson laying down the law in the team room. Inkster’s old school, but as a mom who basically raised her two daughters on tour, she knows today’s players hearts in ways that reach beyond competition.

Inkster set an example players wanted to emulate.

“I didn’t dictate it,” Inkster said of a humbler, simpler style. “I suggested it. I just wanted them to get back to playing golf. That's what they do week in and week out. If they wear face paint when they play regularly on tour, then have at it, wear face paint, but I don't see any of them wearing face paint.”

Inkster said after the victory in Germany that there was no reason her team couldn’t have substance and style.

They won with substance, but they also won with a big dose of Inkster style.

“I just think sometimes you can put so much energy into all that stuff that you really forget why you're there,” Inkster said.

Inkster said she left nitty gritty details to assistant captain Pat Hurst and to Solheim Cup tournament director Chris Garrett. Inkster, though, didn’t ignore the fine points of what it would take to win. She didn’t win seven major championships doing that.

To get a better feel for team dynamics before going to Germany, Inkster picked the brains of San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righetti and former San Jose Sharks hockey players Ray Whitney and Jamie Barker as fellow Bay Area athletes she respected.

She reached out to former Ryder Cup captains Paul Azinger and Corey Pavin and Presidents Cup captain Jay Haas. She even borrowed a “modified” pod system from Azinger, setting up three pods of four players to help her team bond.

“Juli was the captain, but she was also one of the girls,” said LPGA president Vicki Goetze-Ackerman, who was among the team ranks helping out the Americans. “There was this unbelievable respect.”

Goetze-Ackerman was also part of the five-member committee that reappointed Inkster. The committee included LPGA commissioner Mike Whan, former captains Rosie Jones and Meg Mallon and a player representative. Geotze-Ackerman said Inkster was a “logical pick” and a “unanimous choice,” though she said other candidates were respectfully considered.

Inkster relishes the chance to captain on American soil. She was interested in the job when Mallon was named to lead the United States in Colorado in 2013.

“I always wanted to do it in the U.S.,” Inkster said. “Doing it in Germany was great, too, but I always wanted to be a captain in the U.S. I'm glad I'll have the opportunity to do that.”

Inkster understands the phantom concession that created so much controversy in Germany will follow the teams to Iowa, but she would rather the quality of golf be the focus.

“I would like to have no controversy,” Inkster said. “That would be awesome.”

Inkster says she doesn’t foresee a lot of changes in the way she will lead the second time around, except for one.

“Next time, I’ll bring the credit card [to dinner],” Inkster said.

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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.