Kaymer poised to be last man standing on Sunday

By Randall MellJune 15, 2014, 1:34 am

PINEHURST, N.C. – You don’t knock out the field at U.S. Opens.

Yes, Tiger Woods did at Pebble Beach in 2000, and so did Rory McIlroy at Congressional in 2011, but they went rogue, massively departing from script.

Martin Kaymer may end up doing the same thing at Pinehurst No. 2, but Saturday he veered more to the formula in how these championships are supposed to be won. He looked more like a guy in a brawl trying to be the only puncher who isn’t knocked out. He looked like he was going to have to win this thing the way they’re usually won. He looked like he might end up being the last man standing.

With Pinehurst No. 2 turning firmer, faster and fiercer, Kaymer struggled for the first time in this championship, and yet he emerged at day’s end bruised but still very much in command in his bid to win his second major championship.

With an important birdie at the last, Kaymer posted a hard-fought 2-over-par 72.

Six shots up at day’s start, Kaymer saw his lead shrink to four on the back nine, with momentum working against him.

That birdie at the last, and a timely eagle on the front nine, left Kaymer at 8-under 202, five shots clear of Rickie Fowler (67) and Erik Compton (67), the two-time heart transplant recipient looking to make his medical miracle a golf miracle, too.

As vulnerable as Kaymer looked Saturday, this is still his championship to lose.

Nobody’s blown a lead of five shots or more going into the final round of the U.S. Open since Mike Brady in 1919.

“The biggest challenge is that you keep going, that you don’t try to defend anything,” Kaymer said. “If you try to defend, then you change your game plan and you don’t swing as free as usual. So that would be the biggest challenge tomorrow.”

Kaymer didn’t give away his advantage Saturday, but he gave the field something to work with.

He gave them a glimmer of hope.

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“Anything can happen,” said Dustin Johnson (70), who is six shots back. “I’ve yet to feel like I’ve played a great round, and I’ve been playing pretty well on Sundays this year. Hopefully, I can continue that.”

Nearly perfect the first two days, with just a single bogey over the first 36 holes, Kaymer kept knocking shots into trouble in the third round. He made five bogeys Saturday. He pulled his drive hard left at the fourth, up against a tree and took a penalty drop for an unplayable lie. He putted off the green at the sixth and made bogey. He couldn’t get up and down at the 13th and again at the 15th, making bogeys.

Still, Kaymer never came close to looking like he was going to lose his poise, and that doesn’t bode well for the field.

After taking that unplayable at No. 4, Kaymer punched a shot up the fairway and holed a 15-foot putt for a terrific bogey. At the very next hole, after pulling another tee shot into the native grasses, he carved a 7-iron from 210 yards right at the flagstick. He holed a 4-footer for eagle at No. 5.

Kaymer’s ball striking has been a strength overall here, but his biggest asset just might be his attitude. This is clearly a different guy than the one who struggled much of the last three seasons. He looks and sounds so secure now, like a man content with whatever his best effort gets him. He showed winning The Players Championship last month that he’s rebuilt his swing and his confidence after losing both with his fall from world No. 1 three years ago.

Watching the movie “Bagger Vance” on Friday, Kaymer said he was struck by the movie’s message, something he seems to have found long before seeing the flick.

“At the end of the day, we’re playing a game,” Kaymer said. “We can’t control a lot of things that happen on the golf course. You just have to play.”

Kaymer said he has been guilty of trying to control too much in his game and life, but he appears to be letting go of the angst of what he can’t control.

“It’s about feel and touch,” Kaymer said. “You have to play with your heart. You can’t control too many things, and that’s what I was trying to do the last few years. Now, I just play.”

Come Sunday, that might be all the formula Kaymer needs to win.

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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.