Ko caps a magical April with win

By Randall MellApril 28, 2014, 3:36 am

Not a bad week for Lydia Ko.

She celebrated her 17th birthday, was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people and won the inaugural Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic.

Ko’s monumental week in San Francisco didn’t stop there. She also built her own golden gate. She built a nice little bridge to give herself a chance to get to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. She jumps to No. 2 in the world with her third LPGA title, leaping over Stacy Lewis and Suzann Pettersen to get within striking distance of overtaking No. 1 Inbee Park.

“I don’t think I could have a better birthday week,” Ko told media. “It’s just a really special week for me.”

Ko’s triumph was her sixth in a professional event. She builds on a month to remember for the LPGA.

Adding to an April of fantastic finishes, Ko joins Michelle Wie and fellow teen Lexi Thompson in a trifecta of marketing gifts to the women’s game. The trio brings dynamic storylines for the LPGA to build upon.

Ko won Sunday coming from one shot behind Lewis. She won in a dramatic back-nine struggle that didn’t end until she closed out with a birdie at the final hole, beating Lewis by a shot and a hard-charging Jenny Shin by two.

Ko did all of this a week after Wie came from four shots behind in the final round to beat Angela Stanford at the Lotte Championship in Wie’s Hawaiian hometown and after Thompson opened the month beating Wie in a Sunday duel to win the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Beating Lewis wasn’t easy, but Ko made her move with a birdie at the ninth, pulling even going to the back nine. She made another move at the 13th. When Lewis pulled her drive into the rough, Ko took advantage, carving her approach to 10 feet to make birdie, taking a two-shot lead with Lewis making bogey. Ko never gave the lead back, even as Lewis and Shin pressed her.

With another birdie at the 14th, Ko maintained her two-shot lead.

“She hit every shot she needed to hit from the 13th on,” Lewis said. “I made three birdies in that stretch and she still got me.”

It was another tough finish for Lewis, who recorded her seventh second place without winning in her last 16 worldwide starts.

“Every time Lydia needed to hit a shot, she did,” Lewis said.

Lewis witnessed this before. When Ko won the CN Canadian Women’s Open at 15, becoming the youngest winner of an LPGA event, Lewis played alongside her in that final round. Lewis started a shot behind Ko in Canada but Ko never gave her an opening.

Ko closed hard again Sunday at Lake Merced. A shot ahead going to the 18th, Ko pulled her second shot at the par 5 left, into some thick rough. Lewis looked poised to force a playoff after stiffing her approach to 4 feet, but Ko answered, carving a wedge to 5 feet to set up her closing birdie for the win.

Beyond her birthday, and the Time magazine honor, Ko found the week especially satisfying with her father, G.H., there to watch her win. It’s just the second time he has watched her play in an LPGA event. He was also at the Lotte Championship last week and even caddied for his daughter there.

“It’s really special him being here,” Ko said. “Tears nearly ran down my face after I made the putt and also during my speech.”

It was the perfect ending to her perfect week.

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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.