At Lewis' homecoming party, Choi takes the cake

By Randall MellJune 29, 2015, 3:05 am

Na Yeon Choi’s fantastic finish spoiled another Sunday for Stacy Lewis.

Choi spoiled a big party for the Razorback nation at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, too.

With Lewis poised to end a year-long victory drought, Choi stole the closing moments. Choi did so with a pair of unforgettable 8-irons in front of thousands of Lewis’ fans in the shadow of the University of Arkansas, where Lewis played collegiately and is still beloved.

With a one-shot lead at the 17th tee, Lewis looked like she was going to close out her first victory since winning in front of all her fans in this event at Pinnacle Country Club a year ago. Lewis stuck her approach to 6 feet, sending a roar through the large grandstand there. She looked totally in charge, but in dizzying fashion Choi quickly changed everything.

Playing behind Lewis, Choi holed out from 145 yards with an 8-iron for eagle at the 16th.

“I thought it was going to be good, but I didn't expect it would go in,” Choi said. “Unfortunately, I couldn't see the ball going in. I just heard a lot of screaming around the green.”

Up ahead, Lewis suddenly needed to make her short birdie chance to tie Choi, but Lewis missed.

The turn of events was jarring. Instead of walking off the 17th two shots ahead, Lewis was one shot down.

And then Choi turned up the heat some more with Lewis leaving the 17th. Choi stepped up to the tee there and plucked her 8-iron from her bag again. And she nearly holed out with it again, leaving her tee shot from 148 yards inches short. She tapped in for birdie to take a two-shot lead.

“My putting was, like, not good,” said Choi, who took 33 putts in the final round. “I realized I could win without putting.”

Lewis didn’t know Choi had holed out at the 16th, but when she was playing the 18th tee she learned she was two behind and needed an eagle. After splitting that last fairway, Lewis didn’t go for the green with her second shot. She laid up.

“I knew I needed to make eagle there and just didn’t quite get the drive down there to do that,” Lewis said. “We had about 212 yards to carry the bunker, and I just felt with that wind off the lie I couldn't get it over the bunker. I could get it on the front right part of the green, but it didn't really do me any good. I thought the best opportunity to do something was to lay up.”

After laying up, Lewis missed the 18th green. She pulled a wedge into a bunker. She made bogey from there, finishing three shots back and tied for third.

It was Choi’s second victory this season. She won the season-opening Coates Golf Championship and now heads to the U.S. Women’s Open in two weeks as one of the favorites. Choi won the U.S. Women’s Open at Blackwolf Run in 2012.

Lewis has had so many close calls since winning the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship a year ago. She has finished second five times. She lost in a playoff to Brittany Lincicome back in April in the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration. She lost a dramatic duel to Hyo Joo Kim at the Founders Cup in March.

“When somebody holes out, it's one of those things that it's kind of meant to be,” Lewis said.

It has been a year of almosts for Lewis. She left Arkansas trying to make the best of almost winning again.

“It's tough, but, honestly, it's been a few weeks since I've been in this position, a few months, really, so you can't be too upset,” Lewis 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.