Park trails by eight, but not giving up hope

By Randall MellAugust 2, 2013, 7:23 pm

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Inbee Park’s quest is more daunting now.

There is more to overcome trying to make history on the Old Course at St. Andrews this weekend than there was at tournament’s start.

The mountain is harder to climb after a round of 1-over-par 73 Friday left her eight shots behind a fierce front-runner with a host of major championship winners also stacked up in front of her at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

Park is tied for 22nd in her bid to become the first man or woman to win four professional major championships in a single season.

There will be hard work trying to catch fellow South Korean Na Yeon Choi, whose 67 in the second round was brilliant in the heavy winds buffeting the Old Course. Choi knows how to close out leads. She won the U.S. Women’s Open last year, one of her 12 worldwide titles and her seven LPGA titles.

Park doesn’t just have to get past Choi. She has to get by a formidable cast of proven winners between her and Choi. She has to pass Morgan Pressel, Suzann Pettersen, Stacy Lewis, So Yeon Ryu and Paula Creamer. They’re all major championship winners.

“You have your usual contenders,” Lewis said. “The tough, gritty players are the ones up there. You have U.S. Open winners, major winners, but anybody under par is not out of this, depending what the weather does.”

Lewis is not discounting Park.

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“She is not out of it,” Lewis said. “If it gets windy, she isn’t out of it.”

If Park is going to win, she will have to take a different route to the trophy than she did winning the first three majors of the year. At the Kraft Nabisco, she led by one shot after two rounds. At the Wegmans LPGA Championship, she was tied for second just two shots back going into the weekend. At the U.S. Women’s Open, she led by two halfway through.

Make no mistake, Park is feeling the weight of history, the pressure that comes with trying to make history. She said as much after Friday’s round. That doesn’t mean her knees are buckling. In fact, she believes it’s making her stronger, that it will make her stronger.

Park revealed something about herself again after the second round with her ability to step back and see the big picture. She keeps showing us how she looks at things differently, and maybe that’s why she seems to play with an unshakeable sense of peace, even though she tells us she isn’t as unflappable as we all think. Her perspective isn’t like most 25-year-olds. She sounds like someone who relishes the journey more than the destination.

“Whether I win or I don’t, the last two days have been some great moments,” Park said. “If I can handle this pressure, I will not be afraid of anything in my career.”

Park went from ESPN to Golf Channel to the BBC and South Korean TV after her round before then being cornered by writers. She was asked if the attention can all be too much, and she smiled. She said she was trying to embrace the experience and all that goes with it.

“This is pretty much the only week I’m going to get this much, so I should enjoy this moment,” Park said. “I’m trying to enjoy every moment I’m here.”

The golf has been tough with Park’s driver not cooperating the way she would like, though her 73 Friday was respectable in the windy conditions. She sees lessons in days like these. She sees experience. She sees that big picture.

“When you experience something big like this, some kind of big pressure like this, you’re just really not afraid of any kind of pressure,” Park said. “How can it get bigger than this? Anything is going to be less than this.”

Park’s day started roughly after she pulled her opening tee shot way left. Given the trouble she had with her driver late in Thursday’s round, it was disconcerting. She missed the first green and opened with a bogey.

Her caddie, Brad Beecher, liked the way Park played the back nine and the way she finished with a birdie on the 18th for a second straight day.

“She really found her swing on the back nine and hit a lot of solid golf shots,” Beecher said. “Obviously, it was a lot tougher out there.”

Park isn’t counting herself out. This is St. Andrews. The winds of fortune can change overnight. The way the weather changes around here, an early tee time with a break in the morning weather might be all she needs to jumpstart her quest.

“There are still two days to go,” Beecher said. “If we are out a little bit earlier tomorrow, we can press the number.”

Park sees possibilities in the big picture.

“You just never know what’s going to happen the next two days, especially if the conditions get tougher,” Park said. “I think anything could happen out here.”

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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.