Politics may trump golf at U.S. Women's Open

By Randall MellMay 29, 2017, 6:50 pm

Women who will be teeing it up at the U.S. Women’s Open at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., in July got a sense last week of the challenges that await them.

Based on reports out of U.S. Women’s Open media day at Bedminster, and out of the Senior PGA Championship at Trump National in Washington, D.C., the shot-making challenges are only half of the rigor that awaits them at a Trump course.

In fact, players may want to consider some wardrobe adjustments, like Kevlar golf polos to deflect the criticism that is going to be aimed at them.

And flame retardant pants, to protect themselves from the hot seat awaiting in the media center.

It’s not going to be an easy week on or off the golf course with UltraViolet, Martha Burk and other activists outraged that women will be playing a major championship on one of Trump’s properties. It’s not going to be easy with media pundits stepping up criticism.

Champions Tour pros Fred Funk and Rocco Mediate got a taste of it at the Senior PGA Championship when they were confronted about the Trump logos they wear.

Women who tee it up at Bedminster won’t have to be wearing a Trump logo to move into the crosshairs. They will be found guilty of aiding and abetting Trump merely by showing up to play.

Earlier this year, UltraViolet co-founder Shaunna Thomas summed up the indictment every player who shows up at Bedminster will face. She said the USGA and LPGA are “giving millions in revenue, free advertising and branding to Trump, a racist, sexist, sexual predator” and they “should not be rewarding Trump’s bigoted brand and normalize his platform and policies that degrade women and divide our country.”

UltraViolet, a national group assembled to fight sexism and expand women’s rights, won’t have to fly “Dump Sexist Trump” banners over the U.S. Women’s Open the way it did over the LPGA’s Founders Cup and ANA Inspiration events. The message is going to hover with or without the actual signage.

At U.S. Women’s Open media day last week, USGA executive director Mike Davis tried to separate golf from politics, but he got cornered trying.

“We are simply not going to cross that line into politics,” Davis said. “We appreciate that there are some out there that want to make this a political event, but this is a golf event for the United States Golf Association.”

Newark Star-Ledger columnist Steve Politi countered with logic hard to dismiss. He countered asking how Trump’s bragging to Billy Bush about making unwanted sexual advances against women on a tape recording in an “Access Hollywood” revelation could be construed as political.

“How would what he said be any different if he was still just a prominent businessman?” Politi wrote. “Would the USGA have moved the tournament if he was still hosting a reality TV show and not living in the White House?”

Somebody will win the U.S. Women’s Open at Bedminster, but female players are all in a no-win situation trying to defend playing there.

There’s no fairway to hit with the questions coming to them. There are hazards everywhere in this kind of landscape.

The sad part is these players didn’t put themselves in this position.

The USGA did.

The hard part for the LPGA and its players is that the USGA is such a strong and vital partner. The U.S. Women’s Open has done more for their advancement than any other event in the game. The USGA is a vital partner in the LPGA-USGA Girls’ Golf program. The USGA opens doors for female players.

The LPGA isn’t going to abandon an important partner that has done so many good things for women’s golf, even though LPGA commissioner Mike Whan made it clear early on he would like the event moved. Whan wasn’t going to harm a loyal partner once the USGA dug in with its intent to keep its championship at Bedminster. He’s standing with the organization.

Players aren’t going to boycott, either, because it would be like cutting off their noses to spite their faces.

The USGA made this bed, and now every woman who shows up to play at Bedminster will be sleeping in it with the Trump brand.


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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.

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Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

“Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

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“We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010.