Pressel halfway to second major

By Randall MellJune 8, 2013, 11:42 pm

PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Morgan Pressel is “a grinder, a fighter.”

Those were the words of U.S. Solheim Cup captain Meg Mallon after she watched Pressel get into contention this week at the Wegmans LPGA Championship.

As the overnight leader going into the Sunday finale at Locust Hill Country Club, Pressel will need all her grinding and fighting skills to survive a 36-hole marathon finish alongside Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park, the hottest player on the planet. Park won the Kraft Nabisco Championship in the spring and is seeking to become just the third player in nearly 40 years to win the first two major championships of the women’s season.

With a 2-under-par 70 Saturday, Pressel built a two-shot lead on Park (68) and Chella Choi (73). Pressel is three ahead of Jiyai Shin (73), Sarah Jane Smith (69) and Amy Yang (70).

Pressel, Park and Choi will go off in the final pairing, but with 36 holes to play, big moves are possible from back in the pack. With Locust Hill’s punishing rough, this setup has proven a terrific venue for hot players to separate themselves in a big way. Cristie Kerr won here by a record 12 shots in 2010. Yani Tseng followed with a 10-shot rout a year later.

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On Saturday, Wie showed how quickly a player can soar up the leaderboard. She jumped 57 spots in the second round, shooting 68. Wie is tied for 14th at even par and among a throng of players with a chance to win if they’re on top of their games.

Pressel, 25, mired in an injury-riddled year-long slump, suddenly appears to be back on top of her game.

“I feel calm out there,” Pressel said. “And I haven’t felt calm out there in a long time.”

Park, after a pair of sluggish starts, looks to be getting back in top form, too. Park has already won three LPGA titles this season. She’s bidding to give the South Koreans their fourth consecutive major championship triumph and Asia its ninth consecutive major title.

“I hit the ball great today,” Park said. “I only missed two fairways and three greens, and I wasn’t really in the long stuff.”

Never a long hitter, Pressel scrapped her way to two LPGA titles, a 7-2-2 Solheim Cup record and a U.S. Women’s Amateur title wearing out her competition with precision driving and iron play and a streaky hot putter. That’s the form that helped her become the youngest winner of a major championship when she claimed the Kraft Nabisco when she was 18 years, 10 months and 9 days old. She won her second title at the Kapalua LPGA Classic in 2008, her last victory.

“I feel good about the way that I'm playing,” Pressel said. “I feel good about my approach to playing, which is just as important sometimes.”

There would be something poetic about Pressel winning at Locust Hill. This is where she injured her left wrist a year ago, picking up a malady that spiraled her into the worst slump of her career. She was diagnosed with intersection syndrome, a ligament and joint malady caused by repetitive action. She had to withdraw from back-to-back events after hurting herself at Locust Hill and then missed four consecutive cuts.

Pressel says her wrist is just fine this week, but she will take precautionary measures. She knows what too much time in Locust Hill’s rough can do.

“I'm not worried about it,” Pressel said. “I'll get a little bit ahead of it, certainly ice it tonight and take some Advil and anti-inflammatories, just to prevent anything. If it hurts me on Monday, well, then that'll be OK, as long as it doesn't bother me tomorrow.”

Sunday shapes up as so much more than a test of physical skill.

“I think it's going to be much more of a mental test, than it is a physical, walking test,” Pressel said. “I run a lot. I'm in plenty good of enough shape to get through 36 holes tomorrow, from that standpoint.

The question will be just how committed I can be to every shot, because when you get tired, your mind starts to wander. So, that'll be the biggest test tomorrow, truly staying focused on every shot. At the end of the day, I probably won't want to think another second. But that will mean that I gave it my all and I was patient out there.”

Pressel is hoping it’s a formula that wins her a second major.

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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. 

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Woods impresses DeChambeau, Day on Tuesday

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 11:27 pm

SAN DIEGO – Bryson DeChambeau played with Tiger Woods for the first time Tuesday morning, and the biggest surprise was that he wasn’t overcome by nerves.

“That’s what I was concerned about,” DeChambeau said. “Am I just gonna be slapping it around off the tee? But I was able to play pretty well.”

So was Woods.

DeChambeau said that Woods looked “fantastic” as he prepares to make his first PGA Tour start in a year.

“His game looks solid. His body doesn’t hurt. He’s just like, yeah, I’m playing golf again,” DeChambeau said. “And he’s having fun, too, which is a good thing.”

Woods arrived at Torrey Pines before 7 a.m. local time Tuesday, when the temperature hadn’t yet crept above 50 degrees. He warmed up and played the back nine of Torrey Pines’ South Course with DeChambeau and Jason Day.

“He looks impressive; it was good to see,” Day told afterward. “You take (Farmers) last year and the Dubai tournament out, and he hasn’t really played in two years. I think the biggest thing is to not get too far ahead, or think he’s going to come back and win straight away.

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“The other time he came back, I don’t think he was ready and he probably came back too soon. This time he definitely looks ready. I think his swing is really nice, he’s hitting the driver a long way and he looks like he’s got some speed, which is great.”

Woods said that his caddie, Joe LaCava, spent four days with him in South Florida last week and that he’s ready to go.

“Before the Hero I was basically given the OK probably about three or four weeks prior to the tournament, and I thought I did pretty good in that prep time,” Woods told, referring to his tie for ninth in the 18-man event.

“Now I’ve had a little more time to get ready for this event. I’ve played a lot more golf, and overall I feel like I’ve made some nice changes. I feel good.”

Woods is first off Torrey Pines’ North Course in Wednesday’s pro-am, scheduled for 6:40 a.m. local time.