Rahm's rise no shock to Mickelson brothers

By Randall MellJanuary 30, 2017, 2:13 am

SAN DIEGO – Phil Mickelson pretty much warned everyone to duck.

Standing in the shadow of the 18th grandstand Sunday about a half hour before Jon Rahm ignited bedlam there winning the Farmers Insurance Open, Mickelson warned the world what kind of knockout punch the 22-year-old Spaniard is capable of delivering.

Mickelson said he took one of Rahm’s mighty blows not so long ago, at Whisper Rock in Scottsdale, Ariz., a course Mickelson designed.

“I thought I played OK, shot a solid 66, and I lost like 4 and 3,” Mickelson said.

Rahm shot 62.

So Mickelson was waiting for something spectacular like this. He was waiting for Rahm to show the world how special he can be.

Rahm did just that blitzing the back nine of the brutish Torrey Pines South Course, making eagle at the 13th to move into a four-way share of the lead before separating himself with a birdie at the 17th. He slammed the door on his maiden PGA Tour title holing a mesmerizing 60-foot eagle putt at the final hole to win by three shots.

After that last putt fell, Rahm let his inner Seve out, the great Seve Ballesteros, a fellow Spaniard Rahm said he idolized growing up.

From the archives: How Rahm turned into a star

Rahm showed a lot of Seve-like bravado on the back nine, especially making that eagle at the 13th, where he cooked his drive right into the fairway bunker. Instead of laying up at the par 5, Rahm grabbed a hybrid 4-iron and looked at his caddie, Adam Hayes.

“Right at it all day,” Hayes told him.

So Rahm did what Seve would have done. He went for it, blistering his approach to 18 feet to set up the eagle.

“It’s a Spanish mindset,” Rahm said. “I feel like we are pretty aggressive, right? I think that’s the mindset probably thanks to Seve, right?"

Sunday’s rendition of the Farmers Insurance Open was a wide open free-for-all early. Seven different players held or shared the lead until Rahm took charge on the back nine. He did so playing the final six holes in 5 under par, posting a 7-under-par 65 with a 30 on the back nine.

Rahm conjured memories of yet another icon. Rahm is the first player to win the Torrey Pines Tour stop in his first start since Arnold Palmer in 1957.

“To be able to get my first win on Tour here, it doesn’t get much better than that,” Rahm said.

None of Rahm’s bold plays Sunday surprised Mickelson.

“I’ve played a couple times with him, and let’s just say I will only be his partner from now on,” Mickelson said. “I haven’t been able to beat him.”

Rahm played at Arizona State, Mickelson’s alma mater. He played for Tim Mickelson, Phil’s brother. Tim is now Rahm’s manager.

A lot of folks will say they saw Rahm’s breakthrough coming. He was, after all, a former World Amateur No. 1 and a two-time Ben Hogan Award winner as the best collegian in the land. But those folks didn’t see what Rahm had to overcome acclimating to life at Arizona State. They didn’t see the challenges outside golf.

“I grew up in a small town,” Rahm said. “The language barrier was hard.”

When he first arrived at Arizona State, Rahm barely spoke English. The small-town kid from Barrika, Spain, said he was bewildered when he walked into his first class at Arizona State and there were 375 students in an auditorium-style classroom.

“I thought it was a movie theater, and I was in the wrong place,” Rahm said. “It was a macroeconomic principles class. I’ll never forget it.

“I came from a high school where the biggest class was 30 people.”

Rahm adapted quickly with some unusual tactics. Tim Mickelson would make him do “burpees” when he caught him speaking Spanish in a team setting. That’s an exhausting kind of push up. And there was this other odd thing.

“Memorizing rap songs in English actually helped me out a lot,” Rahm said.

Rahm memorize Kendrick Lamar’s “Swimming Pools” and Eminem’s “Love the Way You Lie” and other songs.

“You can look them up, they’re good,” Rahm said.

Rahm bonded quickly with Tim Mickelson.

“I kind of treated him as my dad in the United States,” Rahm said.

Tim said Rahm’s talent isn’t all that wowed him when he was recruiting Rahm. In the media center after Sunday’s victory, Tim said he watched Rahm as a 16-year-old finish second at the European Boys’ Championship in Stockholm, Sweden. What Tim saw off the course sold him.

“Jon was disqualified,” Tim said. “He played with 15 clubs in his bag, but he didn’t realize that until after he got back to his hotel room. Now, as a 16-year-old kid, he probably could have gotten away with it, but he went and told his coach. I knew just what kind of quality kid he was.

“He’s one of the most genuine guys you’ll meet.”

And a golf star in the making.

Again, Phil Mickelson will attest to that.

“Jon doesn't have weaknesses,” Phil said. “Every part of his game is a strength. I think he's one of the best players in the world. There's an intangible that some guys have, where they want to have the pressure put on them, they want to be in that tough position. They want to have everything fall on their shoulders. He has that.”

Rahm showed the world Sunday he’s got that.

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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.

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

“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.