At Wegmans, Pressel targets Solheim berth

By Randall MellJune 7, 2013, 8:32 pm

PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Morgan Pressel’s smile burst through the gloom Friday at the Wegmans LPGA Championship.

After she coaxed in a tricky, downhill 6-foot birdie putt at the final hole, her smile could have illuminated half of the metropolitan Rochester region.

It’s a smile Pressel fans should have been pleased to see with Pressel closing out a 4-under-par 68 and temporarily seizing the lead on a brutish Locust Hill Country Club course. Yes, it’s just the first round, Pressel understands that, but the burst of brilliance amid the gloom that hung in more than the air was a tonic.

For a year, Pressel has been struggling with her game, and it all dates back to this event a year ago.

Pressel, 25, hurt her left wrist playing in the brutish rough at Locust Hill in the 2012 Wegmans LPGA Championship. She said it wasn’t one swing that hurt her, that it was a malady which worsened with all the shots she had to muscle out of the cabbage-like rough here.

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The two-time LPGA winner is looking to rebuild her game and confidence and make her fourth U.S. Solheim Cup team.

With four birdies to close her round, Pressel is off to a good start to a critical run of six summer events leading to Solheim Cup qualification. At day's end, she was tied with Jiyai Shin for second, one shot behind Chella Choi.

“Mentally, I think Morgan is in the best place she has been in a long time,” Pressel’s coach, Ron Stockton, said.

Stockton actually said that Wednesday after Pressel’s pro-am round.

On Friday, Pressel flashed the talent that helped her jolt the golf world by becoming the youngest winner of a major championship. She was 18 when she won the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Six years have passed since then, and so much has happened in her life. There was last year’s injury, the struggles that came when pain led to bad swing habits. There was her wedding in January, a life-changing event she said makes her very happy.

In Friday’s round, Pressel found a happy place in her game again.

“I've struggled with my wrist since I played here last year, and it took a while to overcome that,” Pressel said. “It took a while to really want to play golf again, and enjoy playing golf again, and I feel like I'm in a better place.”

It showed Friday.

Pressel, never long, but always one of the most accurate drivers on tour, hit 10 fairways in the first round, a vital stat given the nasty rough here. Her short game and putting were sharp, too. She toured the course in 23 putts.

It wasn’t lost on Pressel that U.S. Solheim Cup captain Meg Mallon was in the gallery watching portions of her round.

“The three Solheim Cup teams I’ve been on have been the highlight of my career,” Pressel said. “It’s my goal this year, for sure. There have been times when it has kept me from playing better, because I've been so worried about it, so I'm trying to just go out and play my game and not worry about it so much. If I go out and try to win, then I'm thinking, it will take care of itself.”

Pressel was 4-0 in the American Solheim Cup loss in Ireland two years ago. She’s 7-2-2 overall in her three Solheim Cups, but she has work to do to qualify for the team on points. She’s 15th on the U.S. Solheim Cup points list and needs to be among the top eight by the conclusion of the Ricoh Women’s British Open to automatically qualify. She’s fourth on the U.S. Solheim Cup world rankings list and needs to be among the top two to qualify off it.

Making a fourth Solheim Cup team became harder work after the wrist injury. Pressel said doctors diagnosed the injury as intersection syndrome, a ligament and joint malady caused by repetitive action.

Pressel felt an ache in her wrist during last year’s Wegmans LPGA Championship. It worsened through the tournament and got so bad she withdrew in her next event in Arkansas and withdrew again in the U.S. Women’s Open the week after that. She followed those WDs up missing four consecutive cuts.

All the while, Pressel’s swing changed to protect the wrist.

Stockton didn’t want her playing injured, but he couldn’t stop her.

“Morgan doesn’t stop,” Stockton said. “That’s not in her makeup, but it was a learning experience.”

Morgan’s woes spilled into this season with just one top-10 finish in 10 starts. Even with missed cuts, Stockton could see her game and confidence coming around.

“Morgan’s hitting it well, and she has the game to suit this golf course,” Stockton said. “She likes tough golf courses.”

Pressel finished second in the Wegmans LPGA Championship two years ago.

Mallon wondered how Pressel might respond to her return to Locust Hill, where the rough’s even deeper and thicker than last year.

“This shows how mentally strong she is,” Mallon said. “She could have gone out and been afraid to play today. Instead, she went out and played great golf.”

As a player, Mallon said, Pressel is a lot like another Solheim Cup warrior.

“She’s just a grinder and a fighter,” Mallon said. “She’s Rosie Jones reincarnated, the kind of player you like on your team.”

Pressel will try to make that happen over the next two months.

American Solheim Cup standings (top eight qualify):

1. Stacy Lewis 783
2. Cristie Kerr 488
3. Paula Creamer 420
4. Angela Stanford 297
5. Brittany Lincicome 215
6. Lexi Thompson 205
7. Jessic Korda 190
8. Lizette Salas 168
9. Brittany Lang 167
10. Jennifer Johnson 153
11. Gerina Piller 150
12. Katie Futcher 116
13. Michelle Wie 112
14. Nicole Castrale 104
15. Morgan Pressel 101

*The top 20 places in an LPGA event are awarded points with 60 points for first place, 30 for second, 28.5 for third and all the way down to three points for a 20th-place finish. Points are doubled in the majors.

American Solheim Cup world rankings standings (top two qualify):

1. Brittany Lang (No. 49)

2. Jennifer Johnson (No. 54).

3. Gerina Piller (No. 56).

4. Morgan Pressel (No. 68).

*Two captain's picks will fill out the American squad.

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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.