What to watch for at the Masters

By Randall MellApril 8, 2009, 4:00 pm
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The 73rd Masters starts Thursday at Augusta National. Heres a look at what may await:

  • Tiger Woods wont start quickly
    OK, scratch that, he just might, but he doesnt need to do so to win. Woods has never broken 70 in the first round of the Masters. He opened with a 74 in the last of his four Masters titles. No Masters winner has opened with a higher score in 27 years, since Craig Stadler went on to win after starting with a 75 in 1982. Of course, the 54-hole score is what sets up Woods. He has led going into the final round of every one of his 14 major championship victories.

  • Mickelson will try to keep Woods in his rear-view mirror
    A common denominator in Mickelsons two Masters victories is that he jumped in front of Woods in the first round of both of them and never trailed him at the end of any round. So that means Mickelson jumping ahead of Woods in the first round matters, right? Not necessarily. Woods has four Masters titles, and in his last three victories he trailed Mickelson after the first round.

  • Woods vs. Mickelson takes shape
    Golf fans tuning in to see whether a Woods vs. Mickelson Sunday showdown looks possible arent asking for too much given the duos record at the Masters. While its true Woods hasnt won at Augusta National since 2005, its also true he hasnt finished worse than a tie for third in the last four Masters. Phil Mickelson has finished fifth or better in six of the last eight Masters.

  • Padraig Harrington finally seizes the Masters spotlight
    Its hard to believe a guy whos trying to win his third consecutive major championship and fourth in the last seven is getting such Off Broadway billing, but Harrington changes that with a fast start today. Harrington isnt a bad fit at Augusta National. He tied for fifth last year and tied for seventh the year before and had another tie for fifth in 02.

  • Justin Rose will lead after the first round
    Why not? Rose has led, or shared the lead, after the first round in three of the last five Masters. Of course, his finishes havent been pretty. After opening with a 68 last year, he shot 78. After starting with a 69 the year before that, he posted a pair of 75s. After leading both the first and second rounds in 04, he shot an 81.

  • Something old, something new comes into view
    Dont be surprised if an aging past champion emerges as a storyline before the cut is made, or if some new character introduces himself to Augusta Nationals patrons in a big way. Tommy Aaron, Gay Brewer and Charles Coody briefly revisited their youth with surprising starts in the last decade. With the course playing so long and tough, past champs teeing it up will have a harder time now, but it wouldnt be shocking to see a Champions Tour pro like Bernhard Langer or Greg Norman post a good score early. As for the new characters, Brandt Snedeker was the guy last year, hanging tough all the way until his final round disappointment. Brett Wetterich, Arron Oberholser, Mark Hensby and Alex Cjeka made first-round introductions in recent years. Whos it going to be this year? How about Briny Baird? Or Ryuji Imada? Or Ken Duke?

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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.