Wie chasing Lewis for year-end honors

By Randall MellOctober 22, 2014, 4:56 pm

Michelle Wie held off Stacy Lewis to win her first major championship at this year’s U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst.

As the LPGA season winds down, Wie would like nothing better than to see if she can mount a late charge at Lewis for some prestigious season-long awards.

Wie, 25, walked away with the first substantial award of the year in the women’s game, claiming the Rolex Annika Major Award at the Evian Championship last month. The new award is a valued prize as it honors the best player in the year’s five most important events, the major championships. Wie won it on the strength of her U.S. Women’s Open victory and second-place finish at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Coming back from a summer injury, Wie is in position to make a run at the Race to the CME Globe and the $1 million jackpot that goes with it, and she’s still in the hunt for Rolex Player of the Year and the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, though she’ll need a dynamic finish to grab those.

“I think it’s definitely in the back of my mind,” Wie told LPGA media Wednesday as she prepares to play the Blue Bay in China this week. “It’s something I’m not consciously thinking of. I feel like if I play good golf and keep playing well and shooting low scores, that will take care of itself.”

The challenge is prying Lewis’ fingers off the big prizes.

With five events remaining on the LPGA schedule, Lewis is threatening to haul away the most meaningful awards left to win. Lewis has a firm grip on the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy and the official money title with leads in all three statistical categories.

She is trying to become the first American to claim all three in the same year since Betsy King in 1993.

These are prizes Lewis makes no secret she covets.

“The goal the rest of the year is looking at those year-end awards,” Lewis said at the start of the fall Asian swing.

This is a week for challengers to make their moves on Lewis, who is taking the second of a two-week break before finishing out the season. Lewis isn’t in the field in China but will return to the Fubon Taiwan Championship next week with plans to play the final four events of the year. Rolex world No. 2 Inbee Park is also taking off this week.

Lewis leads the Race to the CME Globe points standings with Wie fourth, leads the Rolex POY standings with Wie third and leads the Vare Trophy race with Wie second.

Wie was asked if she valued the Race to the CME Globe or Player of the Year award more.

“I think it’d be really cool to win the inaugural Race to the CME Globe,” Wie said. “Not because of the money, but just because of how the point system works all year . . . But I’ve never won Player of the Year before, and it’s something that I’ve always worked towards. So I can’t really choose.”

With her victory at the Lotte Championship and then the U.S. Women’s Open, Wie has climbed to No. 6 in the world rankings. She was No. 103 just 18 months ago.

If not for a finger injury that kept her out of competition for most of the last three months, Wie could be making an even harder challenge for the game’s big awards.

“The last three months I did drop a couple of spots on all the rankings, so I really want to finish the year strong and climb back up,” Wie said.

Wie, who suffered a “stress reaction” to her right index finger hitting out of a divot at the Marathon Classic in late July, looked good despite a sluggish start last week at the KEB-HanaBank Championship in South Korea, where she finished her first event since Marathon. She tied for fifth after opening with a 76 in high winds.

It was her first start since she re-injured herself and withdrew after 13 holes of the Evian Championship last month.

“I was going to play China and Malaysia [earlier this month], but my doctors told me not to,” Wie said. “I felt really good [in South Korea]. I got to the point where I could play 18 holes without much pain, which is really good. I didn’t think about it. I strengthened it.”

Wie is hoping she knocked off enough rust to make another run this week.

“Every day I felt a little less rusty,” Wie said. “Definitely, some of the mistakes I made on Saturday and Sunday, I don’t think I would’ve made in the heat of the season. I still feel like I’m working on my touch – my wedge game, my short game. I still need to shake some rust off, but everyday feels a little bit better.”

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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.