Willett bracing for hard time from U.S. fans

By Randall MellSeptember 29, 2016, 8:58 pm

CHASKA, Minn. – Danny Willett got booed lightly on the first tee beginning his practice round Thursday at Hazeltine.

This was before he beaned a spectator with an errant drive off the second tee.

There was some minor heckling over the nine holes he played, odd references to “pissy beer,” “cookie dough” and “hot dogs.”

Willett can thank his older brother, Pete, for making his first Ryder Cup as daunting as any European rookie has ever faced. Pete may as well have embroidered “Kick Me” on the back of Danny’s pants this week after penning an article for National Club Golfer that ridiculed American fans as a “braying mob of imbeciles.” Danny’s challenge teeing it up at Hazeltine is more fraught with tension than any other player faces this week.

“We’re all here to try to have a great time in what is a dream come true,” Willett said.

That’s what he was thinking on his way to Hazeltine. It’s a bit of a nightmare now.

Danny’s brother throttled American fans as “fat, stupid, greedy, classless bastards” in an article released Wednesday. Danny literally throttled a spectator at Hazeltine with his errant drive on Thursday. Getty Images moved a photo of the spectator Willett struck with a bag of ice atop his bloody skull.

“Yeah, knocked [the ball] backwards,” Willett confirmed.

Willett, 28, said the whole controversy is a major distraction to his preparation.

“That's been the toughest thing, I guess,” Willett said. “What was said, there’s no going back on anything like that.

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“It’s been pretty tricky for me to get back on and fully focus these last few hours, especially this morning.”

Willett apologized to American fans on Golf Channel. He and European captain Darren Clarke have both emphasized that Pete’s insults, intended to be humorous, don’t reflect Danny or the European team’s views. Danny also sought out American captain Davis Love III to apologize.

“It’s forgive and forget,” American Patrick Reed said.

Of course, Reed wasn’t speaking for American fans.

“I’m not sure if American crowds feel quite the same way,” Willett said. “I’m not expecting it to settle down right away.

“Obviously, coming to America, you're already a bit of a target, the European team, the 12 guys. And yeah, it kind of centered the attention a bit more, obviously, upon myself.”

Willett won his first major, the Masters, in April. Europeans don’t really consider him a rookie, but all of a sudden he’s dealing with added tension that wouldn’t otherwise be there.

“I don't think anyone ever came to America, any of the European lads, and thought it was going to be a walk in the park,” Willett said. “There's some pretty rowdy American fans every Ryder Cup. That's the nature of the beast, that's what happens. You don't mind the odd bit of heckling, but hope it doesn't go too far.”

Willett said he wasn’t aware his brother was writing the story before it came out. Pete, 33, is a drama teacher who also writes freelance. Danny said he spoke to Pete after reading the story Wednesday afternoon and spoke to him again Wednesday night.

“We spoke to each other about what was said and how it got interpreted and the reactions from it,” Danny said. “I was disappointed in what he wrote and, obviously, it put a bit of a downer on my first Ryder Cup for the last couple of days.”

Pete isn’t attending the Ryder Cup, but Danny’s parents are following their son this week.

“They were upset with the whole thing and how it came about, and obviously what's been said,” Willett said. “They spoke to Pete last night, and, obviously, had a good chat with him. I don't exactly know what about. I've not fully spoken to them about it, so I'm not quite sure. But they were there again today walking inside the ropes with me and showing their support, and that's all I can ask.”

Lee Westwood said Willett seems to be holding up fine.

“It's a tricky situation that he's been put in, one that I'm sure he didn't want to be placed in,” Westwood said. “But things don't always run smoothly. He seems to be handling it fairly well.”

But bracing for their worst come Friday.

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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.