Cut Line: Farewell, Arnie; Welcome back, Tiger

By Rex HoggardOctober 7, 2016, 10:00 pm

The golf world offers a final farewell to Arnold Palmer, welcomes Tiger Woods back to competition and embraces what U.S. officials hope will be a new era to the Ryder Cup in this week’s edition.

Made Cut

Farewell to the King. There’s no easy way to say goodbye to a legend, to a hero, but thousands flocked to Latrobe, Pa., on Tuesday to try.

“He was an everyday man, everyone’s hero,” said Jack Nicklaus, who delivered an emotional speech at Arnold Palmer’s memorial service.

Perhaps the true measure of Palmer’s greatness was his reach across generations, along with Nicklaus current PGA Tour players Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III, Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson attended the service, as well as thousands of fans of all ages.

The most poignant moment of the service was delivered by Sam Saunders, Palmer’s grandson, when he told a story that defined the King’s ability to mix with presidents and patrons so seamlessly.

“Where are you?” Saunders remembered once starting a phone conversation with Palmer.

“I'm with the president,” Palmer said.

“The president of what?” Saunders asked.

“Of the United States,” Palmer answered.

“Why did you answer the phone?” Saunders said.

“Well,” Palmer said, “I wanted to talk to you.”

Tiger: The Return. Woods officially committed to the Safeway Open on Friday, setting the stage for one of the most compelling season-openers in recent memory.

Woods announced he “hoped” to play the event, along with the European Tour’s Turkish Airlines Open and his own Hero World Challenge in December, if his rehabilitation from multiple back procedures went as planned.

Although he didn’t play the Ryder Cup, Woods spent the week at Hazeltine driving a golf cart and embracing a new role as vice captain, and by all accounts things went well.

His return to competition next week in California may not be as effortless, but it will certainly draw even more interest. 

Tweet of the Week:

Fowler delivered the Ryder Cup to Palmer’s funeral service. The King would have liked that.

Task Force. Those inside the U.S. Ryder Cup circle would like to move beyond the scrutiny that came with the task force. “I wish you guys would start calling it the Ryder Cup committee,” Jim Furyk said on Sunday at Hazeltine.

Following the American victory last week those involved with the makeover can call it whatever they want. In fact, they can do pretty much whatever they want in the build up to the 2018 matches in France.

Phil Mickelson, one of the architects of the new-look U.S. team, said the biggest difference this time around was the Americans were given every opportunity to succeed.

Those involved with the task force, eh, committee, said all along that creating a winning tradition for the next 10 Ryder Cups was the goal, not winning the ’16 matches. But winning last week will certainly make things easier for Furyk & Co.

Euro Zone. There will be no task force, no second-guessing of Darren Clarke’s leadership, no overhaul of the Continent’s Ryder Cup process. It’s not their way.

It was evident on Sunday at Hazeltine that while the Europeans weren’t happy with the loss, it wasn’t the end of their world.

“Can we bring a ladder for Sully, first, please?” Sergio Garcia smiled as he filed into the interview room on Sunday.

“I'm a bit small,” Andy Sullivan shot back.

“Stand up, Sully,” Garcia laughed.

“Actually I shouldn't be saying that,” added 5-foot-10 Rory McIlroy.

The rest of the Q&A went largely the same way: jokes, smiles, lighthearted exchanges, and later on Sunday evening McIlroy joined the American team party by chanting, “USA, USA, USA.”

Even in defeat, the Europeans know how to celebrate.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Suspect scheduling. Your scribe penned this week’s edition without any power as Hurricane Matthew plowed its way up the East Coast, and watching the storm’s impact on Florida it’s abundantly clear that officials made the right call cancelling the Tour Championship.

The finale was scheduled to be played in Jacksonville Beach this weekend, but Mother Nature had other plans.

What’s not so clear is why officials scheduled the event this week. The Tour took last week off, presumably to avoid a conflict with the Ryder Cup, leaving no room in case of a delay with the start of the 2016-17 season looming next week at the Safeway Open.

Cancelling the finale was the right thing to do, originally scheduling it for this week was not. The four Tour Finals events are important, jobs, even careers, hang in the balance. In the future, let’s hope officials plan, and schedule, accordingly.

Missed Cut

Mainstream mayhem. Some 50,000 fans cheered last Sunday’s spectacle at Hazeltine National, a testament to the Ryder Cup’s popularity beyond golf’s normal fan base.

The Masters may be the best event in golf, but the Ryder Cup has become one of the biggest spectacles in all of sports, and anyone crowded around the first tee on Sunday as the singles session got underway can attest to the event’s mainstream appeal.

But along with that popularity is a fan that’s never been to a golf tournament, probably never played golf. That fact, along with copious alcohol sales, added up to a rowdy crowd that stepped over the line of acceptable behavior on numerous occasions.

“This week, at times, it has went a little bit too far. But you know, that's to be expected. When you are teeing off at 7:35 [a.m.] and you're seeing people on the first tee with a beer in their hand and matches aren't finishing until 4:30, 5 [p.m.],” said McIlroy, who seemed to take the brunt of the crowd’s abuse. “I know I would be done at that point, I don't know what I would be saying.”

There’s not another event in golf with as much passion as the Ryder Cup, and sometimes that fervor blows through some traditional stop signs. Last week’s behavior by a small portion of the fans was not acceptable, but unfortunately it might be the price golf has to pay for joining the mainstream.

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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.