Cut Line: Paying for Tiger and Phil

By Rex HoggardJuly 6, 2012, 6:52 pm

In this week’s lineup, Dottie Pepper gets a much-deserved second chance for Solheim Cup glory, appearance fees on the PGA Tour endure a second look and the math and magic of the world golf ranking screams for a second opinion.

Made Cut

A dash of Pepper. It was a momentary lapse into what she thought was a closed microphone that led to five years of regret for Dottie Pepper, but on Wednesday U.S. Solheim Cup captain Meg Mallon took the high road and named Pepper, one of America’s most fiery competitors, an assistant captain for next year’s matches.

Pepper had been on the Solheim Cup persona-non-grata list since she referred to the U.S. side during the 2007 matches as “choking, freaking dogs.” The comment rightfully rankled many U.S. players and Pepper, once considered a shoo-in captain, was cut out of the event.

On Wednesday, an emotional Pepper admitted that she has regretted the comment every day for five years.

“I was delighted for Dottie,” Annika Sorenstam said on Thursday’s “Morning Drive.” “She is such a large part of the Solheim Cup and she brings a lot of intensity.”

High praise considering that Sorenstam once taped a picture of Pepper onto a punching bag during one particularly heated Solheim Cup.

Tweet of the day: @HunterMahan “(Steve) Nash to (the Los Angeles) Lakers? Oh happy day! I loved Canadians before this day, now I want dual citizenship!”

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Appearances. Despite reports to the contrary, the PGA Tour doesn’t allow appearance fees, but as tournament officials have become more savvy the practice of doling out back-door appearance fees has become common.

The theory is simple: you don’t buy a pair of Super Bowl tickets for $5,000, you buy an envelope for $5,000 that just happens to have two tickets in it. Word on the practice range this week is that both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson received “show up” money for this week’s Greenbrier Classic. Perhaps the most disturbing part of this is that some have used the occasion to suggest it may be time to open Tour tee sheets up to the highest bidder.

The problem with appearance fees, either overt or otherwise, is the impact they have on events that can’t or won’t sign big checks for big names. Next week’s John Deere Classic, for example, is a small-market stop that soldiers on without the occasional cameo from Woods or Mickelson.

If appearance fees were to become commonplace on Tour boutique events like the John Deere would likely move from being a success story to an endangered species.

Blind Justice. Greenbrier owner Jim Justice has, by all accounts, dusted off The Greenbrier resort, and the Old White TPC, and recreated an American gem, but the ambitious owner may have overstepped this week when he told that he has his sights set on hosting a U.S. Open.

“We have just barely got into the infancy of having dialogue in regard to the U.S. Open,” Justice said. “I’ve put out some feelers with others toward the USGA, but I have not had any direct communication whatsoever.”

While crowds this week have been impressive, White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., is closer to the middle of nowhere than a major metropolitan market and this is, after all, the same course that yielded a 59 to Stuart Appleby just two years ago.

Besides, there would be something inherently icky about a course with a “TPC” in its title hosting the national championship.

Turkey and Tiger. The idea is high-minded enough: bring together eight of the world’s top players for a showcase event in Turkey, which will use the event to help woo the 2020 Olympic summer games.

The event, which will be sponsored by Turkish Airways and feature a $5.3 million purse, is the work of European uber-agent Chubby Chandler with International Sports Management and, according to initial reports, would include the likes of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood.

Although the event is heavy with upside, Woods’ manager Mark Steinberg said the reports were a tad preliminary and that details remain to be worked out, and Chandler admitted this week on “Morning Drive” that the event has created a bit of a scheduling “mess” this year.

This year’s event, which will feature a match-play format and award $1.5 million to the winner, will be played nine days after the Ryder Cup, but Chandler was confident a better date could be found.

Admittedly the event has found a balance between high-minded and high-dollar, but considering the logistics of an already crowded golf schedule it could quickly go from being a solution for Turkey to a problem for professional golf.

Missed Cut

Diamond roughed up. News last week that Barclays CEO Bob Diamond has stepped down amid a flurry of fines and accusations that the financial giant rigged an important interest-rate benchmark sent ripples of concern through the golf world.

Barclays has been a key player in the game for some time and currently sponsors the first FedEx Cup playoff event on the PGA Tour, an event on the European Tour and Phil Mickelson.

On Wednesday, Mickelson said the resignation would not impact his endorsement agreement with Barclays and he told one Golf Channel insider that he felt Diamond was being made a “scapegoat” for the scandal that surfaced four years ago.

“Personally I’m crushed because I have really enjoyed my time with Bob,” said Mickelson, who first signed a multiyear deal with Barclays in 2008.

Golf has established itself as a risk-free sponsorship property for some time. Too bad some of those who have subscribed to that theory haven’t been as risk-free.

Math. The world golf ranking debate is becoming as repetitive as it is ridiculous, but last week’s calculations became too much for Cut Line to ignore.

Following his victory at last week’s AT&T National, a haul that netted 48 ranking points, Woods vaulted from fourth in the ranking to . . . well, fourth. Mathematicians will explain that Woods’ lack of mobility has everything to do with the ranking’s minimum divisor (40) and his limited playing schedule over the past two years (33 events).

Fair enough, but when a player has won three out of his last seven starts and yet remains mired at No. 4 it may be time for a makeover. A 52-week ranking window may not be the answer, but it seems like a good place to start to the conversation.

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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.