Day, Dubuisson scale the heights at Dove Mountain

By Rex HoggardFebruary 24, 2014, 2:34 am

MARANA, Ariz. – If this is the final PGA Tour chapter for Done Mountain, eh ... Dove Mountain, give the isolated enclave style points for going out on a high note.

Situated squarely between the middle of nowhere and lost, the rugged layout has endured the slings and arrows of Mother Nature (it was the lone snow delay on the PGA Tour last year) and players (the track ranked 51st out of 52 courses on Tour in a 2013 player poll).

But on swan-song Sunday, gorgeous vistas combined with a global give and take between Australia’s Jason Day and aloof Frenchman Victor Dubuisson to send Dove Mountain into a fitting sunset.

As afternoon turned to dusk, Day and Dubuisson (pronounced dew-BWEE-shon) produced arguably the event’s most dramatic and entertaining finish, rounding 18 holes all square and lapsing into the longest final playoff in event history that ended on the 23rd hole with Day hoisting his second PGA Tour title.


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Leading by three holes with six to play, Day closed his round in even par and Dubuisson forced overtime with a scrambling par at the last.

That’s when things got interesting.

Over the next two holes Dubuisson spent more time in the desert than General de Gaulle, punching out from under a jumping cholla - the official plant of the Match Play since the tournament moved to the Tucson area in 2007 - at the first extra frame to save par and then again on the second playoff hole when his approach settled into a patch of rocks and weeds.

Magnifique.

“I was thinking, Why won’t this guy just go away?” said Day, who made it to the final four at the Match Play last year and went one better on Sunday when he beat Rickie Fowler, 3 and 2, in the semifinals. “I was doing everything to win the tournament and he just wouldn’t go away.”

The Frenchman matched Day shot for shot through the next two holes before his drive at the short par-4 15th hole sailed right and his chip failed to hold the green. Day converted his birdie putt from 4 feet to end the marathon.

Every bit the unknown commodity to American audiences, Dubuisson – who grew up in Cannes and now lives in Andorra, a tax haven between France and Spain – proved himself all at once relentless and ready for bigger and better things with his Match Play performance.

“They were both very, not unplayable, but I was thinking I had to play it hard,” Dubuisson said of his two desert adventures. “I just battled, especially on the back nine, and this week I learned a lot.”

As a consolation, Dubuisson – who defeated Ernie Els, 1 up, in the morning’s matinee and likely locked up his spot on this year’s European Ryder Cup team – earned a healthy amount of name recognition and a few more options.

His runner-up finish assured him of special temporary Tour status, and with more than $1 million in earnings already this year he’s virtually guaranteed full status for the 2014-15 season.

But it was great escapes under pressure, more so than his promising future, that impressed his peers and the press alike.

“Those may be the two best escape shots I've ever seen. Allez Victor,” tweeted Graeme McDowell, who did his own share of larceny at the Match Play.

Considering G-Mac’s Houdini-like run through the Match Play bracket, the Northern Irishman’s opinion was high praise.

McDowell allowed earlier in the week that “next Thursday (at the Honda Classic) starts my season proper.” Gary Woodland, Hideki Matsuyama and Hunter Mahan – who all lost to McDowell – would have preferred he start his literal campaign as well next week at PGA National.

As McDowell put it, “I'm not embarrassed, but I just feel like I'm robbing these guys.” Until he won the second hole in Round 4 against Dubuisson with an eagle, McDowell had not hit a tee shot with a lead all week, and he found himself 2 down through two holes in each of his first three matches, yet advanced to the quarterfinals.

But if McDowell’s magic ran out on Saturday when he lost to Dubuisson, Sergio Garcia seemed to make an investment in future karma a day earlier.

El Nino caused a stir on the seventh hole during his Sweet 16 match against Fowler when he invoked the “good, good?” clause with the American 18 feet away for par.

“My drop on No. 6 took too much time and I would not want to be in his position. I thought it was the best thing to do for the game and for me,” said Garcia, who lost the match by one hole.

For the last few years, Day hasn’t particularly enjoyed his position. The shine had slowly weathered away from his “world beater” status as he failed to follow up on his lone Tour tilt at the 2010 Byron Nelson Championship.

His emotional victory in November at the World Cup back home in Australia helped quiet the critics, if not the internal dialogue.

“The best thing that’s happened to him was winning (the World Cup),” said Day’s caddie/swing coach Colin Swatton. “He was getting to the point where he was thinking, ‘When am I going to win again?’ It was good for him to get that.”

That confidence boost combined with his near-miss at last year’s Masters, fueled a much more intense offseason and a desire to stop being simply a good player who struggled to close out the big events.

“I’m going to be honest here,” said Day, who will vault to fourth in the world golf ranking, his highest position. “I came from a very poor family. It wasn’t winning I wanted. I wanted to make money to take care of my family, but it’s not about the money anymore. I want to win trophies.”

Even without three of the world’s top four players – Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson – a title sponsor or a future home, the last edition of the cactus Match Play was a show by any measure.

For eight years Dove Mountain has underwhelmed. But with one final mountain mea culpa the isolated layout delivered a memorable exit.

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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.