Exciting Presidents Cup over, focus now on Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardOctober 12, 2015, 4:03 pm

INCHEON, South Korea – In the frenzied moments following the U.S. team’s one-point victory on Sunday at the Presidents Cup the metaphorical page turned. Davis Love III could feel it.

“I was thinking to myself that this is going to be weird because I’m up,” Love said. “I’m up.”

At the risk of exiting the moment far too early, it was perfectly understandable that Love’s mind would drift to next year’s Ryder Cup, where he will take his second turn as the American captain.

In Love’s defense it was the players who made it impossible not to peek ahead to next year’s matches, where the U.S. team will attempt to end a victory drought that dates back to 2008.

One by one the players, from Zach Johnson to Bill Haas, descended on Love with an eye toward Hazeltine National.

“And, of course, Phil [Mickelson], he came up and said, ‘Don’t forget about me next year,’” Love smiled. “Even [caddie Jim Mackay] told me, ‘My man can still play.’”

But then Mickelson’s inspired play in South Korea was just a single data point for Love from a week that he was only beginning to digest.

Officials and players bristle at the notion that the Presidents Cup was some sort of dress rehearsal for next year’s Ryder Cup, but the reality is after last year’s loss at Gleneagles everyone involved with the Ryder Cup has focused a critical eye on improvement, and what better place to look for answers than the biennial bout with the rest of the world.

It’s why the PGA of America created the Ryder Cup task force and, ultimately, chose Love to take his second turn as captain. So it was hardly a surprise that Love carefully watched how Presidents Cup captain Jay Haas, as well as assistant Fred Couples, ran things.

What may be a surprise to some, however, is who else was dissecting the proceedings.

“We saw some things that we want to be part of the plan next year,” Love said. “If you don’t think the task force is working, Tiger Woods is interested in what’s happening this week to apply it to the Ryder Cup.”

Woods called Love and Steve Stricker, who along with Love was an assistant last week and a potential future Ryder Cup captain, on Friday to talk about the matches and things he thought could help the U.S. team next year. Woods also told Love, according to Golf Digest, that he wants to be involved next year, even if that means being an assistant captain.

While the players don’t consider the Presidents Cup a tune-up for the main event next fall, there was plenty to be gleaned from last week’s matches for those who will be moving the chess pieces at Hazeltine National.

Pairings like Mickelson and Zach Johnson, who went 2-0-1 as a team in Korea, and Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson, 2-1-0, became part of Love’s general game plan moving forward.

“Zach and Phil made a great pairing. It was interesting how Dustin and Jordan paired. You have the guy who bombs it and just hits it and then the most organized, structured, game-plan guy we’ve got [Spieth]. They wanted to be together,” Love said. “That was really interesting.”

Even the process of selecting each day’s pairings, which unlike the Ryder Cup is a head-to-head draw between the two captains, was a learning experience.

Each day the captains would gather for the draw with a telling hierarchy on the American side of the table.

“We [Love, Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk] sat down on the end and gave our ideas and thoughts and guessed what was going to happen,” said Furyk, who was a last-minute withdrawal from the matches with a wrist injury. “Ultimately, it was just a learning experience from the other guys that have done it so many times.”

For Furyk it was a particularly educational week. Although the veteran is still focused on playing the annual team events he is viewed in many corners as a consensus future captain.

Under the legacy philosophy established by the task force, where future captains are groomed as assistants, last week’s experience was very much a crash course for the nine-time Ryder Cup player.

“Jay and Fred have done it so much. Davis has experience. I think that's what Stricker and I are trying to draw from,” Furyk said.

For Love, who was also an assistant to Couples in 2013 at Muirfield Village, the challenge now is applying the lessons from last week, which has proven to be more difficult than one would expect.

It’s less an apples-to-apples comparison between the two events, considering the U.S. is 9-1-1 in the Presidents Cup but 3-8-0 during that same snapshot against the Continent.

If the Presidents Cup held all of the answers for the embattled American Ryder Cup team then the fix would be to name Couples the captain and use FedEx Cup points to select the teams, but the reality is more nuanced than that.

 “Why is it so much more relaxed? Why is it so much easier? Less pressure?” Love wondered. “[Mickelson] made a good point when he said we know there’s more pressure in the Ryder Cup. You can’t try to just turn it off. You know it’s going to be there.”

Maybe the only difference this time around is that the players and primary characters are focused on the Ryder Cup some 12 months before the first tee shot is hit.

It was a telling moment for Love on Sunday in South Korea when Spieth turned to him during the winner’s news conference to ask about the Ryder Cup. Love playfully informed the world No. 1, “You still have to qualify [for the team].”

Many have dismissed the task force as reactionary, a public relations answer to the awkward moments that followed the U.S. loss at Gleneagles. But for those charged with plotting America’s course it’s become a reason to be engaged.

“We’re all talking about it now. That’s the difference,” said Love as he wandered toward the U.S. team room with a single thought – I’m up.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.”

Getty Images

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.