Floridas Fab Four

By Rex HoggardMarch 18, 2009, 4:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)In 2007 PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem took his bat and his glove headed for summer, that is to say he shuffled the competitive landscape by moving the Players Championship out of the Florida Swing, and Augusta Nationals consuming shadow, to the drier confines of May.
 
The fifth major got its bouncy conditions and an unobstructed view, and the four-event lineup that remained in the Sunshine State received a scheduling nip/tuck that continues to take shape. The new and improved version of the Florida Swing is much more demanding than the warm and fuzzy version that used to welcome players from the West Coast.
 
Whereas before the extreme makeover players headed east in search of warmer climes and easier conditions, the Tour arrives in Florida with white knuckles firmly gripping clubs and an indifference to what has become a sliding scale of success.
 
Theyre all pretty hard, Dudley Hart reasoned last Saturday following Round 2 of the WGC-CA Championship. This (Doral) is pretty good, its a different mix in each tournament.
 
Which among Floridas Fab Four Tour venues is the toughest remains a matter of opinion. What is not in doubt is the increased difficulty of the overall swing.
 
Since 2007 when the Players moved to May and the Tampa, Fla.-area stop filled the void, the collective scoring average for the swing was 6 over par (2007) and 2.76 over par (2008). By comparison, the average in 2006, when the swing included the Players, Doral, Bay Hill and Honda Classic was 1.8 over par, .56 over in 05 and 1.28 over in 04.
 
During the post-Players-move years, TPC Sawgrass anchored the swing, both literally and in scoring average, followed in order by Bay Hill, the Honda Classic venues ' a haphazard collection of residential layouts ' and Doral.
 
The modern swing, however, is the Benjamin Button-version of the old lineup. The Honda Classic leads off the swing with PGA National, statistically and consensually the most demanding of the current four.
 
Its almost reversed a little bit, Hart said. We start out at the toughest and kind of work our way backwards. It used to be the easiest to the hardest, now its reversed.
 
PGA National was the toughest of the four in 2008 (71.82 stroke average and ninth toughest on Tour), which dovetails with most players opinions,
 
The Honda stepped up big time, you could hold a major there, said Ken Duke.
 
In 2007 Bay Hill statistically ranked the toughest on the swing ' seventh toughest on Tour, one spot ahead of PGA National ' but some subtleties in the rankings are lost to the creative accounting of course set-up. After the 2006 tournament, Bay Hill officials lopped two strokes off par, rewriting the scorecard from a par 72 to 70, and jumped from 19th toughest in 06 to seventh in 07.
 
Doral may claim to be a Monster, but in the new swing its widely considered the meekest of the bunch, ranking the easiest among the four the last two years.
 
Everybody talks about (Doral), but there are only two or three really tough holes, Ben Curtis said. No. 1 is more like a par 4 and 18 is more like a par 5. This is the easiest we play in Florida.
 
Its a far cry from the fearsome layout that regularly ranked among the circuits most demanding when it debuted in the 1960s and 70s but the game and the swing have in some ways outgrown Doral.
 
Doral was probably harder before guys started hitting it so far and there was more rough, Hart said. (Doral) is a bombers course. If you can carry it 280 yards off the tee its always an advantage.
 
For the CA Championship, one player likened the rough to what is found at most resorts, that is to say non-existent, but in Dorals defense a lingering drought in south Florida limited the growing period. Officials also did not overseed the Blue Monster with winter grasses this year, making the layout play unusually hard and fast, which only made the long-hitters longer.
 
Overseed always plays easier, said Hart, noting that this weeks layout at Innisbrook and next week at Bay Hill will both be overseeded. The greens are always softer compared to non-overseeded Bermudagrass, which is the hardest thing to play out of. You get so many more flyers out that stuff.
 
The agronomic combination led to one of the lowest scoring averages in years (70.91) and a 19-under 269 winning total. There was more red, than blue at Doral, a dramatic shift in the way things used to be, but then change seems to be the only constant for a Florida Swing in flux.
 

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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.