Game's best still looking over shoulders at Match Play

By Rex HoggardApril 27, 2015, 5:39 pm

Fans got a glimpse at the new-look WGC-Cadillac Match Play on Monday as officials unveiled the 16 groups that will compete against each other the first three days via a lottery-style selection process.

While the PGA Tour’s only individual match play event has previously defied conventional wisdom with a straight bracket absent power protection, this new format would seem to finally favor the higher-ranked player.

That said, Tuesday’s selection process seemed to temper some of those expectations with some competitive groupings.

World No. 1 Rory McIlroy drew Billy Horschel, Brandt Snedeker and Jason Dufner in the first group, and Group 13 may end up the proverbial “group of death,” with Rickie Fowler, Graeme McDowell, Shane Lowry and Harris English.

The new format will include 16 four-player groups, with the top 16 players in the World Golf Ranking anchoring each group followed by players picked randomly from one of three pools. Pool No. 1 included players ranked from 17th to 32nd, followed by Nos. 33 to 48 in the second pool and Nos. 49 to 64 in the last pool.

Every player will compete in three days of round-robin play, with the winners of each group advancing to single-elimination match play starting on Saturday.

“The old format of straight knockout can be a little harsh," McDowell said. "You can show up, like I did a few years in Tucson [Ariz.], and shoot your 66, lose and go home. And that can be difficult, especially for the sponsors when their top players are flying home on Wednesday night.” 

“Even if you lose on Day 1 you still have something to play for.”

McDowell has advanced to the weekend the last two years at the WGC-Match Play, while English beat Lee Westwood and McIlroy in his first start in the event last year. In 2013, Lowry beat McIlroy in Round 1, and Fowler won the consolation match last year.

The rankings, however, don’t always tell the full story even with the new format. Group 9, for example, includes Adam Scott, Chris Kirk, Paul Casey and Francesco Molinari.

Although Scott is the highest-ranked player in that group, he’s struggled this season as he continues his transition to a non-anchored putter, and Molinari has been sidelined recently with a wrist injury. Conversely, Casey, No. 37 in the world, is playing solid golf in 2015 and has two runner-up finishes in the WGC-Match Play.

Similarly, Jimmy Walker drew match-play magician Ian Poulter, who won this event in 2010, long-hitting Gary Woodland and Webb Simpson in Group 11.

“It’s match play and you have to learn to expect the unexpected,” said Walker, who played Poulter in a four-ball match in last year’s Ryder Cup. “It’s going to be fun.”

J.B. Holmes in Group 12 also drew a tough lineup for the first three days in Brooks Koepka, Russell Henley and Marc Warren.

Masters champion and world No. 2 Jordan Spieth will play Lee Westwood, Matt Every and Mikko Ilonen, who was a last-minute addition to the field when Phil Mickelson announced on Sunday he would not play the WGC-Match Play for personal reasons.

Here are the groups selected Monday for pool play:

Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4
Rory McIlroy Jordan Spieth Henrik Stenson Bubba Watson
Billy Horschel Lee Westwood  Bill Haas Louis Oosthuizen
Brandt Snedeker  Matt Every  Brendon Todd  Keegan Bradley 
Jason Dufner  Mikko Ilonen  John Senden  Miguel Angel Jimenez 
Group 5 Group 6 Group 7 Group 8
Jim Furyk Justin Rose Jason Day Dustin Johnson
Martin Kaymer  Ryan Palmer Zach Johnson  Victor Dubuisson
Thongchai Jaidee  Anirban Lahiri  Branden Grace  Charl Schwartzel 
George Coetzee  Marc Leishman  Charley Hoffman  Matt Jones 
Group 9 Group 10 Group 11 Group 12
Adam Scott Sergio Garcia Jimmy Walker J.B. Holmes
Chris Kirk Jamie Donaldson  Ian Poulter Brooks Koepka
Paul Casey  Bernd Wiesberger Webb Simpson  Russell Henley 
Francesco Molinari  Tommy Fleetwood Gary Woodland  Marc Warren 
Group 13 Group 14 Group 15 Group 16
Rickie Fowler Matt Kuchar Patrick Reed Hideki Matsuyama
Graeme McDowell  Hunter Mahan Ryan Moore  Kevin Na 
Shane Lowry  Stephen Gallacher  Danny Willett  Joost Luiten 
Harris English  Ben Martin  Andy Sullivan Alexander Levy 
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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.