Hello, again

By Rex HoggardAugust 31, 2011, 3:43 pm

NORTON, Mass. – It’s been 15 years of high-fives and histrionics. Fifteen years, 71 PGA Tour titles and 14 majors for those scoring at home. Fifteen years since he stepped to a microphone in middle America and announced brashly, “Hello, world.”

At the time it seemed like a bit much. Sure, young Eldrick had won the amateur game’s double trifecta (three U.S. Junior titles and three U.S. Amateurs), but in 14 events in the Big Leagues he’d managed just a single top-25 finish and missed more cuts (nine) than he’d made. Arm-chair analyst liked what they saw and the kid certainly had potential, but “Hello, world?”

Without the need of ad nauseam detail, it is safe to say Woods carried the 250-yard hyperbole cross bunker his bold announcement created by a comfortable margin, but on that warm August day at Brown Deer Park Golf Club in Milwaukee “Hello, world” must have sounded as impetuous as it was ill-advised.

But then he won his fifth and seventh starts as a play-for-pay type, advanced to the 1996 Tour Championship and never looked back, or at least he never let on that he’d allowed himself such self-indulgent moments of reflection. Those who make history rarely do.

Over the last 24 months, however, Woods has embraced varying doses of the three “Rs,” rehabilitation, reclusiveness and, yes, maybe even reflection.

On Wednesday’s ‘Morning Drive’ Woods was asked his thoughts on the anniversary of “Hello, world.” His answer was surprisingly telling.

“Life is very difficult,” he allowed.

A less-reflective Woods would have cut the scene and faded to black on that note, but the guy who is three years removed from his last major championship, two years – next week, adrift of his last Tour title and still dogged by a sex scandal and ensuing divorce pressed on.

“When I first walked on that tee I didn’t realize the magnitude of what I was embarking on,” Woods said. “It was something that was eye opening, that was something that took some time getting used to. I made some mistakes in the process, but it’s been a lot of fun to chase your dreams.”

That he didn’t short-arm the question with a ready-to-use cliché says more about the state of Woods’ mind, if not his game, than any number of “reps” he will get in before the end of the year.

Observers will conclude that U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples “strong armed” Woods into adding a Fall Series start to his schedule, but there seems little chance he would be so accommodating if the mind wasn’t willing.

Why the Frys.com Open? Why not?

“I wanted to play another event. I had taken a lot of time off. It’s something I told the commissioner I’d play an event I normally didn’t play in the past and it worked out great,” Woods said from the NB3 Foundation Challenge at Turning Stone Resort in New York.

Although the decision will be extensively dissected, the truth is, Woods is playing the Frys.com Open because he can, not because he wants to make Freddie’s team or gain some world ranking points. He’s playing the Northern California event because the swing that works in his south Florida lab is still a coloring-by-the-numbers experiment when he takes it to the Tour pitch, as evidenced by his play at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational (T-37) and PGA Championship (missed cut).

Maybe the most encouraging tidbit from Wednesday’s Q&A is that he’s playing because his body will let him. A left leg with more medical baggage than a back-up quarterback for the Colts is cooperating after years of dysfunction.

“I’ve been hurt for a very long time. Back to 2007 when I ruptured my ACL, it was a very tough road,” Woods said. “It’s been years since I actually felt good. Sometimes you get out of bed in the morning and it’s tough. Now it’s fun, I can spring out of bed and go to practice.”

On Wednesday, Woods’ former Stanford teammate Notah Begay III, a rare constant in Woods’ life long before “Hello, world,” was asked his thoughts on the anniversary: “He transcended the game like not many other athletes have done,” Begay said.

And now Woods continues to captivate, and polarize, like few in professional sport can. Blogdom watches and weighs in every time he steps to a microphone with precious few opinions populating the middle ground. Perhaps it’s a byproduct of the times, but the golf world appears split between the “he’s done” and the “he’s back” camps, with little or no interest in between.

This Q&A felt strangely similar to that 1996 media meet-and-greet in Milwaukee. “Hello, world,” so pretentious given the facts of the moment, now seems perfectly apropos. This time there was no marketing-perfect message, just a quiet calm. Healthy? Yep. Hungry? Nothing else explains his first Fall Series start?

Fifteen years ago, Woods called his shot from a similar podium and never looked back. Given his history at the microphone there’s no reason to think this time is going to be any different.

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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.