How U.S. Ryder Cup pairings could play out

By Rex HoggardSeptember 22, 2014, 7:45 pm

If U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson had an idea of how his pairings for this week’s matches were going to shape up he wasn’t letting on.

To a man, those who were bound for Gleneagles and this week’s Ryder Cup remained very much out of the loop just a week ago at the Tour Championship.

“I haven't spoken yet with Tom. I'm sure he wasn't going to bother me (at the Tour Championship),” Jim Furyk said following his final round at East Lake. “But I'm guessing we'll talk about that this week. When we land and arrive over there in Scotland, we'll be ready to go.”

It doesn’t seem likely Captain Tom will utilize a “pods” system like the one 2008 captain Paul Azinger created, at least not officially. That’s not his style.

Instead, Watson appears to be leaning toward a more informal approach with heavy input from assistant captain Steve Stricker.

As of Sunday at the Tour Championship there had been little if any contact between the team and their captain, but many players had spoken to the captain’s lieutenants.

“I’ll tell you the assistants have. Stricker called me. I don’t know if he’s called everybody, but he did want to get my thoughts,” said Zach Johnson, who will be playing his fourth Ryder Cup.

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At 65, Watson will rely heavily on Stricker’s insight as well as any individual player preferences. Johnson, for example, has plenty of history in both Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup play and, depending on the format, would be a relatively easy choice for America’s top matchmaker.

In 2010 at Celtic Manor he went 1-1 in foursomes play with Hunter Mahan and the duo also won a fourball match at the 2009 Presidents Cup.

“I’ve got my preferences. There are certainly guys I’d like to pair with depending on the format and there are certain guys I’m not so sure they should even look at for me depending on the format,” Johnson said.

“Fourball? It really doesn’t matter. Foursomes? Maybe a little bit of strategy. The (brand of) golf ball is a little bit of an issue. Likeness of games and chemistry of certain individuals should be a part of that as well.”

Furyk, who after Phil Mickelson will be the United States’ most experienced player this week, would also be an inspired pairing for Johnson. “I’d think we’d be great,” Johnson said.

Rickie Fowler should also be low-hanging fruit for the U.S. captain. He paired with Furyk at the ’10 matches and is a regular partner of Mickelson’s during practice round matches on Tour.

Fowler & Co. even gave Watson some early scouting two weeks ago at the Tour Championship when he paired with Jimmy Walker, one of three rookies on this year’s U.S. Ryder Cup team, in a nine-hole, fourball match on Wednesday at East Lake.

“I played with Jimmy (Walker) this week and I’ve played with Furyk and Phil quite a bit (in) best-ball games,” said Fowler, who birdied the ninth hole at East Lake to beat Johnson and Jordan Spieth in their impromptu match. “I thought those were the guys who stood out.”

Watson may have also given a glimpse at his lineup card with his three captain’s picks. Keegan Bradley, who went undefeated in team play paired with Mickelson two years ago at Medinah, was his first pick; and Webb Simpson has played a combined seven team matches (2012 Ryder Cup and 2011 Presidents Cup) paired with Bubba Watson. The duo is 5-2-0 over that stretch, including a 2-1-0 record at Medinah.

Matt Kuchar has proven himself the ultimate swingman in international play, having paired with six different partners in four international matches with varying degrees of success; and Spieth seems to be on everyone’s “wish” list considering his play at last year’s Presidents Cup when he went 2-1-0 in team play.

Watson’s wildcard may be Patrick Reed, a rookie playing his first international team match of any kind. Reed rubbed some of his peers the wrong way when he announced earlier this year at Doral that he considered himself a “top-5 player” and according to various sources Fowler has been the only player on the team who has shown a willingness to pair with him at Gleneagles.

Based on Watson’s first turn as captain in 1993 it seems likely he would lean heavily on his veterans on Day 1. This is, after all, the same man who made 51-year-old Raymond Floyd and Lanny Wadkins his captain’s picks his last time around.

But just as the PGA of America broke the mold when it named Watson this year’s captain, the 2014 team was prepared for a Ryder Cup that was not exactly by the book.

“We’ll see once we get over there and see where Tom’s at,” Fowler said.

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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.