Putnam qualifies for trip home to Chambers Bay

By Rex HoggardJune 9, 2015, 2:20 am

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Each morning, Dan Putnam awakes and follows the well-worn path from his house in University Place, Wash., and around the former gravel pit and back home. All in, it’s a 4 1/2-mile journey.

In two weeks, the same journey along the shores of the Puget Sound will be a much more meaningful stroll.

On Monday at the U.S. Open sectional qualifying site in Columbus, Putnam’s son, PGA Tour player Michael, completed a circular journey of his own, scorching the course at the Lakes Golf & Country Club with an 8-under 64 for a share of medalist honors and a spot in the field at Chambers Bay, the links-like layout that frames those daily walks for Dan Putnam.

Putnam was born in Tacoma, Wash., and now lives in University Place, about a mile and half away from Chambers Bay. In fact, he was the first to play the Robert Trent Jones Jr. design and boasts that he briefly held the course record.

“I shot 70,” Putnam smiled. “Maybe that’s why they made it harder.”

But for Putnam, that 70 couldn’t compare to his afternoon round on Monday at the annual 36-hole marathon for U.S. Open hopefuls. After an early bogey at No. 2, he played his final 16 holes in 9 under, including an eagle at the par-5 third and three consecutive birdies starting at the 14th hole.

Putnam finished at 12-under 132 and tied with Sam Saunders, who carded matching rounds of 66 to earn his second start at the U.S. Open, for medalist honors.

Considering USGA executive director Mike Davis’ comments that players would need extra preparation to compete at this year’s championship, Putnam jokingly figured himself an early favorite.

“Apparently I’m going to win because I’ve played it more than anyone else,” laughed Putnam, who estimated he’s played Chambers Bay 40 times.

Full results: U.S. Open sectional qualifying

Putnam will also have the advantage of having his brother, Joel, caddying for him at the U.S. Open. Joel Putnam worked at Chambers Bay as a caddie and has looped more than 500 rounds on the rolling course.

He will be joined at the year’s second major by Bryson Dechambeau, the NCAA individual champion who held the lead for much of the day after making birdie at five of his first six holes in his afternoon round, but cooled following an hour and a half weather delay.

“I got off to a hot start and that kind of propelled me,” said Dechambeau, who carded rounds of 66-67 to tie for third place with David Hearn. “I knew my game was good enough, it was just about believing and trusting myself.”

Putnam also struggled with the delay with players at the Lakes course unable to warm up before play resumed, but at least he avoided the five-players-for-three-spots playoff at Brookside Golf & Country Club that lasted past 9:30 p.m.

D.A. Points, Robert Streb, Alex Cejka, Kevin Chappell and Danny Lee finished tied for 13th place at 7 under par. At the first extra hole, Brookside’s par-4 opener, Cejka needed five strokes to reach the green and was eliminated.

After trading pars at the second extra hole, No. 9 at Brookside, the group returned to No. 1 where Chappell three-putted for bogey, missing his par attempt from 1 1/2 feet, and will be the Columbus site’s first alternate. 

The group finished the event in almost complete darkness after all four players agreed to play on. 

But then it could have been much worse. Monday’s forecast in Columbus called for an 80 percent chance of severe thunderstorms throughout the day and players arrived for their first-round tee times braced for a long day.

“I told myself, ‘Man, you need to get off to a good start because this might be an 18-hole deal,’” said Bo Van Pelt, who finished tied with five players at 8 under to earn his ninth trip to the U.S. Open. “We weren’t sure how much we’d get in.”

The foreboding forecast prompted many players (28) to withdraw before play began on Monday, and after the weather warning horn sounded at 4:45 p.m. (ET) another 39 bolted.

For a handful of those who did challenge the woeful forecast and a long day, however, the reward is a trip to Chambers Bay. For Putnam, it’s a trip home.

“This has got to be up with one of the coolest things I’ve ever done,” Putnam 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.