Ryder Cup teams equally matched

By Rex HoggardSeptember 27, 2012, 4:38 pm

MEDINAH, Ill. – On paper this is a push.

Europe has the world No. 1 and the spirit of Seve Ballesteros. The American side has the world No. 2 and the friendly confines of Medinah. Man for man, team for team this Ryder Cup has no room for those who bet the chalk.

Maybe not since the late Ballesteros was in his prime has the biennial, cross-Atlantic grudge match been such a tossup, which would explain the 20,000-plus who flocked to this northwest Chicagoland suburb on Wednesday to watch 24 players practice.

“Both teams are just playing so well, it’s hard to figure out what you do,” U.S. captain Davis Love III conceded. “Why would you sit anybody out? They’re all playing great.”

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This week’s buzz was eclipsed only by a palpable feeling of unease. The Europeans have owned this event, having won nine of the last 13 meetings. Just ask them, they will tell you.

“The Europeans since ’95 have been dominant in this competition,” said Justin Rose. A day later his likely partner when play gets underway early Friday Ian Poulter added, “We have been very dominant in the Ryder Cup over the last 10 years.”

Dominant, got it. In politics they call that staying on message, and, with apologies to those who bleed red, white and blue, perfectly justified.

It’s been more than a decade since the U.S. side won consecutive matches (1991-’93) and the American Triumvirate of Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods rank second, third and third, respectively, on the all-time matches-lost list.

When it comes to America’s Ryder Cup fortunes, as U2’s Bono once crooned, “throw a rock in the air, you’ll hit someone guilty.” For his part, however, Woods has owned, perhaps unjustly, America’s failures in the matches.

“In order to win cups, you have to earn points and we certainly have not earned points,” said Woods, who has played on just one winning Ryder Cup team in his Hall of Fame career and has a soft-hitting 15-14-2 record. “Phil, Jim and myself have been put out there a lot during those years. So if we are not earning points, it's hard to win Ryder Cups that way.”

Woods, Mickelson and Furyk have searched for answers and partners throughout their Ryder Cup careers. Woods has played with a dozen partners in six matches while Lefty and Furyk have had 13 different wingmen with varying levels of success.

But if the core of the U.S. side can only have painful association with recent history, this year’s lineup features an infusion of new faces sans the scars of past defeats. Brandt Snedeker has never had to watch a European celebration – or, for that matter, played a foursomes or fourball match. Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner and Webb Simpson have never been subjected to a team from the Continent rolling in putts from Valderrama to The K Club.

For Love, what the U.S. team lacks in experience it makes up for in naïve nirvana, young minds uncluttered by ghosts of cups past.

“They may be rookies here at the Ryder Cup, but they’re major championship winners, they’re FedEx Cup winners,” Love said. “They’ve done a lot, they’ve played a lot of great golf, and they’re really comfortable, confident guys.”

They’re also good putters, and as European broadcaster and short-game guru Mark Roe figured earlier this week, Samuel Ryder’s member-member is always, “a putting contest.”

Snedeker, fresh off his $10 million haul at last week’s Tour Championship, is No. 1 on Tour in strokes gained-putting, while Bradley, Simpson and Dufner all rank in the upper third of Tour putters.

But if Love is leaning on the newcomers, European captain Jose Maria Olazabal will, like most of the captains that came before him, depend on three key pairings.

In this the Europeans enjoy an embarrassment of team riches. Rory McIlroy, the world No. 1 who has won three of his last five PGA Tour starts, has played with just one partner (Graeme McDowell) and is 1-1-1 in team play; Luke Donald likely has only one partner he’s interested in, Sergio Garcia who he is a perfect 4-0 with; and Justin Rose and Ian Poulter, the emotional core of the European team, went 2-1 in 2008 at Valhalla.

If Europe is going to win for the first time on American soil since 2004 at Oakland Hills it will likely depend on the play of Ollie’s “Big 3,” if not world No. 1 in particular.

At 23, McIlroy has been affixed with a bull’s eye, according to some U.S. players. That’s lofty ground for someone playing in just their second Ryder Cup. But if the Ulsterman has proven adept at anything, beyond winning majors, it is keeping the hype in context.

“This week I’m not the No. 1 player in the world, I’m one person in a 12-man team, that’s it,” McIlroy said. “It’s a huge compliment that people are saying they want to beat me and whatever. Whoever wants to take me on, they can take me on.”

“Whoever,” of course, would be Woods in a Sunday single’s shootout for cup and country, the desired, albeit unlikely, marquee to finish the week. Yet, as McIlroy pointed out, to make this a two-man show would be to ignore the facts.

In the past, the European side has countered a perceived lack of depth with a handful of go-to pairings, but for the first time all 24 players at Medinah are ranked inside the top 35.

It is a depth of field that makes this Ryder Cup an even-money push, a statistical and psychological draw that may be no good for betting but perfect for all those who favor the show over a sure thing.

Click to check out Golf Channel's and NBC Sports' Ryder Cup coverage.

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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.