Sunday at Augusta changes a players life

By Rex HoggardApril 3, 2009, 4:00 pm
The green jacket ceremony and awards presentation had been over for hours. His extended media responsibilities slowly completed. Exhausted, exhilarated and maybe still a tad shocked, Trevor Immelman climbed the stairs in Butler Cabin just past 10 p.m. ET.
 
Waiting for him at the top of the staircase was his father, Johan. The two embraced and spoke briefly, relieved to have a quiet moment alone, comforted by the calm that followed the Sunday storm at Augusta National, both utterly oblivious to the approaching gale.
 
Every players life changes after a victory, be the haul of the major variety or otherwise, but few, if any, are prepared for the drastically changing landscape that follows a Masters triumph.
 
Trevor Immelman and Brandt Snedeker
Trevor Immelman and Brandt Snedeker's lives changed after last year's Masters. (Getty Images)
In the months that followed Immelmans Sunday in Georgia the gravity of the green jacket took a professional toll the likeable South African is still dealing with. A player who had, at least in the United States, made his professional bones by gliding along under the radar was now atop every marquee. Fans and media clamored for his attention, business opportunities emerged from the four corners of the globe and expectations mounted.
 
Hes just now coming out of the Masters euphoria. Its a lot on a young man, said David Leadbetter, Immelmans longtime swing coach. There is a lot of outside pressure on a young player to handle and get balance in his life. There is a lot of other stuff that comes with winning a major championship.
 
Immelman, like his mentor Gary Player, had always been an international player. Hed began his career on the PGA European Tour and took time each fall to go back to South Africa and support that countrys tour. But following his Masters breakthrough, his globetrotting reached a crescendo.
 
By seasons end, Immelman had played 26 events on four continents including Europe, Africa and Asia. Perhaps predictably, his play dropped off, with the 29-year-old posting five top 10s globally but just a single legitimate shot at victory when he tied for second place in Memphis.
 
What Ive had to get used to was being able to set my schedule, Immelman said. Build in time for things like the media wanting to speak to me, having to stop for fans more regularly to take photos. Initially that was a difference because I wasnt used to all that kind of thing.
 
On a micro-level, Brandt Snedeker can certainly understand the fishbowl Immelman suddenly found himself. Snedeker dueled with the South African coming down the stretch, closing with 77 to finish third and endearing himself to fans and the media with an emotional post-round assessment of his play.
 
Less than 48 hours after his Masters near-miss, Snedeker was stunned as he teed off in the pro-am for the Verizon Heritage. There were more fans lining Harbor Towns fairways to get a glimpse at Americas next young star than were on hand to watch Snedekers maiden victory at the Wyndham Championship in 2007.
 
I cant imagine the opportunities that Trevor had in front of him after winning last year, Snedeker said. Just seeing it from my little bit, you could do something new every day if you wanted to. Balancing your life after something like that is a full-time job. You dont realize that until five or six months later.
 
It was a reality that Zach Johnson learned quickly following his 2007 Masters victory. Although he was already a Tour winner and U.S. Ryder Cup staple, a post-Masters media blitz to New York City was an eye-opening experience for the kid from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
 
There was a wow factor, said Brad Buffoni, Johnsons manager with SFX. When we were walking down Time Square and everybody noticed him, at that moment you saw the power of the green jacket.
 
Johnson, however, seemed to have an upper hand on his 15 minutes of frenzied fame. One of the most structured players on Tour kept to his proven routines, won his third Tour title four weeks after the Masters and enters next weeks tournament among the early favorites.
 
Others have not been as structured, or as fortunate.
 
Perhaps the quintessential victim of success was Nick Price, who won the 1983 World Series of Golf and with it a 10-year Tour exemption. It took Price nearly eight years to win his next Tour title
 
He didnt handle that very well, Leadbetter said. He had this 10-year exemption and he just kind of went through the motions. It lulled him into a false sense of security.
 
Conversely, it was another Nick, Faldo, who Leadbetter said used success to push himself even harder. Faldo used it as a springboard to get ready for his next major, Leadbetter said. He was so fired up to win the next one.
 
To many observers it is Tiger Woods ability to remain focused and driven after 14 major championship victories that separates him from the rest of the pack, but even the world No. 1 appeared to need a learning curve following his first Masters victory. In the wake of his 12-stroke major moment in 1997 at Augusta National, Woods went 0-for-10 in Grand Slam events over the next two years.
 
Much of that can be attributed to Woods first major swing change as a professional, but there is certainly something to be said for feeling comfortable in the skin of a major champion.
 
There are no how to books that help first-time Masters champions through the pitfalls of fame and fortune. In fact, it seems the only solution is solace.
 
Its hard to say no. Its the hardest thing in golf, Snedeker said. You almost have to turn your phone off and your e-mails off. Put the blinders on. I always talk about being the No. 4 horse in the sixth race. Just keep your head down and go straight ahead.
 
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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.