Hooks and Cuts Humor and Honesty

By Rich LernerJune 7, 2010, 8:41 pm
DUBLIN, Ohio – I interviewed exiled former CBS announcer Ben Wright for an upcoming story on 'Golf in America.' He’s like the Dos Equis beer “Most Interesting Man in the World.” Wright was a Russian language interpreter for British Intelligence during the Cold War and hung out with Hemmingway at Paris bars. Now 77, he’s married for a fifth time, living in Flat Rock, N.C.

  • One highly ranked player on Tiger Woods: “He’d talk to you for the first few days of a tournament like you were his friend, but Sunday in contention he’d walk right by you without saying hello. It was embarrassing really.”
  • Leftover from Colonial: In 1953, Ben Hogan won the Colonial National Invitational and his older brother, Royal, won the Colonial Club Championship.
  • If I could take you with me to work, I’d let you put on the headsets during commercial breaks to listen to David Feherty. There’s funny – and then there’s Feherty funny.
  • Sometimes, it looks to me like Phil Mickelson plays to amuse himself, as if he’s bored hitting conventional shots.
  • We’re coming up on the 50-year anniversary of perhaps the greatest U.S. Open ever, 1960 at Cherry Hills. Jack Nicklaus was the 20-year-old, reigning U.S. Amateur champion, on his way to Cherry Hills when his father, Charlie, picked up a newspaper and saw a blurb that caught his eye. “Look at this son,” Charlie said. “They have you at 35-1 to win. You want $20 on that?” Explains Jack today: “In my entire life I’ve never bet on a golf match. But I told my dad, ‘Sure, I’ll take that’.” When his dad asked if he wanted a bet on finishing second, Jack snapped, “No, we’re here to win.” He led by one early on the final nine, but balky putting cost him, and Palmer won with 65.   
  • Five months into the season and we still remember Brian Davis at Hilton Head, Rickie Fowler in Scottsdale and Jordan Spieth in Dallas. Five months in and we’ll never forget Phil Mickelson at Augusta and Rory McIlroy at Wachovia.
  • Sergio Garcia needs to get moving or we may not see him in Wales at the Ryder Cup in October.
  • Adam Scott cautions those who would write off Sergio and all those super talented players who might be falling short of expectations. “Golf is a different sport in that history shows us that you don’t hit your peak until your mid-30s,” he said.
  • Plenty of people dismissed Justin Rose as a guy who was good for the first 36 holes, but couldn’t close. Critics criticize. Players keep playing. Justin Rose is a player.
  • Rickie Fowler might want to familiarize himself with Wales.  
  • Tom Kite on the reliance by today’s players on swing gurus and video breakdowns: “I see a lot of pretty swings but not a lot of guys who know how to get the ball in the hole.”
  • I’m headed to St. Andrews Monday to file stories for next month’s British Open. I’ll be interviewing Old Tom Morris. David Joy’s been performing as Old Tom for 20 years and will extend me the privilege. You might remember him from the Titleist commercials with John Cleese of Monty Python fame.
  • The designated tournament idea designed to help struggling, smaller market events is a good one. Kobe Bryant and LeBron James play every year in San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Portland and Toronto. Why shouldn’t Tiger and Phil, if not every year, at least every once in a while?
  • I had the good fortune to participate in the first ever Patriot Cup on Memorial Day in Tulsa, Okla., to raise money for families of fallen soldiers. In my group was a young staff sergeant who was fairly new to golf. Bunkered on the seventh hole, he listened to both the caddie and club pro in our foursome pepper him with instruction. “Open the club at an 82-degree angle, left foot out at 19 degrees, tilt the head, weaken the grip, flex the knees, soften the hands, hit an inch-and-a-half behind the ball and accelerate through.”  Before he hit, he looked up and cracked, “Is this really going to work?’
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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.