Hooks & Cuts: More stories than matches at WGC

By Rich LernerFebruary 19, 2014, 2:09 pm

MARANA, Ariz. - There are 32 matches on the opening day of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, and there are even more storylines.

• Sir Nick Faldo asked Boo Weekly how he planned on beating No. 1 seed Rory McIlroy. “Drink some beer, drink some wine and let ‘er rip,” Boo cracked while trying to sort out some clunky drives on the range. “Actually, I ain’t swingin’ it real well but you never know.” Boo’s back after a month off and he’s having some trouble scrapin’ the rust off.  By the way, if Boo was a car, he’d be a Chevy pickup with 130,000 miles. Not the prettiest thing – and maybe a bit dinged here and there – but comfortable, and still runnin’ pretty daggum’ good.

• Rory and Rickie were looking at pictures from that ’07 Walker Cup, marveling at just how different they now look. “I weigh the same,” said Rory with a laugh. “It’s just proportioned a little differently.” Fit like a gymnast, he rifled 3-woods that climbed to the top of the Tortolita Mountains. “I feel great,” he added. “I’m starting to play more by feel now.” The mechanical work he’s done over the last four months is becoming second nature.

• The world loves Graeme DeLaet and with good reason. But don’t sleep on his Round 1 opponent, Patrick Reed. He went 6-0 in match-play singles while leading Augusta State to consecutive NCAA titles, quick to point out that he beat Harris English to clinch the crown one year. He also made it to the semis of the 2008 U.S. Amateur before losing to eventual champ Danny Lee.

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• With his eyes welling up, Steve Stricker said his older brother, Scott, faces a long couple months after a liver transplant. “He’s had a tough go health wise,” said Steve of his only sibling. “I feel for him. Still, we’re very optimistic.” The doctors and Steve’s parents all encouraged him to play this week. Feeling a bit rusty but reasonably good about his game, he draws the rising South African George Coetzee. 

• In the absence of Tiger and Phil, what’s the sexiest final? Rory against Jordan Spieth works; so, too, does Sergio versus Spieth. Rory vs. Bubba, Stenson vs. Bubba or Henrik Stenson vs. Dustin Johnson would be nice as well. And I’d like to be ringside when the fists fly between Ian Poulter and Keegan Bradley, who could also meet in the finals.

• When did Lake Nona neighbors Graeme McDowell and Gary Woodland find out they’d be squaring off in Round 1 of the WGC-Accenture Match Play? In mid-air while sharing a private plane from Orlando to Tucson. The idea now is to miss the flight home on Wednesday.

• Billy Horschel on his second-ranked Florida Gator hoops team: “We play the full 40 (minutes).” Playing his own version of Billy Ball, he split a pair of singles matches with Rory at the 2007 Walker Cup. Horschel gets Jamie Donaldson in the opener here. “Seems like everyone on ‘Morning Drive’ is picking Donaldson,” he said with a sly smile. “That’s fine.” It wasn’t, really, and that’s what’s fun about athletes.  

• Mike Walker now coaches Lee Westwood. He’s a 35-year-old from the U.K. and a disciple of Westwood’s old coach, Pete Cowan. Lee had been dipping into his left side on the takeaway, then back out of it on the downswing. They’re working on getting back into his right side on the takeaway. Lee’s strength has always been that he never hit it left. He had a two-way miss going.

• Tom Watson’s assistant, Andy North, is scouting this week at Dove Mountain. “We want guys to feel comfortable with us, so we’ll be out periodically” he said.

• In a move brokered by caddie Tony Navarro, Woodland recently spent a full day in South Florida with Tony’s old boss, Greg Norman. The Shark thought Gary was a bit tense in his upper body so they relaxed his right side, from his putter through his driver. Woodland wants to be great. He has the tools to do it.

• Stricker makes sense as the next Ryder Cup captain in 2016. He’s beloved by his peers, respected by the PGA of America and as a Wisconsin boy he’ll be right at home at Hazeltine in Minnesota. After Stricker in ‘16, the next logical choices would be Furyk and Mickelson. Mickelson feels like a good fit in Paris in 2018.

• Bill Belichick might like to line up in a two tight-end set with Stenson on one side and DJ on the other.

• European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley said 28-year-old Dutchman Joost Luiten can really play. So, too, can Ryan Moore, his first-round opponent.

• The warm honey sun slipped behind the mountains, taking a final bow after a spectacular 80-degree Tuesday. It really snowed here last year?

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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.