Spieth wrestles with 'hardest decision I’ve ever had to make'

By Ryan LavnerJuly 12, 2016, 2:11 pm

TROON, Scotland – It was Sunday night, the clock was ticking, and Jordan Spieth was no closer to deciding whether he would don the red, white and blue when golf made its much-maligned return to the Olympics.

It was a decision that proved more difficult than when he chose Texas over a slew of other powerhouse college programs.

More difficult than when he opted to turn pro at the halfway point of his sophomore year.

More difficult than when he picked an equipment company or mapped out a schedule or turned down some charity outing because he didn’t have the time.

Nicknamed the “Golden Child,” because everything seems to have gone right during his gilded career, Spieth recently found himself in an unenviable position: Would he single-handedly save the Olympics by going all-in, or simply fall in line with the rest of the dropouts during what has been an uneasy run-up to golf’s return after an 114-year absence?

“This was probably the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life at 22 years old,” he said Tuesday at The Open.

Ultimately, we now know, Spieth decided to withdraw from the Olympics, from Team USA, because of health concerns. That he waited until Monday morning, a few hours before the teams were to be announced, was revealing; he’d been waffling for weeks, so much so that he said he went to bed Sunday night still undecided about his status.

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Spieth sensed the impending doom as he headed into a packed media center at noon local time Tuesday. After handling a softball question by the R&A moderator about how much it would mean to capture The Open, Spieth woofed, “I can already tell that’s going to be the easiest question I receive.”

And indeed, it was.

Spieth was pressed, repeatedly, about his choice, about whether he faced any external pressure, about what kind of medical advice he’d received and whether he could understand why the public would be skeptical of players’ rationales.

As always, Spieth was honest, intelligent and charming, though the timing of his decision could have been better, with The Open just 48 hours away. Of the 19 questions he was asked, 15 were about the Olympics. As he rose to leave, Spieth wondered aloud whether there was actually a golf tournament this week.

So, yes, this could have been resolved weeks, maybe even months ago. And he felt bad about that. Slow-playing his Olympic decision left the International Golf Federation, USA Golf and his eventual replacement, Matt Kuchar, all in a bind. But Spieth had doubts and questions, and they didn’t subside no matter how many professional athletes he consulted or medical experts he queried.

“I certainly wasn’t trying to wait until the last minute,” he said. “I just couldn’t make a decision, and then I had to by the last deadline. I was very indecisive about it.”

According to the timeline offered by the IGF, July 18 is the deadline for players to confirm their participation in the Games. But if Spieth had waited until then, until after the teams were announced, he’d have been skewered.

Spieth had spoken at length with both Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler before they made their Olympic announcements last week. On Friday, Johnson withdrew. Sunday night, with Spieth seated next to him in their rental house, Fowler confirmed he was in with a patriotic tweet.

There have been more than a dozen withdrawals in all, everyone from major champions to afterthoughts on the FedEx Cup bubble. But Spieth was the final, and arguably the biggest, domino to fall.

“Do I think it looks bad on golf?” he said. “Maybe. But I’m making the decision of what I think is best for me. I don’t feel like I have to carry the torch for the sport or anyone else. This is bigger than that for me personally.”

And so he decided that these Games, at this site, were not worth the risk.

A shame, too, he said, because he had hoped to be an Olympian ever since golf rejoined the program back in 2009. But no one could have foreseen the trouble that Rio now presents: the Zika virus; the security issues; the general instability. Though he might regret missing the opening ceremony, the competition and the medal presentation, Spieth is already looking forward to Tokyo in 2020.

“This is just a really unique circumstance,” he said.

Despite reports that he faced mounting pressure from Cola-Cola, a longtime Olympic sponsor, Spieth said the decision was “90 percent me, 9 percent the team, and 1 percent anything else that came our way.”

“Whenever I talked to our team,” he added, “the responses I got were, ‘We are 100 percent behind you either way, but you need to make this decision 100 percent yourself.’”

And so he did, just as Adam Scott, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Johnson had before him. That didn’t make Tuesday any easier.

“I will continue to carry (the decision) with me throughout these Games and for a while,” he said. “It’s that tough. It’s the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make.”

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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.