Top seeds face home disadvantage at regionals

By Ryan LavnerMay 16, 2014, 3:50 pm

AUBURN, Ala. – Cal’s reward for a six-win campaign and No. 4 national ranking: a flight to Sugar Grove, Ill.

That’s 2,000 miles and two time zones away; the regional field there features three teams playing in their own backyard; and the host site, Rich Harvest Farms, is the most difficult of the six regional venues. Oh, and second-round play was suspended Friday because of snow.

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“I’m not overly excited about it,” Golden Bears coach Steve Desimone said last week when the regional assignments were announced.

Nor should he be.

Recent changes in college golf have made the regular season important – teams must have a won-lost record above .500 to be eligible for postseason play – but that fact seems to be forgotten come postseason time.

Under the current system, there is no real advantage to being the top seed at regionals. This year alone, the top six seeds traveled a total of 4,670 (!) miles to reach their regional sites.

What’s wrong with zero?

Scoring from all six men's regional sites

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Playing at home is not a new NCAA concept – that’s what happens for regionals in baseball, tennis, softball, soccer and volleyball. It’s simple: The top teams in the country, regardless of geographical region, host the postseason qualifiers. That process rightfully rewards the schools that played the best throughout the regular season, not the ones that submitted bids a few years ago.

This week, Auburn, Missouri and Oregon each are playing regional tournaments on their home course. College coaches dread heading there, and for good reason. Entering the week they figure they’re playing for two fewer spots: The top seed almost always advances, and a coach also has to assume that the host team will finish inside the top 5 on its home track. So, essentially, the other 11 or 12 teams are fighting for three spots.

This becomes a fairness issue when you consider that this year, Auburn (23), Missouri (46) and Oregon (40) each are ranked outside the top 20. Had they been sent to a neutral regional, they might not advance to the 30-team NCAA Championship.

Instead – and no surprise – all three teams are inside the all-important top 5 after the first round of their respective regional. Come Saturday, it seems likely that, based on regular-season performance, a more deserving team will be left out.

Above all, the regionals should be set up to ensure that the best teams have the best opportunity to reach nationals. Now, though, the biggest advantage a team can have is to host a regional.

Some will contend that it’s too quick of a turnaround for teams to host regionals at home, but it’s not an insurmountable problem. Though the top six ranked teams in the country aren’t known officially until early May, there is little fluctuation in the rankings among the top 10. By March 1, maybe earlier, those teams would have a clear idea whether they’re in line for a regional.

Schools will still have to scramble a few weeks ahead of the event to make sure that their home course is up to championship standards, but the groundwork was set back in December, when the paperwork was submitted. The onus then would be on the bidder and host institution, not the NCAA, to get tournament-ready. Each major university has the infrastructure (an event manager) to handle these exact situations, and the school also receives a $20,000 stipend to host.

Having regionals at home also offers a rare opportunity for those schools to showcase one of their best teams. Though a regional tournament never draws a huge gallery, playing on their own college campus would give staff, supporters, boosters, friends and family reason to turn out. By week’s end, that might total 500 spectators.

Instead, top-ranked Alabama traveled 160 miles here to rival Auburn, and only a few mothers made the trip. After stellar regular seasons, the Crimson Tide have earned a No. 1 seed in six of the past seven years, and in that time they have headed to Columbus (Ohio), Chicago (Illinois), Indianapolis (Indiana), Athens (Georgia), Baton Rouge (Louisiana) and Auburn (Alabama). Some advantage.  

Not that they’ll get much sympathy from Cal, of course.

As the boys from Berkeley lace up their snowshoes, their six-win regular season suddenly doesn’t seem so important.

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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.

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Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

“Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

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“We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010.