Palmer's aura will make Sunday special for winner

By Ryan Reiterman March 18, 2017, 11:50 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – In a lot of ways, Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational will be just like all the previous Sundays since 1979 at this event, when the Florida Citrus Open moved from nearby Rio Pinar Country Club to Bay Hill Club and Lodge.

An enthusiastic crowd will surround the 18th green, a deserving champion will be crowned, a big paycheck will be sent to his bank account, lots of money will have been raised for charities and the sun will set on another successful PGA Tour event.

But when the champion walks up the hill from the final green, it will be yet another reminder that every Sunday from now on at the API will be different. The King will not be waiting at the top of the hill to greet the winner with his customary firm handshake and megawatt smile. There won’t be a celebratory drink in the clubhouse and a personal letter signed with Palmer’s legible autograph won’t arrive a few weeks later in the mail.

Palmer’s death last September at age 87 left a void that will never be replaced. His tournament was one of the many incredible legacies he left behind, and many worried that after Palmer was gone this event would lose some luster.

That clearly hasn’t been the case.

For the players in contention, they know that even without Palmer waiting behind the 18th green to congratulate them on a well-played tournament, a win on Sunday will still be incredibly special.

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Especially this year, the first without the King.

“It’s very different not having him around,” said Rickie Fowler, who is wearing custom shoes this week with a collage of Palmer pictures. “It’s just going to continue to get bigger, and this could potentially be the biggest week I think they could have here, just with the excitement of the tournament and kind of the celebration of Arnie’s life.”

That celebration started a week ago when a 13-foot bronze statue of Palmer was unveiled behind the first tee at Bay Hill. It continued throughout the week with various tributes. There was a driving range salute that was a capped off with a flyover by a Coast Guard helicopter. (Palmer served three years in the Coast Guard). A stretch of a local highway was named the “Arnold Palmer Expressway.” Several players are sporting Palmer’s umbrella logo on their clothes and golf bags.

Now the attention has shifted to where Palmer would have wanted it – on the tournament.

Fowler and Rory McIlroy may not win the tournament this year, but they ignited the crowds Saturday with a pair of 7-under 65s. Perhaps one of the young superstars will give Palmer another fitting tribute and author a thrilling Sunday charge.

Charley Hoffman, who shares the 54-hole lead with Kevin Kisner (68), gave the third round a stunning conclusion. Kisner appeared to be heading into the final round with a comfy lead, but Hoffman birdied the last three holes, including a 71-foot putt on 18, to grab a share of the lead with a 1-under 71.

At 11 under, Hoffman and Kisner are three strokes clear of Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Fitzpatrick and Marc Leishman.

The contenders will be solely focused on winning tomorrow, but there’s no doubt that  even without Palmer here to watch the drama unfold, his tournament still has a special aura that will never leave.

“To be in position [to win] at Arnie’s event is a special spot,” Hoffman said. “It’s right up there with competing in a major championship, there’s no question. Mr. Palmer was the King, there’s a reason why he had the name … To keep his legacy going and win this event would be something special.”

Kisner joked he’s just trying to avoid a playoff Sunday (he’s 0-3 in his career), but a win at Bay Hill would no doubt be the highlight of his six years on the PGA Tour.

“If I did win I sure wish he was here to have a drink with him afterwards, that’s for sure,” Kisner said of Palmer. “It would be a pretty unbelievable thing to have on my  résumé and add that trophy to my trophy case.”

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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.