European Perspective

By Tom AbbottMarch 18, 2010, 1:42 am

The European Tour returns to North Africa this week with the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco. The geographic location is significant, for it was on the northern portion of the African continent that in 1982, then Executive Director and now Golf Channel analyst, Ken Schofield took the tour outside of European territory for the very first time with the Tunisian Open. Twenty-eight years later, the European Tour schedule plays 22 of its 50 events outside of Europe.

I was chatting with Schofield about the decision recently, and he told me he encountered a slight resistance, mainly from the purists for moving off “home soil.” But because the tournament was played a week earlier than the usual kick-off, no existing events were jeopardized and the tour members had an additional opportunity to earn their living, it went ahead without incident.

Many players already traveled to Africa to play the South African Sunshine Tour in those days, but restrictions stemming from Apartheid prohibited them from playing elsewhere in the continent, however the tour managed to avoid that loop-hole because the event was sanctioned by a British based organization. Sunshine Tour regular, Mark James took the title in the tournaments second playing.

The European Tour began traveling to Morocco later that decade, visiting this week’s venue, Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in the capital Rabat, and the late King’s (for whom this week’s tournament is named) course in Agadir. The story goes that when the tour made its second visit to the latter in 1994, such was the privacy and therefore rare play of the course, that when the staging team arrived for a survey and to ready it for tournament play, the tee markers and pin positions were in the exact same spots they’d placed them in the year before.

A rarity this week in European golf, both the men and women will be playing in the same country at the same time in concurrent pro-ams. The men will be in Rabat, the women down the road in Casablanca.

Among the men in the field is Paul McGinley, who returns to action following a sixth operation on his left knee in November. The former Ryder Cup player and four-time tour winner has been recuperating in California but is now ready to return to action.

On the women’s side, Scottish teenager Carly Booth is making her professional debut. Booth has huge potential both in sporting and marketing circles and could provide a much needed boost to British women’s golf. Despite recent major victories from Karen Stupples and Catriona Matthew, the sport has failed to capture the public interest. Success from Carly and 22-year-old Melissa Reid from England, who’s also in the field this week having been on the tour for the past two seasons, will provide a much needed spark.

We’ve just passed the “200 days to go” marker in the run-up to the Ryder Cup. I know it seems a long way off, and indeed it is with all the hullabaloo that will occur between now and then for obvious reasons, but work continues on the Twenty-Ten course to ready it for the big occasion on the first three days of October.

Estate Manager, Jim McKenzie, has been implementing the changes authorized by European captain Colin Montgomerie, which involve tweaks to holes on the back-nine despite the awful weather the region has experienced. Snow blanketed the course for much of January and February.

Tickets for the Ryder Cup are available through a ballot system which ends in April. Practice day tickets are on sale now. Visit

But remember, and I can say this because I have Welsh heritage and family living in South Wales, in the words of Nick Faldo’s closing speech at the 2008 Ryder Cup, don’t forget to bring your rain gear.

And finally, fans of Peter Alliss will be pleased to know the legendary commentator and Ryder Cup player will be touring later this year. Peter will be conducting “An Evening with Peter Alliss” at various theatres across the UK.

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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.