My Top 10
1. The PGA Merchandise Show: The golf industry converges on the Orange County Convention Center in January each year for three days of golfing madness. The show is enormous. All the main manufactures, clothiers and accessorizers attend, but by far the most entertaining aspect are the small niche companies peddling products that you never knew existed. I did a story this year on the bizarre wares available, which included: a weed-whacker disguised as a driver, an umbrella you wear on your head, and fruit-flavoured golf tees. The show is for industry only, but if you are ever in Orlando and can sneak in, it's worth the blisters youll get for walking the miles of floor space.
2. The Isleworth Invitational: Played during the PGA Merchandise Show each January, Isleworth director of golf Marty DAngelo invites a two-man team (pro and amateur) from the leading clubs around the world for a three-day visit to one of the worlds most exclusive country clubs. This year I was lucky enough to represent my home track, Walton Heath Golf Club, alongside head professional Simon Peaford. We didnt embarrass the Walton Heath tradition, but hardly set the place alight either. Isleworths par-3 second, which could be the toughest short hole in the world, was our downfall. Former NHL stand-out and Isleworth member Dan Quinn deserved every penny of the $3,000 or so he collected there on Day 2 with a birdie, his two being the only skin.
3. Annikas stepping away party: I made my first visit to New Jersey in May for the Sybase Classic and Annika Sorenstams bombshell announcement. I felt a really sense of history as I stood crammed into the small media center at Upper Montclair Country Club on that Tuesday listening to one of the greatest to ever play the game tell the world it was all coming to an end. As always, Annika was composed and thoughtful in my interview with her, but made it clear she was stepping away and not retiring. I had the chance to play with Karrie Webb in the pro-am that week as well. Seeing a major winner up close plotting her way around the golf course was a real bonus.
4. Coupe de Presidente: A trip to the Terre Blanche Golf Club in Provence, France was one of the highlights of the year. I played in their Presidents Trophy on a golf course in immaculate shape ' the greens were near perfect and views of the provencial countryside were stunning. Terre Blanche Golf Club is one of Europes true hidden gems ' the on-site hotel and spa are tremendous. In fact, we couldnt find any faults during our visit. Despite some solid golf, a wayward driver got the better of me and my chances of bringing the Coupe de Presidente back to Golf Channel. Still it was all forgotten once the ros champagne started flowing during the five-course prize-giving dinner.
5. Larrazabal ignites the French Open: Staying on a French theme, there was no more electrifying play than that of Pablo Larrazabal at the Open de France this year. I was hosting coverage all four days and the young Spaniard was a joy to watch. If swashbuckling can be used in golf then thats how to describe his play. Larrazabal went on to be crowned Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year on the European Tour, thanks mainly to his win at Golf National. He could be a valuable character for the tour in years to come if he can keep up this standard of play and high entertainment factor.
6. TPC Snoqualmie Ridge: These were some of the most stunning views Ive ever experienced from a golf course. This summer I made my first trip to Seattle to host a Mutual of Omaha Big Break Challenge, which was held at the TPC Snoqualmie Ridge. The course is the host venue for the Boeing Classic on the Champions Tour and sits in the Cascade Foothills. No matter what I write here, I wont be able to describe the beauty of the back-drop to this Nicklaus design. Make a trip and see for yourself.
7. Buckingham Palace grounds: I toured Buckingham Palace this summer. It's a spectacular landmark ' the interior is just how you would imagine one of the worlds most luxurious and ordinate residences to be; however, what many people forget is just how much land the palace occupies in the center of one of the worlds busiest cities. Buckingham Palace has around 40 acres of grounds, out-of-site to the prying public gaze. As I stood on the back terrace looking at the huge lawn my only thought was just how perfect it would be for a mid-iron practice range. The grass was crisp, you could just imagine feathering 7-iron after 7-iron down the garden. Such a waste. I wonder if anyone has ever had the pleasure. Im going to guess no.
8. Trevino the showman: Before September of this year I had never had the pleasure of meeting Lee Trevino. I had always been told how much of a showman he was and how there is never a dull moment in his company. I was lucky enough to host the ING Shootmakers Shootout at the Boulders Resort in Carefree, Ariz., this year. In attendance was Paula Creamer, Suzann Pettersen, Bubba Watson and the Merry Mex himself. Despite the searing 100-degree heat, Trevino was on for four hours, telling jokes and stories, delighting the assembled ING clients, and entertaining myself and the players. He is a true legend of the game, old-school but still as fresh as when he burst onto the scene as Rookie of the Year in 1967.
9. Wie at Q-School: Like it or loathe it, the Michelle Wie story still turns heads and gets people talking. On Day 2 of the Q-School final stage in Daytona, Fla., you could put aside the circus and watch pure talent put together one of the easiest 65s I have ever seen. It was Wie at her best. I only hope she keeps her head and finds the guts to pull off a win on the LPGA in 2009.
10. Rhoden putting genius: Rich Lerner organizes a charity tournament each December in Orlando and Ive had the fortune to play the past three years. This time around I was paired with former MLB pitcher turned touring pro Rick Rhoden, whos putting stroke could be the smoothest Ive ever seen. He had the vacuum turned to high power on the Champions Gate greens, cleaning-up putts from all over the place. The ball seems to just float off the face. Now if only I could learn to do the same.
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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings
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.
Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut
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
Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements
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.”
Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back
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.