Alongside Timberlake, Rose shines in first AT&T

By Will GrayFebruary 12, 2016, 1:12 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The path from the 18th green at Spyglass Hill to the parking lot behind the clubhouse is about 100 yards, a circuitous route that this week is lined with plenty of star-struck fans.

By the time he reached the end of that winding trail Thursday, Justin Timberlake still had chants of “Justin!” and selfie requests ringing in his ear.

It’s nothing new for Timberlake, but this particular afternoon the standard roles of star and fan were reversed. It was Timberlake, the all-world entertainer with more than 51 million Twitter followers, who couldn’t get his mind off the golfing spectacle he had just witnessed.

“Did you see that? That dude just shot a 66,” Timberlake said. “What a stud!”

The stud in question was none other than Justin Rose, Timberlake’s partner at this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. A strong opening round for a world-class player, sure, but it was even more remarkable considering that Rose has never been to Pebble Beach before.

Like, ever.

As a 35-year-old U.S. Open champ, a professional golfer for nearly two decades, Rose has never before played in this event, and he hadn’t set foot on Pebble’s hallowed ground until Wednesday’s practice round.

He hadn’t even been here for the 2010 U.S. Open, when he famously won the Memorial just weeks prior but still didn’t qualify.

“I feel like me and Pebble just haven’t quite gelled yet,” Rose said.


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So far, that gelling process is off to a pretty decent start.

Rose capped his opener with a 50-foot birdie bomb on his final hole, a putt that briefly turned the brunt of the attention back to the seven-time PGA Tour winner rather than his more popular partner.

It was Timberlake, after all, who even got Rose to this event in the first place. The friendship between the two has flourished in the Bahamas – Timberlake’s wife, actress Jessica Biel, followed part of the round in a camouflage hat from the Albany Club where Rose calls home. Rose, though, recalled that the two first met while he was still living at Lake Nona in Florida.

“I think it started off with me introducing myself to him,” Rose said. “The second time I met him, he absolutely remembered that meeting and, hey, it’s all gone from there.”

This week’s event presents a unique dynamic as celebrities collide with golfers on their home turf. It’s one that Rose has opted to embrace, understanding that a majority of the calls for “Justin!” are directed at his playing partner – arguably the biggest name in the amateur field.

“I was getting probably a 10-to-1 ratio to Justin,” Rose recalled. “Just depends on how you want to view them. I said earlier in the week that I was going to feed off that energy and own those ‘Justin’ shots.”

It sounds like a novel plan, but even Rose was taken aback by the crowd reaction a few times during the round. Timberlake took center stage behind the 16th tee when he played an impromptu song using a guitar furnished by one of the neighboring houses, and the crowd had turned decidedly younger by the time the group reached their final hole early in the afternoon.

“The 17th (green) to the 18th (tee) is quite a steep climb, and I’ve never seen a demographic like that on a golf course, where you’re sort of running the gauntlet from one tee to the other,” Rose said. “Everyone was under 21 and 80 percent female. I said ‘OK, that moved the needle a little bit there.’”

Often placid and reserved inside the ropes, Rose seems plenty comfortable this week amid an environment that can be an acquired taste. Making just his second start of the year, he is well-rested and more importantly swinging free – a trend that coach Sean Foley hopes will continue.

“He’s been working with me and Jason Goldsmith on really trying to get to where he frees it up and trusts his instincts more than his technique,” Foley explained. “I think that if he can do that well, that’s that next level.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Foley’s pupil after an opener that included seven birdies and put Rose just two shots off the early pace, having knocked the hardest course of the rotation off his list.

“I’ve been working pretty hard on my game, especially early in this week,” Rose said. “It still hasn’t clicked, I still don’t feel 100 percent comfortable, and I had to remind myself before I played today that I’m out here to have fun as well. And I think that that little sort of mental adjustment helped free me up and play a better round.”

Rarely do PGA Tour pros play a competitive round on a course they haven’t seen before, but such was the case for Rose at Spyglass Hill. He played practice rounds earlier in the week at both Pebble Beach and Monterey Peninsula, but only had a chance to walk a few holes at Spyglass with his caddie to ascertain sight lines.

So much for that theory that course knowledge is a requirement.

“Sometimes, who knows, this can be an advantage,” Foley said. “It’s like you’ve never hit a bad shot on the course. You’ve never made double on that one hole two years ago that you still remember.”

It may have taken him a while to reach this famed patch of California coast, but Rose now feels right at home. Should this level of play continue, there’s even a chance that a few of those “Justin” chants will be meant for him before it’s all said and done.

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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.