Fathauer finds positive attitude, first-ever 54-hole lead

By Will GrayNovember 14, 2015, 10:20 pm

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico – The grinding lifestyle of professional golf can produce a wide spectrum of emotions.

When things are going well, the hours spent on the range feel justified. Credit is given to the routine, to the preparation, and the schedule can float seamlessly from one event to the next.

But when the results dry up, the daily trips to the course simply seem like a burden.

It is in that latter mindset that Derek Fathauer found himself just a few weeks ago. While many of the top-tier players had been away from competition for weeks, Fathauer essentially had no off-season. A disappointing year on the PGA Tour necessitated a trip to Web.com Tour Finals, where his playing status wasn’t secure until the fourth and final event.

From there, it was off to the Frys.com Open, and the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open after that. The grind rolled right along, but the scores weren’t there, and deep down, Fathauer knew something was amiss.

So he took a break and did some soul-searching.

“The week before Jackson (Sanderson Farms Championship) I just kind of took the entire week off at home and actually went to my parents’ house,” Fathauer said. “Relaxed, didn’t golf, just kind of got away. Sort of something clicked, I think.”

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A shift in attitude has paid immediate dividends this week at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, where Fathauer now finds himself equipped with a 54-hole lead for the first time. After rounds of 65-66-66, he is one shot clear of Jason Bohn and three ahead of a group that includes Graeme McDowell and Russell Knox.

Fathauer comports himself with a carefree mindset, one that he explained extends to every athletic pursuit – except golf, where he invests himself in the end result, perhaps to a fault. He felt he was “fried out of (his) mind” after missed cuts in Napa and Las Vegas, and simply wasn’t having fun on the course.

“Just didn’t want to play golf,” he said. “It might have been the last month, just didn’t want to play, didn’t want to be here. It was just too much to handle. Just too much pressure I was putting on myself, and it wasn’t fun and it hadn’t been fun for the last couple of years.”

Fathauer’s talent has never been in doubt, as evidenced by his 2014 results that saw him win the Web.com Tour Championship and earn fully-exempt status on the PGA Tour. But that potential has yet to translate into low scores, as the 29-year-old netted just one top-10 finish last season.

That trend has reversed itself quickly this week, where Fathauer has strung together three straight sub-70 rounds for the first time in 59 PGA Tour starts.

The epiphany for Fathauer came when he began to separate his attitude from the total written on the scorecard.

“Tried to change my mindset instead of being so caught up in the outcome of the golf,” he said. “Like, I’m lucky to do this for a living, I need to enjoy it. I don’t need to take it so serious. That’s kind of the mindset I’ve had the last two weeks, and it’s kind of working.”

While Fathauer holds the pole position, his lead is far from safe on a course that is expected to yield more low scores amid soft conditions. His closest pursuer, Bohn, has been a mainstay on leaderboards already this season, with a pair of top-three finishes to his credit.

He also has some unfinished business here in Mexico, where he held the 54-hole lead a year ago. A disappointing final-round 74 followed, Bohn drifted back to a T-7 finish and he still has not won since the 2010 Zurich Classic.

“I remember I don’t want to do what I did last year on Sunday. I didn’t play very good,” Bohn said after a third-round 65. “Really I’ve got to embrace it. I just want to relax, have some fun, realize where I am. Hopefully knock on the door enough times, I’m going to get a victory.”

The chase pack also includes McDowell, who might be leading were it not for the opening hole at El Camaleon, which he has played in 5 over through three rounds. The other 17 holes have gone according to plan, though, and despite a year-long slump, the Ulsterman enters the final round with a chance to close the calendar on a high note.

“The takeaway is that the game’s in really good shape apart from two driver swings today,” McDowell said. “It’s kind of a work in progress, but it’s getting there.”

But the man to beat is Fathauer, who stands on the cusp of a breakthrough victory in a sport that he is enjoying once more.

“I think if I just go out and do what I came here to do, I’d like to see where it puts me at the end of the day,” he said. “Because if I just stick to my plan, I’ll be happy no matter what happens.”

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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.