Fowler, Day flying high on newfound confidence

By Will GrayAugust 4, 2015, 10:05 pm

AKRON, Ohio – Coming down the stretch of his practice round Tuesday at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Rickie Fowler found himself in a familiar position: back against the wall, needing to deliver. Jordan Spieth and Ryan Palmer had Fowler and Jimmy Walker 1-down after 16 holes, with pride – not to mention some pocket change – on the line.

Needing to come up with the goods, Fowler calmly delivered a birdie on the penultimate hole and another on the final green, a curling 20-footer that drew a wry smile from Spieth, who then poured in a birdie of his own to draw the match.

Fowler’s final putt was center-cut, and he walked it in with the confidence of someone whose game has reached a new level, whether the stakes are a trophy or a friendly wager. The transformation from a player burdened with expectation and untapped potential to one who now regularly delivers in the clutch has been both quick and profound.

While the breakthrough came with his other-worldly finish to win The Players Championship, Fowler quickly followed that up with a victory at the Scottish Open. With a runner-up finish at the Quicken Loans National, he is back to No. 5 in the world rankings, tied for his career best.

After beginning this season with the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship as his lone win in 141 PGA Tour starts, Fowler has quickly vaulted into the game’s upper echelon.

“Really since The Players, my comfort has jumped another level or five or so,” Fowler said. “Just kind of being in that situation the last four, five, however many holes and knowing that I can pull out the good swings and make putts and make stuff happen. So it’s fun to know I have that.”

Like Fowler, Jason Day entered the season in the highly unscientific category of “players who probably should win more,” with two victories in 151 PGA Tour starts. He added a third with a playoff victory at the Farmers Insurance Open in February, then rallied to win the RBC Canadian Open in his most recent start.

Only days removed from heartbreak at the Open Championship, Day birdied each of his final three holes in Canada to finish one shot clear of the pack. While he has been a perennial contender in recent years, the Aussie shared Tuesday that his mindset was different during the final round at Glen Abbey.

“It was funny, that Sunday, I was a lot more calm,” he said. “I just felt different that day compared to any other Sunday where I was in contention, whether it was a major or a normal PGA Tour event. And I just, for some reason, I just knew everything’s OK. No matter what, keep plugging along.”

His explosive celebration after his 72nd-hole birdie evoked comparisons with Tiger Woods, and Day remains eager to build upon the momentum that collecting trophies can create.

“It’s obviously powerful to draw on, but on top of it, you’ve got to go out and execute the shot,” he said. “Doing stuff like that is not easy. It may look easy, but it’s not easy to do.”

Winning begets winning, especially on the highest level. Rory McIlroy had gone nearly a year without a victory since switching to Nike before breaking through at the Australian Open in November 2013, a victory that helped propel him to a four-win season in 2014. Spieth broke a similar victory drought last year in Oz, and he has since reached nearly unprecedented heights.

Whether Fowler or Day ascend to that stratosphere remains to be seen, but the pair is clearly benefiting from one of the game’s most precious commodities – the confidence boost that only comes from a spot in the winner’s circle.

Day narrowly missed out on the playoff at St. Andrews when he left his final birdie putt short, and he flashed back to that stroke when faced with a similar putt in Canada. The weight of the situation was evident, as was his relief when that particular shot found the target after so many prior near-misses.

“To turn around so quick and hole the putt on the 72nd hole at the Canadian Open, I mean it was a good way to turn around,” he said. “Know that I can do it and show people that I can do it, and stomp my foot on the ground and say, ‘No, that’s enough. I can get it done.’”

Day and Fowler have long had the game to contend against the world’s best. But confidence is fickle, and trophies are hard to come by.

Each buoyed from recently “getting it done,” their confidence is at an all-time high – just in time for one of the Tour’s most lucrative fortnights.

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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. 

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Woods impresses DeChambeau, Day on Tuesday

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 11:27 pm

SAN DIEGO – Bryson DeChambeau played with Tiger Woods for the first time Tuesday morning, and the biggest surprise was that he wasn’t overcome by nerves.

“That’s what I was concerned about,” DeChambeau said. “Am I just gonna be slapping it around off the tee? But I was able to play pretty well.”

So was Woods.

DeChambeau said that Woods looked “fantastic” as he prepares to make his first PGA Tour start in a year.

“His game looks solid. His body doesn’t hurt. He’s just like, yeah, I’m playing golf again,” DeChambeau said. “And he’s having fun, too, which is a good thing.”

Woods arrived at Torrey Pines before 7 a.m. local time Tuesday, when the temperature hadn’t yet crept above 50 degrees. He warmed up and played the back nine of Torrey Pines’ South Course with DeChambeau and Jason Day.

“He looks impressive; it was good to see,” Day told afterward. “You take (Farmers) last year and the Dubai tournament out, and he hasn’t really played in two years. I think the biggest thing is to not get too far ahead, or think he’s going to come back and win straight away.

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“The other time he came back, I don’t think he was ready and he probably came back too soon. This time he definitely looks ready. I think his swing is really nice, he’s hitting the driver a long way and he looks like he’s got some speed, which is great.”

Woods said that his caddie, Joe LaCava, spent four days with him in South Florida last week and that he’s ready to go.

“Before the Hero I was basically given the OK probably about three or four weeks prior to the tournament, and I thought I did pretty good in that prep time,” Woods told, referring to his tie for ninth in the 18-man event.

“Now I’ve had a little more time to get ready for this event. I’ve played a lot more golf, and overall I feel like I’ve made some nice changes. I feel good.”

Woods is first off Torrey Pines’ North Course in Wednesday’s pro-am, scheduled for 6:40 a.m. local time.