Reed, Fowler battling for Barclays, Ryder berths

By Will GrayAugust 27, 2016, 11:41 pm

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – It’s the type of scenario that should catch the attention of any American golf fan.

Two weeks removed from representing the U.S. in the Olympics, Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed now find themselves in the final group at The Barclays with another chance to don the red, white and blue at stake. To add a little flavor, the setting happens to be Bethpage Black – a former U.S. Open and future Ryder Cup venue.

Perhaps the only thing missing is a little patriotic face paint.

Sunday’s finale on the Black Course is shaping up like a Ryder Cup primer. Both Reed and Fowler entered the week with their status for Hazeltine somewhat uncertain, but both have more than risen to the occasion in the final week of automatic qualification.

For Fowler, the task was steep. Entering at No. 12 in the standings and with only one top-10 finish in his last nine starts, he needed to find something at the buzzer after a last-ditch detour to the Wyndham Championship didn’t pan out as hoped. But just as he responded when his back was against the wall last year at TPC Sawgrass and this year in Abu Dhabi, Fowler has delivered the goods through 54 holes.

He holds a one-shot lead over Reed, an advantage largely built by a stellar short game. Fowler leads the field this week in scrambling, and despite three trips around one of the most brutish layouts the PGA Tour has to offer, his lone dropped shot stems from a 4-foot putt that horseshoed back in his face during the opening round.

“It’s a little bit of the putter starting to show up a bit. I’ve always been a good putter,” Fowler said after a third-round 68. “To have a few putts go in, to be able to get up and down for par and saving all those shots to keep momentum going, it makes all the difference.”

Fowler has now gone 45 straight holes without a bogey – an impressive feat on your local muni, let alone a major-caliber venue. It puts him in great position for a potential captain’s pick from Davis Love III, but Fowler hopes to make that option a moot point with his play during the final round.

The Barclays: Articles, photos and videos

“I think it’s pretty simple. We’ve just got to go take care of business tomorrow,” he said. “It’s been a while since I’ve been in this position, but we have a pretty good track record of in the past year or so since the Players win. Looking forward to it.”

For Reed, things weren’t quite as sharp. After starting the day with a two-shot cushion, he struggled to find a groove and bogeyed three of his first six holes. But he managed to keep the round on track, playing his final 12 holes in 2 under to give himself a spot in the tournament’s final pairing alongside Fowler.

“It was one of those days that I hit no fairways,” he said. “Every driver I seemed to hit was in the right rough or right bunkers, and I just felt like I had to hack out of the rough all day.”

Reed entered the week at No. 8 in the Ryder Cup standings, with the top eight after this week automatically qualifying for Hazeltine. While Fowler still has work to do to punch his ticket, Reed now appears likely to make the team on merit.

Although Reed would relish an opportunity to rekindle some of the Ryder Cup magic of two years ago, his main focus this week is on snapping a victory drought that extends back to the 2015 Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

“I’m ready. I’ve been ready, felt like all year. I need to put four rounds together,” he said. “To only be one back, I feel like I’m in great position. I’m in the final group tomorrow. Go in and put some pressure on Rickie, and hopefully both of us kind of separate ourselves on the back and play some good golf.”

While the tournament is hardly a two-man race on a course as treacherous as Bethpage – especially with former world No. 1 Adam Scott lurking just two shots off the pace – all eyes will be focused on the all-American duo in the anchor pairing.

“We’re going to have some fun,” Fowler said. “I saw him on the putting green before I left the tee since he was playing behind me. Told him to have a good one and let’s go get in the final group tomorrow. We’ve done that, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Fowler and Reed have been playing against each other for more than a decade, dating back to their earliest meetings in junior golf. But more recently, they’ve become two of the more prominent faces of American golf.

They’re bold, they’re confident and they embody the culture change needed to kick-start a U.S. side that's lost six of the last seven Ryder Cups.

While only one can claim the trophy, both men could very well leave New York with updated travel plans to Hazeltine. It should be a memorable battle on an iconic venue, and one whose biggest winner could turn out to be the old red, white and blue.

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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.

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

“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.