Scott dominating at Bay Hill in Woods-like fashion

By Will GrayMarch 22, 2014, 12:18 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – We’ve seen this one before.

A world-class player amasses an early lead. His closest challengers spin in neutral, or even begin to fall back.

He protects his lead through conservative strategy, but his advantage continues to build, birdie by birdie, until the field is left in his wake.

A familiar scenario, but with a rare twist: It’s playing out with Tiger Woods on the couch at home.

Friday, like Thursday, was Adam Scott’s day, and it appears likely that this will be Adam Scott’s week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Beginning the day with a three-shot advantage after an opening 62, Scott carded a 4-under 68 at Bay Hill on a day when low scores were hard to come by. At 14 under par, he takes a seven-shot lead into the weekend as he closes in on the top spot in the world rankings.

“I think it was a pretty good way to back up a low round,” Scott said. “It’s not easy to do that, especially around a tough course.”

Others were more effusive in their assessments of Scott’s play.

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“He's going to be a tough guy to catch, guy that hits it as good as he does and seems to have a complete game like he has,” said Brandt Snedeker,  who is eight shots back after a Friday 71. “And the way he's playing now he's not going to come backwards. Seems like an awfully special week if you can get close to him.”

Bay Hill has hosted some routs over the past 15 years, but each has been authored by Woods, an eight-time champion here. Woods won by four shots in 2000 and 2002, cleared the field by five in 2012 and won by a whopping 11 shots in 2003.

That margin may seem a little less whopping by the time Scott gets done this week. The Aussie has spent the past two days channeling the game plan of the current world No. 1, whom he will replace atop the rankings next month if he wins this week.

While Scott’s putter cooled somewhat after his course record-tying effort Thursday, he still made enough putts coming home to obliterate the tournament record for a 36-hole lead, which had been four shots.

“Yesterday was just one of those days where everything fell into place for me,” Scott said. “Today I just stayed patient on those holes where I didn’t do as well yesterday and felt like if you keep playing this well and hitting good shots, you’re going to create a few opportunities.”

Scott birdied No. 9 to make the turn in 1 under, knocking in a 12-foot putt that he later said was a key to his round. Birdies followed on Nos. 11, 12, 15 and 16, ballooning his lead to eight shots at one point.

Taking another page out of a Woods narrative, Scott benefited from the futility of his nearest competitors. Ryo Ishikawa and John Merrick teed off at 7 under, within three shots of Scott. Both carded 2-over 74s.

With winds picking up in the afternoon, no one was able to make a run at Scott. In fact, the Aussie’s 68 was bettered only by Keegan Bradley, whose 67 hoisted him 35 spots into a tie for fifth.

Scott’s seven-shot cushion through 36 holes is the third-largest on the PGA Tour since 1970, and the largest since Jose Maria Olazabal carried a nine-shot edge into the weekend at Firestone in 1990. Despite the head start, Scott remains cautious.

“I think we’re only halfway,” he said. “Seven shots over two days is not enough. I don’t think you can ever be enough (in the) lead, to be honest.”

Scott is no stranger to sizeable advantages – five of his 10 PGA Tour wins have been by three strokes or more. He indicated he has no interest in protecting the lead, just increasing it.

“I think when you’ve got momentum, you’ve got to go with it,” he said. “Whether it’s in your round when you’re getting hot and you’re 6 under, you’ve got to think that’s going to be a day when you can push it to 10. And then when you come out the next day, you’ve got to try to get your foot on the gas as well. You never know when the momentum is going to run out.”

There’s still plenty of golf to play, but through two rounds, Adam Scott has taken the Tiger Woods script and made it his own.

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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.