Spieth appears to have ironed out his iron play

By Will GrayMay 28, 2016, 12:32 am

FORT WORTH, Texas – There are plenty of similarities between the past two tournaments for Jordan Spieth.

Both weeks Spieth teed it up in front of partisan crowds in his home state of Texas. In both instances, he played his way into contention at the halfway point.

But the comparisons stop when it comes to how Spieth feels, and how he views the current state of his game. The picture, according to the world No. 2, is much rosier this week at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

After fighting his swing for much of last week across town in Dallas, Spieth has put together two straight rounds of ball-striking that more closely resemble his 2015 form. The drives are curving on command; the pesky irons are cooperating once more.

Spieth sits at 7 under after a second-round 66, having garnered some momentum that he hopes to build on this weekend.

“I feel really, really good over the ball right now,” Spieth said. “I got a little loose at the end of the round today. Fortunately still kept those on the green. My putting is coming around. Once I adjusted to the speed after a couple of kind of sloppy three-putts, really made the most of the round today.”

Spieth had to wait nearly six extra hours to begin his second round as thunderstorms battered the Fort Worth area overnight and into the morning. Once he finally reached the tee at Colonial Country Club, he found the opening fairway and green and never looked back.

In fact, after a self-described “stress-free” opening round, Spieth did even better Friday, affording himself a birdie putt on every single hole (16 greens in regulation plus a pair of fringes).

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Spieth’s lone bogeys came on No. 10, where he misjudged his first putt of the day, and No. 16, where he had to stand with his back to the hole on his first putt because of a huge swale.

“The greens were up, I think, 2 feet over yesterday, and it just took me a little while to adjust,” he said. “But once we made that adjustment, a little better on the greens and yeah, it was set up by the fairways hit.”

Spieth went out in even-par 35 on the back nine, but he made his move on the part of the course that often creates the most carnage. After birdies on Nos. 1 and 2, Spieth played the “Horrible Horseshoe” of Nos. 3-5 in 2 under par, briefly holding sole possession of the lead after rolling in a 15-footer for birdie on No. 5.

“It was a fantastic back nine that we played,” he said. “(Nos.) 1 through 5, if you play them 1 under, you’re going to be up there with the leaders because the rest of the course you can kind of really get around and have some chances. Playing 4 under today was awesome.”

Spieth’s total leaves him one shot off the clubhouse lead set by Webb Simpson, but he is four shots behind Bryce Molder, who will finish his second round in the morning because of the lengthy weather delay.

The results through 36 holes are promising, but the intangibles offer even more reason to believe that Spieth could be in for a big weekend – like the one Rory McIlroy enjoyed last week and Jason Day experienced the week prior.

After the AT&T Byron Nelson, where the word “frustrated” was never far from his lips, Spieth appears confident. He appears relaxed.

Perhaps it’s shifting the venue across town. Perhaps it’s playing a course that better suits his game. Or perhaps it’s just that, after two straight starts of squirrely ball-striking, Spieth has found a way to iron out the kinks with, well, his irons.

“I’d say (my comfort level) is up there close to where I want to have it, 100 percent trust by major time,” he said. “It’s creeping up. Big step up from last week. It’s getting close.”

“Close” is a word many golfers trot out when the results don’t quite match up with the internal assessments. It’s a word that Spieth has used at points this year, now nearly five months removed from his eight-shot rout in Maui.

But this week, on this course, in this neck of the woods, he just seems a little bit closer.

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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.