ATT Signs on to Sponsor Tigers DC Event
But this wasn't about taking his place with Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. Woods was more interested in the dozen children seated to the side of a packed lounge in the National Press Club, where Woods and PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem announced plans for the AT&T National that marks the return of golf to the nation's capital.
Still to be determined is where the tournament will be played and the size of the field.
Woods made clear, however, that the tournament would pay tribute to the military over the Fourth of July, and pay for a new Tiger Woods Learning Center in the Washington area as he expands his foundation's goal to help children.
'The last year or so, we've been looking up and down the Eastern seaboard for a new learning center,' Woods said. 'And then this opportunity fell into our laps. It makes sense to build it here, we just haven't had time to find a site yet.'
The first step is to build a tournament.
The AT&T National replaces the International outside Denver, which shut down last month when tournament founder Jack Vickers couldn't find a sponsor, which he blamed in part on Woods not playing the event.
It will be played July 5-8, and Woods isn't sure if he will be able to play this year because his wife is expecting their first child. But while Palmer bought the Bay Hill Club and Nicklaus built his own course in his hometown outside Columbus, Ohio, Woods is establishing his tournament roots in Washington.
'That's our intent, to stay here and have this be our home event, hopefully for perpetuity,' he said.
The Tiger Woods Foundation will run the tournament, with charitable money going to the foundation toward building a learning center. Woods' first learning center, which cost $25 million, opened a year ago in Anaheim, Calif.
Woods becomes the youngest player to host a tournament. Bobby Jones was 32 when the Augusta National Invitation -- which later became the Masters -- was held in 1934. Nicklaus was 36 when the Memorial was played for the first time. Palmer was 44 when he took over at Bay Hill, and Byron Nelson had been long retired when he gave his name to a tournament in Dallas.
'Not too many people are fortunate to have an opportunity like this,' Woods said. 'What Bobby Jones did for golf and starting the Masters, that won't be touched. As far as what Jack has done at the Memorial, or Arnold at Bay Hill or Mr. Nelson in Dallas, those have been true legends of the game. They made a tremendous impact on our sport.
'I want to build something along that level,' he said. 'Obviously, with my competitive nature, I want it to be better.'
First the tour has to secure a golf course.
All signs point toward Congressional Country Club for 2007 and 2008. The club is to vote on the tour's request over the next few weeks, and Woods and Finchem openly lobbied members to approve it.
'Right now, the energy at Congressional is very, very positive and very supportive,' Finchem said. 'And we hope that carries over to the response from the overall membership.'
Finchem said the purse would be at least $6 million, but he hasn't decided the size of the field. He said it likely would be comparable to other invitationals -- Memorial, Bay Hill, Colonial -- which have fewer than 156-man fields typical of summer events.
Woods always dreamed of being host of a regular PGA TOUR event -- he just didn't expect it this soon.
He started the Target World Challenge, an unofficial event held in California in December, in 1999 and spoke to his father about finding a way to earning full TOUR status.
'The way the TOUR is structured, it didn't look like we would have an opportunity until 2010, '11 or '12,' Woods said. 'But we were lucky enough that this one came up.'
It came at the expense of the International, played at Castle Pines outside Denver. Woods only played there twice, the last time in 1999, and didn't return because he didn't care for the golf course.
AT&T now is title sponsor of five tournaments. The company sponsors PGA TOUR events at Pebble Beach and in Atlanta, along with two tournaments on the Champions Tour. Finchem said the deal in Washington would be for at least five years, with an option to sponsor the event through the end of the TV contract in 2012.
Why couldn't AT&T work in Denver?
'For whatever reason, we couldn't find any magic for sponsors as it relates to Denver,' Finchem said. 'We had been trying two years. The second this is, the International is run by the club and its member. This concept was one where it would be run by the foundation.'
Woods already has put his mark on his new tournament.
He said all active military and all children under the age of 12 will get free admission to the tournament. Both instances are a tribute to his father, Earl Woods, who died last year of cancer.
Earl Woods spent 20 years in the military and did two tours in Vietnam with the Special Forces. Tiger Woods went through training at Fort Bragg a few years ago, and he has made trips to aircraft carriers while in the Middle East for the Dubai Desert Classic.
'I remember when I first came on tour, my goal one day with my father was to host an event on the PGA TOUR. I just wish he could be here to see it,' Woods said. 'I think he probably would have shed a few tears.'
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it
NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.
She says she always gets nervous starting a round.
You don’t believe it, though.
She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .
Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .
Or disarming ticking bombs . . .
“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.
Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.
Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.
Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.
At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.
She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.
She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.
And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.
There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.
Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.
It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.
Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.
Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.
“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”
About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.
Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.
“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”
David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.
“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”
Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.
Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . .
“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.
Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.
“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”
Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.
“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.
Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.
National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.
The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.
Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.
These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:
Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.
This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.
“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”
Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.
In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.
If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.
“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”
Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.
Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.
''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''
The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.
The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.
''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''
Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.
''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''
First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).
Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.
''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.
''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''