Golfs Big World Getting More and More Crowded

By Associated PressFebruary 7, 2006, 5:00 pm
World GolfPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Ernie Els, who has been playing golf around the globe since he was 14, is among those who wonder if the World Golf Championships is guilty of false advertising.
'It's a bit crazy,' he said. 'Why call them World Championships if they're going to be played in the same place all the time? World Golf Championships are meant to promote the game all over the globe.'
The idea behind this series was to bring together the best players in the world. A year before it started, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said he wanted 'to see this World Golf Championship flag raised in all the major golf markets in the world over time, and we think we have enough events now that we can effectively do that.'
Starting next year, the flag will be raised over major golf markets of Tucson, Ariz., Miami and Akron, Ohio.
But the Big Easy can rest easy.
Finchem said in an interview Monday that officials are working on a new World Golf Championship in Asia to be played as early as the fall of 2007. Among the details to be sorted out is whether it counts toward official money, a tricky maneuver since Finchem is still trying to figure out points for the FedEx Cup competition that ends in September.
'We're in the planning process,' Finchem said. 'We would like to play a full-fledged World Golf Championship in the fall in Asia. It's premature to say where, but our intent is to do something next year.'
This might be the only avenue Finchem has to Asia, a market he covets.
The PGA European Tour planted its flag in Asian soil 14 years ago when the Johnnie Walker Classic was staged in Bangkok. For the last five years, the European season has started the previous fall in Asia, and this year there are more tournaments in China than England.
The PGA Tour tried to bully its way into Asia two years ago when it held a silly-season event in South Korea during the week of Thanksgiving. It ran opposite an Asian Tour event that week, which didn't sit well with those executives.
Global golf is expanding rapidly, and with that comes growing pains. It has not reached a level of 'turf wars,' although cooperation among the six major tours around the world has never been more crucial.
'We've been going through a transition phase for a few years,' Finchem said. 'We have Europe trying to find more playing opportunities for its members, sanctioning tournaments here and there, picking up half of their playing opportunities for members. It raises as many questions as there are answers.'
Australia has some questions.
With the PGA Tour season ending in September next year, there was hope that some American stars -- Tiger Woods, for one -- might go Down Under and help revive the Australian Open. Now there is talk about the PGA Tour staging a WGC event in Asia around the same time.
Will it help or hurt?
Europe has plenty of questions, too, starting with the Americanized version of the World Golf Championships.
'We are obviously not very comfortable with the fact that all of them are played in the United States,' said European tour chief George O'Grady, who will meet with Finchem in the next few months.
O'Grady also plans an informal chat with some of his players, and there will be more than 20 of them at La Costa for the Accenture Match Play Championship in two weeks -- yet another sign that golf is no longer ruled by Americans.
Then again, O'Grady found himself in the role of a bully a few weeks ago.
The European tour, working with promoter Parallel Media Group, scheduled the Indonesian Open and the Singapore Masters in consecutive weeks in March. Those generally are co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour.
However, the Asian Tour has a new tournament in India -- the Amby Valley Masters -- the same week as Europe scheduled the Indonesian Open. Asian Tour chief Louis Martin said he was insulted.
'Can you imagine the media feast if the Asian Tour went ahead and announced the staging of an Asian Tour event in continental Europe?' he said.
They worked out the problem last week, with the Asian Tour agreeing to move the new event in India to May.
Next up for O'Grady is how the PGA Tour's tighter, stronger schedule in 2007 is going to affect tournaments in Europe. Els, Retief Goosen, Adam Scott, Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke and Sergio Garcia are among the top players who keep membership on both sides of the Atlantic.
If all of them make the FedEx Cup championship series -- four big tournaments after the PGA Championship that concludes with the Tour Championship -- what does that do for European events like the HSBC World Match Play and the BMW International Open in Germany?
It's easy to make the Americans look bad for staging all the official World Golf Championships at home, but it's a problem everywhere. And don't be naive about the money. The TV ratings suffer outside the United States, and title sponsors are looking for the biggest return on their investment.
'I do think it's a transition phase,' Finchem said. 'In general, we're moving in the right direction. That's one reason we brought Ty Votaw aboard, to allow us to get some top-level energy for these international questions. I think it will sort itself out.'
Votaw was hired last month by the PGA Tour as executive vice president of international affairs. The running joke was that he had one of the toughest jobs in sports as LPGA commissioner because he had to keep 150 women happy.
His latest gig might be even more challenging -- keeping the world happy.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.