International Missed More Than Just Tiger

By Associated PressFebruary 13, 2007, 5:00 pm
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -Tiger Woods did not show up at Pebble Beach. Attendance and other numbers used to measure success will be down this year, and tournament director Ollie Nutt won't have to look hard to place the blame.
The weather.
Woods hasn't been to the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am since 2002, yet officials somehow have managed to hand out a trophy, pay out more than $5 million in prize money and still provide for their local charities.
Ditto for the Verizon Heritage at Hilton Head, an idyllic locale that Woods hasn't been to since 1999 and probably won't return any time soon. Stanford Financial has taken over sponsorship in Memphis, even though there's a better chance of getting Elvis than Tiger. The world's No. 1 player hasn't been to the Honda Classic since he was a 17-year-old amateur.
In fact, Woods never has played nine longtime events on the PGA TOUR since turning pro, and all of them are still on the schedule.
Jack Vickers might call that a miracle.
The Denver oilman pulled the plug on his beloved International tournament, the one with the modified Stableford scoring system played on picturesque Castle Pines Golf Club, where he treated every guest like royalty except for those meddlesome thunderstorms.
The problem was the tour's price tag ($8 million) and no sponsor to pick up the tab for an event played around the Fourth of July. Vickers was quick to attribute the demise to Woods, the star attraction on the PGA TOUR who last played there in 1999.
``If he shows, everything changes,'' Vickers said. ``You've got a one-man show out there right now that is the big difference.''
He's right about the PGA TOUR being a one-man show.
Woods isn't simply driving golf, he's perhaps the most famous athlete in any sport worldwide. When he plays, crowds are crammed behind the ropes of every fairway, TV ratings spike and everyone goes home happy.
And when he doesn't?
``We'd love to have him,'' Nutt said at Pebble Beach. ``But it's been four years since he's been here, and our attendance is going up every year. This year with the weather, we'll be off a little bit. But last year we did 70 percent in advance sales, and that was even before we knew if he was coming. You can't build an event around any one person.''
Vickers never realized that.
Pebble Beach is a special place, a special tournament. Even without Woods, the crowd turns out - especially on Saturday - to see the antics of Bill Murray, to hear one-liners from George Lopez, to coo over Kevin Costner.
Vickers, however, believed the scenery was just as spectacular in the mountains, his course was good enough for a U.S. Open, and that his tournament was the best thing west of the Waffle House on Washington Road in Augusta.
He wanted Tiger.
He made excuses when Tiger didn't show up, usually blaming the PGA TOUR for his spot on the schedule, whether it was a week after the PGA Championship, a week before or even two weeks before.
Too bad Vickers never made as big of a stink over who he had, not who he didn't. Phil Mickelson played the International every year but one since 1992. Ernie Els only skipped in 2005 when he was on crutches. Sergio Garcia and Retief Goosen only missed one year, and that was when the PGA Championship was held a week later at a new site in Whistling Straits.
How many tournaments would love to have all those guys? Or any of them?
Not having Tiger didn't help the International, but the fact cannot be ignored that Woods plays only about 18 times a year - the same number as Jack Nicklaus at that stage in his career - and those tournaments he skips are still in business.
``Those weeks he doesn't play, we have a great tournament,'' PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem said, drinking from a half-full glass. He noted the two tournaments that raised the most charity money in the last 12 months were Phoenix and the Texas Open, ``and neither of them has seen Tiger lately.''
Kym Hougham understands how Vickers feels.
He's the tournament director of the Wachovia Championship, which in many ways has the same sizzle the International did two decades ago. Woods didn't show up at Quail Hollow last year because his father died, but Wachovia still got 11 of the top 13 players in the world. Hougham exaggerated only slightly when he said the talk around town was ``we should fold up the tournament and shut it down.''
But he also knows the other half lives.
Hougham spent six years as tournament director of the John Deere Classic, an also-ran on TOUR until it gave a sponsor's exemption to Woods when he turned pro in 1996. The tournament was a sellout. And when Woods took a one-shot lead into the final round, the hype was such that the national press left The Presidents Cup and flew to Moline, Ill.
Woods hasn't been back, but Hougham said his presence invigorated the tournament. It since has moved to TPC Deere Run, and while the field was never particularly strong, Hougham said ``it was the place to be in Quad Cities that week - it became an event.''
``If you're focusing on Tiger as the only person,'' he added, ``you're going to have some letdowns.''
That's how Nutt always has seen Pebble. Talk to the folks at Stanford Financial, and the enthusiasm they feel about the PGA TOUR in Memphis - with or without Woods - is contagious.
Vickers never figured that out.
His biggest mistake was turning down a spot in the FedExCup playoffs. Vickers didn't want to compete against football in Colorado, even though the Broncos don't open at home every year.
And it would have been a far better spot on the schedule than where the International is now.
Related Links:
  • International Off the 2007 TOUR Schedule
    Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

    Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

    The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

    Getty Images

    Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

    By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

    JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

    The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

    Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

    Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

    There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

    Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

    Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

    None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

    Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

    An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

    In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

    Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

    Playing with the pros

    Tiger, DJ and Faxon

    Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

    Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

    Rory faces criticism

    Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

    Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

    President at the Presidents Cup

    Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

    Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

    Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

    Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

    Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

    Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

    Cart on the green

    Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

    Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

    Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

    Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

    Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

    Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

    Trump golf properties


    Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

    Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


    Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

    Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

    Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

    Reportedly fake TIME covers

    Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

    Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

    Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

    Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

    Pros comment on the president

    Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

    Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm