Notes Ochoa Gets Club Endorsement

By Associated PressJune 26, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. WomenSOUTHERN PINES, N.C. -- Lorena Ochoa might have been the only No. 1 player in golf without an equipment deal, although it was not as simple as signing on the dotted line.
The Mexican star already had endorsement deals that occupied the front of her hat (Banamex), her golf bag (Aeromexico) and her shirt (LaCoste), three of the best billboards for a golfer. Ping still managed to work out a deal Tuesday.
Ochoa, who has been playing Ping equipment for the last 10 years, finally will get paid to use it under a multiyear agreement that varies slightly from most Ping contracts. Terms were not disclosed.
Ping usually gets its logo on the hat and the bag. In this case, Aeromexico remains the dominant logo on the golf bag, with seven Ping logos built around it.
'This is different for us,' said Chance Cozby, director of tour operations for Ping. 'We're at a point where we can use her in our marketing message, and she had a lot of global exposure. We had to go outside the box to create a unique deal.'
Ping requires its staff players to use at least 11 clubs, with the driver and putter mandatory. The Phoenix-based company will give Ochoa whatever time she needs to find the right putter. The rest of the equipment already was in place.
'They've been really loyal to me. I've been loyal to them,' Ochoa said. 'Every time I got to Ping in the offseason, they always take care of me. If there's some company that I'd like to represent, it would be them.'
The deal took root in April at the Golf Writers Association of America annual dinner, where Ochoa was honored as female player of the year. John Solheim, chairman and CEO of Ping, was in the audience that night and was moved by Ochoa's classy acceptance speech.
'He came back to the house and said, 'Let's get moving on this,'' Cozby said.
The final major on the LPGA Tour might be the biggest of the year. For the first time, the Women's British Open will be held on the Old Course at St. Andrews, the home of golf.
Along with playing the historic links where Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods each hoisted the claret jug, the women will be allowed in the Royal & Ancient clubhouse, which had been off limits.
'It's something everyone has been talking about for the last year, trying to get accommodations,' Karrie Webb said. 'You never plan that far in advance for any tournament. I don't think there will be anyone who has a bad time that week.'
Annika Sorenstam played the Old Course as an amateur, and called it a 'big step for women's golf,' especially considering the sign she recalls seeing at the amateur event.
'There was a sign out there that said, 'No dogs or women allowed,'' she said. 'Hopefully, they'll take it out for the week. I think it's going to be great for women, for us to go play there. I'm looking forward to that.'
Karrie Webb won by eight shots the last time the U.S. Women's Open was held at Pine Needles, a performance so inspiring that she recently watched it on videotape.
That took some work, as it was only available on VHS.
'I just changed my whole entertainment unit,' Webb said. 'I don't have a VCR anymore, so I had to get someone to bring it over to the house, and then it was a process of plugging it into one of the TVs.'
For all the promotion about FedExCup points this year, money means more to someone like Jay Williamson. He lost in a playoff in Hartford last week and didn't improve his standing in the FedExCup.
It's still at zero.
The FedEx Cup race is only for players who start the year with full membership on the PGA TOUR. Williamson, who was 221st on the money list last year, is playing the Nationwide Tour and got into the Travelers Championship on a sponsor's exemption. The good news is that the $648,000 he earned is enough to get special temporary membership. And his runner-up finish got him into the Buick Open. But he still isn't eligible for FedExCup points unless he becomes a full member this year, which would require a victory.
Now comes the decision.
Williamson is No. 8 on the Nationwide money list -- the top 25 get their cards -- or he can try to get into more PGA TOUR events and try to finish the equivalent of No. 125 on the PGA TOUR money list and have a fuller choice of events to play.
'There's a lot of stuff going on that I need to educate myself on and just make sure that I make the right decision,' he said.
Chris DiMarco has joined the world of radio talk-show hots.
A sports nut and lifelong Florida Gators fan, he last week started 'Opinionated with Chris DiMarco,' which airs every Tuesday at 7 a.m. on the PGA TOUR Network on XM radio. He is the first professional golfer to host a satellite radio show.
'We're going to take people behind the scenes to talk about what's really happening in the game of golf,' DiMarco said. 'The channel is all about golf, and our show will definitely be focused on the sport, but we're going to steer the conversation off the course from time to time.'
Ernie Els is featured in the latest batch of FedExCup commercials, although his promotion sounded different in a news conference last week in Germany. Asked about his schedule, Els said he would play Loch Lomond and the British Open, take a week off and 'start off on the FedExCup thingy.' Once the laughter died, he said, 'Yeah, exactly.' ... Hunter Mahan became the youngest winner on the PGA TOUR this year at 25 years, one month and seven days. ... Jay Haas has earned $5.7 million in 49 starts on the Champions Tour. He earned $14.4 million in 796 starts on the PGA TOUR.
Foreign-born players outnumber Americans in the U.S. Women's Open for the first time.
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.