Notes Wisconsin looking for another yearly stop

By Associated PressAugust 12, 2010, 2:50 am

2010 PGA Championship

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Wisconsin is back in the golf spotlight for the first time since losing its annual PGA Tour event last year, when the 42-year-old U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee folded.

Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly, both from Madison, talked for a time about trying to revive a regular stop, but organizing the event has proven hard.

“It’s just a tough time for businesses in our area to stick in a lot of money,” Stricker said. “The date that we had opposite the British Open, the fee for a business to put up money for that week is a lot less than, say, a better date that’s not opposite a major. That fee is in the $7 to $9 million range, and that’s a tough pill to swallow for a lot of companies.”

Attendance at Milwaukee’s tournament sagged when it was placed opposite the British Open in the final three years of the event. The top players went overseas instead of returning to the tournament Tiger Woods made his pro debut at in 1996.

Wisconsin golf officials instead point to big events like the U.S. Amateur at Erin Hills next year, the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open at nearby Blackwolf Run, the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills and the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits.

“I’m not sure our area can handle two of these big sporting events in a year. And it’s sad, but I’m happy that we’re able to get these majors,” Stricker said. “It looks like it’s very well attended so far, and I think that people will gravitate toward these every-other-year events a little bit more than (a tournament) opposite the British Open.”

Stricker said that maybe a Champions Tour event would come to the area, but for now, fans in Wisconsin will have to be patient.

“We’re still hopeful,” he said. “We’re still working on it.”


MONTY’S MATE: This time, it was Colin Montgomerie’s turn to face questions about his personal life. Coming to his aid was Corey Pavin, his opposing captain in the Ryder Cup.

Montgomerie, who is trying to patch up his marriage after reports of a fling with an old girlfriend surfaced in June, was asked about an injunction against a British newspaper to bar information about his personal life.

“I know a lot of you are having a lot of fun right now at my expense,” Montgomerie said. “Let me clear this up, though. I can categorically say that there’s no injunction … regarding anything. I’m really not going to discuss this any further. I apologize for this, that you have to bring this up, but at the same time, no further comments.”

That wasn’t the end of it.

Another reporter asked if there was an injunction in place against a woman.

“Excuse me, I’m here to talk about the Ryder Cup, OK?” Montgomerie said. “So please, no further questions on that or any other subjection regarding my private life.”

And that’s when Pavin jumped in.

“I agree with Colin, actually,” Pavin added. “Let’s stick to golf subjects here.”


RYDER CUP PROJECTIONS: With so much debate over Tiger Woods being a captain’s pick, he gets to play at least one more tournament to try to make the team on his own.

The PGA Championship released its prize money on Wednesday – $7.5 million, same as last year. That will give Woods a clear indication of the minimum he needs this week.

Woods is in 10th place in the Ryder Cup standings, leaving him 243.69 points (each point equals $1,000 in PGA Tour earnings) behind Lucas Glover. That means Woods will have to finish at least 15th in the PGA Championship, assuming Glover and Dustin Johnson in ninth place miss the cut and that no one behind Woods passes him.


WESTWOOD OUTLOOK: Lee Westwood is home in England resting an injured calf that is expected to keep him out until just before the Ryder Cup.

He is the No. 3 player in the world. He has been a runner-up in two majors this year. And his captain, Colin Montgomerie, is not worried.

“Having spoken to Lee, he will be hitting balls in four weeks, which is great news for everybody in Europe,” Montgomerie said. “He’s our top-ranked player and our Ryder Cup team will be greatly weakened if he didn’t make it. So I’m delighted that he is going to hit balls within four weeks, and that gives him still another couple of weeks to prepare.”

Montgomerie said Westwood’s goal is to play the Vivendi Cup a week before the matches.

“If he doesn’t, I’m sure three practice rounds around Celtic Manor will be good enough for Lee,” Montgomerie said.


ROCKSTAR YANG: Y.E. Yang, last year’s PGA Championship winner, was surprised when he was assigned six bodyguards upon returning home.

He understood a little better when he saw their clothes in tatters. The South Korean’s safety detail failed to keep pace on Jeju-do Island.

“I was kind of trying to figure out what was going on,” Yang said through an interpreter. “It turns out all their jackets and suits were all ripped up because there were so many fans that wanted to get my autograph.”

Yang said none of his bodyguards were hurt.

“It was kind of funny to see those big bodyguards and their clothes getting ripped up like that,” he said.


ACTING HIS AGE: Rory McIlroy might be a little jealous of Rickie Fowler and Ryo Ishikawa.

No, not because of Fowler’s Justin Bieber-like shag or Ishikawa’s flowing curls—though they are perhaps the only players who can rival the mop-topped McIlroy. When pairings for the first two rounds of the PGA Championship came out, Fowler and Ishikawa were in the same group.

McIlroy, Fowler and Ishikawa are leaders in golf’s youth movement along with Anthony Kim and Hunter Mahan, and they’ve become good friends off the course, too.

“Whenever you get paired with one of the guys in the tournament, you’re looking forward to it because you can talk about stuff that we like to talk about,” said McIlroy, who is 21 like Fowler. “Rather than trying to talk to a 40-year-old.”

One of McIlroy’s playing partners Thursday and Friday? The 43-year-old Steve Stricker.


DIVOTS: The 73 international players this week are the most for a PGA Championship. They represent 22 countries. … Corey Pavin and Colin Montgomerie said they wouldn’t put themselves on their Ryder Cup teams even if they won the PGA Championship this week. … Heavy rains fell twice in the morning, causing giant puddles in many of the nearly 1,000 bunkers at the course. Large bunkers along the first fairway still had visible water late in the afternoon, including some several inches deep, and the course was still soggy. The National Weather Service said a little over an inch of rain fell in Sheboygan. … It’s the third PGA Championship in Wisconsin after Gene Sarazen won in 1933 in Milwaukee and Vijay Singh did it at Whistling Straits in 2004.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."

Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

“It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

"It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."

Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.

Piller declined an interview request when GolfChannel.com sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.

Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.

“I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.

As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:00 pm

Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.

With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.

That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.

That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.

And that’s a magic word in golf.

There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.

Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.

The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.

Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.


Photos: 2017 LPGA winners gallery


A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.

The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.

Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.

For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.

The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.

The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.

It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida.  “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’

“The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”

And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.

“It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”

The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.

Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.

Parity was the story this year.

Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.

Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.

The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.

The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.

“I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”

If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.

Parity was the theme from the year’s start.

There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.

This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.

Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.

She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.

The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.