Schools in despite Tigers many woes

By Associated PressJanuary 30, 2010, 7:47 pm

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—Outside the Tiger Woods Learning Center, visitors arewelcomed with a message etched in concrete and another time.

“Tiger,” it says, “thank you for being an adult role model.”

Inside, past a huge bronze sculpture of Woods and his father in the lobby,eager fifth-graders wielding scalpels and tweezers are busy dissecting squid. Inanother classroom, they’re studying marine science.

Every week brings busloads of kids to the sparkling, new center just a fewgood Tiger tee shots from Disneyland. The center’s mission is to help them thinkabout how different classes—which tilt toward math, science and technology—can lead to a career they’d like.

For the time being, it’s business as usual at the 35,000-square foot center,set next to a municipal golf course in a working-class neighborhood. The falloutfrom the scandal that brought down the school’s benefactor hasn’t intruded, sofar, at a place where Woods always believed he did his best work.

Greg McLaughlin, head of the Tiger Woods Foundation, says the center hasenough financial support to carry on while Woods is on hiatus from golf.

The future is a bit more unsettled, if only because everything about Woodsright now is unsettled. But if McLaughlin is worried, he doesn’t show it.

“We feel pretty confident we’re in a good place right now,” he said. “Wehave a pretty strong financial position which is a tribute to our fundraisingefforts, and I think that will sustain us during Tiger’s indefinite leave.”

While every new day seems to bring a new sighting of Woods and paparazziscramble to get pictures of him and his family, things are decidedly more quietat 1 Tiger Woods Way, where life inside his learning center goes on just as ithas the last few years.

Fifth-graders arrive every morning by bus for their weeklong stay. They seemmore interested in trying to build a rocket or filming a video than they do inthe personal life of the man who made the place possible.

“They haven’t made any comment about it at all,” school director KatherineBihr said.

Woods always seemed destined to become a towering figure in sports, from thetime he appeared on national television as a 2-year-old with a cut-down golfclub to the time he became the first African-American to win the Masters. Withplenty of guidance from his father, Earl, he was equally determined to create alegacy away from the golf course.

Father and son created the Tiger Woods Foundation when he turned pro in1996, and for years it was a constant reminder to Woods that he was making adifference in the lives of kids who wouldn’t know the difference between a9-iron and a putter.

Woods, by most accounts, hasn’t reached out to many people since going intoseclusion. But one of the calls he did make was to assure the foundation he wasnot on a permanent leave of absence.

“He specifically wanted to talk about the foundation and his dedication andcommitment to the kids we served,” McLaughlin said. “I conveyed that to allthe staff and board members.”

Just as important were the calls from donors and sponsors. Like Tiger, theyweren’t bailing, either.

“To the contrary, we’re actually pleased all of our partners are extremelysupportive of our work,” McLaughlin said. “I can’t speculate what might happenin the future, but our partners know the quality of our work.”

How long the Tiger Woods Foundation can continue to fund the learning centerand its other programs at current levels may depend on how long it takes Woodsto rehabilitate his image. Though the foundation has millions in the bank, itsfortunes largely revolve around that of the golfer who started it 14 years ago.

In addition, the foundation likely will have to spend millions on a secondlearning center in Washington that still doesn’t have a site more than two yearsafter it was announced.

Until now, much of the foundation’s money came from events Woods isconnected with, including his own tournament every December near Los Angeles.Chevron signed on as the title sponsor in 2008, declaring it a partnership bornof “shared ideals and commitments.”

The foundation also runs the AT&T National, hosted by Woods in Washington inthe summer. Woods may or may not be playing in the tournament, but the delicatesubject of hosting it was resolved, at least temporarily, when he agreed to laylow this year.

Though AT&T dumped its commercial sponsorship of Woods in the wake of thescandal, the corporation is contracted for the tournament through 2014.

The other two events the foundation relies on for income are the Tiger Jam,an annual concert in Las Vegas, and the food-centric Block Party in SouthernCalifornia. The Tiger Jam, which raises about $1 million a year, would seem tobe most in jeopardy because it is largely dependent on both its host and thewillingness of star music acts to appear with him for the benefit.

“It’s our intent to have a 13th Tiger Jam in 2010,” McLaughlin said.“We’re still working on trying to find a date that would work. It’s alwaysdriven by finding an artist able to perform.”

Though the tournaments and events generate plenty of money, they’re notexactly cash cows for the Woods foundation. According to IRS forms filed for thefiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2008, they took in $36.2 million but cost $32.7million to produce.

And while Woods has talked of reaching millions of children with his charityefforts, his foundation is relatively small compared with others. Amongsports-related charities alone, the Tiger Woods Foundation ranked 15th on a listcompiled by the nonprofit Foundation Center, just ahead of Henry Aaron’s ChasingThe Dream Foundation.

McLaughlin says the foundation and its related entities have assets of about$99 million. Last year, $4.7 million was spent to run the learning center and$2.8 million was distributed as scholarships and grants to different charitiesand organizations. Figures filed on IRS 990 returns are somewhat lower for ayear earlier, listing assets of $75 million and spending of about $6 million.

The foundation was hit that year by big losses in the stock market,something not unique to Woods’ charity. But the market has rebounded and the twotournaments should provide a steady stream of income at least for the nearfuture. The foundation, meanwhile, still has considerable liquid assets and,even if donations dried up, Woods himself has deep pockets.

Even before Woods became embroiled in a sex scandal, not everyone shared theview that he was doing all he could to help disadvantaged children. Hall of Famerunning back Jim Brown contended last year that Woods “gets away with teachingkids to play golf, and that’s his contribution” to society.

But almost every fifth-grader in Anaheim goes through the learning center,and most have never picked up a golf club. And while the driving range isprominent, the focus is more on science and careers than drivers.

The head of the Anaheim City School District says he’s grateful for thecenter, saying the 20,000 or so kids it has touched in its short existence faroutweighs anything Woods may have done in his personal life.

“Having a resource like the Tiger Woods Learning Center is justincredible,” superintendent Jose Banda said. “It comes down to money,especially with budgets the way they are. The stuff they have is state of theart and expensive stuff.”

On a recent morning, the driving range out the back door was empty. Duringbreaks, the fifth-graders are likelier to be kicking a soccer ball than hittinggolf balls.

This class is mostly Hispanic, and nearly all are from low-income families.Ask if they know who Tiger Woods is, and they’re quick with a response.

“He’s a professional golfer,” one says.

Ask what else they know about Woods and you get little more than a shrug ora smile. If they’ve heard whispers from their parents or watched things on TV,they don’t let on.

McLaughlin, who has known Woods since he offered him an exemption into theLos Angeles Open as a teenager, admits he was initially blindsided by the wholescandal.

“I wasn’t aware of any of the indiscretions that became known, but I cantell you Tiger is a good person and someone I’ve known a long time,” McLaughlinsaid. “What I’ve seen over 20 years seeing his commitment to kids and thefoundation is undeniable.”

Not only will Woods’ charities survive and thrive, McLaughlin maintains, buthis legacy will someday change. He’s convinced there is a higher calling forWoods, one that will someday outweigh his current troubles.

“When his obituary is written, it will say here’s an individual who made atremendous contribution to society,” he said. “When that time comes peoplewill realize what he’s done for millions of kids. You have to think thatultimately this will be a big part of how people view him in life.”

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.