Tiger and Ernie Question Dubai Norman Gets Yacht

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2003, 5:00 pm
DUBAI: The European Tour figures to take the spotlight away from the PGA Tour when the top two players in the world -- Tiger Woods and Ernie Els -- play the Dubai Desert Classic the same week as Doral.
 
A year ago, Els defeated Woods by two shots at Doral. This year, the tournaments are held the same week, March 6-9.
 
They are committed to play Dubai, located in the United Arab Emirates. That could change drastically if the United States moves closer to war with Iraq.
 
'I wouldn't say he's absolutely going to play or not going to play. He still intends to play,' said Mark Steinberg, Woods' agent at IMG. 'We are monitoring and critically analyzing the situation. We'll be talking to intelligent people. This will not be just a 'Tiger and Mark' decision.'
 
Els, the defending champion at Dubai, is taking the same approach.
 
'Obviously, we'll wait and see,' he said. 'I'm not going in there with missiles flying around.'
 
Els has a good source for information. He is friends with Tom Fargo, commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Command. They played in the pro-am at Dubai several years ago, and Els visits each time he's in Hawaii.
 
What has Fargo told him?
 
'I can't tell you, man,' Els said with a big smile. 'Top secret.'
 
AUSSIE RULES: Nothing is ever too grandiose for Greg Norman, especially when it comes to yachts.
 
The Shark took delivery Tuesday of the latest version of 'Aussie Rules,' a 285-foot craft that was said to cost $70 million and is the world's largest aluminum motor yacht.
 
'There are many interesting and unique design features that will place Aussie Rules at the top of her category when she is seen in cruising destinations throughout the world,' Norman said.
 
Unique might be an understatement.
 
The yacht has seven auxiliary boats, two hyperbaric chambers and a $1 million home theater. Optional extras include a gym, several jet skis, an outdoor span and a tackle room with 200 fishing rods.
 
Oceanfast in Western Australia built the craft, which required three years and more than 300 workers.
 
WASTED TRIP: Carl Petterson of Sweden was hopeful of a glorious debut on the PGA Tour.
 
The higher-ranked newcomers on tour are usually assured of a spot in the 144-man field at the Sony Open, and Petterson was the first alternate.
 
Figuring he was a shoo-in, the Swede booked his flight from North Carolina (he went to N.C. State), then spent the next four days waiting -- and waiting. Petterson was on the putting green until 1 p.m. Thursday, when it was clear no one was going to withdraw.
 
He flew home the next day.
 
'It was a waste of time,' Petterson said.
 
DIVOTS: The Byron Nelson Classic won't have Tiger Woods this year, but it will have one of the richest purses on the PGA Tour. Total prize money has been raised to $5.6 million, and the winner will get $1,008,000. It's the ninth straight year the Nelson has increased its prize money. ... Retief Goosen says he might skip the Match Play Championship, depending on how close wife Tracy is to having their first child. ...
 
STAT OF THE WEEK: Ernie Els is 47 under par after two PGA Tour events. Last year, it took him until the British Open (48 under) to get that far under par for the season.
 
FINAL WORD: 'Sometimes I talk loudly, I yell, I get excited and everyone gives me dirty looks. It bothers me a bit, but I still find golf an exceptional sport.' -- Former Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona.
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Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”