Tiger Phil Skip Grand Slam Pro-Am

By Associated PressNovember 21, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 PGA Grand Slam of GolfWith Tiger Woods laid up with a virus and Phil Mickelson traveling, fans waiting to catch a glimpse or snap a photo of one of golf's glamour foursomes had to settle for half the field of the exclusive PGA Grand Slam of Golf.
Woods, a five-time winner at the Grand Slam, had a stomach virus and withdrew from Monday's pro-am. Mickelson, the defending champion, wasn't even on the island yet.
That left Vijay Singh and Michael Campbell at the oceanside Poipu Bay Golf Course to schmooze with 60 pro-am participants, ranging from business executives to popular island chefs.
Campbell, who earned an invite with his stunning win at the U.S. Open, seemed right at home in the islands. He was a local favorite, and dozens of flag-waving fans from his native New Zealand, enduring occasional downpours, followed him every hole.
'I think it's the Polynesian connection,' said Campbell, the first Kiwi to win a major since Bob Charles won the British Open in 1963. 'I have a lot of support here and it's wonderful.'
Campbell was honored with a traditional New Zealand haka dance, complete with chanting by a half-dozen men, before the pro-am.
'It was very special for me to come all this way and see this welcome,' he said.
Life hasn't been the same for Campbell since he held off Woods at Pinehurst No. 2. A few years ago he considered giving up the game and selling golf balls. A year ago at this time, he was 'sitting on the couch watching TV.'
'It changed my whole life, obviously,' he said. 'It made me believe in myself more. Every time I tee it up now, I believe I can win.'
Campbell doesn't consider himself a major underdog, even against the top three players in the world golf rankings.
'I've proven it to the world that I can do it. I can win major tournaments, so there's no reason why I can't do this one either,' he said.
Tournament officials said they expect both Woods and Mickelson to play in the 36-hole event for winners of this year's majors.
Mickelson, the PGA Championship winner, was at home in San Diego attending to 'family obligations,' but was scheduled to arrive Tuesday morning before his round, PGA of America spokesman Julius Mason said.
It was the second pro-am Mickelson skipped this month. He also withdrew from the Tour Championship.
Last year, Mickelson capped his spectacular season with a 13-under 59 to win the Grand Slam by five strokes over Singh. He barely missed a 9-foot eagle putt on the final hole that would have given him a 58.
Woods, fresh from a successful defense of his title at the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan, was treated by a local doctor Monday for a stomach virus. He was given antibiotics and told to rest all day.
He was also taking an extra day to rest a sprained ankle, which he twisted on his tee shot during a playoff in Japan.
Woods, who won six times on tour this year, including the Masters and British Open, last qualified for Kauai in 2002, when he earned his fifth straight Grand Slam title by beating Davis Love III and Justin Leonard by 14 strokes.
Woods led the money list this year with $10,628,024 and was followed by Singh ($8,017,336) and Mickelson ($5,699,605).
Singh, the oldest of the foursome at 42, kept his usual grueling practice routine at the range and green while his opponents were away. He even outlasted many fans.
With Woods claiming two majors this year, Singh earned a berth based on his major finishes. He tied for fifth in the Masters, shared sixth in the U.S. Open, tied for fifth at St. Andrews in the British and tied for 10th at the PGA.
He entered the year ranked No. 1 and finished with four wins and 18 top-10 finishes.
'On paper, it's very good. People would die to have a year like this, but I was disappointed because of the season I had last year,' said Singh, who had nine victories and won more than $10 million on tour in '04. 'Also disappointing because I didn't win a major.'
Singh finished second at Poipu in 1998, 2000 and last year.
All four players will go home richer. The Grand Slam winner will earn $400,000, while the fourth-place finisher will get $150,000.
Related Links:
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