Tigers return brings extra buzz to Augusta

By Associated PressApril 1, 2010, 8:43 pm

AUGUSTA, Ga. – As soon as Tiger Woods said he will return to golf at the Masters, the rooftop of Donny Thompson’s jewelry store became prime real estate.

TV networks have been pestering Thompson, wanting to rent space atop Windsor Jewelers for its rare camera angle – a clear view over the fence of Augusta National Golf Club to the practice tees where the pros warm up for the tournament.

“They just want to get close and see as much as they can,” said Thompson, who decided renting his rooftop wasn’t worth the hassle. “This just started when Tiger was talking about coming back.”

Those without access to the tournament itself, including some entertainment shows, tabloid photographers and celebrity bloggers, are looking for a place to land outside the private club’s wrought-iron gates. That’s bringing opportunities and headaches for people in this city.

“It is going to create pandemonium in the media from The New York Times to the ‘Today’ show – they are going to be pouring resources into Augusta,” said Harvey Levin, executive producer of TMZ.com, the celebrity news Web site.

Levin declined to discuss his plans for covering the tournament, but said he expects the event will draw interest from many who haven’t followed the sport.

“Golf will never be more popular than at the Masters this year,” Levin said.

Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver said he’s already received phone calls from reporters asking about his opinion on Woods’ return – and not much to do with golf.

“People magazine is not somebody who would normally call to check in with the mayor’s office,” Copenhaver said.

Woods, returning to the game months after admitting that he cheated on his wife, couldn’t have picked a better place to try to contain the hysteria.

Augusta National imposes strict limits on tickets and press credentials. The entire course is ringed by a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire and smothered by bamboo thickets, posing a barrier to prying eyes on the outside.

Sissy Boulus runs the Double Eagle Club, a private club that provides meals and cocktails for corporate executives and other VIP guests just outside the gates of Augusta National. Boulus said she’s been to the Olympics and the Super Bowl, where she also oversaw hospitality clubs, “and I would say the Masters is more controlled than any of them.”

Yet try as they might, tournament officials can’t control what happens outside the gates.

Doug Froham, who owns Jay’s Music & Sound Super Center across the street from Augusta National, said TV networks have called wanting to share his parking lot with his usual renters – vendors selling cigars and sports memorabilia.

Froham said networks have asked about posting cameras on his roof, though it’s not quite tall enough for a good look over Augusta National’s fence.

“Normally we wouldn’t have this media frenzy,” Froham said. “Really, what they will see is little or nothing as far as Tiger’s concerned.”

The Associated Press has rented property close to Augusta National in order to get a camera angle of the players’ entrance.

Woods has said he’s “a little nervous” about how fans will receive him in Augusta. “It would be nice to hear a couple of claps here and there,” he said.

Alfred Monsalvatge, owner of TravelMasters, which sells VIP hospitality packages for the tournament, is concerned some fans might try to heckle Woods outright.

“You get an element that’s not used to the proper decorum, one guy drinks too many beers and says something and BOOM!” Monsalvatge said.

Monsalvatge, who closely monitors the scalping market in Augusta, says Woods’ comeback spurred a surge in prices – four-day passes that were fetching $1,900 quickly shot as high as $2,600.

But he says many buyers appear to be first-timers more interested in Woods’ personal failings than his tee shots. That could mean repercussions for the original ticket holders who put their tickets on the market.

“I suspect there’s going to be a lot of tickets pulled and patrons not having their privileges next year because of this,” Monsalvatge said.

The interest in Woods’ comeback has also injected a fresh spark into many Augusta businesses that seemed headed for another sagging sales year.

Limousine service owner William Murrell hired 32 extra temps to drive high-profile visitors to and from the golf course this year, compared to the skeleton crew of 12 he used in 2009.

“I brought on half of them the week Tiger announced his comeback,” Murrell said.

Tanya Brantley, who manages the Red Carpet Inn about seven miles (10 kilometers) from Augusta National, said only 25 percent of her rooms had been booked for the tournament by early March. Then Woods made his announcement, and the phone started ringing again.

“Reservations have been crazy,” said Brantley, who’s inn is nearly 70 percent full now. “Tiger Woods had a whole lot to do with it. People are wanting to see his reaction back on the course after the controversy.”

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.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.