Woods leaves Aussies eager for his return

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2009, 9:07 pm

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP)—Still wearing his gold jacket from winning theAustralian Masters, with his car waiting to take him to the airport, Tiger Woods had one more stop to make at Kingston Heath.

He stood atop a bench and looked out at some 250 volunteers who had gatheredoutside the tournament office to see him one last time. Woods thanked them fortheir support, saying his week would not have been as special without them.

In true Aussie fashion, one bloke wasn’t interested in a speech.

“What about those errant shots?” he interrupted as his fellow volunteerslaughed along.

“You’re supposed to kick those back into the fairway,” Woods replied.“Make sure you learn that next time I’m here.”

That left everyone—volunteers in the parking lot, more than 100,000 fanswho passed through the gates, tournament officials and anyone who caught aglimpse of the world’s No. 1 player—with a couple of nagging questions.

When exactly does Woods come back?

“I would love to,” he said on three occasions, without saying whether hewould return to defend his title.

The only time Woods didn’t defend a title on the U.S. PGA Tour, except forbeing injured, was when the old BellSouth Classic changed its dates in 1999 toone week before the Masters. Woods never plays that week. International events,with their appearance money, are different. Woods twice did not return to defenda title, after the 1997 Asian Honda Classic and the 2000 Johnnie Walker Classic,both in Thailand.

He received a $3 million appearance fee to play in Australia, half of thatpaid by Victoria state government.

“I don’t think he’s expected to come back,” Ian Baker-Finch said. “But itwould be great if he did to defend.”

The bigger question: What happens to golf in Australia when he doesn’treturn?

For a country that produces more U.S. PGA Tour players than any otheroutside the United States, golf Down Under has been lagging over the last decadewith a drop in sponsorship and interest. Not since Greg Norman was No. 1 in theworld has there been the kind of buzz that took Kingston Heath hostage for allof last week.

“We had a massive spike,” said David Rollo, who runs tournament operationsfor IMG in Australia. “If we don’t have something that’s not 80 percent ofthis, we’ll have lost an opportunity.”

The appeal of Woods was alarming.

Yes, he attracts large crowds wherever he goes. The fans in China were thelargest ever for when Woods played the HSBC Champions the previous week inShanghai. Woods now has won in 13 countries, and he has captured a trophy onevery continent that plays golf. Even so, Melbourne is one of the world’s greatsporting cities, used to seeing some of the biggest stars in cricket, rugby,tennis, swimming.

Woods captivated them like few others.

A woman standing near the first green on Saturday looked down on a reporterwho was inside the ropes. She wasn’t sure why he was there, only that he had anunobstructed view of Woods.

“This must be the greatest day of your life,” she said.

The walking scorer with Woods’ group on Sunday is a member at Kingston Heathwho plays off a 1 handicap and has a career-best round of 69. She knows hergolf. Yet as Woods was about to tee off in the final round, she looked at theteenager holding the scoreboard and said, “This is the holy grail in golf.”

Melbourne is the kind of place where sports fans don’t typically buy ticketsin advance, rather they walk up to the gate on the day of the event. The U.S.PGA Tour found that out the hard way in 2001 for the Accenture Match PlayChampionship when the gallery was sparse until officials gave up on the weeklybadges and went to daily tickets.

For the Australian Masters, tickets sold out in the first week in October,and 35 percent of the sales were outside the state or country. That’s unheard offor this city.

“I think that because he’s the No. 1 athlete in the world, peopleappreciated the fact that he came,” said Baker-Finch, a former British Openchampion who helped with TV coverage. “He’s held in high regard. Everyone builthim up. It was a special week, not just for golf, but for Australia and sport.To me, he over-delivered.”

Rollo said when IMG decided to take over the Australian Masters, its goalwas to attract top-ranked players outside of Australia. Victoria state won thebidding war for Woods over New South Wales, and it proved to be a boon. Whilethe state government paid half the appearance fee, it said the economic returnin town was $20 million.

Not everyone was optimistic about Woods returning next year, especiallysince he was expected to be back in 2011 at Royal Melbourne for the PresidentsCup.

What happens in the meantime?

Woods’ appearance in the Quad City Classic in Illinois as a 20-year-old in1996—he lost a 54-hole lead to Ed Fiori and tied for fifth—generated so muchenthusiasm that the community rallied around its U.S. PGA Tour stop. Woods neverreturned, although what is now the John Deere Classic is attracting strongerfields than before, even in its spot on the calendar one week before the BritishOpen.

Rollo said IMG is committed to bringing in three international players—inaddition to the Australians—from the top 25 in the world. There was talk ofmaking an offer to Phil Mickelson , along with a couple of other players whomight move the needle.

“Hopefully, there were a lot of kids who were out there or watched on TVand said, ‘I want to be part of that,”’ Rollo said. “Hopefully, that will beTiger’s legacy going forward.”

Getty Images

Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. 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.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.