An Unforeseen Marketing Opportunity

By Brian HewittJune 2, 2003, 4:00 pm
If they ever write a book about the golf career of Dean Wilson, they will have to begin with a simple phone call. Wilson's management company, Links Sports, received fthe call rom PGA Tour Player Relations mahout Sid Wilson (no relation to Dean) at 6:30 in the morning on the Tuesday of the week in which Annika Sorenstam would change the way the sports world looks at women athletes.
 
Sid Wilson had learned that the tour's computer had spit out the names of Dean Wilson and Aaron Barber, a pair of little-known tour rookies, as partners for Sorenstam in the first two rounds of the Bank of America Colonial. Normally the groupings aren't made public until noon on Tuesdays before tournaments. But Sid Wilson was giving Dean Wilson's people a heads up and a headstart.
 
Within minutes, the 'branding' of Dean Wilson was under way. Soon Dean Wilson would be wearing a 'Go Annika' button. Mike Biggs, the veteran public relations guy and former sportswriter who works with several of Links Sports clients, busied himself lining Wilson up for appearances on The Golf Channel, The Today Show and CNN at Night with Paula Zahn.
 
Before the week was over, according to Dennis Harrington of Sports Links, Wilson's Q-rating and marketability had quadrupled. Much of this had to do with Wilson's rugged good looks - he's a semi-dead ringer for Dean Cain, the guy who used to play Superman opposite Terry Hatcher on the television show - his winning personality and pure luck. The pure luck part was getting chosen to be in Sorenstam's group Thursday and Friday at the Bank of America Colonial.
 
Much of the dust has settled since Sorenstam missed the cut and Kenny Perry (another Links Sports client) took over on the weekend and dusted the rest of the field in the 'men's division' of that tournament. Sorenstam and Perry both won on their respective tours the week after Fort Worth. Wilson stayed home in Las Vegas out of the media glare.
 
But industry sources say Wilson's fee for doing an outing has risen from approximately $6,000 a pop to closer to $25,000. If you want to buy a corporate patch on Wilson's shirt, the space that used to cost close to $40,000 has jumped up to $100,000.
 
Harrington is trying to cobble a deal with Dole, the giant company famous for its pineapple back in Wilson's home land of Hawaii. Since Wilson recently bought a Corvette, the people at Chevrolet will be hearing from Wilson's people as well. Needless to say, the three companies Wilson already represents - Corel Software, Callaway Golf and Tommy Bahama - are tickled with the recent developments in Texas.
 
What the world saw in Wilson was a natural personality who embraced Sorenstam's quest. It also saw a guy good enough to make the cut and smart enough to go with the massive flow at Colonial Country Club.
 
Wilson and Sorenstam exchanged phone numbers (only for future golf dates; Sorenstam is happily married to David Esch) and don't be surprised if you see a made-for-TV, mixed gender silly season event that gets these two back in the same grouping before the end of the year.
 
Meanwhile Links Sports is preparing a 'media package' on Wilson that it will soon begin circulating among even more potential sponsors. But the company hasn't taken its eye off the ball.
 
'If Dean continues to play well, this will be a good thing,' Harrington says. 'But he must continue to play well. The golf comes first. We probably could have put a few more logos on him in Texas. But Dean's not like that.'
 
If they ever write a book about the career of Dean Wilson, they'll put that last part in there, too.
Getty Images

Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

Getty Images

Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.



The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

Getty Images

13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”



Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

Getty Images

McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.