Tiger the Whistle Stop Tour Pt 1

By Casey BiererDecember 1, 2006, 5:00 pm
Editors note: Golf Channel business reporter Casey Bierer participated this week in Nike Golfs Whistle Stop Tour; a press and media junket that traveled a group of Nike execs and invited media to four cities in 48 hours. This column is the first entry of a multi-part series chronicling the journey. The trip was recorded on video and will be shown on The Golf Channel the week of December 11, also as a multi-part featured report.
 
Heres a recipe we havent seen before. Take the following key ingredients: one Nike G-5 jet, four cities in 48 hours, three PGA TOUR stars - Tiger Woods, David Duval and Jason Gore - a number of key Nike Golf executives, five print journalists, one television reporter and the launch of two new Nike drivers. Mix thoroughly. The result? Nikes Whistle Stop Tour (WST); a media junket extravaganza that, even by Nike standards, is unprecedented.
 
This was our itinerary:
 
Monday, November 27
Arrival of various WST participating media ' The Golf Channel interviews Bob Wood at Nike HQ
 
7:00 ' 10:00 pm Dinner with WST media, Bob Wood, Cindy Davis, Beth Gast and Tom Stites
 
Tuesday, November 28
6:15 am Group meets in Portland hotel lobby for transfer to Hillsboro airport
7:00 am Corporate jet departs for Los Angeles
7:45 am Breakfast on the plane
8:45 am Arrive L.A. ' Hawthorne Airport
9:05 am Product presentation and Tiger Woods press conference in hanger
9:45 am Tiger hits Sumo driver on airport runway
9:55 am Media hits Sumo and Sumo drivers on runway
10:20 am One-on-one interviews with Tiger Woods (Golf Channel 12:05 ' 12:15)
1:00 pm David Duval arrives at Hawthorne Airport
1:30 pm Nike jet departs for Scottsdale with WST passengers and David Duval
3:20 pm Arrive in Scottsdale ' ground transfer to TPC Scottsdale
3:30 pm Product presentation and David Duval press conference
4:00 pm David Duval hits Sumo driver on driving range
4:30 pm Media hits Sumo and Sumo on driving range
4:45 pm Golf Channel interview with David Duval
5:30 pm Hotel check-in, Scottsdale
6:45 pm Jason Gore meets WST passengers in hotel lobby, group transfer to dinner
7:00 pm Group dinner
9:00 pm Return to Scottsdale hotel ' end of scheduled day
 
Wednesday, November 29
6:30 am Group meets in hotel lobby for transfer to airport
6:45 am Nike jet departs for Teterboro Airport, New Jersey
8:00 am Breakfast on the plane
9:00 am Interviews on the plane (Jason Gore, Bob Wood, Cindy Davis, Beth Gast)
12:40 pm Nike jet arrives at Teterboro Airport
12:50 pm Group transfer to World Financial Center, New York City
1:30 pm Group arrives at World Financial Center, New York City
1:45 pm Group lunch
3:00 pm Product presentation and Jason Gore press conference
3:30 pm Jason Gore demonstrates Sumo driver in hitting cage with launch monitor
3:45 pm Media and general public invited to hit Sumo and Sumo driver in hitting cages
4:45 pm The Golf Channel interviews Tom Stites
5:00 pm WST conclusion
5:00 pm Hotel transportation
5:40 pm Hotel check-in / end of scheduled day
 
Thursday, November 30
WST participants who stayed over Wednesday night depart for home destinations
 
The assignment given to me by The Golf Channel ' create a reporters video journal of the trip. Roll tape as much as possible with three cameras. When in doubt shoot first, beg for forgiveness later. And, oh yeah, interview Tiger Woods. This was going to be fun.
 
For me the WST tour started Monday at 4:00 am in Orlando en route to Portland, Oregon. My initial task was to interview Nike Golfs president, Bob Wood, at Nikes headquarters in Beaverton, Oregonjust a fifteen minute ride from Portland airport. Well, its usually 15 minutes. In this case, however, it took 40 minutes. Bad weather was the culprit. What started off in sunshine turned to rain, turned to freezing rain, turned to snow, turned back to rainturned back to sunshineall in the span of 10 minutes. Kind of like New England; if you dont like the weather just wait a minute.
 
We were warmly greeted at Nike by Beth Gast, Nike Golfs public relations director in charge of the Whistle Stop Tour. In fact, the tour was Beths idea to begin with, hatched some eight months earlier. We interviewed Bob Wood without incident ' focusing half our questions on Nike Golf business, Nikes two new drivers and the Whistle Stop Tour itself. The other half of our questions centered on his thoughts in connection with Tiger Woods 1997 Masters championship. This in preparation for a special The Golf Channel will run next year commemorating Tigers record setting victory.
 
I noticed several things about Bob Wood while talking to him, interviewing him, and later that Monday evening, dining with him. His 26 year history with Nike ' the last eight or nine years running Nike Golf ' are filled with pride, passion, commitment, belief, and, a true sense of team. Not at the expense of, however, having fun and living a normal life. As normal as life can be in his position. His passion for and belief in Nike are as earnest as the day is long. The same is true for the people he has working on the team around him.
 
Bob Wood is opinionated; robustly so. What might strike someone initially as over opinionated or over confident would be an incorrect assessment. Yes, Bob Wood is opinionated, he is confident; but these are traits in the man that you quickly gravitate towards, not shy away from. The more he talked, the more I wanted to listen. Not just about Nike, not just about golf, not just about Tiger. Rather, about all kinds of things: life, music, wine, current affairs, business in general, family, outside interests, likes and dislikes. Hes got quite a few of those, come to think of it. I think it was the conversation about Tiger that so completely and involuntarily captured my attention. Bob has gotten to know Tiger quite well over the years. His insights were enlightening, clever, revealing.
 
This was of particular interest to me and for good reason. Come tomorrow at noon, I was going to have my first one-on-one interview with Tiger Woods.
 
Email your thoughts to Casey Bierer
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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


Masters victory


Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


Man of the people


Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


Departure from TaylorMade


Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


Victory at Valderrama


Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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