The Week in Golf News 1219-1222
West Coast Swing Gets New Sponsor
The St. Paul, a Minnesota based insurance company, will be the new presenting sponsor of the PGA Tour's 'West Coast Swing' beginning in 2001. The multi-year contract covers sponsorship of the first nine tournaments of the season held in January and February.
The renamed 'PGA TOUR West Coast Swing presented by The St. Paul' begins at the season-opening WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and ends at the Nissan Open. Each event will get a $300,000 increase to its purse except for the Accenture Match Play Championship.
The 2001 'West Coast Swing presented by The St. Paul' schedule consists of:
Jan. 3-7 Accenture Match Play Champ. - Melbourne, Australia
Jan. 11-14 Mercedes Championships-Kapalua, Hawaii
Jan. 11-14 Touchstone Energy Tucson Open -Tucson, Ariz.
Jan. 18-21 SONY Open in Hawaii -Honolulu, Hawaii
Jan. 25-28 Phoenix Open -Scottsdale, Ariz.
Feb. 1-4 AT&T Pebble Beach Nat'l Pro-Am -Pebble Beach, Ca.
Feb. 8-11 Buick Invitational - San Diego, Ca.
Feb. 14-18 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic - La Quinta, Ca.
Feb. 22-25 Nissan Open - Pacific Palisades, Ca.
A $1 million 'King of the Swing' bonus pool will also be created. It will be divided by the top three West Coast performers. Points will be distributed to the top eight players each week with 100 points awarded for a victory down to 10 points for an eighth-place finish. The bonus pool winner will receive $500,000, followed by $300,000 for second and $200,000 for third.
Woods finishes firmly on top of 2000 World Golf Ranking
Tiger Woods finished the 2000 season nearly 18 points ahead of his nearest competitor, as the final Official World Golf Rankings were unveiled on Monday.
Woods, who became the youngest player and only the fifth golfer in history to complete the career Grand Slam with victories in the U.S. and British Opens this past summer, posted a point average of 29.40 compared with 11.69 for second-ranked Ernie Els of South Africa.
The 24-year-old Woods enjoyed one of the greatest seasons in golf history, amassing a total of 10 wins in 22 official starts. He added a third major title to his 2000 trophy case when he successfully defended his PGA Championship crown in August, and his win at the Canadian Open less than a month later saw him become just the second player to win the three national opens in a single season.
Woods was also dominant in the World Golf Championship events, teaming up with the world's third-ranked player, David Duval, to retain the World Cup for the U.S. He also cruised to victory at the WGC-NEC Invitational, finished second in the WGC-Match Play after falling to Darren Clarke in the final match, and tied for fifth place at the WGC-American Express Championship.
Woods' other triumphs included the Mercedes Championships, the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the Bay Hill Invitational, the Memorial Tournament and the Johnnie Walker Classic last month in Thailand. He also recorded 19 top-five finishes this year.
Els, who began the year with a playoff loss to Woods in the season-opening Mercedes event, went on to finish second at The Masters, U.S. Open and British Open. He was also the runner-up at the Memorial and took third place at the Tour Championship.
Els registered his lone PGA Tour win at the International in August and added a European Tour victory at Loch Lomond and a South African title in Sun City.
Duval, who yielded the top-ranking to Woods over a year ago, captured his first victory in a year in a half at the Buick Challenge in October. He is followed by fourth-ranked Phil Mickelson, whose four titles in 2000 matched his best year of 1996 and put him in second place behind Woods on the PGA Tour season money list.
England's Lee Westwood, the winner of five European Tour titles as well as the Cisco World Match Play Championship and a South African event, finished in fifth place, one spot ahead Scotland's Colin Montgomerie. Westwood won the Order of Merit for the first time, putting an end to Montgomerie's seven-year reign as Europe's top money earner.
Davis Love III, whose victory at the unofficial Williams World Challenge earlier this month was his first win of any kind in over two and a half years, stands in seventh place, one slot better than Hal Sutton, who won twice in 2000.
Fiji's Vijay Singh slipped two spots over the course of the year to ninth place despite winning The Masters, while Phoenix Open champ Tom Lehman rounded out the top-10.
The biggest movers of 2000 were Michael Campbell of New Zealand (108th to 14th); Canada's Mike Weir (57th to 21st); Americans Franklin Langham (181st to 59th) and Chris DiMarco (161st to 66th); and Japan's Nobuhito Sato (261st to 81st).
Woods sues Planet Hollywood
Tiger Woods, along with sports stars Andre Agassi, Monica Seles and Joe Montana, is suing the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain charging it with breach of contract. The lawsuit was filed Friday in the U.S. District Court in Delaware. They are seeking unspecified damages and legal costs.
The four athletes signed contracts in 1996 that called for them to receive Planet Hollywood stock in return for personal appearances and the use of their images and memorabilia.
Woods and the others claim that Planet Hollywood defaulted on its contracts by rejecting them in the reorganization plan the company began after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October of 1999.
Planet Hollywood began dismantling its sports themed All-Star Cafe chain soon after filing for bankruptcy protection.
Woods Takes the Stand in Theft Trial
Tiger Woods testified in an identity theft case on Monday against Anthony Lemar Taylor. The 29-year-old defendant is charged with six counts of felony identity theft and perjury.
Taylor allegedly used Tiger's real name -- Eldrick T. Woods -- along with his social security number to obtain several credit cards and a fake drivers license. He then ran up $17,000 in charges including a moving truck rental and a $100 down payment on a used car.
Woods testified that he didn't make any of the purchases and never gave Taylor permission to use his credit cards.
Taylor's attorney James Greiner said store clerks would never have mistaken his client for the world's No. 1 golfer. 'Does he just walk into Circuit City? What they're saying is Anthony Taylor, my client, walks in and says, 'Hey, I'm Eldrick Tiger Woods,'' Greiner said.
The trial, taking place in Sacramento, Calif., is expected to last well into January.
Wednesday - Dec. 20, 2000
Duval on verge of Signing With Nike
David Duval, the third-ranked player in the world, is reportedly on the verge of signing with Nike Golf. Nike already has world No. 1 Tiger Woods under contract. Woods and Duval recently teamed to win the WGC - EMC World Cup of Golf in which they used the Nike golf ball.
The deal will have Duval wearing Nike shoes, clothing and hats as well as playing their ball and clubs. Nike already has a ball on the market and is expected to break into the club market in 2001.
Duval will be switching to Nike Golf from Titleist. Although he still has three years remaining on his contract, an industry source has claimed an escape clause may exist. That clause may be subject to interpretation however.
Titleist recently signed Mark O'Meara and also has contracts with Davis Love III, Phil Mickelson and Jesper Parnevik.
Yet, the long-standing industry-leader first encountered troubles with Duval two months ago, when the No. 3 ranked player in the world began wearing Nike shoes shortly after returning to action after a 10-week layoff due to back problems.
Upon his return at the Buick Challenge, Duval made big waves, claiming his first victory since the 1999 BellSouth Classic.
Should he now make the move to Nike, those waves would become huge.
Furthering the battle for talent, it appears as well, that Nike Golf may not stop at Duval. It has been rumored that they are courting young Australian star Aaron Baddeley. They have also been reportedly pursuing the greatest player of all time, Jack Nicklaus.
What do you think of Duval's defection to Nike?
Share your thoughts!
WGC Match Play Delivered Another Blow
According to Australian reports, David Duval has joined the list of upper-echelon players skipping the season-opening Accenture Match Play Championship, Jan. 3-7 in Melbourne, Australia.
Just weeks removed from announcing he would attend the $5-million World Golf Championship event, the world's No. 3-ranked player has decided to make his 2001 debut elsewhere.
'Apparently, (Duval) has decided not to travel,' tournament promoter Tony Roosenberg said.
Duval's absence means Ernie Els, No. 2 on the Official World Golf Ranking, is the only player ranked inside the top six who will make the trip to Melbourne.
Other absentees currently include world No. 1 Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson (4), Lee Westwood (5), Colin Montgomerie (6), Jesper Parnevik (11), Nick Price (13), Sergio Garcia (16), John Huston (19), Miguel Angel Jimenez (27), Paul Azinger (30), Rocco Mediate (31), Notah Begay III (33), Jose Maria Olazabal (34) and Greg Norman (42).
The top 64 players on the season-ending Official World Golf Ranking are eligible for the event, which offers a $1-million first prize.
The first two Match Play tournaments had perfect attendance, save for Japan's Jumbo Ozaki. However, both of those were held in Carlsbad, Calif., in late February.
The official commitment deadline is Dec. 22.
Last year, Darren Clarke defeated Woods 4-and-3 in the 36-hole final.
Thursday - Dec. 21, 2000
Players and Executives to Meet in Wentworth
A general meeting will convene Thursday at the Wentworth Golf Club in England between the executives of the European Tour and its players.
Spearheaded by four top players (Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Jose Maria Olazabal and Seve Ballesteros), the nature of the proceedings will examine how the tour has been spending its money.
In recent times, serious questions have been raised by these players, as well as others, as to how the tour has been keeping its books. Until this meeting, their questions have remained largely unanswered.
'This is a big company now,' Olazabal has said. 'We are not trying to find anything special, and we're not trying to see if there is any misconduct at all. It has just not been detailed.'
Audit to Begin for European Tour
In a meeting conducted Thursday between the European Tour and several of its high-profile players, director Ken Schofield agreed on a financial audit of the tour's accounts and operations.
Due to growing concern of a lack of information as to the nature of the organization's inside finances, the tour buckled and agreed to open the books to accountants. However, those accountants will be contracted independently through the tour itself, not through the players.
'Total access to the accounts is not possible under UK company law,' said Schofield.
Nevertheless, this action represents a reply to a barraging of questions and demands that have been placed on the tour from several players, most notably Jose Maria Olazabal, Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros and Bernhard Langer.
'We've listened to Nick and Jose Maria and will incorporate their views into our resolution,' continued Schofield. 'Hopefully we can produce accounts with more clarity in the future.'
Friday - Dec. 22, 2000
City of Akron Initiates New Tax Law
The city of Akron, Ohio made formal an announcement to initiate a new tax law that will affect those who are work temporarily within the realms of the city.
The law will commence Jan. 2, 2000, and it will take a 2 percent cut from any income earned by those individuals or organizations who work in the area fewer than 12 days per year.
This comes as big news to the sporting/entertainment industry, in that athletes, teams or performers will be subject to the taxation every time they earn income in the area.
For the PGA Tour, this means that the NEC Invitational held at Firestone Country Club will surrender $100,000 of its $5 million purse to the city. Its winner alone will relinquish $20,000 that amount.
Woods Wins Reuters Award
Tiger Woods was awarded yet another accolade this week for his 2000 season, when Reuters named him Sportsman of the Year.
Fifty sports editors and journalists from 37 different countries around the globe voted on the their top-five sportsmen of the year, with their first choice receiving five points, their second getting four, and so on.
Woods won in dominant fashion with 139 points out of a possible 250 available. In second place was Formula One driver Michael Schumacher with 73 points, and in third was Steve Redgrave, a gold-medalist rower from Britian. Redgrave was the recipient of 67 points.
For the year, Woods won nine PGA Tour titles, the most since Sam Snead in 1950, three of which were major championships (U.S. Open, British Open and the PGA Championship). In the process, he became the youngest man to win the career grand slam at 24 years of age.
If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it
NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.
She says she always gets nervous starting a round.
You don’t believe it, though.
She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .
Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .
Or disarming ticking bombs . . .
“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.
Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.
Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.
Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.
At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.
She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.
She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.
And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.
There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.
Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.
It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.
Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.
Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.
“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”
About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.
Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.
“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”
David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.
“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”
Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.
Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . .
“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.
Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.
“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”
Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.
“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.
Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.
National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.
The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.
Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.
These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:
Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.
This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.
“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”
Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.
In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.
If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.
“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”
Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.
Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.
''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''
The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.
The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.
''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''
Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.
''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''
First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).
Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.
''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.
''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''