Notes Presidents Cup Headed to Riviera


2005 PresidentSAN DIEGO -- For the last few years, the PGA Tour has floated the idea of taking the Presidents Cup to the West Coast so that it could be broadcast in prime time.
Now it has an offer that might be tough to refuse.

Riviera Country Club, the venerable course off Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, met with tour officials Monday about hosting the matches in 2009.
'They're keenly interested in taking a look at this,' said Michael Bodney, senior vice president of championship management for the PGA Tour. 'It's all very preliminary, but they unsolicited wrote us a letter to host it.'
Riviera general manager Michael Yamaki, who met with Bodney, said the cultural diversity in Los Angeles would be a perfect fit for the Presidents Cup. The matches, stretched over four days, feature the United States against an International team from everywhere but Europe.
'I think it's an easy sell for us,' Yamaki said. 'And the format is good because the fans know the person they're supporting will be there all four days and will play, not be a bench-warmer.'
The Presidents Cup, which will be played in 2007 at Royal Montreal, has been held at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in northern Virginia each time it has been played in the United States. Tour officials like the connection to Washington, and former presidents have served as honorary chairmen.
But with a tighter schedule in 2007, the Booz Allen Classic has been bumped to the fall. One problem with keeping the Presidents Cup at RTJ is having two tournaments in the Washington area only a few weeks apart.
Meanwhile, Riviera has enough cache to give the Presidents Cup an extra boost.
It first hosted the Los Angeles Open in 1929 and became known as 'Hogan's Alley' when Ben Hogan won three times in 1947 and 1948, including a two-shot victory over Jimmy Demaret in the '48 U.S. Open.
The PGA Championship was played twice at Riviera. Hal Sutton went wire-to-wire to hold off Jack Nicklaus in 1983, and Steve Elkington won in a playoff over Colin Montgomerie in 1995.
Riviera has asked to host another U.S. Open, although its future was put in doubt when the USGA awarded the 2012 championship to The Olympic Club in San Francisco, giving California three U.S. Opens in a five-year span.
One concern the USGA had was space for corporate chalets.
'We talked a little about that,' Bodney said. 'One thing they don't utilize are those lower tennis courts. There's a lot of room down there, and there seems to be enough room for a good TV compound.'
One other issue was local interest. The gallery was noticeably thin during the '95 PGA Championship.
'You wonder about the L.A. market,' Bodney said. 'You've seen what's happened the last two majors, and that causes you to stand back a little bit.'
The weekend before the Super Bowl and Tiger Woods making his debut with a victory added to a winning combination for CBS Sports, which reported a 146 percent increase in overnight ratings from the final round of the Buick Invitational.
The overnight drew a 5.9 rating, up from 2.4 a year ago when the Woods overtook Tom Lehman and Luke Donald. Last year's tournament, on ABC Sports, was delayed each day by fog.
Sunday's overnight rating was the highest for the final round at Torrey Pines since it drew a 6.9 in 2003, when Woods returned from knee surgery to beat Phil Mickelson.
One of the five majors on the Champions Tour is getting a new sponsor, a new date and a new golf course.
Constellation Energy will be title sponsor of the Senior Players Championship, replacing Ford Motor Co. Traditionally played in July at the TPC of Michigan, it will move to Oct. 4-7 at Baltimore Country Club.
It's the second tournament in which Ford, which recently announced 30,000 job cuts, has not renewed its sponsorship. It also had the PGA Tour at Doral, which will become a World Golf Championship in 2007 with a new title sponsor. Ford's endorsement deal with Phil Mickelson expires in April.
For the Champions Tour, the move allows for more time between its majors. This year, the Senior Players Championship is the week after the U.S. Senior Open and the week before the Senior British Open.
Nathan Green did not get much attention when he finished fifth in his PGA Tour debut at the Sony Open, primarily because he was one shot behind big-hitting Bubba Watson.
Green, a 30-year-old tour rookie from Australia, followed that by getting into a three-way playoff at Buick Invitational, won by Tiger Woods. His tie for second was worth $448,800, giving him $652,800 in two starts. That should be more than enough to secure his PGA Tour card for next year, the first goal for rookies.
Better yet, it will send the Nationwide Tour grad toward the top of the reshuffle after the West Coast Swing and make him eligible for some of the more exclusive events, such as Bay Hill.
'The goal was to make some money before the re-rank so I could play some tournaments,' Green said. 'To come over and achieve what I've achieved, I couldn't have scripted it any better.'
USGA chief agronomist Tim Moraghan was at Torrey Pines again last week, looking over a South Course that will host the U.S. Open in two years.
As expected, it will play as a par 70 for the Open with two par 5s being converted to par 4s by using forward tees on the 560-yard sixth hole and the 571-yard 18th. Bunkering will be reconfigured to account for the new tees.
The final tune up will be the '08 Buick Invitational, although that almost didn't happen.
Tournament director Tom Wilson said the USGA first proposed moving the Buick Invitational to another course in San Diego until it was pointed out there was precedence -- the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am was played in 2000, and the U.S. Open was held at Pebble four months later.
Then, the USGA proposed holding the final two rounds on the North Course until Wilson said the PGA Tour stepped in and it was decided to leave the final two rounds on the South Course.
Jose Maria Olazabal and Nathan Green became the 48th and 49th players worldwide to finish second to Tiger Woods. ... The Buick Invitational was the first time this year that the winner did not have a share of the 54-hole lead. ... The world rankings are so tight from No. 3 to No. 6. that if Sergio Garcia won the Buick Invitational, he would have moved to No. 3. ... Lucas Glover, Jason Gore, Sean O'Hair, Carl Pettersson and Wes Short Jr. are the only PGA Tour players to have played in all four events this year. Glover has three top 10s. Pettersson and O'Hair are taking this week off.
Tiger Woods has won his last three official tournaments in a playoff -- the American Express Championship, the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan and the Buick Invitational.
'I was out there mowing lawns and gardening. I wasn't lighting matches.' -- Australian rookie Nathan Green, who used to work at a crematorium managed by his parents.
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