Notes Watson Nicklaus Team in New Skins Format

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With the Skins Game getting stale no matter which tour or what part of the world, the Champions Tour will try to dress it up by going to alternate-shot among four teams.
 
Defending champion Jack Nicklaus will be paired with Tom Watson, reviving a Ryder Cup partnership that never lost. The other teams will be Gary Player-Hale Irwin, Arnold Palmer-Peter Jacobsen and Dana Quigley-Raymond Floyd.
 
The Wendys Champions Skins Game will be Monday, Feb. 6 and played at Wailea Resort on Maui.
 
LEFTY NO-SHOW:
The PGA Tour adopted a tough policy two years ago that forced players to take part in the pro-am if they wanted to compete in the tournament. While there have been a few cases where the tour could have shown some leniency, proof that its a good policy came last week in Hawaii.
 
Phil Mickelson didnt win over any fans when he skipped out on the pro-am at the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, citing family obligations. Had this been run by the tour, Lefty would not have been allowed to play.
 
Mickelson shuts it down at the end of the year, even to the point of skipping the Tour Championship. Theres nothing wrong with that. But one would hope that top players who compete for $1 million in an event exclusive to major champions would feel some responsibility to the sponsors who put up the money.
 
Tiger Woods also missed the pro-am, citing a stomach virus from playing in Japan the previous week. That left only U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell and Vijay Singh (an alternate) to play in the pro-am.
 
AUSSIE HOPES
A shorter PGA Tour season in 2007 has raised hopes Down Under that Tiger Woods and other top players might consider playing in the Australian Open, the fourth-oldest national championship in golf.
 
Woods has not played in the Australian Open since his rookie year in 1996, when he tied for fifth. Asked if he would consider playing when the U.S. tour concludes in September, Woods replied, Maybe.
 
I think it will be great for the Aussie tour, as well as Japan, he said. Theyve got some great events there, and obviously Australia has lost some events. I think that would be a great way for them to move it away from Christmas time and the holiday season, and move it back to where it used to be. I think some of the top players would play.
 
That got the attention of Australasian tour general manager Gus Seebeck.
 
For them to say they would consider coming down here and playing is something we need to take very, very seriously, Seebeck told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio. These guys would obviously make a huge impact on any tournament we have down here, so we need to make sure we give their comments due credit.
 
The Australian Open once was one of the top events in the world.
 
Jack Nicklaus won it six times.
 
Fred Couples agreed with Woods.
 
I want to use these words correctly ... that the PGA Tour has kind of devoured some of the other tours, Couples said at the Skins Game. I always have gone down to Australia, and theres just no time to go. As Tiger said, it would totally help that.
 
FATHERS AND OFFSPRING:
First it was Arnold Palmer and his grandson. Next is Fuzzy Zoeller and his daughter. Perhaps they should change the name of this tournament to Father-Offspring Challenge.
 
Whatever its called, the Father-Son Challenge remains one of the best events in the silly season with fans curious to see whether the kids have any of the skills that carried their fathers to a major championship. The 36-hole scramble begins Saturday at ChampionsGate in Orlando, Fla.
 
Gretchen Zoeller will be the first female, teaming with former Masters and U.S. Open champion Fuzzy Zoeller. She plays on the womens golf team at the College of Charleston, although she will be playing from the mens tees.
 
Other major champions in the field and their children include Jack Nicklaus (Jackie), Davis Love III (Davis IV, better known as Dru), Bernard Langer (Stefan), Curtis Strange (Thomas), Vijay Singh (Qass), Arnold Palmer (grandson Sam Saunders) and Larry Nelson (Josh). Larry Nelson teamed with son Drew to win last year.
 
DIVOTS:
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem is in New York this week for the start of TV negotiations for the 2007-10 schedule. Finchem said in a videotaped announced for a charity luncheon that TV talks are in full steam. ... Fred Funk, who turns 50 on June 14, said he will make his Champions Tour debut at the U.S. Senior Open.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK:
The Masters was the only major that did not have a hole ranked among the toughest 18 on the PGA Tour this year.
 
FINAL WORD:
Greg (Norman) has never gone out of his way to help Australian golfers.'Mark Hensby.
 
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