Notes Headway in the Beltway


Congressional Country Club, according to one published report, will have the final word on whether it becomes the venue for the PGA TOUR event that will take place in the Washington D.C. area July 5-8.
The Washington Post, in its Wednesdays editions, reported that the club has been in discussions with the PGA TOUR to be the host club for the tournament that will replace The International, which was disbanded in early February.
The TOUR has planned a press conference for next Wednesday at which time it will announce a title sponsor for the event which will be run in conjunction with the Tiger Woods Foundation. However, TOUR executive vice-president Ty Votaw told GOLF CHANNEL Tuesday that the venue might not be announced on that day.
The Washington Post reported that Congressional club members will meet March 14 to discuss the proposed two-year move to Congressional. After that, the newspaper reported, the event is expected to move to Avenel, a course the TOUR owns.
Meanwhile, the critics, as it turns out, were wrong. When The International expired in February there were pointed suggestions that this was the beginning of a disturbing trend. There were two kinds of tournaments, International founder Jack Vickers said: Those with Tiger Woods and those without Tiger Woods.
Title sponsors, so the thinking went, were increasingly unwilling to sign on with the PGA TOUR unless they received guarantees that Woods would play in their event.
But the PGA TOUR quickly found a title sponsor for the as-yet-unnamed event in Washington D.C. And, sources tell me, there was veritable rush of suitors ranging from title sponsor candidates, golf courses and golf course organizations. Moreover, all of this happened before it was known that the Tiger Woods Foundation was involved and that Woods would become a fixture in the field for years to come.
Yes, Henrik Stensons agent confirmed Wednesday, his clients so-called value has gone up.
Swedens Stenson captured the WGC-Accenture Match Play Sunday in Arizona. Earlier in February, Mikko Illonen, Stensons stablemate at the Sportyard sports agency out of Sweden, won a co-sanctioned European Tour event in Indonesia.
Im looking to hire on more people, said Sportyards Johann Elliot, who also represents Robert Karlsson and Claude Harmon III, the son of noted American teaching pro Butch Harmon.
For now, the focus is on Stenson, who has rocketed to No. 5 in the world rankings. Tiger said, Hello, World, when he turned professional, Elliot said. I guess this (the match play) was Hello, America for Henrik.
Meanwhile Todd Strible of Callaway Golf attributes Stensons seeming effortless power to his wide arc going back and his ability to keep the width of the arc constant on the through swing.
Stenson uses a Callaway driver and Srixon irons.
Fred Funk, a winner already on the Champions Tour and PGA TOUR this year, has fanciful designs on an improbable grand slam.
His people figure if he can get starts on the Nationwide and LPGA Tours this year hes got a chance to go where no man has gone before him. What makes this quadrilateral entirely impregnable, of course, is the LPGA part. And Funk, of course, knows this.
But, hey, Funks caddie, Mark Long, told me, Weve already done the skirt thing and we know he wouldnt be the longest hitter out there ...
Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth, despite a recent letter sent from Hawaiian golf officials to the USGAs Championship Committee, there will be no U.S. Open Sectional qualifying in Hawaii this year.
That means Hawaiian teenage sensation Tadd Fujikawa will have to travel to the mainland for sectional qualifying assuming he makes it out of local qualifying.
USGA spokesman Marty Parkes told me his organization will reassess the Hawaii sectional on a regular basis. But, he said, there were only 10 players for one spot in Hawaii last year. One reason for that, he said, is fewer top Asian golfers are coming to Hawaii to qualify for the U.S. Open because they now have a sectional in Japan.
We didnt feel 10 people playing for one spot provided the kind of challenge you see from some of the other sites, Parkes said.
Meanwhile, Michelle Wies camp is mum on whether she will attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open this year. Said one highly-placed source: Id be really surprised if she didnt try again. Wie advanced all the way to Sectional qualifying last year and, at one point during the 36-hole Canoe Brook Sectional, actually threatened to advance into full field at Winged Foot.