Finchem Says No to Drug Problems in Golf
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem made a statement this week from Melbourne, Australia, concerning the recent talk of drug use among professional golfers.
Finchem stated that he has seen no evidence that could warrant any kind of a drug code for players to be tested against.
This news comes as a response to charges brought up most recently by Australian golfer Craig Parry, when he stated on a nationally broadcasted radio show that he knew of several golfers who had won major championships in recent times while being on the drug beta-blockers.
Beta-blockers are a prescription drug most commonly used to suppress high blood pressure. The have a generalized calming effect on the user, and many have stated that this calming effect could be used as advantageous in tournament play.
Finchem responded, however, saying that any professional golfer who has used the drug for medical reasons has claimed that it actually hinders golfing performance, causing slow and lazy reactions to situations on the course.
Apparently, though, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews may have a different opinion. It has been rumored that they are in the process of developing a random drug test of their players, which could begin as early as this year. No formal statements have been released however.
Ladies Masters Tournament Obtains New Sponsor
The Ladies Masters Golf Championship, a co-sanctioned event between the European and Australian Ladies professional golf tours, has been saved from extinction on next years schedule, as the ANZ Bank has picked up its sponsorship, which was unexpectedly dropped in 2000.
While the total purse for the event will decrease significantly from $840,000 to $280,000 in 2001, it has already been committed to by world No. 1 Karrie Webb. Laura Davies and Sophie Gustafson will also be on hand.
The Ladies Masters will be conducted at the Royal Pines Resort in Queensland, Australia from March 1-4.
Monday - Jan. 8, 2000
Els Speaks Out About Next Year's Accenture
Ernie Els, the No. 2 ranked player in the world, is calling for some changes at next year's Accenture World Match Play event.
After finishing fourth at last week's event, the Big Easy has left Australia with firm opinions on how the tournament should be conducted next year in California.
He has said that the venue needs to change its format from one of instant elimination to one of a round robin structure, whereby players accumulating the most wins following the first four days of play advance into the finals. That, he says will bring in more of the bigger names in golf.
Also, Els has stated that he sees no need for a consolation match. He has claimed that it is unnecessary, since neither of the two golfers in the consolation match will win the tournament.
Els' final recommendation that the tournament find a new date for 2002 has already been heeded. The competition will commence in late February instead of early January, giving players more time after the holiday season to prepare.
Huston Re-Signs With Maxfli
John Huston, winner of the 2000 Tampa Bay Classic, has extended his relations with Maxfli, signing a new and updated multiyear contract, which will see him play the company's irons.
Huston, a longtime Maxfli man, has been using the company's Revolution golf balls for years. Additionally, he has worn Maxfli gloves and headwear.
With his new contract, he will now swing with Maxfli Revolution clubs as well. He has been given a Full-Staff Player status from the company.
Specific terms of the contract have not been released.
LPGA Jumpstarts 2001 Season With New Event
The 2001 season for the women's tour begins this week in sunny Orlando, Fla., site of the inaugural YourLife Vitamins LPGA Classic.
Formerly known as the LPGA.com Classic, the event is a three-day, 54-hole venue, beginning Friday and concluding Sunday. It will be hosted at the lush Grand Cypress Resort, and will play to a par of 72 strokes at just over 6,200 yards. One million dollars is on the table this week, with the winner receiving $150,000 of that amount.
Many of the world's top women players will be on hand, including Lorie Kane, Betsy King, Laura Davies and Dottie Pepper. In addition to these and others, world No. 1 Karrie Webb will tee it up this week. Webb is coming off a banner season which saw her capture seven official tour victories, including the first three events in which she competed. For the year, she earned nearly $2 million. As always, the Australian star will be a favorite to win this week.
The YourLife Vitamins Classic is also the first in the State Farm LPGA Series of events, which consists of several tournaments throughout the year. Points are awarded to winners of the event's series, upon which a grand champion is declared at the end of the season.
Plenty of Changes in First 2001 World Golf Ranking
Tiger Woods maintained his huge lead over the golf world in the latest World Golf Rankings as many players in the top-20 shuffled positions from the final 2000 Rankings.
Ernie Els, who went to the semifinals of the WGC - Match Play Championship, remained in second place. Phil Mickelson jumped one spot to third while former number-one David Duval fell to fourth.
Lee Westwood and Colin Montgomerie held on to fifth and sixth, respectively.
Davis Love III came in seventh followed by Hal Sutton. Sutton, seeded second in the Match Play Championship, was eliminated in the first round by Australian Nick O'Hern.
Tom Lehman and Vijay Singh traded places this week with Lehman earning the ninth spot and the reigning Masters champion taking 10th. Both players seeded in the top-four took early exits from the Match Play event. Lehman was bounced by Brad Faxon in the third round while Singh was defeated in the second round by Toru Taniguchi.
Jesper Parnevik remained 11th with Darren Clarke, the 2000 Match Play champion, coming in 12th. Nick Price and Michael Campbell were 14th and 15th, respectively.
Sergio Garcia climbed one spot to 15th while Jim Furyk, who withdrew from the match-play tournament, dropped to 16th.
Justin Leonard moved up one to 17th as Stewart Cink fell one to number-18.
Thomas Bjorn and John Huston switched rankings this week with Bjorn coming in 19th and Huston rounding out the top-20.
Steve Stricker, who won the WGC - Match Play Championship leaped from 91st at the end of 2000 to 47th this week. Pierre Fulke, who lost to Stricker in the finals, moved up 13 places from 45th to 32nd and Taniguchi, who made it to the semifinals, jumped from 58th to 49th.
Tuesday - Jan. 9, 2000
Sybase Named Title Sponsor for Big Apple Classic
Golf Magazine and Sybase announced on Monday that Sybase, an internet business company, will be the title sponsor for the LPGA's Big Apple Classic.
'We are excited to have Sybase on board as the title sponsor of the Big Apple Classic,' said Bob Schwartz, vice president and marketing director for Golf Magazine Properties. 'We look forward to a long, successful relationship.'
Annika Sorenstam won the Big Apple Classic twice, in 1998 and last year, when she birdied the 17th hole to capture the title by one shot over Rosie Jones.
The 2001 edition returns to Wykagyl Country Club from July 16-21.
Australians Talk Money with Tiger
Australian Golf Union executive director Colin Phillips says he is negotiating to bring Tiger Woods to the Australian Open on the Gold Coast in November. Officials have already made an undisclosed money offer, it is reported.
The rumored amount is $3.4 million, though Phillips denied it. He said it probably would cost $1 million to get Woods to consider playing in Australia.
The AGU would need an answer from Woods in July. And because Woods' figure is so high, the other top players have upped their fees also.
If the Aussies fail to land Woods, they will try to secure five of the top 25 players in the world.
Elkington Will Appear for Greg Norman International
Australian Steve Elkington, who has lived in Houston, Tx., since his college days, will make a rare Aussie appearance Feb. 8 at the Greg Norman International.
Norman's efforts to lure Elkington succeeded in landing the Australian, who was offended at the 1995 Australian Open when he wasn't included in tournament publicity. He returned to make a brief appearance in Australia at Norman's event in 1998.
Acushnet Sues Duval Over Contract
Acushnet, the parent company of Titleist, FootJoy and Cobra, is suing PGA Tour player David Duval for breach of contract. Duval is currently in negotiations to leave Acushnet for a multi-year contract with Nike Golf.
Achusnet is suing to prevent Duval from endorsing Nike products and is also seeking unspecified damages. The suit also alleges fraud because Duval was involved in advertising for Acushnet's 2001 campaign and did not inform the company of his impending switch to Nike.
The suit also names Nike Golf and International Management Group, the company that manages Duval. Duval's current Acushnet contract expires in 2003.
Four-Time L.A. Open Champ to be Honored at Nissan Open
Four-time Los Angeles Open (now Nissan Open) winner MacDonald Smith will be honored at the 75th Nissan Open in February. Smith is the only player to win the event on four different courses.
Smith was born in Carnoustie, Scotland in 1892 and raised in a golfing family. He moved to America with his two brothers, Alex and Willie, to seek his place in golf history. Smith went on to win seven times between 1910 and 1916 before leaving to serve in World War I.
He returned from the war in 1923 and began his run of success at the L.A Open. His first win there came in 1928 against the likes of Tommy Armour and Harry Cooper at the Wilshire Country Club.
Smith defended his title in 1929 at Riviera and again in 1932 at Hillcrest. His final win came at the 1934 L.A. Open at the Los Angeles Country Club. He beat the field by eight strokes.
MacDonald Smith won more than 30 titles in his career. He died in 1949 at age 57.
PGA Announces new guidelines for Senior Championship
The PGA of America announced new eligibility criteria to set the 144-player field for May's Senior PGA Championship.
The new criteria includes eligibility for the winners of the last five U.S. Senior Opens, the winner of the last British Senior Open, the top eight players from the 2000 PGA European Seniors' Tour Order of Merit, and the top four players from the 2000 Japanese Senior Tour Order of Merit.
Also eligible is any player over 50 to win an official event on the PGA Tour, Japan PGA or PGA European Tour in the last five calendar years.
In addition, the top 31 on the Senior PGA Tour career money list as of April 1; the top 31 from the career money list as of April 1; any former PGA Club professional champion turning 50 between the 2000 and 2001 tournaments; and the top 35 finishers in the PGA Senior Club Professional Championship.
Delasin to be Honored in Philippines
LPGA Rookie of the Year Dorothy Delasin will be honored on Jan. 18th as the 2000 Athlete of the Year in the Philippines. Delasin plans to leave for Manila following this week's season-opening Your Life Vitamins LPGA Classic in Orlando, Fl.
Philippines president Joseph Estrada will present the award to Delasin who received 55 of the 60 available votes. While in Manila, Delsasin will also receive the key to the city from the mayor.
Delasin won the 2000 Giant Eagle LPGA Classic, defeating Pat Hurst on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff to become the youngest player (19 years old) to win an LPGA event since Amy Alcott won the 1975 Orange Blossom Classic.
She carded a total of eight top-20 finishes and tied for 12th at the U.S. Women's Open.
Wales Claims Ryder Cup Bid Would Enhance Game
If Wales is successful in winning the right to host the 2009 Ryder Cup, it would alter golf in the country in a substantial way. Most notably, it would help to make the game more democratic, sweeping away 'sexism and elitism,' claims Wales bid committee chairman Tony Lewis.
Europe is to make a decision where the 2009 tournament will be held in a matter of months. Celtic Manor in Wales would host if its country wins. Scotland, Ireland, and England are also in the running.
Wales, however, has lagged behind in hosting the event and in encouraging public golf in particular. Part of the reason, it was made plain in the Tuesday news conference, is because of the difference in men and women golfers, between the youth and the older golfers. And at the heart of the discussion is the creation of new facilities. Welsh golf courses often are over-burdened by too many members at private clubs and too few public facilities. If Wales were chosen to host the Ryder Cup, it was greatly contribute in eliminating these inequities.
'Even when people are in a position to afford membership fees, they often feel intimidated by the elitist image of the game,' said Wales first minister Rhodri Morgan. 'That scenario is changing, but we need to accelerate that change. We want to remove those barriers.'
Wednesday - Jan. 10, 2000
Tiger to Return to Site of First European Win
World No. 1 Tiger Woods has committed to play at the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open TPC of Europe. This will be Tiger's third straight appearance at the event held in Germany.
In 1999, Woods shot 15-under par to win the event at St.Leon-Rot in Heidelburg. The following year he held the lead going into the final round but was passed by England's Lee Westwood at Gut Kaden in Hamburg.
This year's event returns to St. Leon-Rot where Tiger picked up his first European Tour victory. 'I am very excited to return to St. Leon-Rot,' said Woods.
Deutsche Bank spokesman Dr. Rolf-E. Breuer commented 'It is a special joy that Tiger Woods will head the list of competitors in the Deutsche Bank - SAP Open TPC of Europe in the year 2001.we are happy to be able to present the best golfer of our times to the audience in Germany and Europe.'
Woods Drops His Blond Locks
Tiger Woods has ended his days as a blond. Woods appeared in Kapalua, Maui without his newly dyed blond hair. He is now sporting a very closely shaved head.
Woods was first spotted with blond hair in the Bahamas with baseball star Alex Rodriguez and NBA legend Michael Jordan. The trio was spotted in the Atlantis Resort New Year's Eve, Woods having just dyed his hair.
Woods is in Maui, Hawaii to defend his title at the Mercedes Championships.
McGann to be Inducted into Palm Beach HOF
Twelve-year LPGA veteran Michelle McGann is one of eight to be inducted into the Palm Beach County, Fla., Sports Hall of Fame.
The induction will take place March 25 at the West Palm Beach Sheraton. McGann's and other's inductions will grow the Hall of Fame to 177 members.
PGA Tour Sets Ninth Consecutive Charity Record
For the ninth year in a row, the PGA Tour set a record for donations to charity. $49.6 million was given to charity during the 2000 Tour season, up from $44.7 million in 1999.
The all-time charity total for the Tour is $473 million, putting the Tour on course to break the half-billion-dollar mark with the 2001 season.
Swan Clubbed to Death at Exclusive Trump Golf Club
An exotic black swan, nicknamed 'Alex' by members, was clubbed to death by a guest playing the exclusive Trump International Golf Club in Palm Beach, Fl.
The man accused of the swan's death was a guest of a Palm Beach doctor who is a member at the $40 million golf club. The attack occurred after the swan went after a ball near the 17th hole.
'We're very angry about it,' Trump said Tuesday from his New York office 'There will be severe retribution toward the club member. Maybe he'll be expelled.'
The swan was reportedly worth about $1,000 and was one of four black swans given as a gift to Trump by a close friend. It was not the first to meet with tragedy though; an alligator killed one of the other three black swans last year.
Jack's Event Raises Purse for 2001
The Memorial Tournament, hosted by Jack Nicklaus, announced its purse would increase to $4.1 million for 2001. The $1 million increase is the largest in tournament history and raises the winner's share to $738,000 (from $558,000). Since 1990, the purse has grown by over $3 million.
'I anticipate players will continue to consider the Memorial Tournament as one of the top events on Tour,' said tournament Chairman Pandel Savic. 'We are committed to be a leader within the PGA TOUR.'
Tiger Woods is defending champion and is expected back when the event takes place at the end of May.
Woods Imposter Looking at Life Sentence
Life in prison. That's the possible sentence awaiting the California man convicted of illegally using Tiger Woods' identity. Anthony Lemar Taylor charged $17,000 to credit cards obtained using Woods' identity.
The stiff penalty is part of California's three-strikes law. Taylor's attorney wants the judge to ignore Taylor's two previous robbery convictions because they were a result of the same attack. If they are thrown out the 31-year old would only face a possible 9-year sentence.
Woods testified in December that charges on the credit cards were not his and that he never even applied for the cards.
Final sentencing in the case is scheduled for March 9th.
Thursday - Jan. 11, 2000
Trammell Named LPGA's VP of Tournament Operations
Ty M. Votaw, commissioner of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), announced Barbara Trammell has been promoted to vice president of tournament operations. Trammell, who first joined the LPGA in 1987, was most recently director of tournament operations. As vice president of tournament operations, Trammell will oversee the association's tournament officials and tournament operations staff; competition rules and regulations and working with the LPGA's 40 tournaments regarding course conditions; tournament set-up; and other tournament-related areas. The qualifying tournaments for the LPGA Tour also fall under her purview.
'Barb is one of the most respected rules officials in the country,' said Votaw, 'and she is also an experienced administrator. Her knowledge of the Rules of Golf coupled with her knowledge of tournament operations and the LPGA, as well as her personal touch, have been among her greatest strengths as director, and I know she will be very effective in this newly created position.'
Trammell was named director of tournament operations in January 1999 after serving as assistant director for six years. She first joined the LPGA in 1987 as a tournament official, following a three-year stint as assistant golf professional at Deerfield Country Club, located just north of Jackson, Miss. From 1980-83, Trammell was the assistant head coach for men and women's golf at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss.
Trammell is the LPGA's representative as a consulting member of the USGA Rules of Golf Committee. In addition to events on the LPGA Tour, she has officiated at The Masters, the men's U.S. Open and the men's British Open. Trammell is also a Class A member of the PGA of America. Trammell was graduated from the University of Alabama in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science degree, with a major in business administration. She was a member of Alabama's traveling golf team all four years.
Votaw created the position of vice president of tournament operations recently in a restructuring of the association's staff. Trammel joins the association's senior management staff, which also includes Karen Durkin, senior vice president and chief marketing officer; Libba Galloway, senior vice president and chief legal officer; Kathy Milthorpe, senior vice president and chief financial officer; and Rob Neal, vice president of tournament affairs.
New Event to Conclude South African Tour
The Sunshine Tour (South African) will conclude its season at the Leopard Creek Golf Course, near Malelane in Mpumalanga. The Tour Championship, a 72-hole stroke play tournament, will take place from Feb. 22 to 25, 2001.
Only the country's leading players on the current Sunshine Tour Order of Merit are set to participate in this the eighth summer event on the growing professional tour held under the auspices of the Southern Africa Tour.
'Seventy two players qualify to participate in this the final event of the Sunshine Tour,' said Louis Martin, chief executive of the Southern Africa Tour. He explained that the leading available players on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit and a limited number of invitations are the only criteria determining who can play in the event.
'We are concluding the 2000/2001 Sunshine Tour by offering the season's leading players an opportunity to play against each other in the same way as other professional tours do,' explained Martin.
The venue for the Tour Championship is the Leopard Creek Golf Course. The course, which borders the Kruger National Park, was designed by arguably South Africa's greatest sportsman, Gary Player.
'It is one of the best golf courses in terms of its design, maintenance and playability,' said Martin. 'It will prove a very tough test to the country's best players,' he added.
Watts Undergoes Successful Hip Surgery
Brian Watts, runner-up at the 1998 British Open, has undergone successful hip surgery and plans to make the Genuity Championship at Doral his first tournament of the season.
Watts underwent the surgery Jan. 5. He said he has been experiencing varying levels of discomfort in his left hip since the second half of the 1999 season and was diagnosed with a torn acetabular labrum.
'The frustration of playing with discomfort last year and its affect on my golf swing led to a disappointing season,' said Watts.
Dr. Marc Philippon of Fort Lauderdale, Fl., performed the hip arthroscopy on Watts, the same surgery he has performed on Greg Norman, Steve Elkington, Jesper Parnevik and Tom Purtzer, as well as figure skater Tara Lipinski and Miami Dolphin quarterback Jay Fiedler.
Nicklaus to receive Lifetime ESPY Award
ESPN announced that Jack Nicklaus would be honored with the first ESPY Lifetime Achievement Award next month. The announcement was made along with nominees in 34 categories on Thursday.
ESPY Awards Executive Director Maureen Murray Quinn said Nicklaus would be honored for his 'greatness, longevity and class.'
This year's awards ceremony will take place on Feb. 12th.
Friday - Jan. 12, 2000
Byron Nelson Classic Raises Purse
In what seems to be a daily event on the PGA Tour, another event has raised its 2001 purse. The Byron Nelson Classic announced it would raise its prize money to $4.5 million. The $500,000 increase was announced Thursday by tournament sponsor, the Salesmanship Club of Dallas.
The winner's share jumps from $720,000 to $810,000.
New Event Added to European Senior Tour
The European Seniors Tour has announced a new tournament for its 2001 schedule. The Wales Seniors Open will be held at Royal St. David's, Harlech from June 8-10.
The event's 500-thousand-pounds in prize money is tied for the highest purse on the European Seniors Tour with the Senior British Open.
The event was added to the European Seniors Tour schedule thanks to the backing given by public and private sector partners in the Wales 2009 Ryder Cup bid.
Andy Stubbs, Managing Director of the European Seniors Tour said: 'We are indebted to the Wales Ryder Cup Bid Committee for this significant addition to our schedule and in particular, Brian Huggett, who has long championed the case for Wales to host major golf tournaments.'