A salute to all that is bigger and better this week on the Hot List, in honor of the PGA Tour’s final leg of the Texas Swing! And speaking of bigger and better, we’re crisscrossing the globe to Wentworth where the European Tour’s best tee it up in their “fifth major.” The top three players in the world hail from that continent, and equally as impressive, nine of the top 30 in the world are European. So bring on the glitz and glamour of European golf royalty…then we’ll get to Hogan’s Alley.
Wentworth – Loyalty to your home tour is one thing, but more Americans should make this trip. This is where the action is this week. Take it from the defending champion. “You don't have to travel far to play in a $6 million event at a great course at Colonial," said Luke Donald during The Players. "But I've always been a proponent of to get the most out of your game, it's important to travel and to experience new places. I think at least go try it once, and if you don't like it, fair enough. But it's a big event on our tour. It's considered our Players Championship of the European Tour. And I would have thought that would incite some interest in some of the big Americans that would be exempt for it."
Luke Donald – George O'Grady, chief executive of the European Tour, revealed that Donald earned the European players' Player of the Year award, with 95 percent of the vote. With that hardware, he was also named the 41st player to receive honorary life membership. "Probably the only person who didn't vote for him was himself," O'Grady said. Gotta love his modesty.
Tiger’s Vacation Time – Springtime is heating up, and so is Tiger Woods’ schedule. This could be Tiger’s last two-week stretch off until October. Beginning with the Memorial, he is slated to play seven tournaments in the next 11 weeks, through the PGA Championship, and then it’s off to the FedEx Cup playoffs where four events are played over a five-week span. The next week is the Ryder Cup at Medinah.
Subway Sponges – It’s not quite a Cinderella story how Australian sandwich shop owner Michael Waite became caddie for one of the top players in the game. Waite, who is known as Sponge by his peers, took control of his own destiny and called Lee Westwood’s injured caddie, Billy Foster, to put in a good word with his boss. It wasn’t very long before Chubby Chandler called to see if he had visas for the U.K., Sweden and the U.S. Sponge made his last sandwich on Thursday, and then took off for the BMW PGA Championship where he’ll be on Westwood’s bag at least through the U.S. Open. Waite was on Michael Campbell’s bag in 2005, when he won the U.S. Open at Pinehurst. He has also caddied for Rodger Davis, Ian Baker-Finch, and Robert Allenby.
Excel Sports Management – According to the agency, Tiger Woods’ niece Cheyenne Woods has joined her uncle’s management team. Mark Steinberg has represented Woods since 1999, first at IMG before joining Excel last summer. His newest client was an All-American at Wake Forest University, where she set the lowest scoring average in school history and won the ACC Championship by seven shots. She graduated with a degree in communications and is said to seek sponsor exemptions this summer and go to LPGA Q-School later this year.
Dicky Pride – After his runner-up finish Sunday at the Byron Nelson, Pride has racked up $1,088,363 in seven starts. That’s something worth celebrating considering in his past 18 years on the PGA Tour the most he ever made in a single season was $483,923 in 23 tournaments.
Harris English – Just outside of Dallas on Monday, the PGA Tour rookie shot a course-best – and International Finals America qualifying record – 60 to qualify for the British Open. Combined with a 63 at the par 70 Queens Course at Gleneagles Country Club, Harris was one of eight to win a spot at Royal Lytham and St. Annes. "It was a very relaxing round. I just lost track on what I was doing," said English, whose best PGA Tour finish is a tie for 16th in Mayakoba, Mexico, earlier in the year. "It's pretty amazing." Yeah, I’d say.
Ft. Worth – On a trip for Gone with the Win a few weeks ago, I made my first acquaintance with this great cattle town. From Billy Bob’s to the Flying Saucer, Bob’s Steak and Chop to the rodeo, Tour players and fans trade in their dress shoes for cowboy boots and take a load off at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.
Jonas Blixt – The former Nationwide Tour player is on a roll and I had no idea until I received a text from golf instructor Jorge Parada of the Tour Academy at TPC Sawgrass, who works with Blixt and was shocked that I didn’t take him as my pick in Group 3 in the Fantasy Challenge for Colonial. His last three results? T-13, T-9, T-3. Sign me up.
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