Golf Business Stories of the Year

By Adam BarrDecember 13, 2001, 5:00 pm
Theres talk of a movement among the Time editorial staff to make Osama Bin Laden the magazines Man of the Year. Public outrage has followed the mere idea, of course, because of the prospective nominees purity of evil. But Time chooses its recipient not on goodness or honor, but newsworthiness (Hitler was once an honoree).
The same principle applies to my informal selection for golf business stories of the year. Im most interested in what made news, without value judgments. So if I leave something off or dont rank it as you see fit, by all means tell me about your disagreement. But please, leave questions about my ancestry out of it.
That said, here we go:
Top Golf Business Story of 2001: Without question, the Titleist Pro V1 golf ball. Its not so much how the ball worked, although some credible people extolled that performance (jeez, did Phil Mickelson talk about anything else all spring?). The marketing blitz was phenomenal. Even Callaway doesnt get on the front page (not the front sports page, the front page of the whole paper), but Pro V1 had a weekday feature story of the kind usually reserved for something Oprah does.
Add to that the fact that Titleist couldnt make the ball fast enough ' leading to a supply problem that increased the mystique ' and you have a commercial juggernaut that made even aggressive competitor Nike take notice.
Most Surprising Story of the Year: The Precept MC Lady. In a sense, its a marketing embarrassment for the industry that its notion about which golfers want what is so out of whack with what they really want. More men played the ball than the gender it was intended for. But the upside is that Precept and its competitors learned what their customers would go ga-ga over ' and adapted immediately to fill the outsize demand. To most observers, it looked as if Precept hadnt missed a step. And if you dont think the MC Lady started a soft-ball movement that will take flight next year, you may be a little soft yourself.
Taking It On Tour Award: Drivers in the TaylorMade-adidas 300 Series were all over the PGA Tour this year, thanks to an aggressive campaign by the company. That attitude, straight from the playbook of company chief Mark King, has led to the 200 Series, which is steel instead of titanium and easier on sensitive wallets. Look for it to do well in 2002.
Best Company Under $100 Million in Annual Sales: Not just a wedge company any more, Cleveland Golf courageously broke out and capitalized on endorser Vijay Singhs 1999 PGA Championship and 2000 Masters wins and started selling more clubs with less loft. The wedge franchise is still big and always will be, but people are taking Clevelands irons and its Launcher driver more seriously now. The secret: The only people who didnt doubt Cleveland werethe folks at Cleveland.
Ely Callaway Biggest Loss: It wasnt on the balance sheet. The death of Ely Callaway in July left a space in reporters notebooks and a hole in colleagues hearts. Callaway had a knack, not so much for golf as for business. His unrelenting application of tried and true, mainstream business tactics to golf may have made the industry less of the old boys network it used to be, but it also modernized the way business is done. That was especially important when titanium came on the scene and golf officially went big-ticket.
Ely would have been the first to admit that there was a lot he didnt know. But he knew how to find people who knew what he didnt, and he made a habit of hiring them.
The Real Story of the Year: Of course, it had nothing to do with golf. Best wishes and sympathies to the brave folks who will endure the ache of empty spaces at their holiday tables this year because of the selfishness of Times Man of the Year candidate. We who play the honorable game think of you always.
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Down seven pounds, Thomas can gain No. 1

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 11:29 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – On March 7, Justin Thomas had his wisdom teeth removed, and just when he was recovering from that, he was slowed by a bout with the flu.

In total, he estimates he lost about seven pounds, and he admitted on Saturday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play that he wasn’t sure he’d be able to play the event.

“I had a pretty serious conversation with my dad on Monday if I was going to play,” Thomas said. “I never want to play in a tournament, first off, if it's going to hurt my health. If I was sick or really sick, me trying to play this week wasn't going to do me any good.”

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Thomas went on to explain he was “50/50” whether he’d play the World Golf Championship, but decided to make the start and it’s turned out well for the world’s second-ranked player.

After going undefeated in pool play, Thomas cruised past Si Woo Kim, 6 and 5, in the round of 16 and secured himself a spot in the semifinals with a 2-and-1 victory over Kyle Stanley in the quarterfinals. If Thomas wins his semifinal match against Bubba Watson on Sunday, he’s assured enough points to overtake Dustin Johnson atop the Official World Golf Ranking.

“I don't care when it happens; I just hope it happens and it happens for a while,” Thomas said when asked about the possibility of becoming world No. 1. “I don't know what to say because I've never experienced it. I don't know what's going to come with it. But I just hope it happens tomorrow.”

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Garnett's six-shot lead dwindles to two in Punta Cana

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 10:57 pm

PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic - Brice Garnett took a six-stroke lead into the wind Saturday in the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship. He came out with a two-stroke advantage.

Garnett bogeyed three of the final six holes in the wind and rain for a 3-under 69 and a 16-under 200 total.

''Once we made the turn coming back, all those holes coming in toward the north, it was all we wanted and then some,'' Garnett said. ''I kind of took advantage of some holes going out, some holes downwind, some par 5s, and then we were just trying to leave it in the right spot those last four or five holes. Pars are pretty good scores on those holes.''

Canadian Corey Conners was second after a 67, and Tyler McCumber also had a 67 to get to 12 under. Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo dropped out Friday, finishing last in the 132-man field in his PGA Tour debut. He shot 77-82 playing as an amateur on a sponsor exemption.

A stroke ahead after each of the first two rounds, Garnett opened with a bogey, birdied Nos. 2, 4 and 6, eagled the par-5 seventh, and made two more birdies on the par-3 ninth and par-5 12th. He bogeyed the par-4 13th, par-5 15th and par-3 17th.

Full-field scores from the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship

''I looked once and the lead was a little bigger than what it is now,'' Garnett said. ''The eagle was huge, kind of gave me that confidence that I can push it on out and stretch it a little bit more. That wind was tough and I'll take a two-shot lead into tomorrow.''

The 34-year-old Garnett is winless on the PGA Tour. He won twice last year on the Tour.

''You've got another 18 holes. So much can happen,'' Garnett said. ''Just going to try to keep the golf ball in front of me. I have that self-belief this week and that's what I had last year when I won, so I'll just keep my head down and just keep going.''

Conners had five birdies and a bogey on the front nine and added a birdie on No. 12.

''Really happy with the round,'' Conners said. ''I got off to a nice start, made a bunch of birdies on the front nine and kind of held it together on the back nine. It was playing really difficult. The wind was really blowing out there, made things challenging.''

McCumber, the son of 10-time PGA Tour winner Mark McCumber, has played his last 39 holes with a bogey.

''Second shots have been pretty solid,'' McCumber said. ''Putting pretty well, short game is pretty good. Just really being in the right areas and staying below the hole.''

Tom Lovelady was fourth at 11 under after a 68. Seamus Power (71), Denny McCarthy (71) and Seungsu Han (72) were 10 under.

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Poulter incorrectly told he's in Masters before loss to Kisner

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 10:33 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Ian Poulter was not happy, and it was only partially because of his blowout loss to Kevin Kisner in Saturday’s quarterfinals at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

Following his morning victory in the round of 16 over Louis Oosthuizen, the Englishman was incorrectly informed that by making it to the Elite 8 at Austin Country Club he was assured enough Official World Golf Raking points to move into the top 50 and qualify for the Masters in two weeks.

“I should never listen to other people,” Poulter said following his 8-and-6 loss to Kevin Kisner in the quarterfinals. “When you finish a round of golf and the press and everybody is telling you you're in the Masters, and then you get a text message 10 minutes before you tee off to correct everybody, to say, ‘Oh, we've made a mistake, actually, no, that was wrong, you're not in. You need to go and win.’

“Not that that's an excuse in any form or factor, it's a little disappointing.”

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Poulter actually needed to advance to the semifinal round to move into the top 50. Instead, his last chance to qualify for the Masters is to win next week’s Houston Open, although he was unsure if he’d play the event.

“I don't know yet, I haven't decided,” said Poulter when asked if he’d play next week. “I'm tired. It's been a long week. It's been a draining week. I'll wait until Monday night and if I have the energy then I will.”

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Not DJ, not Poulter: Kisner most proud to take down Kuchar

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 9:34 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – On his way to this week’s Final Four at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Kevin Kisner has beaten world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and the European match play ninja Ian Poulter. But neither match could compare to his duel with Matt Kuchar early Saturday.

“I was more jacked to beat [Kuchar], really. Kuch is such a good player and our games are so similar,” said Kisner, who defeated Kuchar in the round of 16, 1 up. “We both made eight birdies this morning and I barely snuck out of there. I thought it was a lot of fun.”

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By comparison, his quarterfinal bout against Poulter wasn’t nearly as electric. Kisner won two of the first four holes when the Englishman made bogey (No. 3) and when he was conceded the fourth hole, hecruised to an 8-and-6 victory for the week’s most lopsided win.

“I don't know Ian that well, so I don't really have a history with him, other than watching him kill us in the Ryder Cup,” Kisner laughed.

Things won’t get any easier for Kisner on Sunday when he’ll play Alex Noren in the semifinals. The Swede has been dominant this week and is considered one of Europe’s top players heading into this year’s Ryder Cup.