MARANA, Ariz. (AP)—The World Golf Championships, which used to actuallymove around the world, have been in the same U.S. cities for the last fiveyears. That could change with a new television contract.
For now, most of the attention is on the Match Play Championship.
It moved to the high desert north of Tucson in 2007, and the four-yearcontract with Dove Mountain ended in the sleet and snow at the Ritz-Carlton GolfClub. There is an option for another year, and PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchemsaid speculation that the Accenture Match Play Championship is moving for 2012would be “inaccurate.”
“I’d say right now that the most likely scenario is going to be it stayshere,” Finchem said.
So much depends on the rest of the schedule.
The tour is about to enter negotiations on a new television contract, whichexpires in 2012. Tour executives have been hammering out various models inrecent months and are close to presenting a proposed schedule of events.
“We’re not uncomfortable here,” Finchem said. “It’s worked well and wehave a good partnership with the people here. The facilities are great. It’sjust that as we get into television later this year, it forces us to look at theoverall calendar and make sure the calendar works. As you know, there’s a lot ofmoving parts to that.”
Chief among them is whether the NFL schedule expands and pushes the SuperBowl deep in February. Another part of the equation is the Fall Series and thetour’s interest in adding tournaments in Asia. It already has one in Malaysia,along with the WGC in Shanghai.
“Then you have the traditional part of it, which is tournaments wanting tomove in certain situations,” he said. “Right now, this tournament is at theend of the West Coast, and that appears to be a strong possibility that wouldcontinue.”
Finchem said the tour would decide on the Match Play venue within threemonths to give local organizers time to prepare. Then again, that’s also truefor all the PGA Tour events on the West Coast swing, and even some in Florida.
It’s all about the calendar.
“Like here, if we wanted to play this a lot earlier, it gets to be astruggle weather-wise,” he said. “All the WGCs, China included, you’ve got tobe careful in terms of player movement and making sure it fits with thedifferent tours. We’ve already created problems with ourselves globally with theexpanded season. It’s complicated.”
Part of the headache this year is the South African Open being held the sameweek as the Presidents Cup, especially with the top five players in theInternational team standings from South Africa.
As for the Match Play Championship?
“I’d say we’re going to review it, and the likely conclusion is we stayhere,” he said. “But it’s not about here. It’s about the calendar.”
WESTWOOD ON TIGER: Lee Westwood knows about slumps, having slipped to No.253 in 2003. He recalled a favorite adage Tuesday when talking about TigerWoods , one that his friend Darren Clarke once said about Westwood.
“Having played with Tiger since 1997 … there’s an old saying that classis permanent and form is fickle,” Westwood said. “He’s the classiest playerI’ve ever played with. I’d be wise enough to know not to write him off.”
There has been chatter that Woods should try to play more tournaments tohelp get his game on track, especially after losing in the first round a weekago at the Match Play Championship.
Westwood had some perspective on that, too.
“When I went through a bad patch, it was a juggling act whether to stayhome and practice or go play and risk not playing well and taking anotherconfidence knock,” he said. “It’s very much up to the individual. Tiger has todo what he feels is right.”
RAPUNZEL REYNOLDS: This is one bet Chad Reynolds doesn’t mind losing, nomatter how he looks.
Reynolds, the caddie for Nick Watney , was due for a haircut about a monthago. At Torrey Pines, he made a wager with the boss before the final round. Hewould cut his hair when Watney failed to finish out of the top 10.
That seemed reasonable, since Watney was 11 shots out of the lead.
“I’m thinking about driving to Phoenix and getting my hair cut Mondaymorning, and he drops a 63 on me,” Reynolds said.
Watney had a tournament-best 63 to tie for sixth. Then came a tie for fifthat the Phoenix Open. A week later at Pebble Beach, he was eight shots behindgoing into Sunday and closed with a 67 to tie for sixth.
And the hair kept growing.
Watney needed to win two matches for a top 10 at the Match PlayChampionship. He beat Anthony Kim in the first round, then beat Lee Westwoodbefore losing in the third round.
Watney is off this week, then plays at Doral, where two years ago he lost byone shot to Phil Mickelson .
CINK COACH: Among the changes for Stewart Cink this year was leaving ButchHarmon.
Cink had gone to Pat O’Brien for his putting, and now uses the Dallas-basedO’Brien as his only coach. Cink said the main reason for leaving Harmon wasscheduling.
“If you look at all of Butch’s players, I was the one who was the most tiedup with stuff,” said Cink, who lives north of Atlanta. He said he wasn’twilling to give up his family time by taking trips to Las Vegas.
Harmon also works with Phil Mickelson (San Diego), Nick Watney and NatalieGulbis (Las Vegas), and Dustin Johnson , who lives in South Carolina but makesfrequent trips to Las Vegas.
Cink said he was energized being around O’Brien, describing his philosophyas “new school” compared with Harmon.
“But I love Butch,” Cink said. “We’re good friends.”
Harmon keeps a limited stable of clients these days and did not say if hewould add one now that Cink has departed.
DIVOTS: The Golf Channel averaged 771,000 viewers for its three days ofMatch Play Championship coverage, up 84 percent from the previous year. NBCSports said it had an average of 2.5 million viewers for its weekend coverage,up from 1.5 million a year ago when it was on CBS Sports while NBC was inVancouver for the Olympics. … Jordan Spieth has accepted a sponsor exemptionto play in the Byron Nelson Championship. A year ago, the Texas prep star tiedfor 16th, the best by an amateur in the tournament’s 43-year history. … Onlyone American has won the Honda Classic in the last six years—Mark Wilson in2007, who is not playing this year.
STAT OF THE WEEK: PGA Tour members have won 34 of 38 World GolfChampionships.
FINAL WORD: “We never gambled growing up, only because I didn’t have anymoney to gamble with. And I would lose it, anyway.”—Bill Haas , on playingwith his father, Jay Haas .