Woods remains noticeably absent from HSBC

By Doug FergusonOctober 29, 2013, 7:55 pm

SHANGHAI – Three years ago at Sheshan International, hundreds of fans wanting an autograph stood outside the clubhouse where Tiger Woods was signing his scorecard at the HSBC Champions. They excitedly began chanting in Chinese, ''We want Tiger! We want Tiger!''

Their hopes faded and the chanting stopped when they realized he had left, and then a lone voice pierced the late afternoon air with a wistful plea in broken English.

''Tiger, where are you?''

That question resonates even louder this year.

The HSBC Champions embarks on a new era as a World Golf Championship that finally is treated the same as the other three – an official PGA Tour event.

But there's one big difference. Woods is a no-show.

He has been a huge supporter – and financial benefactor – of the WGCs since they began in 1999 by playing in 41 of 44 events. The three he missed were the Match Play in Australia when it was held just after the holidays in 2001, and two in early 2010 when Woods was recovering from the scandal in his personal life.

That he is not playing in Shanghai after a year that featured five wins and two injuries is not the issue. Eight other top players are not playing, either. The golf season never ends. Players can and should take breaks when it best suits their schedules. Adam Scott also is missing, though he faces a month of celebration in Australia, his first time home since winning the Masters.

What makes Woods' absence so unsettling to tournament organizers is that he's already in China.

He was in Hainan Island on Monday for an exhibition match (and a reported $2 million fee) against Rory McIlroy. He has at least one more outing, maybe more, scheduled this week in Asia. Woods and McIlroy played in China last year and both skipped the HSBC at Mission Hills. Two years ago, Woods was in Australia for outings during the HSBC, regarded as ''Asia's major.''

''I do think that's something, from the Tour's point of view, that does need to be looked at,'' Giles Morgan, global head of sponsorship and events for HSBC, said Tuesday. ''I'm not here to knock Tiger at all, because I feel that he's been absolutely instrumental in the growth. But we've reached a point where it's not about individuals. It's about growing the game of golf globally.

''I really hope that Tiger will want to come back in following years,'' he said. ''China is a vast country, so him playing a meaningless match yesterday doesn't really affect us. But yeah, we're disappointed.''

Morgan said he was told a few months ago by Woods' agent that this was not going to work with his schedule. After a week of corporate work, Woods is playing (for another big appearance fee) in the Turkish Open, a European Tour event.

Like other overseas events, HSBC once paid to get the best players. But now that it's a full-fledged WGC, big appearance fees have been replaced by an $8.5 million purse.

''What I can't do is pay him,'' Morgan said. ''And I feel enormously strong about that. This is a World Golf Championship. This is the flagship event of Asia. This is going to be the beacon to carry the game into this continent for many years to come. We could do the wrong thing by golf and drop the prize money right down and just pay one or two players huge fees. From a publicity standpoint, that would give us a certain amount of kudos because we'd get the top player in the world. And I'm absolutely not going down that route.

''We have an opportunity to be a genuine top-10 event in the world,'' he said. ''That requires a massive investment, which we're pleased to do. And that means we want to be an authentic sponsor in the world of golf.''

Morgan looked out across the range at Sheshan International at one of his strongest fields ever – 40 of the top 50 in the world, a group that includes McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, U.S. Open champion Justin Rose and PGA champion Jason Dufner. There are nearly two dozen Americans in the field. He believes it will get even stronger as more players realize the economic potential of playing in China.

Woods was instrumental in getting the HSBC Champions launched. He was runner-up in 2005 and 2006, attracting huge crowds. He returned in 2009 when it was a WGC (though not official on the PGA Tour) and was upstaged by Mickelson in the final round. And the London-based financial company has been involved with Woods as a founding partner of the Tiger Woods Learning Center.

''He's genuinely a friend of the company,'' Morgan said.

Woods hasn't been back since 2010.

These outings could signal a change in his economic model, for Woods no longer has the blue-chip corporate support he enjoyed for so many years. Since his personal life crumbled after he was exposed for serial adultery at the end of 2009, he no longer has endorsement deals with Accenture, AT&T, Gatorade, Gillette and Tag Heuer.

EA Sports is the most recent corporate relationship to end, after 15 years.

Woods signed a deal with Rolex in October 2011, and five weeks later announced a deal with Florida-based Fuse Science to display its logo on his bag. For the last two years, however, he hasn't added another sponsor. What remains unknown is whether companies aren't interested or the price tag is too high.

Meanwhile, HSBC staged a photo call Tuesday afternoon in the riverfront Bund district to celebrate the start of the tournament. It wasn't long ago that Woods and Mickelson shared the stage by playing Chinese checkers. This time, defending champion Ian Poulter was joined by Mickelson, McIlroy, Dufner and Rose. They dressed in ceremonial cloaks with traditional weapons and performed with the Shanghai Jingju Company on a rooftop overlooking the Bund.

The theme was ''returning heroes.''

Just not all of them.

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Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

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Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

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Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

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Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.


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In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.