The Week in Golf News 115 - 119
Big Names Flocking to March's Dubai Desert Classic
Mark O'Meara has joined his neighbor and good friend Tiger Woods to play in March's Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club.
O'Meara committed to the event, which has a total purse this year of $1.5 million, and will be competing against not just Woods, but a host of the world's best players, including several prominent European stars in Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke and Colin Montgomerie.
In addition to these names, Jose Coceres will be back to defend his crown from his victory at the 2000 edition.
The event will be contested March 1-4. Be sure not to miss live coverage of the event only on The Golf Channel.
Senior Tour Championship Gets New Home
The season-finale Senior Tour Championship will be hosted by a different venue for this 2001 edition. The site will be the Gaillardia Golf & Country Club in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
This announcement was made Sunday by PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, with the agreement not only seeing Gaillardia as host to the tournament this year, but the following year as well in 2002.
Tom Watson will be returning to defend his title from last year's event, which was played at the TPC of Myrtle Beach. This year, he will be competing for a purse, which has been officially raised to $2.5 million. With $435,000 on the table for the winner, this year's champion will be the richest ever from a single event in Senior PGA Tour history.
In addition, the championship will also be the concluding tournament to the Charles Schwab Cup, an new season-long race on the 50-and-over circuit which offers $2.1 million in bonus money to the top-five finishers and a full $1 million to the winner.
Club Throwing Gets Otto in Hot Water
Sunshine Tour officials will question South African golfer Hennie Otto after reports he broke his golf clubs and threw them into a river at last week's South African Masters.
Caddies and players told officials that Otto had lost his temper after shooting 10-over par in Friday's second round.
Otto is scheduled to play in this week's Alfred Dunhill Championship in Johannesburg where Tour officials plan to meet with him.
Tuesday - Jan. 16, 2001
St. Andrews to Host 2004 British Amateur
St. Andrews, the home of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club will host the 2004 British Amateur Championship to celebrate the R & A's 250th anniversary . The event will be played on the Old Course beginning May 31st.
It will be the 15th time the British Amateur will be played at St. Andrews, and the first time since 1981.
Furyk Moves Up in World Rankings
Despite tying for eighth place last week at the Mercedes Championships, Tiger Woods maintained his gargantuan lead over the golf world in the latest World Golf Rankings.
The next seven players remained the same as Ernie Els, a third- place finisher in Hawaii came in second followed by Phil Mickelson, David Duval, Lee Westwood, Colin Montgomerie, Davis Love III and Hal Sutton.
Vijay Singh, who along with Els tied for third last week switched places with Tom Lehman as they round out the top-10.
Darren Clarke and Jesper Parnevik head the list of the second 10.
Fresh off his win in Hawaii, Jim Furyk moved up three places to 13th followed by Nick Price, Michael Campbell, Sergio Garcia, Justin Leonard, Stewart Cink, John Huston and Thomas Bjorn.
Mercedes Championship runner-up Rory Sabbatini made the biggest move of the week, climbing 24 places to 61st. Sabbatini missed a three-foot birdie putt on the final hole last week, which would have forced a playoff with Furyk.
Mark O'Meara continued his slide in the World Golf Rankings as he dropped 13 places to 88th.
Jumping into the top-100 is Tucson Open runner-up Kevin Sutherland. Coming in at 91st in the rankings, the Sacramento, California native finished one stroke behind winner Garrett Willis. Sutherland had lost to Vijay Singh in the first round at the World Match Play Championships.
Masters Announces 2001 Invitations
Augusta National Golf Club issued its preliminary list of invitations to the 2001 Masters on Tuesday. 88 of the 95 invited players are expected to play in the first major of the year this April in Augusta, Ga.
The list includes 16 Masters rookies including American PGA Tour Players Chris DiMarco, Bob May, Tom Scherrer, Steve Flesch, Jonathan Kaye and Franklin Langham.
The field also includes a record tying 35 international players with Augusta National having the discretion to add to that list.
Players can still earn their way into the Masters by winning The Players Championship or by being in the top 50 in the world rankings or the top three on the PGA Tour money list on the Monday following the Genuity Championship (Doral).
Wednesday - Jan. 17, 2001
Pak Withdraws From Subaru Memorial
Last week's winner Se Ri Pak has withdrawn from this week's $1 million Subaru Memorial in Naples, Fl. The South Korean LPGA star decided to rest for a week to recover from flu-like symptoms she has been burdened with for more than a week.
Pak won last week's YourLife Vitamins LPGA Classic in Orlando, Fl. by shooting a record-tying 64 to win by four shots over Penny Hammel and Carin Koch. It was her first win since the end of 1999.
At the end of her breakthrough rookie season of 1998, Pak was hospitalized for exhaustion.
Greater Milwaukee Open Announces Purse Increase
The 34th annual Greater Milwaukee Open will have a total purse of $3.1 million, a record- setting increase of $600,000 from last year's event.
The winner, runner up and third-place finisher will net $558,000, $334,800 and $210,000, respectively.
This is the sixth straight year that the purse has increased, and the 19th time overall. The increase for the past two years was $500,000.
'The Greater Milwaukee Open, with this announced purse increase and the announcement several weeks ago of a record contribution made by the tournament to charity, continues to be a vibrant part of the PGA Tour schedule,' said Robert Milbourne, president of the Greater Milwaukee Open's board of directors.
The 33rd Greater Milwaukee Open was won by Loren Roberts, who shot a tournament record 24-under 260, eight shots better than Franklin Langham. It was Roberts' seventh career tour victory.
Baker-Finch Drops Out of New Zealand Open
A back injury has forced Ian Baker-Finch to withdraw from this week's New Zealand Open. The 1983 champion was set to tee it up in the first round with Phil Tataurangi and Michael Long. Australian Damian Chatterly, the first reserve, is likely to take Baker-Finch's place in the field.
Baker-Finch missed the cut in his most recent start on the ANZ Tour at last month's Australian PGA at Royal Queensland. He has limited his playing time in the last few years devoting most of his time to broadcasting.
Supreme Court Hears Martin Case
Supreme Court justices heard arguments, Wednesday in Washington D.C., as to whether disabled golfer Casey Martin has a legal right to use a cart in between shots at PGA Tour events.
Martin's lawyer, Roy L. Reardon, contended walking is not an integral part of the game. Citing the Americans with Disabilities Act, a 1990 law that bans discrimination against the disabled in housing, employment and public accommodations; Reardon said the Act gives people 'like Casey Martin a chance to get to the game.'
Adam Barr reports from Washington, D.C.
However, PGA Tour lawyer H. Bartow Farr III argued that the Tour is not obligated to comply with the ADA, and that riding in a cart would fundamentally alter the nature of the competition.
The seven justices are expected to issue a ruling by July.
Martin, 28, suffers from Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber Syndrome, a circulatory disorder in his right leg that makes it painful to walk long distances.
Martin comments from the steps of the Supreme Court.
Martin sued the PGA Tour in 1997 for the right to ride in a cart. A federal judge ruled in his favor; the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals then upheld the decision in 2000.
But the following day, a Chicago-based federal appeals court ruled against Indiana golfer Ford Orliger, who sued the USGA for the right to ride in a cart during U.S. Open qualifying. This became the basis for the PGA Tour appeal to the Supreme Court.
Thursday - Jan. 18, 2001
Strong Euro Contingent Set For Singapore
Six winners from last year's European Tour will join Colin Montgomerie and Vijay Singh at next month's inaugural Caltex Singapore Masters and Charity Pro-Am.
Scotland's Gary Orr, England's Anthony Wall and Brian Davis, Denmark's Steen Tinning, Italy's Massimo Scarpa and Taiwan's Yeh-Wei-tze have committed to the $850,000 tournament.
The event, which will be held at the Singapore Island Country Club Feb. 22-25, will mark the first time that the country has hosted a joint-sanctioned event between the European and Davidoff (former Asian) Tours.
Otto Avoids Penalty
Hennie Otto has avoided sanction after breaking his clubs and throwing them into a river following a 10-over-par round during last week's South African Masters.
The Southern Africa Tour issued a statement on Thursday saying it would not be taking any action since Otto's 'transgression did not take place during a tournament round or in public view.'
The 24-year-old South African player snapped all of his clubs and tossed them with his bag into a nearby river after his second-round score of 80.
Otto, with new clubs in play, posted a first-round 2-over-par 74 at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in Johannesburg on Thursday.
Friday - Jan. 19, 2001
Ryder Cup Board to Discuss 2009 Site
The Ryder Cup Board announced Friday that it will meet next month to discuss where to hold the 2009 Ryder Cup.
England, Scotland and Wales are among the countries that have made significant bids to host the 2009 Ryder Cup matches.
Mitchell Platts, spokesman for the Ryder Cup, said, 'The Ryder Cup Board is keen to stress that no decision on the host nation for the 2009 match has been taken. The Ryder Cup Board has been extremely impressed by the bids, all of which are being given total consideration, and they will continue a process of evaluation leading to an announcement in advance of the 2001 match in September.'
Tiger Joins Dynamic Phoenix Field
The Phoenix faithful just got reason to be a little more rowdy when the PGA Tour comes to town next week. Tiger Woods has officially entered the 2001 Phoenix Open to be held at the TPC of Scottsdale in Arizona, Jan. 25-28.
Woods' addition means 27 of the top 30 finishers on the 2000 PGA Tour money list will be in attendance. Tiger joins, among others, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, David Duval, Nick Price, Jose Maria Olazabal, Tom Lehman, Hal Sutton and Jesper Parnevik.
This will be Tiger's third start in Phoenix. He finished third in 1999, a year in which police apprehended a patron who was following Woods' group on Sunday with a handgun in his backpack.
Woods also tied for 18th in his first Phoenix Open appearance in '97, an event that will forever be remembered as much for his 3rd-round hole-in-one at the famed 16th as for Steve Jones' record-setting victory.
Stock Watch: Ko-Leadbetter feud getting juicy
Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.
Moriya Jutanugarn (+9%): The older Jutanugarn couldn’t be more different than her free-wheeling, big-hitting, wide-smiling and more famous sister, but Mo has plenty of game, too. She held off a strong leaderboard on a historic course to win for the first time in 156 starts.
Andrew Landry (+7%): Nothing has come easily to this gritty, undersized Texan, so his breakthrough Tour victory perfectly encapsulated his career.
Alexander Levy (+6%): The happiest person watching the Trophee Hassan II? Thomas Bjorn, who has to be salivating at the prospect of having an in-form Frenchman teeing it up in a home Ryder Cup.
Joaquin Niemann (+5%): Any questions about how his skills would translate to the Tour level were erased with weekend 67s in his pro debut. The 19-year-old was the top-ranked amateur for 48 weeks, so results like these are just another reflection of how strong amateur golf is these days.
Kirk Triplett (+2%): Doesn’t matter how old you are – holing out from the bunker is a baller way to win.
Shanshan Feng (-1%): Three top-5 finishes this season, and she still lost her No. 1 ranking to Inbee Park. It’s competitive out there.
Beau Hossler (-2%): It was another Sunday to forget, as his closing 79 sent him tumbling down the Valero board. He’s had a solid rookie season despite ranking 178th in final-round scoring average (72.9).
Sergio (-3%): Seems like this new dad could use some rest. Garcia made a 13 at the Masters, clapped back at jokesters on Twitter and then had a temper tantrum in San Antonio, hurling his driver into the wilderness en route to his second MC in a row. Oy.
TPC Louisiana (-4%): If this year’s field is any indication (10 of the top 14), the Zurich is close to a must-play for today’s stars. The only piece missing is a venue change, to Bayou Oaks at City Park, because another forgettable TPC away from downtown New Orleans excites exactly no one.
Lydia Ko-David Leadbetter feud (-6%): Unhappy with how he was portrayed in a recent magazine article regarding Ko’s struggles, Leadbetter is now firing back, citing Ko’s father and fatigue as the key issues in her year-long slump. This is getting juicy.
Rosaforte Report: Koepka returns strong and energized
If his ball speed, bench press reps, and recent scores posted on his home clubs mean anything, U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka hasn’t lost much in the three months he didn’t touch a club.
Instructor Claude Harmon III monitored Koepka’s swing this past weekend at The Floridian on Trackman, posting for all to see on Twitter. Harmon described the numbers as, “pretty much like they always are.” For the overpowering Koepka, that means ball speeds cruising in the high-170s and low-180s. “I was absolutely blown away at how good it was,” Harmon said.
So was performance coach Joey Diovisalvi in his gym when Koepka ripped off 10 reps with 225 pounds on the bar, and another 17 reps at 135 pounds. “The guy’s a powerhouse,” Diovisalvi said. “He’s strong as an ox right now.”
If there’s a difference in Koepka, it’s an increased appreciation for the game after being away from competitive golf this long. Keep in mind that the 27-year-old was hoping to return for the Masters. He was never one to watch golf on TV. But he was “glued” to the flat screen, watching the final round at Augusta. To prove his attentiveness, Koepka went through a shot-by-shot replay of the back nine with Harmon.
“I’m so ready to play golf,” he told Harmon.
That opportunity begins Thursday, when Koepka buddies up with Marc Turnesa in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans for his first official round in 109 days. Koepka finished T-5 in last year’s two-man team competition with younger brother Chase, who is following his sibling’s footsteps by playing his way up the world rankings through the European Tour. The reigning U.S. Open champion would have repaired with his brother, but didn’t know until last Wednesday that the tendon injury to his wrist would respond to tournament stress. By all accounts, it will.
“I told him the first call I’d made was to (Ryder Cup captain) Jim Furyk to tell him you were going to be ready for Paris,” Harmon said. Based on his 3-1-0 record in his Ryder Cup debut at Hazeltine in 2016, those are words Furyk was hoping to hear. Koepka dropped from first in the point standings after winning the National Open at Erin Hills last summer to seventh, so the Ryder Cup points on offer this week are added motivation.
There are, however, no world ranking points available at TPC Louisiana. The tradeoff of the two-man team event is that it represents a decompression chamber compared to 72 holes of stroke play at a regular Tour event.
But Koepka has said he feels like he can win right away and to do that he may need to carry Turnesa, who has played only one event on the PGA Tour this year, is ranked 1,929th in the world, and is pursuing a career in real estate.
Koepka called Turnesa last Wednesday, asking, “What are you doing next week? Do you want to go play New Orleans?”
The 40-year-old Turnesa, the last of the Turnesa family still somewhat involved in competitive golf, responded by saying, “I don’t know, I’ve got real estate going on. You know, I haven’t played any golf at all.” Koepka said, “Well, start practicing.”
Thinking about it further, Turnesa realized, “The reigning U.S. Open champion is asking me to play an event with him.”
So he called back Koepka, wanting to make sure he wasn’t returning too soon, that his health was the important thing. They were scheduled to fly into New Orleans via private jet on Tuesday.
“Amazing gesture,” Turnesa said. “I’m glad I committed, but he had to scroll pretty far down the alternate list to see my name.”
Club apologizes for calling cops on black women members
YORK, Pa. - A golf club in Pennsylvania has apologized for calling police on a group of black women after the co-owner and his father said they were playing too slowly and refused requests to leave the course.
“I felt we were discriminated against,” one of the women, Myneca Ojo, told the York Daily Record. “It was a horrific experience.”
Sandra Thompson and four friends met up Saturday to play a round of golf at the Grandview Golf Club, where they are all members, she told the newspaper.
At the second hole, a white man whose son co-owns the club came up to them twice to complain that they weren’t keeping up with the pace of play. Thompson, an attorney and the head of the York chapter of the NAACP, told the newspaper it was untrue.
On the same hole, another member of the group, Sandra Harrison, said she spoke with a Grandview golf pro, who said they were fine since they were keeping pace with the group ahead of them.
Despite that, the women skipped the third hole to avoid any other issues, she said.
It’s part of golf etiquette that slow-moving players let groups behind them play through if they are holding things up, and often golf courses have personnel who monitor the pace of play, letting golfers know when they are taking too long.
The five are part of a larger group of local women known as Sisters in the Fairway. The group has been around for at least a decade, and all of its members are experienced players who have golfed all over the county and world, Thompson said. They’re very familiar with golf etiquette, she said.
After the ninth hole, where it is customary to take a break before continuing on the next nine holes, three of the group decided to leave because they were so shaken up by the earlier treatment, the women told the paper.
Thompson said the man from the second hole, identified as former York County Commissioner Steve Chronister, his son, club co-owner Jordan Chronister and several other white, male employees approached the remaining two women and said they took too long of a break and they needed to leave the course.
The women argued they took an appropriate break, and that the men behind them were still on their beer break and not ready to tee off, as seen in a video Thompson gave the newspaper. The women were told that the police had been called, and so they waited.
Northern York County Regional Police arrived, conducted interviews and left without charging anyone.
“We were called there for an issue, the issue did not warrant any charges,” Northern York County Regional Police Chief Mark Bentzel said. “All parties left and we left as well.”
A phone listing for Steve Chronister rang busy on Monday. He told the York Daily Record he didn’t have time to comment on Sunday.
Jordan Chronister’s wife and co-owner of the club, JJ Chronister, said Sunday she called the women personally to apologize.
“We sincerely apologize to the women for making them feel uncomfortable here at Grandview, that is not our intention in any way,” she told the newspaper. “We want all of our members to feel valued and that they can come out here and have a great time, play golf and enjoy the experience.”
She said she hopes to meet with them to discuss how the club can use what happened as a learning experience and do better in the future.
Thompson said she’s not sure a meeting is what needs to happen.
“There needs to be something more substantial to understand they don’t treat people in this manner,” she said.
Randall's Rant: Augusta has the power to strengthen LPGA
Augusta National Golf Club is turning women’s golf upside down.
If you care about the LPGA, that should be your hope, anyway.
Your hope should be that the investment made in the new Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship announced at the Masters three weeks ago will eventually filter up the women’s ranks.
While the new amateur event comes with significant challenges for the women’s tour - with its first major (the ANA Inspiration) in a tough spot the same week as the Augusta National Women’s Amateur - there is LPGA seed money being planted in Georgia
There’s an investment that may grow the women’s game beyond fueling new interest among girls.
“I just hope corporations start recognizing the value of investing in the women’s game, the way Augusta National does,” two-time major champion Cristie Kerr said. “There are so many corporate sponsors in the men’s game who don’t invest a single dollar in the women’s game. Obviously, that’s their prerogative, but we have a lot of value as a tour.”
And there’s your hope.
Augusta National is a collection of power brokers, CEOs and leaders now invested in growing the women’s game.
They’re taking a special interest in watching these young female amateurs emerge, and it’s only natural to expect they’ll become emotionally invested in where these young players go.
And a lot of these young players will go on to the LPGA.
The LPGA is thriving under commissioner Mike Whan’s leadership, with Whan seeing opportunities where others didn’t. He saw Asian interest in the tour as an asset, not the liability so many thought a decade ago.
The LPGA had withered to 23 events in 2011 with $40 million in total prize money. This year, it's up to 34 events with a tour-record $68 million in prize money. Whan did that with a lot of Asian backing.
Of the 10 tour events the LPGA has staged so far this year, including this week’s tournament in San Francisco, nine have Asian-based title sponsors. Even the LPGA’s domestic events are thriving on Asian money.
All six of the U.S. events staged so far this year have Asian-based title sponsors. You have to move into May and next week’s Volunteers of America Texas Classic before finding an American corporate title sponsor of an American LPGA event.
That starts changing with summer approaching, but overall there will be 17 Asian-based companies or organizations as title sponsors of LPGA events this year, with 14 American-based entities sponsoring or owning events.
Whan says that’s a good thing.
“The diversity of sponsorship on the LPGA makes us a stronger business,” Whan said. “Since I’ve been in office, we’ve worked through recessions in different parts of the world. None of those recessions were crippling to our overall schedule, because we have so many sponsors on board, from so many different places.”
Whan says American corporate interest is growing considerably, with more American marketing partners joining the LPGA this year. The next steps players would like to see are increased purses and endorsement opportunities for women.
The winning two-man team at the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic this week will take home a combined $2,073,000. This week’s LPGA Mediheal Championship features a $1.5 million purse for the entire field.
“The income gap in golf is as much a concern to me as the corporate income gap is to working women,” 12-time LPGA winner Stacy Lewis wrote in an essay earlier this year for the World Economic Forum.
U.S. Solheim Cup captain and LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster started wearing a San Francisco Giants cap this year with no endorsement deals on her bag or shirt. She has become more outspoken about the lack of corporate support for all female golf pros.
“I'm going to say it right now, and I probably shouldn't say it, but I just don't understand how all these companies get away with supporting PGA Tour events and not supporting the LPGA,” Inkster said at the last Solheim Cup. “It makes me a little upset, because I think we've got a great product. We deserve our due.”
With Augusta National investing in young amateur women, it may only be a matter of time until corporate America significantly steps up support. The game’s greatest power brokers appear ready to grow with the young women they will begin investing in next year. That should be the hope for anyone who cares about the LPGA.