The Week in Golf News 1211-1216
Jordan's Tournament Not Far Away
Michael Jordan's inaugural golf tournament, The Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational, has established its field and dates for this year in Paradise Island of the Bahamas.
Jordan comments on his charity event and his own game.
It will take place Jan. 11-14, and will feature several well-known athlete golfers competing against famous celebrity golfers. The total purse is $200,000.
Scheduled to compete on the athlete side are Charles Barkley, Dan Marino, Wayne Gretzky and John Elway. Some of the celebrities who will be on hand include Joe Pesci, Michael Bolton and Bryant Gumbel.
Tuesday - Dec. 12, 2000
Purse increased for ACE Group Classic
Tournament officials announced on Monday that the purse for the ACE Group Classic has increased $200,000 from last year. Players will now be competing for $1.4 million in prize money.
'We are pleased to offer players the opportunity to compete for a larger purse at the 2001 ACE Group Classic,' said Bob Buriss, tournament director. 'The $200,000 increase gives added weight to the quality of this event and intensifies the competition.'
In the 2000 ACE Group Classic, Lanny Wadkins earned his first Senior Tour victory when he outlasted Jose Maria Canizares, Tom Watson and Walter Hall in a playoff.
The 2001 ACE Group Classic will take place Feb 9-11 at Pelican Marsh in Naples, Fla.
Reid to Lead European Solheim Team Again
Scotland's Dale Reid was re-appointed European captain for the 2002 Solheim Cup. Reid accepted the position after attending an awards cermeony Suday night in London.
'It was one of the easiest decisions the Board has ever had to make. I just wish all the issues on the agenda were so straight forward' said Ladies European Tour Chief Executive Tim Howland. 'Dale did a marvelous job at Loch Lomond, and we saw no reason to change a winning formula.'
Reid led the European Team to a 14.5 to 11.5 victory against a heavily favored U.S. squad on her home soil at Loch Lomond in Scotland.
'It's a great honor again to be offered what I think is the best job in women's golf,' said Reid.
'It was always my dream to win the Cup in Europe, and it's now my dream to bring it back home from America. Hopefully I can learn from any mistakes I made first time round and do an even better job in 2002.'
The 2002 Solheim Cup will be played in September at Interlachen Country Club in Minnesota.
Ladies European Tour raises stakes for 2001
The Evian European Tour announced a substantial increase in prize money to go along with its 2001 schedule. The total purses will increase by over 2 million to a record 5.5 million.
'We are delighted with the progress that we have made with next season's Evian Tour, and feel that the 2001 schedule offers tangible proof that the LET is moving in the right direction,' said Tim Howland, chief executive of the Tour.
Also announced was an expansion to the tour's boundries. The 20-event season will begin in New Zealand in February and make stops in Australia, South Africa, Taiwan and, of course, Europe.
The 2001 Evian Tour will also include two new events to be held in Scotland - an International match-play and the Ladies Scottish Open. Also, Royal Porthcawl GC in South Wales will be the venue for the re-launched WPGA Championship of Europe.
'When we took over management of the Tour at the tail end of 1998, our two-year plan was to build a schedule consisting of at least 20 events with a minimum 4.5 million in prize money. We have exceeded those targets and our goal now is to help develop these tournaments and continue to build the prize money.'
Other news included the Evian Masters raising its prize money to a record 1.4 million, while the Weetabix Women's British Open increased its purse to 1 million for its first year as a major championship.
Tiger Racks Up Another Accolade
He may be done playing for the year but Tiger Woods continues to receive accolades.
In its Dec. 18th issue, The Sporting News selected Woods as the most powerful person in sports for the year 2000. Woods finished 10th on the 1999 list. He joins Michael Jordan as the only athletes to head the annual top-100 list.
TSN's Michael Knisley wrote that, 'Tiger's charisma, along with his dominance on the Tour, have captured the hearts and minds of [fans of all sports] and, in turn, the wallets and checkbooks of corporate America like nobody since ... well, since Jordan.'
The only other athletes included on the list were newly signed Texas Ranger Alex Rodriguez (43rd), tennis star Anna Kournikova (76th), wrestler Rulon Gardner (80th) and NBA All-Star Shaquille O'Neal (90th).
The rest of the top-10 were NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch, NBA commissioner David Stern, Nike chairman Philip Knight, New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, IMG CEO Mark McCormick, baseball commissioner Bud Selig, Anheuser-Busch executives August Busch IV and Anthony T. Ponturo and NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol.
Duval moves to third in World Golf Ranking
David Duval teamed with Tiger Woods to win the World Cup of Golf over the weekend and moved to third in the latest World Golf Ranking.
Woods remains comfortably in first with Ernie Els in second.
Duval had been the number-one player but was unseated by Woods over a year ago. Phil Mickelson jumped to third a few weeks ago but dipped to fourth this week.
Lee Westwood, Colin Montgomerie and Davis Love III came in fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively.
Hal Sutton, Vijay Singh and Tom Lehman round out the top-10.
Sweden's Jesper Parnevik moved up one to 11th while Darren Clarke fell to 12th. Nick Price held on to his 13th ranking from last week.
Michael Campbell of New Zealand and Jim Furyk switched places this week with Campbell moving to 14th and Furyk falling to 15th.
Sergio Garcia came in 16th this week followed by Stewart Cink and Justin Leonard.
John Huston moved up one to number-19 while Thomas Bjorn slipped one to 20th.
Wednesday - Dec. 13, 2000
Woods named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year
Professional golfer Tiger Woods was named Sports Illustrated's 'Sportsman of the Year' on Tuesday. Woods becomes the first two-time recipient of the award in its 46-year history.
Woods won the award in 1996 after making an unbelievable transition from amateur golf to the PGA Tour.
Woods became only the fifth player in history to complete the career Grand Slam with wins at the U.S. and British Opens this past summer.
Woods captured both the U.S. and British Opens by record-setting margins and went on to take his second PGA Championship in an exciting playoff with the unheralded Bob May. The three major titles in one year made Woods the first player to accomplish the feat since Ben Hogan in 1953.
He won nine U.S. PGA Tour events in 2000, the most in a single season since Sam Snead titled 11 times in 1950. Woods has a total of 24 victories in 4 1/2 years on tour.
Also among Woods' 17 top-10 finishes this year were four runner- up showings.
Woods demolished the PGA Tour season earnings mark of $6,616,585 that he set in 1999 with a record haul of $9,188,321 to win his third Arnold Palmer Award as the PGA Tour's leading money winner.
A golfer was honored with SI's award for the sixth time.
Golf Not to be Included in 2004 Olympics
The International Olympic Committee announced Wednesday that no new sports would be added for the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, Greece. Several of golf's heavy-hitters including Tiger Woods and Greg Norman had voiced their support for including golf in the 2004 games.
IOC sports director Gilbert Felli said the decision to reject new sports for Athens was based on the need to control costs and the growing number of athletes. Felli also cited delays that have palgued the city of Athens.
'We need to organize the games with the sports we have in Athens,' Felli said. 'We have difficulties there.'
The IOC did say the decision was only for the 2004 games. That will keep the hopes alive for those wanting to get golf into the mix in 2008.
Golf was excluded along with water skiing and ballroom dancing which had also lobbied for the 2004 Games.
Senior Tour Announces Schwab Cup Annuity
The PGA Tour has announced the winner of the 2001 Charles Schwab Cup will earn a $1 million tax-deferred annuity. Total annuity payments of $2.1 million will be awarded to the top five finishers in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup competition that involves all 38 Senior Tour events in 2001.
Second place will receive a $500,000 annuity, third $300,000, fourth $200,000 and fifth $100,000. Players who finish in the top 10 will receive points on a weekly basis, with Charles Schwab & Co. funding the series.
The winner of the Cup will be crowned at the season-ending Senior Tour Championship.
PGA Tour contemplates moving Players Championship
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem spoke Wednesday of possibly moving the Players Championship from March to May beginning in 2003. Finchem said the chances of such a move are about 40%.
The Players Championship, called the 5th major by some players, has enjoyed success in its current spot 2 weeks before the Masters. However, one problem with that week is that it must battle for television ratings with the NCAA's Final Four basketball tournament.
``It would be a fairly substantial move,'' Finchem said. ``There are plusses and minuses either way. It's worked so well in March, but we're always intrigued.''
PGA Tour announces Increase in Prize Money
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem announced a 10% increase in prize money for the 2001 PGA Tour. The increase could bump purses in as many as 20 official events over the $4 million mark and could also raise the World Golf Championships above their current $5 million level.
The total prize money on the PGA Tour has skyrocketed since Tiger Woods turned professional - jumping from $69.1 million in 1996 to over $180 million in 2001.
Woods set a new single season earnings mark in 2000 with over $9.1 million dollars - that record has been broken every year since 1992. Also, a record 45 players broke the $1 million barrier, and 15 surpassed $2 million for the year.
Thursday - Dec. 14, 2000
Woods Re-signs With American Express
American Express Corporation renewed their contract with Tiger Woods Tuesday, making him a spokesman for the company until the year 2007.
While financial particulars were not disclosed, Woods was reported to have originally signed with the company in 1997 for a reported $26 million, according to Golf World.
Since then, he has resigned with several other endorsers, most notably Nike, whose new contract was worth approximately $100 million to Woods over the next five years.
Trio of Players Win Award
Tiger Woods, Karrie Webb and Larry Nelson have been named players of the year in their respective tours by the Golf Writers Association of America.
The hands-down decisions and announcements came Thursday. There will be a GWAA awards dinner on April 4th in Augusta, Ga., to celebrate the athletes.
Friday - Dec. 15, 2000
Parry Brings Up Subject of Beta-Blockers
Professional golfer Craig Parry, speaking on an Australian radio station Friday, brought up the subject of beta-blockers in the world of competitive golf.
Parry claimed that he knew of three professionals who have won major championships in the last decade who have been on the drugs.
Somewhat of a rumored closet problem in the world of professional golf in recent times, beta-blockers are prescription drugs which are used in the treatment of hypertension and cardiac conditions. They slow the heart rate down, and as a result lower one's blood pressure.
The drugs might be attractive to a golfer for reasons of settling one's nerves while on the course, and although no formal charges have been made against players using them, none of the golf tours around the world have banned their use.
Saturday - Dec. 16, 2000
Grady Against Drug Code
Wayne Grady, chairman of the Australasian PGA Tour, says golf does not need a drug code.
Thursday, Australian pro Craig Parry claimed several top players, including three 'who have won majors in the last decade' have used beta-blockers - pills that lower blood pressure.
'It's not my area of expertise,' said Grady, who won the 1990 PGA Championship. 'But I don't think performance-enhancing drugs would help golfers anyway.'
There is no current drug testing policy in professional golf.
Elder Next Presidents Cup Captain?
Lee Elder says he wants to captain the United States team at the 2002 Presidents Cup in George, South Africa.
'I have asked several of the top players to write a letter on my behalf,' the 66-year-old Elder said. 'So far I've gotten back about 10 letters from people who have already written the commissioner (PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem).'
Elder was the first African-American to play in a sporting event with white players in South Africa; doing so thanks to the help of Johannesburg native Gary Player. Player is a strong candidate to captain the International team in 2002.
'I think it would carry some weight that I was the first black to play multiracial sports in South Africa,' Elder said.
Elder is best known for becoming, in 1975, the first black golfer to play in the Masters. He was also a member of the 1979 U.S. Ryder Cup Team.
Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers
CROMWELL, Conn. – Daniel Berger hopes that this year he gets to be on the other end of a viral moment at the Travelers Championship.
Berger was a hard-luck runner-up last year at TPC River Highlands, a spectator as Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him in a playoff. It was the second straight year that the 25-year-old came up just short outside Hartford, as he carried a three-shot lead into the 2016 event before fading to a tie for fifth.
While he wasn’t lacking any motivation after last year’s close call, Berger got another dose last week at the U.S. Open when he joined Tony Finau as a surprise participant in the final group Sunday, only to shoot a 73 and drift to a T-6 finish.
“It was one of the best experiences of my professional golf career so far. I feel like I’m going to be in such a better place next time I’m in that position, having felt those emotions and kind of gone through it,” Berger said. “There was a lot of reflection after that because I felt like I played good enough to get it done Sunday. I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but I hit a lot of really good putts. And that’s really all you can do.”
Berger missed the cut earlier this month to end his quest for three straight titles in Memphis, but his otherwise consistent season has now included six top-20 finishes since January. After working his way into contention last week and still with a score to settle at TPC River Highlands, he’s eager to get back to work against another star-studded field.
“I think all these experiences you just learn from,” Berger said. “I think last week, having learned from that, I think that’s even going to make me a little better this week. So I’m excited to get going.”
Rory tired of the near-misses, determined to close
CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy has returned to the Travelers Championship with an eye on bumping up his winning percentage.
McIlroy stormed from the back of the pack to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but that remains his lone worldwide win since the 2016 Tour Championship. It speaks to McIlroy’s considerable ability and lofty expectations that, even with a number of other high finishes this season, he is left unsatisfied.
“I feel like I’ve had five realistic chances to win this year, and I’ve been able to close out one of them. That’s a bit disappointing, I guess,” McIlroy said. “But at least I’ve given myself five chances to win golf tournaments, which is much more than I did last year.”
The most memorable of McIlroy’s near-misses is likely the Masters, when he played alongside Patrick Reed in Sunday’s final group but struggled en route to a T-5 finish. But more frustrating in the Ulsterman’s eyes were his runner-up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, when he led by two shots with eight holes to go, and a second-place showing behind Francesco Molinari at the BMW PGA Championship in May.
“There’s been some good golf in there,” he said. “I feel like I let Dubai and Wentworth get away a little bit.”
He’ll have a chance to rectify that trend this week at TPC River Highlands, where he finished T-17 last year in his tournament debut and liked the course and the tournament enough to keep it on his schedule. It comes on the heels of a missed cut at the U.S. Open, when he was 10 over through 11 holes and never got on track. McIlroy views that result as more of an aberration during a season in which he has had plenty of chances to contend on the weekend.
“I didn’t necessarily play that badly last week. I feel like if I play similarly this week, I might have a good chance to win,” McIlroy said. “I think when you play in conditions like that, it magnifies parts of your game that maybe don’t stack up quite as good as the rest of your game, and it magnified a couple of things for me that I worked on over the weekend.”
Sunday run at Shinnecock gave Reed even more confidence
CROMWELL, Conn. – While many big names are just coming around to the notion that the Travelers Championship is worth adding to the schedule, Patrick Reed has been making TPC River Highlands one of his favorite haunts for years.
Reed will make his seventh straight appearance outside Hartford, where he tied for fifth last year and was T-11 the year before that. He is eager to get back to the grind after a stressful week at the U.S. Open, both because of his past success here and because it will offer him a chance to build on a near-miss at Shinnecock Hills.
Reed started the final round three shots off the lead, but he quickly stormed toward the top of the leaderboard and became one of Brooks Koepka’s chief threats after birdies on five of his first seven holes. Reed couldn’t maintain the momentum in the middle of the round, carding three subsequent bogeys, and ultimately tied for fourth.
It was a bittersweet result, but Reed is focusing on the positives after taking a couple days to reflect.
“If you would have told me that I had a chance to win coming down Sunday, I would have been pleased,” Reed said. “I felt like I just made too many careless mistakes towards the end, and because of that, you’re not going to win at any major making careless mistakes, especially on Sunday.”
Reed broke through for his first major title at the Masters, and he has now finished fourth or better in three straight majors dating back to a runner-up at the PGA last summer. With another chance to add to that record next month in Scotland, he hopes to carry the energy from last week’s close call into this week’s event on a course where he feels right at home.
“It just gives me confidence, more than anything,” Reed said. “Of course I would have loved to have closed it out and win, but it was a great week all in all, and there’s a lot of stuff I can take from it moving forward. That’s how I’m looking at it.”
Koepka back to work, looking to add to trophy collection
CROMWELL, Conn. – Days after ensuring the U.S. Open trophy remained in his possession for another year, Brooks Koepka went back to work.
Koepka flew home to Florida after successfully defending his title at Shinnecock Hills, celebrating the victory Monday night with Dustin Johnson, Paulina Gretzky, swing coach Claude Harmon III and a handful of close friends. But he didn’t fully unwind because of a decision to honor his commitment to the Travelers Championship, becoming the first player to tee it up the week after a U.S. Open win since Justin Rose in 2013.
Koepka withdrew from the Travelers pro-am, but he flew north to Connecticut on Wednesday and arrived to TPC River Highlands around 3 p.m., quickly heading to the driving range to get in a light practice session.
“It still hasn’t sunk in, to be honest with you,” Koepka said. “I’m still focused on this week. It was just like, ‘All right, if I can get through this week, then I’m going to be hanging with my buddies next week.’ I know then maybe it’ll sink in, and I’ll get to reflect on it a little bit more.”
Koepka’s plans next week with friends in Boston meant this week’s event outside Hartford made logistical sense. But he was also motivated to play this week because, plainly, he hasn’t had that many playing opportunities this year after missing nearly four months with a wrist injury.
“I’ve had so many months at home being on the couch. I don’t need to spend any more time on the couch,” Koepka said. “As far as skipping, it never crossed my mind.”
Koepka’s legacy was undoubtedly bolstered by his win at Shinnecock, as he became the first player in nearly 30 years to successfully defend a U.S. Open title. But he has only one other PGA Tour win to his credit, that being the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open, and his goal for the rest of the season is to make 2018 his first year with multiple trophies on the mantle.
“If you’re out here for more than probably 15 events, it gives you a little better chance to win a couple times. Being on the sidelines isn’t fun,” Koepka said. “Keep doing what we’re doing and just try to win multiple times every year. I feel like I have the talent. I just never did it for whatever reason. Always felt like we ran into a buzzsaw. So just keep plugging away.”