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.
Murray fixes swing flaw, recovers momentum
SAN ANTONIO - Grayson Murray fixed a flaw in his swing and hit the ball well enough that blustery conditions weren't an issue for him Thursday in the Valero Texas Open.
Coming off a missed cut at Hilton Head last week, Murray made seven birdies for a 5-under 67 and a one-shot lead. His only mistake was a double bogey from a greenside bunker on the par-3 seventh hole.
''Just the fact I did give myself enough opportunities today for birdie, it took a lot of pressure off,'' Murray said.
Of the five players at 68, only Chesson Hadley played in the morning side of the draw, and he called it among his best rounds of the year because of gusts. The wind died in the afternoon and scoring improved slightly on the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio. Keegan Bradley, Ryan Moore, Billy Horschel and Matt Atkins each posted 68. Horschel and Moore played bogey-free.
''Struck the ball really well, something that we've been working hard on,'' Horschel said. ''Could have been better, yeah. I didn't really make anything out there today. But I'm happy with it.''
Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the course, played the Texas Open for the first time since 2010 and shot a 74. Adam Scott failed to make a birdie in his round of 75. Scott is at No. 59 in the world and needs to stay in the top 60 by May 21 to be exempt for the U.S. Open.
Harris English was in the group at 69, while two-time Texas Open champion Zach Johnson, Nick Watney and Brandt Snedeker were among those at 70. Johnson saved his round by going 5 under over his final five holes, starting with a 12-foot eagle putt on the par-5 14th hole. He birdied the last three.
Murray was coming off a pair of top 15s at Bay Hill and the Houston Open when his game got away from him last week in the RBC Heritage, and he shot 74-70 to miss the cut. He got that sorted out in the five days between teeing it up in San Antonio.
He said he was coming down too steep, which meant he would flip his hands and hit a sharp draw or pull out of it and hit it short and right.
''I was hitting each club 10 yards shorter than I normally do, and you can't play like that because your caddie is trying to give you a number and a club, and you keep hitting these bad shots or keep coming up short,'' Murray said. ''I got back to the basics with the setup and the takeaway, got my club in a better position at the top, which kind of frees my downswing. Then I can start going at it.''
Even so, Murray thought he wasted his good start - three birdies in his first six holes - when his bunker shot at No. 7 came out with no spin and rolled off the green into a deep swale. He hit his third short to about 7 feet, but missed the putt and took double bogey.
''I would have loved to limit that to a bogey because bogeys don't really kill you - doubles are the ones that now you've got to have an eagle or two birdies to come back with, and out here it's kind of tough to make birdies,'' Murray said. ''But I kept my head. My caddie keeps me very positive out there, that's why I think we could finish 4 under the last nine holes.''
Only 34 players in the 156-man field managed to break par.
Horschel missed four birdie chances inside 18 feet on the back nine. What pleased him the most was the way he struck the ball, particularly after his tie for fifth last week at the RBC Heritage. Horschel was one shot behind going into the last round and closed with a 72.
But he's all about momentum, and he can only hope this is the start of one of his runs. Horschel won the FedEx Cup in 2014 when he finished second and won the final two playoff events.
''I'm a big momentum player. I've got to get the train moving forward,'' he said. ''I've always been a guy who gets on a little roll, get that train moving and jump in that winner's circle.''
LPGA back in L.A.: Inbee Park leads by 1
LOS ANGELES - Inbee Park's flirtation with retirement is in the rear-view mirror.
Backed by a large contingent of South Korean fans, Park shot a 5-under 66 for a one-shot lead Thursday in the opening round of the HUGEL-JTBC LA Open in the LPGA's return to Los Angeles after a 13-year absence.
Showers ended shortly before Park's threesome, including second-ranked Lexi Thompson, teed off at windy Wilshire Country Club just south of Hollywood.
Using a new putter, Park birdied four consecutive holes on the back nine before a bogey on the par-4 17th. She quickly recovered and rolled in birdie putts on the second and fifth holes to finish off her round.
''I never played a tournament outside Korea having this much Korean supporters out,'' Park said. ''I almost feel like I'm playing back home. It's almost like a little Korea.''
That applies to the food, too, with nearby Koreatown's restaurants beckoning.
''Too many,'' Park said.
The third-ranked Park banished the blade-style putter she used in her Founders Cup victory last month in Phoenix, a playoff loss in the ANA Inspiration and a tie for third last week in Hawaii. She went back to one that feels more comfortable and has brought her success in the past.
''Last week was just an awkward week where I missed a lot of short ones and I just wasn't really comfortable with the putter,'' Park said, ''so I just wanted to have a different look.''
The 29-year-old Hall of Famer recently said she was 50-50 about retiring before returning to the tour in early March after a six-month break. Momentum has been going her way ever since.
Marina Alex was second. Thompson was one of seven players at 68 in partly sunny and unseasonable temperatures in the low 60s.
Alex tied Park with a birdie on No. 11. The American dropped a stroke with a bogey on the par-5 13th before rallying with a birdie on No. 14 to share the lead.
Alex found trouble on the par-4 17th. Her ball crossed over a winding creek, bounced and then rolled into the water, leaving Alex looking for it. Eventually, she salvaged a bogey to drop a shot behind Park. After a bad tee shot on 18, Alex managed a par to close at 67.
''I made a lot of the putts that I shouldn't, I wouldn't have expected to make,'' she said. ''I made two great saves on 17 and 18. Kind of got away with some not-so-solid golf shots in the beginning, and I capitalized on some great putts.''
Thompson returned from a two-week break after finishing tied for 20th at the ANA Inspiration, the year's first major.
She bogeyed her second hole, the par-4, 401-yard 11th, before settling down and birdieing four of the next eight holes, including the 14th, 15th and 16th.
''I changed a little thing that slipped my mind that I was working on earlier in the year,'' said Thompson, declining to share the change in her putting technique. ''I don't want to jinx it.''
ANA winner Pernilla Lundberg was among those in the logjam after a 68.
Natalie Gulbis was among five players tied for 10th at 69. Playing sparingly the last two years, Gulbis put together a round that included four birdies and two bogeys.
Top-ranked Shanshan Feng struggled to a 74 with five bogeys and two birdies.
The venerable course with views of the Hollywood sign and Griffith Observatory wasn't any kinder to eighth-ranked Cristie Kerr and Michelle Wie.
Both had up-and-down rounds that included three bogeys and a double-bogey on No. 10 for Kerr and five bogeys, including three in a row, for Wie. Wie, ranked 14th, had a few putts that lipped out.
Horschel (68) builds on momentum at Valero
Billy Horschel only ever needs to see a faint glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.
While some players require a slow ascent from missed cuts to contending on the weekend, Horschel's switches between the two can often be drastic. Last year he missed three straight cuts before defeating Jason Day in a playoff to win the AT&T Byron Nelson, a turnaround that Horschel said "still shocks me to this day."
The veteran is at it again, having missed five of six cuts prior to last week's RBC Heritage. But a few tweaks quickly produced results, as Horschel tied for fifth at Harbour Town. He wasted no time in building on that momentum with a bogey-free, 4-under 68 to open the Valero Texas Open that left him one shot behind Grayson Murray.
"I'm a big momentum player. I've got to get the train moving forward," Horschel told reporters Thursday. "I've always been a guy who gets on a little roll, get that train moving and jump into the winner's circle. So yeah, it would have been great to win last week, but it was just nice to play four really good rounds of golf."
Many big names tend to skip this week's stop at TPC San Antonio, but Horschel has managed to thrive on the difficult layout in recent years. He finished third in both 2013 and 2015, and tied for fourth in 2016.
With a return next week to the Zurich Classic of New Orleans where he notched his first career win in 2013 and a title defense in Dallas on the horizon, Horschel believes he's turning things around at just the right time.
"Gets the momentum going, carry it into this week, next week, which I've had a lot of success at," Horschel said. "Really the rest of the year, from here on in I have a lot of really good events I've played well in."
Three years later, PXG launches new iron
Three years is a long time between launches of club lines, but Bob Parsons, founder and CEO of PXG, says his company had a very good reason for waiting that long to introduce its second-generation irons.
“Three years ago, when we introduced our first generation 0311 iron, we made a commitment that we would not release a product unless it was significantly better than our existing product,” Parsons said. “:Our GEN2 irons are better than our GEN1 irons in every respect. We believe it’s the best iron ever made, and the second-best iron ever made is our GEN1 iron.”
PXG’s 0311 GEN2 irons, which officially went on sale today, feature what the company says is the world’s thinnest clubface. They have a forged 8620 soft carbon steel body and PXG’s signature weighting technology. The hollow clubheads are filled with a new polymer material that PXG says not only dampens vibration, but also produces higher ball speeds and thus more distance.
The irons come in four “collections” – Tour Performance, Players, Xtreme Forgiveness and Super Game Improvement.
Cost is $400 per iron, or $500 for PXG’s “Extreme Dark” finish. Price includes custom fitting. For more information, visit www.pxg.com.