The Week in Golf News 1219-1222
West Coast Swing Gets New Sponsor
The St. Paul, a Minnesota based insurance company, will be the new presenting sponsor of the PGA Tour's 'West Coast Swing' beginning in 2001. The multi-year contract covers sponsorship of the first nine tournaments of the season held in January and February.
The renamed 'PGA TOUR West Coast Swing presented by The St. Paul' begins at the season-opening WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and ends at the Nissan Open. Each event will get a $300,000 increase to its purse except for the Accenture Match Play Championship.
The 2001 'West Coast Swing presented by The St. Paul' schedule consists of:
Jan. 3-7 Accenture Match Play Champ. - Melbourne, Australia
Jan. 11-14 Mercedes Championships-Kapalua, Hawaii
Jan. 11-14 Touchstone Energy Tucson Open -Tucson, Ariz.
Jan. 18-21 SONY Open in Hawaii -Honolulu, Hawaii
Jan. 25-28 Phoenix Open -Scottsdale, Ariz.
Feb. 1-4 AT&T Pebble Beach Nat'l Pro-Am -Pebble Beach, Ca.
Feb. 8-11 Buick Invitational - San Diego, Ca.
Feb. 14-18 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic - La Quinta, Ca.
Feb. 22-25 Nissan Open - Pacific Palisades, Ca.
A $1 million 'King of the Swing' bonus pool will also be created. It will be divided by the top three West Coast performers. Points will be distributed to the top eight players each week with 100 points awarded for a victory down to 10 points for an eighth-place finish. The bonus pool winner will receive $500,000, followed by $300,000 for second and $200,000 for third.
Woods finishes firmly on top of 2000 World Golf Ranking
Tiger Woods finished the 2000 season nearly 18 points ahead of his nearest competitor, as the final Official World Golf Rankings were unveiled on Monday.
Woods, who became the youngest player and only the fifth golfer in history to complete the career Grand Slam with victories in the U.S. and British Opens this past summer, posted a point average of 29.40 compared with 11.69 for second-ranked Ernie Els of South Africa.
The 24-year-old Woods enjoyed one of the greatest seasons in golf history, amassing a total of 10 wins in 22 official starts. He added a third major title to his 2000 trophy case when he successfully defended his PGA Championship crown in August, and his win at the Canadian Open less than a month later saw him become just the second player to win the three national opens in a single season.
Woods was also dominant in the World Golf Championship events, teaming up with the world's third-ranked player, David Duval, to retain the World Cup for the U.S. He also cruised to victory at the WGC-NEC Invitational, finished second in the WGC-Match Play after falling to Darren Clarke in the final match, and tied for fifth place at the WGC-American Express Championship.
Woods' other triumphs included the Mercedes Championships, the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the Bay Hill Invitational, the Memorial Tournament and the Johnnie Walker Classic last month in Thailand. He also recorded 19 top-five finishes this year.
Els, who began the year with a playoff loss to Woods in the season-opening Mercedes event, went on to finish second at The Masters, U.S. Open and British Open. He was also the runner-up at the Memorial and took third place at the Tour Championship.
Els registered his lone PGA Tour win at the International in August and added a European Tour victory at Loch Lomond and a South African title in Sun City.
Duval, who yielded the top-ranking to Woods over a year ago, captured his first victory in a year in a half at the Buick Challenge in October. He is followed by fourth-ranked Phil Mickelson, whose four titles in 2000 matched his best year of 1996 and put him in second place behind Woods on the PGA Tour season money list.
England's Lee Westwood, the winner of five European Tour titles as well as the Cisco World Match Play Championship and a South African event, finished in fifth place, one spot ahead Scotland's Colin Montgomerie. Westwood won the Order of Merit for the first time, putting an end to Montgomerie's seven-year reign as Europe's top money earner.
Davis Love III, whose victory at the unofficial Williams World Challenge earlier this month was his first win of any kind in over two and a half years, stands in seventh place, one slot better than Hal Sutton, who won twice in 2000.
Fiji's Vijay Singh slipped two spots over the course of the year to ninth place despite winning The Masters, while Phoenix Open champ Tom Lehman rounded out the top-10.
The biggest movers of 2000 were Michael Campbell of New Zealand (108th to 14th); Canada's Mike Weir (57th to 21st); Americans Franklin Langham (181st to 59th) and Chris DiMarco (161st to 66th); and Japan's Nobuhito Sato (261st to 81st).
Woods sues Planet Hollywood
Tiger Woods, along with sports stars Andre Agassi, Monica Seles and Joe Montana, is suing the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain charging it with breach of contract. The lawsuit was filed Friday in the U.S. District Court in Delaware. They are seeking unspecified damages and legal costs.
The four athletes signed contracts in 1996 that called for them to receive Planet Hollywood stock in return for personal appearances and the use of their images and memorabilia.
Woods and the others claim that Planet Hollywood defaulted on its contracts by rejecting them in the reorganization plan the company began after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October of 1999.
Planet Hollywood began dismantling its sports themed All-Star Cafe chain soon after filing for bankruptcy protection.
Woods Takes the Stand in Theft Trial
Tiger Woods testified in an identity theft case on Monday against Anthony Lemar Taylor. The 29-year-old defendant is charged with six counts of felony identity theft and perjury.
Taylor allegedly used Tiger's real name -- Eldrick T. Woods -- along with his social security number to obtain several credit cards and a fake drivers license. He then ran up $17,000 in charges including a moving truck rental and a $100 down payment on a used car.
Woods testified that he didn't make any of the purchases and never gave Taylor permission to use his credit cards.
Taylor's attorney James Greiner said store clerks would never have mistaken his client for the world's No. 1 golfer. 'Does he just walk into Circuit City? What they're saying is Anthony Taylor, my client, walks in and says, 'Hey, I'm Eldrick Tiger Woods,'' Greiner said.
The trial, taking place in Sacramento, Calif., is expected to last well into January.
Wednesday - Dec. 20, 2000
Duval on verge of Signing With Nike
David Duval, the third-ranked player in the world, is reportedly on the verge of signing with Nike Golf. Nike already has world No. 1 Tiger Woods under contract. Woods and Duval recently teamed to win the WGC - EMC World Cup of Golf in which they used the Nike golf ball.
The deal will have Duval wearing Nike shoes, clothing and hats as well as playing their ball and clubs. Nike already has a ball on the market and is expected to break into the club market in 2001.
Duval will be switching to Nike Golf from Titleist. Although he still has three years remaining on his contract, an industry source has claimed an escape clause may exist. That clause may be subject to interpretation however.
Titleist recently signed Mark O'Meara and also has contracts with Davis Love III, Phil Mickelson and Jesper Parnevik.
Yet, the long-standing industry-leader first encountered troubles with Duval two months ago, when the No. 3 ranked player in the world began wearing Nike shoes shortly after returning to action after a 10-week layoff due to back problems.
Upon his return at the Buick Challenge, Duval made big waves, claiming his first victory since the 1999 BellSouth Classic.
Should he now make the move to Nike, those waves would become huge.
Furthering the battle for talent, it appears as well, that Nike Golf may not stop at Duval. It has been rumored that they are courting young Australian star Aaron Baddeley. They have also been reportedly pursuing the greatest player of all time, Jack Nicklaus.
What do you think of Duval's defection to Nike?
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WGC Match Play Delivered Another Blow
According to Australian reports, David Duval has joined the list of upper-echelon players skipping the season-opening Accenture Match Play Championship, Jan. 3-7 in Melbourne, Australia.
Just weeks removed from announcing he would attend the $5-million World Golf Championship event, the world's No. 3-ranked player has decided to make his 2001 debut elsewhere.
'Apparently, (Duval) has decided not to travel,' tournament promoter Tony Roosenberg said.
Duval's absence means Ernie Els, No. 2 on the Official World Golf Ranking, is the only player ranked inside the top six who will make the trip to Melbourne.
Other absentees currently include world No. 1 Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson (4), Lee Westwood (5), Colin Montgomerie (6), Jesper Parnevik (11), Nick Price (13), Sergio Garcia (16), John Huston (19), Miguel Angel Jimenez (27), Paul Azinger (30), Rocco Mediate (31), Notah Begay III (33), Jose Maria Olazabal (34) and Greg Norman (42).
The top 64 players on the season-ending Official World Golf Ranking are eligible for the event, which offers a $1-million first prize.
The first two Match Play tournaments had perfect attendance, save for Japan's Jumbo Ozaki. However, both of those were held in Carlsbad, Calif., in late February.
The official commitment deadline is Dec. 22.
Last year, Darren Clarke defeated Woods 4-and-3 in the 36-hole final.
Thursday - Dec. 21, 2000
Players and Executives to Meet in Wentworth
A general meeting will convene Thursday at the Wentworth Golf Club in England between the executives of the European Tour and its players.
Spearheaded by four top players (Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Jose Maria Olazabal and Seve Ballesteros), the nature of the proceedings will examine how the tour has been spending its money.
In recent times, serious questions have been raised by these players, as well as others, as to how the tour has been keeping its books. Until this meeting, their questions have remained largely unanswered.
'This is a big company now,' Olazabal has said. 'We are not trying to find anything special, and we're not trying to see if there is any misconduct at all. It has just not been detailed.'
Audit to Begin for European Tour
In a meeting conducted Thursday between the European Tour and several of its high-profile players, director Ken Schofield agreed on a financial audit of the tour's accounts and operations.
Due to growing concern of a lack of information as to the nature of the organization's inside finances, the tour buckled and agreed to open the books to accountants. However, those accountants will be contracted independently through the tour itself, not through the players.
'Total access to the accounts is not possible under UK company law,' said Schofield.
Nevertheless, this action represents a reply to a barraging of questions and demands that have been placed on the tour from several players, most notably Jose Maria Olazabal, Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros and Bernhard Langer.
'We've listened to Nick and Jose Maria and will incorporate their views into our resolution,' continued Schofield. 'Hopefully we can produce accounts with more clarity in the future.'
Friday - Dec. 22, 2000
City of Akron Initiates New Tax Law
The city of Akron, Ohio made formal an announcement to initiate a new tax law that will affect those who are work temporarily within the realms of the city.
The law will commence Jan. 2, 2000, and it will take a 2 percent cut from any income earned by those individuals or organizations who work in the area fewer than 12 days per year.
This comes as big news to the sporting/entertainment industry, in that athletes, teams or performers will be subject to the taxation every time they earn income in the area.
For the PGA Tour, this means that the NEC Invitational held at Firestone Country Club will surrender $100,000 of its $5 million purse to the city. Its winner alone will relinquish $20,000 that amount.
Woods Wins Reuters Award
Tiger Woods was awarded yet another accolade this week for his 2000 season, when Reuters named him Sportsman of the Year.
Fifty sports editors and journalists from 37 different countries around the globe voted on the their top-five sportsmen of the year, with their first choice receiving five points, their second getting four, and so on.
Woods won in dominant fashion with 139 points out of a possible 250 available. In second place was Formula One driver Michael Schumacher with 73 points, and in third was Steve Redgrave, a gold-medalist rower from Britian. Redgrave was the recipient of 67 points.
For the year, Woods won nine PGA Tour titles, the most since Sam Snead in 1950, three of which were major championships (U.S. Open, British Open and the PGA Championship). In the process, he became the youngest man to win the career grand slam at 24 years of age.
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.