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.
Asia offers chance for players to get early jump on season
When the field at this week’s CJ Cup tees off for Round 1 just past dinner time on the East Coast Wednesday most golf fans will still be digesting the dramatic finish to the 2017-18 season, which wrapped up exactly 24 days ago, or reliving a Ryder Cup that didn’t go well for the visiting team.
Put another way, the third event of the new season will slip by largely unnoticed, the victim of a crowded sports calendar and probably a dollop of burnout.
What’ll be lost in this three-event swing through Asia that began last week in Kuala Lumpur at the CIMB Classic is how important these events have become to Tour players, whether they count themselves among the star class or those just trying to keep their jobs.
The Asian swing began in 2009 with the addition of the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, although it would be a few years before the event earned full status on Tour, and expanded in 2010 with the addition of the CIMB Classic. This week’s stop in South Korea was added last season and as the circuit transitions to a condensed schedule and earlier finish next year there are persistent rumors that the Tour plans to expand even more in the Far East with sources saying an event in Japan would be a likely landing spot.
Although these events resonate little in the United States because of the time zone hurdles, for players, the Asian swing has become a key part of the schedule.
Consider that seven of the top 10 performers last year in Asia advanced to the Tour Championship and that success wasn’t mutually exclusive to how these players started their season in Asia.
For players looking to get a jump on the new season, the three Asian stops are low-hanging fruit, with all three featuring limited fields and no cut where players are guaranteed four rounds and FedExCup points.
For a player like Pat Perez, his performances last October virtually made his season, with the veteran winning the CIMB Classic and finishing tied for fifth place at the CJ Cup. All total, Perez, who played all three Asian events last year, earned 627 FedExCup points - more than half (53 percent) of his regular-season total.
Keegan Bradley and Cameron Smith also made the most of the tournaments in Asia, earning 34 and 36 percent, respectively, of their regular-season points in the Far East. On average, the top 10 performers in Asia last year earned 26 percent of their regular-season points in what was essentially a fraction of their total starts.
“It's just a place that I've obviously played well,” Justin Thomas, a three-time winner in Asia, said last week in Kuala Lumpur. “I'm comfortable. I think being a little bit of a longer hitter you have an advantage, but I mean, the fact of the matter is that I've just played well the years I played here.”
Perhaps the biggest winner in Asia last season was Justin Rose, who began a torrid run with his victory at the WGC-HSBC Champions, and earned 28 percent of his regular-season points (550) in the Far East on his way to winning the FedExCup by just 41 points.
But it’s not just the stars who have made the most of the potential pot of Asian gold.
Lucas Glover finished tied for seventh at the CIMB Classic, 15th at the CJ Cup and 50th in China in 2017 to earn 145 of his 324 regular-season points (45 percent). Although that total was well off the pace to earn Glover a spot in the postseason and a full Tour card, it was enough to secure him conditional status in 2018-19.
Similarly, Camilo Villegas tied for 17th in Kuala Lumpur and 36th in South Korea to earn 67 of his 90 points, the difference between finishing 193rd on the regular-season point list and 227th. While it may seem like a trivial amount to the average fan, it allowed Villegas to qualify for the Web.com Tour Finals and a chance to re-earn his Tour card.
With this increasingly nuanced importance have come better fields in Asia (which were largely overlooked the first few years), with six of the top 30 players in the Official World Golf Ranking making the trip last week to Malaysia and this week’s tee sheet in South Korea featuring two of the top 5 in world - No. 3 Brooks Koepka and No. 4 Thomas.
“I finished 11th here last year and 11th in China the next week. If I can try and improve on that, get myself in contention and possibly win, it sets up the whole year. That's why I've come back to play,” Jason Day said this week of his decision to play the Asian swing.
For many golf fans in the United States, the next few weeks will be a far-flung distraction until the Tour arrives on the West Coast early next year, but for the players who are increasingly starting to make the trip east, it’s a crucial opportunity to get a jump on the season.
Watch: Woods uses computer code to make robotic putt
Robots have been plotting their takeover of the golf world for some time.
First it was talking trash to Rory McIlroy, then it was making a hole-in-one at TPC Scottsdale's famous 16th hole ... and now they're making putts for Tiger Woods.
Woods tweeted out a video on Tuesday draining a putt without ever touching the ball:
Coding with my mentee. Combine coding and a little art of green reading and you get YES!!!!!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/UTPRTuN79x— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) October 17, 2018
The 42-year-old teamed up with a computer program to make the putt, and provided onlookers with a vintage Tiger celebration, because computers can't do that ... yet.
Woods admits fatigue played factor in Ryder Cup
There was plenty of speculation about Tiger Woods’ health in the wake of the U.S. team’s loss to Europe at last month’s Ryder Cup, and the 14-time major champ broke his silence on the matter during a driving range Q&A at his annual Tiger Woods Invitational at Pebble Beach on Tuesday.
Woods, who went 0-4 in Paris, admitted he was tired because he wasn’t ready to play so much golf this season after coming back from a fourth back surgery.
“It was just a cumulative effect of the entire season,” Woods said. “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf and on top of that deal with the heat and the fatigue and the loss of weight.”
The topic of conversation then shifted to what's next, with Woods saying he's just starting to plan out his future schedule, outside of "The Match" with Phil Mickelson over Thanksgiving weekend and his Hero World Challenge in December.
“I’m still figuring that out,” Woods said. “Flying out here yesterday trying to look at the schedule, it’s the first time I’ve taken a look at it. I’ve been so focused on getting through the playoffs and the Ryder Cup that I just took a look at the schedule and saw how packed it is.”
While his exact schedule remains a bit of a mystery, one little event in April at Augusta National seemed to be on his mind already.
When asked which major he was most looking forward to next year, Woods didn't hesitate with his response, “Oh, that first one.”
Podcast: Fujikawa aims to offer 'hope' by coming out
Tadd Fujikawa first made golf history with his age. Now he's doing it with his recent decision to openly discuss his sexuality.
Last month Fujikawa announced via Instagram that he is gay, becoming the first male professional to come out publicly. Now 27, he has a different perspective on life than he did when he became the youngest U.S. Open participant in 2006 at Winged Foot at age 15, or when he made the cut at the Sony Open a few months later.
Joining as the guest on the latest Golf Channel podcast, Fujikawa discussed with host Will Gray the reception to his recent announcement - as well as some of the motivating factors that led the former teen phenom to become somewhat of a pioneer in the world of men's professional golf.
"I just want to let people know that they're enough, and that they're good exactly as they are," Fujikawa said. "That they don't need to change who they are to fit society's mold. Especially in the golf world where it's so, it's not something that's very common."
The wide-ranging interview also touched on Fujikawa's adjustment to life on golf-centric St. Simons Island, Ga., as well as some of his hobbies outside the game. But he was also candid about the role that anxiety and depression surrounding his sexuality had on his early playing career, admitting that he considered walking away from the game "many, many times" and would have done so had it not been for the support of friends and family.
While professional golf remains a priority, Fujikawa is also embracing the newfound opportunity to help others in a similar position.
"Hearing other stories, other athletes, other celebrities, my friends. Just seeing other people come out gave me a lot of hope in times when I didn't feel like there was a lot of hope," he said. "For me personally, it was something that I've wanted to do for a long time, and something I'm very passionate about. I really want to help other people who are struggling with that similar issue. And if I can change lives, that's really my goal."
For more from Fujikawa, click below or click here to download the podcast and subscribe to future episodes: