Archive: December 2010

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December 31, 2010

Submit your questions for Ian Poulter!

Posted at 1:10 PM by Kevin Cunningham

Jan3-ian-poulter_299x226  After reading our extensive interview with Ian Poulter, we figured you might have had a question of your own for the PGA Tour star. We gave your questions to Poulter, and he answered them. Read your questions and Poulter's answers here.

(Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

December 30, 2010

Truth & Rumors: Ex-Tiger mistress to become detective

Posted at 12:06 PM by Jeff Ritter

Rachel Uchitel, P.I.?

A procession of Tiger Woods's alleged mistresses marched through the headlines in late 2009 and early 2010, and many of the women experienced some time in the limelight after discussing their affairs with the then top-ranked golfer in the world. Predictably, the waitresses, hostesses and call girls quickly faded back into oblivion, and most have barely been heard from again. (Jaimee Grubbs, anyone?)

Rachel Uchitel, however, is moving on. And the Tiger scandal has apparently spurred her into a new career.

Uchitel, who never publicly discussed her relationship with Woods but was often referred to as "Mistress No. 1" during the height of the saga and later became a cast member on TV's "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew," is about to graduate from detective school -- and a job is waiting for her, writes CNN's Alan Duke.

The former New York nightclub hostess who gained fame when she was named as one of golfer Tiger Woods' alleged mistresses could soon be helping clients track cheating spouses.

Rachel Uchitel graduates from the DGA Detectives Academy in Los Angeles next month, according to school director Dale Gustafson.

"She's smart," Gustafson said Wednesday. "One of her strengths is field interviews and getting information from people."

A job with Gustafson's agency is waiting for Uchitel, he said. "She's expressed an interest in doing that, but it's still up in the air."

Uchitel, halfway through the 10-week course, has already studied asset recovery, criminal defense, family law, skip tracing and missing persons investigations, he said.

"I have a feeling she's going to be specializing in missing persons," he said. "She really does have a strength there."

For Tiger mistresses hoping to hide out and return to obscurity, this news must seem terrifying.

Woods still golf's top earner

Tiger hasn't had much to celebrate this year, but he did hold onto the top spot in total earnings among all golfers, despite losing major deals with Gatorade, Accenture and most recently Gillette. Golf World has compiled a list of golf's top earners on and off the course, and Ryan Ballengee of NBCSports.com has weighed in:

When Tiger Woods admitted on his website to extramarital affairs and shattered the wholesome image of a fiery competitor that appealed to so many advertisers, the former top-ranked player had to realize his salary was going to take a haircut. It certainly did on the course, finishing 61st on the PGA Tour money list. The saga cost him much more off of the course, though.

Golf World’s Ron Sirak composed the annual list of golf’s top 50 earning figures. Woods was still number one on the list with a combined $72.3 million, but he lost some estimated $48 million between 2009 and 2010.

If rumors of a $110 million settlement with ex-wife Elin Nordegren are true, then Woods made some $48 million less than the settlement.

Phil Mickelson checked in at No. 2 on the list with more than $40 million. Despite not making a dime on the course, Annika Sorenstam was still the top-earning woman, with $5.75 million. Among the first-timers on the list: Dustin Johnson (28), Justin Rose (32) and Rickie Fowler (45).

Place your bets

Bodog.com has some early betting odds for the 2011 season. Tiger Woods is the favorite to win the PGA Tour money title at 1-to-1, and Phil Mickelson is the second choice at 8-to-1. Jim Furyk and Dustin Johnson are tied for third at 14-to-1.

Tweet of the Day

Last night Paul Azinger fired off dozens of tweets while brainstorming his all-time favorite movie quote. It apparently cost him a few followers ... and he hasn't learned his lesson.

Paul-Azinger @PaulAzinger: Last nights "best movie line" retweet rant weeded out about 200 followers."it's twu it's twu"-"I got that going for me....which is nice" :-)

December 29, 2010

Truth and Rumors: Tournament of Champions Lacks Champions

Posted at 11:47 AM by Steve Beslow

Hyundai Tournament of Chump-ions?

It's no secret that Tour pros (especially European Tour pros and guys named Tiger and Phil) are getting increasingly picky about what tournaments they're willing to play these days. Still, you'd think that the prospect of a vastly limited field, a $5.6 million purse, and warm Hawaiian beaches would be more than enough to attract even the most elusive pro golfer. For the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, that just isn't the case. From NBC's Ryan Ballengee:

Unfortunately, they won’t really get their wish. Few of the big names who made 2010 unforgettable are remembering to play at Kapalua next week.

Phil Mickelson will send his regular regrets to not attend. PGA Champion (and birthday boy on Tuesday) Martin Kaymer has better things to do in Spain. Rory McIlroy isn’t taking the flight. Lee Westwood? No, thanks.

Even Open Champion – and new PGA Tour member – Louis Oosthuizen said no.

Among the Euros, many of whom were competing into December, want a longer rest than just a month. And that means the PGA Tour’s season start is hurt as much of the international elite now starts their year in the Arabian desert.

Even though it seems natural to start the year off with such an elite field, that only works when the elite field actually shows up. As much as golf writers love Geoff Ogilvy (and we do), there's little evidence that fans are clamoring for him to three-peat at any tournament, especially one that supposedly only features the best of the best. The Euro Tour owns the winter months, and since the PGA Tour seems more than willing to cede them November and December, maybe it's time to give up on January too. I hear Abu Dhabi is lovely this time of year.

Trumped Golf

Donald Trump has had his fingers in just about every honey jar imaginable over the past few decades, but recently golf courses have taken an increasingly important role in the Trumpster's portfolio as he continues to build new tracks and buy distressed courses to add to his empire. Bloomberg's John Gittelsohn and Nadja Brandt wonder whether or not the Trump brand provides the premium it once did for luxury developments.

Trump has acquired nine golf properties in the U.S., including four since 2008, after mostly steering clear of using his own money to buy real estate since 2005. In July, he started building a 750 million-pound ($1.15 billion) luxury golf course and resort in Scotland. Trump says that putting his name on the courses increases membership sales and the fees he can charge.

Trump is expanding his golf holdings as the number of private clubs in the U.S. fell to 4,256 this year, down 3.4 percent from 2008, according to the National Golf Foundation. In addition to owning courses, he also stars in “Donald J. Trump’s Fabulous World of Golf” on the Golf Channel, which starts its second season Jan 31.

The Trump name hasn’t prevented a decline in initiation fees at Trump clubs as the recession weighs on consumers’ discretionary spending. At the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey, for example, initiation fees have dropped as low as $150,000 today from as high as $300,000 before the recession, Donald Trump said.

Does making a golf course a Trump course really increase its value? I don't know, and it sounds like the fine people at Bloomberg don't really know either. The important takeaway here is that the market for golf courses is still in the tank (and will be for the foreseeable future), but that's not stopping the Donald from trading in his condos for clubhouses. And it's certainly not stopping him from infuriating entire counties. But I suppose in times like these we all need to do what we do best.

Tweet of the Day

Today's winner is PGA Tour pro and fitness guru Kris Blanks:

@Kris BlanksKris_Blanks: I have a house full of junk food and liquor and I just ate a banana with an amino vital supplement drink. I had better play good next year!

December 28, 2010

Truth & Rumors: Augusta National adds some more green

Posted at 10:58 AM by Mike Walker

Don't expect a new tee box here (at least this century), but Augusta National Golf Club is improving a plot of land across the street from the club's entrance on Washington Road, according to The Augusta Chronicle.

The land is directly across from the club's main entrance on Washington Road. The beautification project has involved planting several mature pine trees and adding other landscaping to the site.

The plot formerly was home to the Green Jacket Restaurant, which closed in the 1990s.

McDowell passes Stricker in World Rankings
The final Official World Golf Rankings of 2010 are in, and the only change is that Graeme McDowell has moved into sixth place, dropping Steve Stricker to seventh. Here is the top 10:

1. Lee Westwood

2. Tiger Woods

3. Martin Kaymer

4. Phil Mickelson

5. Jim Furyk

6. Graeme McDowell

7. Steve Stricker

8. Paul Casey

9. Luke Donald

10. Rory McIlroy

If you're keeping score at home, that's four Americans out of 10 (and only one American under 40).

Mickelson, Dustin Johnson commit to AT&T Pebble Beach
No surprise here, but defending champion Dustin Johnson and event regular Phil Mickelson committed to playing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am on Feb. 10-13, according to The Monterey County Herald.

Of course, the real speculation centers around Tiger Woods, who has not played this event in recent years. Earlier this month Woods acknowledged that PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has asked him to play more events in 2011 and he has had success at the Pebble Beach Pro Am in the past. However, Woods is famously close-lipped about his playing schedule, usually committing to events on the latest possible date. Stay tuned.

Stray Shots: Things we saw while wondering if ESPN announcers get paid extra every time the say “ESPN.”

A severed arm was found near the 11th hole at a South African country club. Police believe the arm washed down a river that runs through the course. (Via IOL News)

Nicolls State (La.) golf coach was arrested for allegedly stealing more than $6,000 from the pro shop where he worked. (Via WWLTV.com)

Tweet of the Day:

Kelly_Photo @KellyTilghman: You know you want to play with them. Go ahead. http://is.gd/jC2Rk

 

We're speechless.

December 27, 2010

Truth & Rumors: Dallas guy plays 600 rounds in year, still has girlfriend

Posted at 10:54 AM by Mike Walker

Dallas amateur golfer Richard Lewis, 64, broke the Guinness World Record for rounds played in a single season on Sunday when he finished his 600th round of the year at TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas in Irving, Texas. Friend of the Blog Art Stricklin had the details on PGATour.com:

"Did you ever think I would get to 600 rounds?" Lewis smiled as he celebrated his golfing accomplishment before a few dozen people late Sunday.

"I thought 400 was tough and 500 was a stretch, but 600 was what I had in mind all the time," he said. "It's a huge relief and sense of accomplishment."

In fact, Lewis felt he was slacking off on Sunday only doing 18 holes. He played 36 on Christmas Eve in cold rain and 36 more on Christmas day.

"I can't remember the last time I did only 18 in a day," he said after carding an 86 in cold conditions.

The previous record of 586 rounds was set in Ohio in 1998. Lewis, who walked all 600 rounds, didn’t appear to have a problem with the physical demands of the test, although he lost 35 pounds during the year. In truth, this record appears to be one of the more attainable world records. If they had the time, I know about 50 dudes who could pull this off. However, Lewis did do something truly remarkable: he convinced his girlfriend to approve.

His longtime girlfriend, Debbie Shaw, played some rounds with him at the beginning of the year, but rode in a cart to watch more and was on hand Sunday for photos.

'"One thing, he's certainly found out what persistence is," she said.

Westwood’s caddie says only magic can stop his man
Caddie Billy Foster says it’s just a matter of time before his boss Lee Westwood nabs that elusive first major victory, according to Reuters. What's prevented Westwood from winning a major so far? Magic acts, Foster says:

"In four out of his last five majors he's finished in the top three and all he's got to do is keep doing more of what he is doing," Foster told Reuters in a telephone interview. "Harry Houdini is not going to pitch up all the time like he did at the U.S. Masters this year. What Phil Mickelson did to him by birdying the eighth, 12th, 13th, 15th and 18th in the final round (to win) -- that was unbelievable.

"People won't keep doing that sort of thing to him in majors. All Lee can do is keep putting himself in position and his time will come," added the experienced Foster who is recognized as one of the best caddies in the game.

Fantastic Four-some?

They might not be your dream foursome (though the Thing could probably crush it), but the Fantastic Four superheroes were dreamed up on the golf course, according to The Telegraph UK.

Publisher Martin Goodman was said to have listened while his playing partner from rival DC Comics talked about the success they were having with a team of superheroes called the Justice League of America.

Goodman was said to have gone off and instructed Marvel writer Stan Lee: "If the Justice League is selling, why don't we put out a comic book that features a team of superheroes?"

The result was The Fantastic Four, a team who gain distinctive powers after being exposed to cosmic rays on a scientific space mission, which they go on to use against enemies including Dr Doom, the Silver Surfer and Galactus.

Stray Shots: Things we saw while deciding that 2009 was the golden age of Golden Tee course design.

In a Washington Post article, Chinese golf-course developers are likened to the bad guys in Avatar.

President Obama is playing a lot of golf during his Hawaiian vacation. (Via Aloha Update)

In case you missed it on TV, Tiger Woods went to the Orlando Magic-Boston Celtics game on Christmas Day. (Via TMZ)

The headline of this Daily Express UK article says it all: 2010: The Year We Putt the Yanks in Their Place. Tiger, Phil, Dustin, you're not going to let this slide, are you?

December 24, 2010

David Fay steps down as USGA executive director

Posted at 11:26 AM by Golf.com

USGA executive director David Fay has resigned from his position, according to a statement released on Dec. 24. Here is Fay's full statement:

Far Hills, N.J. (Dec. 24) – The following statement has been issued today by David B. Fay, executive director of the United States Golf Association:

December 24, 2010

The year 2010 was memorable, personally and professionally. Personally, I turned 60 two months ago. When one is a cancer survivor, milestones like this take on extra importance, and sharpen perspective. Professionally, 2010 was a very good year for the USGA. This decade began with a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and will end with a Pebble Beach Open in 2019, with a blend of excellent new and old national-championship venues in between. The golf-in-the-Olympics international structure is now in place, culminating a 20-year effort to return golf to the Olympic Games. And there is a renewed commitment to our core responsibilities which have defined the Association for 100 years: conduct national championships for women and men; write and interpret Rules and regulations (playing, equipment and handicap); and invest in the important and topical work of our Green Section programs. And the USGA's volunteer-staff structure remains the model for State/Regional amateur-golf associations throughout the country.

While the strength of the USGA is not simply measured by its balance sheet, the year 2010 was, by far, the most financially successful year in the 116-year-old history of the USGA.

Things are in good order. Our senior staff leaders, each of whom I have put into place, are highly talented and motivated. And looking ahead, there are a number of multi-year projects on the drawing board which could have long-term impact on the Association.

Which makes this, for me, a good time to move on. Leave on a high note, as Seinfeld would say.

Effective December 31, I'll be retiring from the USGA. It's a place I joined 32 years ago, the last 21 of which I've served as executive director.

It's been my privilege to have served under 17 USGA presidents (12 during my tenure as executive director) with each bringing particular talents, views and energies to the position of chief officer. And I've had the pleasure of working with over 100 men and women who've served on the USGA's executive committee. These individuals, along with over 3,000 other USGA committee members I've known through the years, represent the soul of the USGA. They volunteer their time to the Association's work, and I applaud them for their passion and dedication to the game of golf.

I am confident that my friend and long-time colleague, deputy executive director, Mike Butz, will do an excellent job as interim executive director. His knowledge and understanding of the workings of the Association is second to none.

I leave with the highest regard for the institution of the USGA and its on-going work as golf's impartial Bureau of Standards.

It's been a rewarding, satisfying and fun run.

My heartfelt thanks to all of you - with a special salute to the women and men of the superb USGA staff - who helped make it so.

Peace,
David

December 23, 2010

Ranking the most painful finishes in golf history

Posted at 4:44 PM by Golf.com

Sports Illustrated's Joe Posnanski has ranked the 32 most painful finishes in sports history. Two finishes from pro golf made the list. The first, checking in at No. 6, is Greg Norman's historic meltdown in the final round of the 1996 Masters. Posnanski writes:

When Greg Norman played the Masters in 1996, I was a columnist for an afternoon paper, the Cincinnati Post. This only matters because we did not have a Sunday edition. This had a positive and negative effect. The negative effect is easy: I couldn't write live about Saturday events, and you might know that Saturday is kind of a key day in sports. I couldn't write live on Ohio State-Michigan or on big Kentucky basketball games or on important baseball games played on Saturdays. There were no blogs then, either.

The positive is easy, too: I couldn't write about Saturday events. So when I went to various sporting events Saturday was, in a sense, a forced day off. We would call them Boast Saturdays (Boast for Post -- long story) and we would enjoy watching our fellow writers working on NFL preview stories or deadline college football games and shrug. Sorry. Can't write.

But I was so inspired by Greg Norman's first three days at the Masters that, essentially, I reached the person who ran the Scripps Howard News wire (the Post was owned by Scripps Howard) and asked for a chance to write. I didn't even care if anyone ran it. I just thought I had something to say.

Permission was granted -- funny, nobody ever turns down requests to do more work -- and I wrote an entire column about how they should shut down the Masters, not even bother to play on Sunday because Norman (who was ahead by five shots) had already won the thing. The rest, I wrote, was guaranteed to be anticlimax.

So, yeah, I was an itty-bitty bit off there. Norman's ludicrous collapse (combined with Nick Faldo's masterful 67) turned Augusta Sunday into a very lush psychiatrist's couch. Even Faldo clearly felt bad for the guy. Norman came into the press tent afterward and, with great class, went through his emotions. He had wanted very badly to win a Masters. He never did.

At No.2 on the list is Jean Van de Velde's epic collapse at the 1999 British Open. Here's Posnanski:

This was my first British Open and I have to tell you … it could not have been more boring. The tournament was played at Carnoustie -- I went because that was where Tom Watson had won his first British Open, and he suggested to me that he had the game to make another run (he did have the game … but his amazing British Open run wouldn't happen for another decade). But Watson was dreadful. Well, it fit. Everyone was dreadful.

Someone named Rod Pampling was leading after Day 1 -- he had managed even par.

Someone named Jean Van de Velde was leading after Day 2 -- he was one over par.

That someone named Jean Van de Velde had a five-shot lead after Day 3. It could not have been more boring.

And Sunday played out just as boring -- Van de Velde played well enough that had a three-shot lead going into the 18th hole. A double-bogey and he won. He could hit nothing but putters and make double-bogey (he really could -- later he tried it just for fun and got his double-bogey). Instead, he whacked his driver to the dismay of anyone with a working brain and the ball sailed way right into the rough.

Only he caught the strangest sort of bad break -- when he got there, he saw that he had a PERFECT LIE. Why was this a bad break? Because the lie was so good that it inspired Van de Velde to go for the green. Had it been in the rough he might have tried to chop the ball back into play, limped up to the flag and left with the Claret Jug. Instead, he went for the great shot -- like Billy Conn, he went for the knockout -- and he hit it into grandstand, where it bounced back into thick rough. He then hit the ball out of the rough into Barry Burn, the water that runs in front of the green. Van de Velde took off his socks and shoes, rolled up his pants, leading the BBC announcer to say something like: "This poor man has lost his mind."

Eventually he decided not to try and hit the ball out of the water. He chipped into the bunker, then pitched to seven feet and then, in what can only be attributed to muscle memory, he made the putt for the triple-bogey that at least got him in the playoff. Of course he wasn't going to win the thing -- and he didn't. But it has always amazed me that after all that, he still made that triple-bogey putt. And it was the most painful ending I've ever watched in sports.

Van de Velde became a media star afterward. He was impossibly funny as he went over his round. "I talk about everything except 18, OK?" he asked as he walked into his press conference. Then he talked about 18 and pain and how life goes on.

Those were the only two examples from golf that cracked Posnanski's list of all-time agonies of defeat. What do you think? What other meltdowns should be included? Leave your answer in the comments below.

Truth & Rumors: It's still good to be the King

Posted at 1:43 PM by Ryan Reiterman

It's a slow week in the golf world, but fortunately Steve Elling filed this interesting behind-the-scenes piece with Arnold Palmer. Elling and a few other scribes tagged along with Palmer as he filmed a show with the Golf Channel about his legendary workshop and collection of golf clubs.

From a purely comparative standpoint, Palmer's garage workshop in Orlando is a broom closet relative to the massive, museum-sized warehouse he keeps at his summer home in Latrobe, Pa., where thousands of old clubs are stored.

"Not even close," he said.

As Palmer taped the session, everybody eyeballed the smaller treasure trove on his walls and workbench, where he still re-grips his own clubs. He used to get guff from other players about how often he re-gripped his clubs, and says he once won the Houston Open with three different sets of grips on the same sticks, because he had to have them just so.

And these little anecdotes never get old ...

Palmer remains, in some ways, the most accessible, popular pro in the game. A few years ago, before a morning round of what is now called the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a local sports-talk radio station was broadcasting from a tent located about 150 yards from the Bay Hill clubhouse. It was shortly after dawn when Palmer was spotted while taking his morning constitutional with Mulligan, now 9 years old, alongside.

The radio guys waved. Palmer came over, sat down, put on a set of headphones and gabbed through an impromptu segment, live and without a leash. Small wonder the guy remains as popular as any pro in the game, as evidenced by the Q ratings marketing yardstick released earlier this year, when he ranked atop Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in popularity and likeability. Now a great-grandfather, he's enjoyed that enviable position for much of the past 50 years.

Shameless Plug Alert!
In case you haven't heard, Golf.com has started a new podcast called the Grill Room. Alan Bastable hosts the first episode with special guest Jim Nantz, who talked about the year in golf, Tiger Woods and more. Check it out and stay tuned for more episodes.

Golf & Order
A New York court ruled that wild shots are a common hazard on the course and that golfers can't expect a warning of "Fore!" every time another player sends a shot in the wrong direction. Peter Applebome at the NY Times dug even further and found that golf and lawsuits go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Ever since people have trod meadows and moors intent on striking hard white balls with bottom-weighted clubs, people have been suing one another for shots gone awry. Golf has evolved into the perfect litigation machine, beloved by lawyers, perhaps because so many are making a good living filing suits, defending suits and providing advice on injuries, course and product design, environmental damage, discrimination and almost anything that could conceivably find its way into a courtroom.

“Golf and the law seem to have been made for each other,” writes Craig Brown, a law professor at the University of Western Ontario in “Why Lawyers Love Golf,” published in 2007 in Australia by Scribblers Publishing. “On every fairway, in every stretch of rough, in every clubhouse, in every golf bag, at every swing at the ball, in every set of plans for a new course, in every application for club membership, there lurks a potential lawsuit.”

There’s much logic to this. Golf involves hitting a rock-hard ball at high speed in unpredictable directions. Its devotees often range from the comfortable to the wealthy, the perfect demographic for suing and being sued. Golfers cover all ages, but many are old enough that the misplaced step onto sod covering a hole that is shrugged off by a 20-year-old ends the square-dancing career of a retiree in her 60s. It involves vast areas of land, often including wetlands and endangered species, and tons of fertilizer and pesticides. Its products (balls alone are a three-quarter billion-dollar business in the United States) and brand names (witness the Big Bertie knockoffs of Big Bertha drivers) are the subject of billion-dollar patent infringement and intellectual property claims.

Sounds like I should include a lawyer in my foursome from now on.

Trump facing a fight on Long Island
Evan Rothman has more on Donald Trump's potential acquisition of Engineers Country Club in Roslyn Harbor, Long Island. Evidently a group of longtime members have lawyered up to fight the sale.

The potential sale of Engineers Country Club in Roslyn Harbor, N.Y., to Trump Golf may face a legal hurdle prior to the membership vote on the matter, reportedly scheduled to take place in mid-to-late January. On December 20, Larry Hutcher, a lawyer for an unnamed group of Engineers members operating under the banner "Association for a Better Engineers" ("ABE") sent a strongly worded letter to Engineers CC's Board of Directors, stating: "While we are prepared to commence an action and move for injunctive relief to enjoin the Board's submission of this proposal to the entire membership of the Club for a vote, my clients and I would prefer to try to amicably resolve this matter." ...

A source at the club who spoke on the condition of anonymity had previously described an acrimonious divide between long-time Engineers members and newer members who had recently converted trial memberships into full memberships. The former group, said the source, was more likely to be opposed to a sale to Trump Golf than the latter group. The "ABE" letter puts a finer point on the issue — and suggests it is another potential cause for legal action.

December 22, 2010

Truth & Rumors: Westwood miffed at Euro Tour

Posted at 11:08 AM by Steve Beslow

For Course and Country

Lee Westwood is the face of the European Tour, to the point that no one was surprised when he (yet again) turned down a PGA Tour card to continue playing across the pond in 2011. But the relationship between the Euro Tour and the world's newest No. 1 player is not all peaches and cream.

The Open and the BMW PGA Championship are the only two events being staged in England in 2011. Why?

“I can’t get my head around it. English golf has never been so strong, we have 10 world-class Englishmen and we should all be getting together and playing an English Open or a European Open in England, even if the European Tour has to fund it.

“If the Tour want me to be an ambassador for an English Open then I am quite happy to do that.”

To a certain extent I can understand Westwood's frustration. Between him, Paul Casey, Ian Poulter and Luke Donald, the English are having a major resurgence on the world stage, and there are very few tournaments to showcase them on their home soil. At the same time, Westwood is clearly barking up the wrong tree. Like any other business, the European Tour cares only about one thing: The Almighty Dollar Euro. Hopefully comments like this will get the attention of some of the island's heavy-hitting businesses--when the Tour hears the cash registers opening, that's when you'll see more golf in England.

Now on the tee: You

Have you ever had that dream where you step up to the first tee and find Tiger Woods waiting for you? It sounds like tournament organizers in the UAE are apparently ready to make that fantasy a reality for a very, very lucky golfer. From the European Tour:

"Organizers of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic are offering amateur golfers the chance of a lifetime to play alongside Tiger Woods during the Pro Am tournament at the Emirates Golf Club on February 9, 2011.

Amateur golfers holding a valid handicap may visit the tournament website – www.golfindubai.org – to register online for free. A draw will be held two weeks before the start of the European Tour event to pick the lucky winner, who will join Woods and two other amateurs in the Pro Am, the traditional curtain-raiser a day before the main competition. The winner will also receive two season ‘golf in DUBAI’ hospitality tickets."

I usually hate the phrase "chance of a lifetime," but I can't fault them for using it here. Obviously, Woods plays the pro am at every event he enters, but how often do John and Jane Doe have a chance to tee it up with one of the best players in the world?

There's no way to say how much control Woods or the tourney will exert over the contest, but it's hard to believe that "almost any" amateur is eligible. For example, are they going to let a golf writer like me go out there and pepper Tiger with questions for 3 hours? I guess there's only one way to find out...

Top Tweets

With the possible exceptions of V-groove wedges and that awesome fake golf club that you can pee into, Twitter has been the most surprisingly popular golf technology in ages. Sure it's popular with non-golfers too (or so I've heard), but it's amazing how PGA pros from Ian Poulter to Stewart Cink to Tiger Woods (OMG!) have taken to the internet's newest toy in order to stay in touch with their fans. To celebrate, Golf World has put together some of the best Tweets of the year. There's plenty of great ones, but for me nothing can beat the moment that Michelle Wie finally figured out why she left the entire press room chuckling at this year's U.S. Women's Open.

"sooooo i just found out phi beta kappa is an academic society NOT a sorority...oops."

December 21, 2010

Truth & Rumors: DirecTV could drop Golf Channel

Posted at 1:48 PM by Michael Chwasky

If you're a golf fan who currently subscribes to DirecTV, you could be out of luck in 2011. According to SportsBusiness Journal, the satellite distributor very well might discontinue carrying the Golf Channel next year, cutting off approximately 15 million subscribers from 24-hour-a-day golf coverage.

Currently DirecTV pays about 25 cents a month per subscriber to carry Golf Channel on the company's Choice Xtra tier of programming, and Golf Channel is supposedly planning to increase its license fee. Golf Channel is also apparently trying to prevent DirecTV from placing it on tier of programming with less distribution.

So far DirecTV has dropped two other channels also owned by Comcast, G4 and Versus, in both cases over rate increases. But Golf Channel's viewership hasn't been great either, especially as of late: in November it ranked 78th out of 90 cable networks in total-day viewership. Golf Channel's current affiliate deal with Comcast expires December 31st.  

Darren Clarke to wed former Miss Northern Ireland

The golf world mourned when Darren Clarke's first wife, Heather, died of breast cancer in 2006. The well-liked Euro Tour star soldiered on through his personal struggles and helped Europe win the Ryder Cup that year, but speculation on his playing career and private life have continued to circulate.

The current news on Clarke, as reported by The Belfast Telegraph, is that he's engaged to former Miss Northern Ireland, Alison Campbell. The two have supposedly been dating for over a year since being introduced by mutual friend Graeme McDowell. After ten years of living in London, Clarke has recently moved back to Northern Ireland and enrolled is two sons in local schools. Word is the renowned jet-setting playboy is ready to settle down into a more quiet home life. Hopefully the situation will help him get his golf game back in gear.   

Congressional Blue Course ready for 2011 U.S. Open

After a careful redesign by well-known architect Rees Jones, Congressional Country Club's famed Blue Course is fully prepared to test the best players in the world. Site of five previous USGA championships including the '97 U.S. Open (won by Ernie Els), Congressional's Blue Course was originally designed by Devereux Emmet in '24, and then revised by Robert Trent Jones in '59. Since the '97 Open, Rees Jones has apparently changed every hole in one way or another, stretching the course to 7,568 yards. 

Of all the changes, the most significant may be the addition of a back tee on the 18th hole. The new tee adds approximately 50-yards to the finishing hole, which is now a challenging 521-yard par four that travels downhill to a peninsula green that is partially surrounded by water. "With the added length," Jones explains, "most players will be left with a mid-iron shot as they were in 1997. The player must guard against going left and into the hazard, but the right side of the green ties directly into the existing fairway grade so that running shots can roll onto the putting surface." 

The 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional will mark the 10th time the championship will be played on a course that Jones reworked prior to the tournament. The U.S. Open tracks Jones altered include The Country Club ('88), Hazeltine ('91), Baltusrol ('93), Pinehurst No. 2 ('99, '05), Bethpage Black ('02, '09), Torrey Pines South ('08) and Congressional ('97, '11).

 

 





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