The story on LPGA.com notes the growth from 23 to 33 events during Mike Whan's first five years and $20 million more in purses.
The short item.
And that was followed by the LPGA's more detailed numbers and analysis sent to players and media:
I do not believe the Augusta National will impress anyone as a long course, as although undulating, it is not hilly. There are no irritating walks from greens to tees and moreover it will be so interesting and free from the annoyance of searching for lost balls, that players will get the impression that it is shorter than it really is. ALISTER MACKENZIE
The story on LPGA.com notes the growth from 23 to 33 events during Mike Whan's first five years and $20 million more in purses.
The short item.
And that was followed by the LPGA's more detailed numbers and analysis sent to players and media:
The San Diego Union-Tribune's Tod Leonard profiles San Diego's four Drive, Chip & Putt contestants who all made it to Augusta National after practicing together late into the night prior to the final qualifying.
Included in his story are brothers who made it, Colin and Shane Ffrench.
Highly competitive, Colin, 15, and Shane, 12, battle it out regularly, often separated by only a few shots. The day of the regional final, their parents were very nervous about one making it if the other did not.
“That would have kind of sucked,” Shane, an eight-grader at Carmel Valley Middle School, said. “I know we both worked really hard to get into this.”
Added Colin, “I couldn’t have imagined doing it without him.”
The Ffrench's also got the full Golf Channel treatment. The "DCP" starts Sunday at 8 am ET.
While the tournament formerly known as The Dinah gets ready to start this week under yet another name--the ANA Inspiration--Bill Fields files a nice remembrance to ESPNW recalling how the tournament evolved and its most famous tradition came into play.
There was also this, which is a reminder that the purse was once the biggest in women's golf before the event became a major:
LPGA legend Mickey Wright came out of retirement in 1973 to win the event that was then -- and still -- referred to by many as "The Dinah" even though the entertainer's name was controversially removed from the title in 2000. Wright's victory presaged a trend: Just as most of the finest male golfers have tended to win the Masters in their careers, the best female golfers of their eras have prevailed at Mission Hills.
...in spite of the weather, which was delivering snow and sub-freezing temperatures last week in New York.
Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post tells the course's backstory and previews Wednesday's opening for public play. Naturally, The Donald proffered a humble take on the Jack Nicklaus-designed public course.
“There’s never been anything like this ever built in the history of golf,’’ Trump told The Post. “You have a world championship course that fronts the East River that has among the most magnificent views of the city. The skyline of New York is the backdrop for many of the holes.
“No. 1, Jack Nicklaus has done a great signature course. No. 2, it’s a phenomenal piece of land that can hold big events. No. 3, it’s the best location I’ve ever seen for a golf course because you’re right outside Manhattan. They can have people taking buses from Park Avenue and Fifth Avenue.
Too bad it's not in a temperate climate!
The course where Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson caddied and Sandra Palmer learned the game closed last December. But hunting down the legacy of Hogan and Nelson, CNN's Shane O'Donoghue stopped in at Glen Garden CC on a recent winter day to find the now-shuttered course under snow. O'Donoghue says some of the course's holes will remain intact as other parts are developed into an expanded whisky distillery.
Sandra Baker reported on the course's closing and neighbor hostility toward the new owners.
The Rev. Carl Pointer, who has lived in the Rolling Hills neighborhood near Glen Garden for 35 years and opposed the July rezoning to allow the distillery project, said Thursday he is sad to see how vacant and lifeless the 109.4-acre property has become since the golf course closed Dec. 10.
But Pointer said the neighborhood will become a “gauntlet of protesters” and will contest every event planned for the facility that they find out about.
“We really don’t want this,” Pointer said. “We don’t have a whole lot of confidence in what the new owners say. They’re all over the place. We’re going to make sure the grass is cut and protest every event there.”
Katharine Seelye and Jere Longman file a lengthy New York Times piece looking at the USOC decision to award Boston 2024 the U.S. bid for the Olympic Games.
Not that golf is assured of even making the 2024 games, but after reading their summation and the hurdles facing Boston from resident backlash, golf at The Country Club in 2024 seems highly unlikely. And future American bids may be in jeopardy.
A collapse of the Boston bid could harm future American attempts to secure the Games and would again raise questions about the leadership and direction of the U.S.O.C.
“If Boston withdraws its bid, it would make it seem like the U.S.O.C. didn’t do a good job choosing its city, didn’t research enough possibilities, didn’t take into account that people in Boston didn’t want the Olympics,” said David Wallechinsky, the president of the International Society of Olympic Historians.
And the Masters? Golf World's Tim Rosaforte says yes, the world number 104 will play and he expects a recon trip to Augusta National this week.
That’s what he says in today’s Golf World video report. Taking this under advisement...and believing it when seeing it.
As explained in discussing Rosaforte's report with Damon Hack on Morning Drive, Tiger is not required to give the committee any indication of his intentions unless he is officially withdrawing. There is no entry deadline as there is with a PGA Tour event, merely an accepting of the invitation to play the Masters. And since the tournament does not have alternates, no one is waiting at the first tee to take his place.
This sets up a spectacle scenario where every practice round shot will be scrutinized and every touching of his back will be noted. That’s all fine. But if he starts but doesn’t complete a round at the Masters due to acute release pattern misfiring, the Golf Gods will come down hard on that breach of etiquette.
**There's a good four-minute discussion involving Bamberger, Shipnuck and Van Sickle, officiated by Marksbury and talking Tiger. The video can't be directly linked but appears atop this golf.com page.
**Bob Harig at ESPN.com goes the FAQ route trying to piece together what Woods will do and suspects we will not see a game time decision from Woods.
Would he wait until the last minute to show up and play?
That is unlikely. Courtesy suggests he will give tournament officials some indication so they can prepare tee times with or without him. And Woods is not likely to want to become the story early in the week, especially if he is not playing. It is only a guess, but the expectation is Woods will announce a decision at some point this week.
Since five wins was an average season for Tiger, the number isn't overwhelming. But considering that before Jimmy Walker's Valero Texas Open win there had been 19 straight different PGA Tour winners, the win total jumps out (yet he's barely in the OWGR top 10...oy).
Anyway, John Strege notes all of this and more in a GolfDigest.com column following Walker's 5th win in 18 months over Jordan Spieth, who battled late, the Masters Rory McIlroy is supposed to win may have to travel through these red-hot Texans.
McIlroy is a green jacket shy of the career grand slam, and we hear about inevitability (“If Rory doesn't win at Augusta in a few weeks’ time, he’ll win next year. And if he doesn't win next year, then he'll win it the year after,” Darren Clarke said last week). But don’t summon a tailor just yet.
Walker, who has two victories and a playoff loss in 2015, now has five PGA Tour victories in less than 18 months, the impetus for a rapid ascension that has landed him in the top 10 in the World Ranking.
The final round highlights from San Antonio:
**From the SI/golf. Confidential where Walker was the lead topic:
Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated (@GaryVanSickle): Walker is an elite player. He finished top ten in three of four majors last year and he's got five wins in two seasons. Any other Americans done that? He was eighth last year in his first Masters appearance. But to become a household name he needs to win a high-profile tourney, either a major or a WGC.
Handicappers, punters and other people of vibrancy will want to note Nick Menta's GolfChannel.com item on the Masters field taking on four very sharp players with its Top 50 OWGR cut off following the Valero Texas Open and the No Spectator Classic in Morocco.
These four are playing some very nice golf and there are reasons to add each to your Masters pool roster--should you delve into the depths of degeneracy--especially Casey, who has a strong Masters track record.
Four players - Anirban Lahiri, Bernd Wiesberger, Branden Grace, Paul Casey- punched their ticket to the Masters on Sunday by virute of their position in the Official World Golf Ranking.
The top 50 in the rankings the week before the Masters earn invitations to Augusta National, and the four aforementioned names were the only ones in the top 50 who weren't already qualified.
Though the 100 number is eye catching, as Bob Harig points out, there are likely to be some defections:
Woods has not played since withdrawing from the Farmers Insurance Open on Feb. 5 with back stiffness and subsequently said he'd be taking time off to work on his game.
Stadler has a wrist injury and hasn't played since the first tournament of 2015 in Hawaii, while Koepka (ribs) and McDowell (ankle) withdrew from the past two tournaments, respectively, with injuries. Stricker has not played since the Hero World Challenge in December and had back surgery shortly thereafter.
An intriguing theory about the run of southpaws winning at Augusta National (6 of the last 12 winners play lefthanded) was floated by Arron Oberholser with full support from Paul McGinley, working this week on Golf Channel's Golf Central coverage. While others have suggested the talk-to-a-fade-can't-talk-to-a-draw theory, McGinley takes it a step beyond.
Brian Keogh at the Irish Golf Desk reports the on-air conversation between McGinley and Oberholser over Rory McIlroy's chances and the likelihood a lefty will steal his thunder.
"In 2003 the ProV1x came out - the three-piece hard ball.
"My theory is that right handers have a harder time drawing the ball because when you draw the ball as a right hander around Augusta on certain shots — 13, where you really have to draw it hard comes to mind — the ball wants to dive out of the air. There is not enough spin on a draw to be able to hold your line and keep it in the air.
"Now with a fade, naturally the ball spins more and a lefty, especially a big hitting lefty like Bubba (Watson) he can spin that ball a lot more. The ball stays in the air and the ball curves a lot more easily for him. And you can control a fade a lot more than you can control a draw, especially with this new golf ball and the new technology over the last 12 years."
No Pro V's for you guys!
Lucy Li was a Drive, Chip and Putt winner last year at Augusta National and played the U.S. Open at Pinehurst.
And as the 11-year-old shows in her Golf Digest My Shot with Guy Yocom, she understands the benefits of a ball rollback better than most golfers three, four, five, six, and in the case of a majority of the R&A members, seven times her age.
Jack Nicklaus has talked about making courses shorter, rolling back the golf ball and other ideas to make golf faster, easier and more fun. I agree with him. A big concern for me is the environment. If courses were shorter, they wouldn't need as much water.
And her vision for where golf is headed should give some idea how post-millennials will think.
One day, I could see golf being played in a large stadium, with a single hole changing into a different hole after the last one was complete. You'd actually hit the ball and watch it fly the whole distance, but after that a simulator would take over and change the landscape for the next shot. Mounds, covered with artificial turf, would grow or shrink. A green would rise. Giant fans would change the direction of the wind. You could play a whole round in an hour. And it would be a blast.
Longtime Sports Illustrated writer and author Michael Bamberger joins us to talk about a variety of issues along with his fascinating new book, Men In Green (A review and email Q&A with Michael are forthcoming.)
**John Paul Newport features Bamberger's book in his Saturday WSJ column. Thanks reader John.
That's what Josh Sens at golf.com says.
The funniest part? The developer, Pacific Links International, confirms and even produces a boilerplate quote from Woods. And Tiger's spokesman Glenn Greenspan? No comment.
Asked about the Beijing project, Tiger spokesman Glenn Greenspan said that Woods had nothing to announce at the moment.
But in a statement provided to Golf.com by Pacific Links, Woods is quoted as saying, “We strongly believe this course will stand the test of time and be one of the most prestigious courses in China, and even Asia.”
Pacific Links executives did not respond to questions about the financial terms of the deal.
It's still illegal to build a "golf course" in China where construction has been in full stop mode according to Dan Washburn (and others who, so maybe Team Tiger is just trying to avoid being seen as breaking the law?
**John Strege talks to Golf Digest China's David Lee to try to understand what Tiger will design or redesign with a moratorium on course construction in China.
As for the closing of courses, the Tian’an Holiday Golf Club “wasn’t on the list of courses in trouble,” Lee said. The 66 courses closed were built after the 2004 ban that, Reuters reported, was “imposed to protect China's shrinking land and water resources in a country home to a fifth of the world's population but which has just 7 percent of its water.”
“It’s all very, very confusing,” Lee said.
We talked about the latest Tiger design news on Morning Drive.
With the change in CEO's and suggestions of parent company Adidas planning aggressive product launching, it's hard not to wonder if the company has already cut Taylor Made off at the pass and will return the popular brand to something resembling its disastrous three-drivers-in-one-year product launches. You may recall that approach led to an array of issues with customers, sales figures, layoffs at retailers like Dick's Sporting Goods, suggestions the game was dead and led to higher-ups getting "promoted".
Outgoing TaylorMade CEO Ben Sharpe, who took over in April 2014, was flushing the toilet on excessive launches and trying to right the ship. Sharpe was re-establishing sanity and earning back the trust of loyal customers. Yet just a few weeks shy of his one-year anniversary on the job, he was replaced by David Abeles.
And the future vision sounds familiar, as Ellen Emmerentze Jervell reports in a Wall Street Journal story, suggesting parent company Adidas is going to aggressive launch products in the United States.
Adidas has also vowed to speed up how quickly it brings new products to market and invest more in its core brands, particularly in the U.S. The company wants to open 55 new stores in the U.S. in the next 2½ years. It has 30 today.
Add the WSJ to the list of those confusing rejected product release cycles with the health of the game.
Adidas has suffered a number of setbacks lately. The company has a large presence in Russia where slowing economic growth and the plummeting value of the ruble have crimped the country’s contribution to Adidas’s results. Waning popularity of golf has hit sales at its TaylorMade-Adidas golf unit hard.
No, three drivers in one year was the problem. But it sounds like he's already forgotten what his company said.
And here's where the questions should begin regarding where TaylorMade fits into the Adidas vision:
As part of the new five-year strategic business plan, named “Creating the New,” Adidas said it would respond to consumer trends immediately and push out new products in-season.
In a few years, Adidas aims to use purpose-built machines to create personalized products instantly in its stores. It also plans to quadruple e-commerce revenue to more than €2 billion by 2020.
As for the U.S., Mark King, Adidas’s North American CEO, said the company wants to increase its market share to 15% by 2020.
He lives! Will he have TaylorMade rapidly releasing products again?
TaylorMade can do whatever they like and I hope they find great success since they are a popular, important company in golf. But the sport and business must defend itself from those suggesting the health of the game is poor just because golfers refuse to buy $400 drivers three times in a year.
Another nice win for the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance and their counsel at Morrison & Foerster’s Appellate and Supreme Court Practice Group, as the 9th Circuit (who we could see in action here) sides with the public golf course.
The full press release and and how this moves things one step closer to eventually restoring the course:
PRESS RELEASE: NINTH U.S. CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS DISMISSES ENVIRONMENTALIST GROUPS’ APPEAL IN SHARP PARK GOLF CASE
San Francisco, CA., March 25, 2015
A four-year-old lawsuit brought by a collection of environmentalist groups to close Sharp Park Golf Course – the 83-year-old public masterpiece of famed golf architect Alister MacKenzie – came to an end here Wednesday, March 25, when a 3-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal in Wild Equity vs. City and County of San Francisco.
Filed in March, 2011 by Wild Equity Institute, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, and other groups, the lawsuit sought an injunction to close the course based on allegations that golf operations kill frogs and snakes protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act.
“We’re very pleased that the court of appeals’ decision will allow this historic public locale to continue to serve golfers of all means and levels in the Bay Area,” said Joseph Palmore, co-chair of Morrison & Foerster’s Appellate and Supreme Court Practice Group, who argued the case in the Ninth Circuit on behalf of San Francisco Public Golf Alliance, a non-profit coalition of local golfers working to preserve affordable golf for Bay Area residents. The group intervened in the case after the plaintiffs began their effort to close Sharp Park in 2011. Both the Golf Alliance and Morrison-Foerster have worked pro bono on the lengthy litigation.
In December, 2012, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston dismissed the case, ruling that it was moot following an October, 2012 Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Statement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Service imposed strict protective terms and conditions on golf operations, but allowed “take” of a small number of frogs and snakes provided that the City complies with those terms and conditions.
On appeal, San Francisco Deputy City Attorney Jim Emery said the question on appeal was academic: “was the case moot then [at the District Court] or is the case moot now”? “Moot squared” was how attorney Palmore characterized the case.
Court of Appeals Judges William Fletcher, Morgan Christen, and Andre Davis were unconvinced by the environmentalist groups’ attorney’s arguments that the case comes within a narrow “capable of repetition yet evading review” exception to the mootness doctrine.
I mistakenly let the Buzzfeed-style headlines scared me off from reading about Aaron Baddeley's round one birdie in the Valero Texas Open. That was a mistake.
Because as Alex Myers explains, this one really is an all-timer.
On the drivable par-4 17th (playing 336 yards to the pin today), Baddeley yanked his tee shot into the woods. But after taking an unplayable lie, he re-teed and miraculously holed his next shot. Again, from 336 yards. In other words, this is NOT a misprint:
Baddeley hit driver on both shots, but choked down on his second attempt with the hole playing downwind. The improbable result put him just one shot behind Charley Hoffman after the first round.
"I just thought I'd just hit it straight and so I hit it and started walking and then heard the crowd going nuts," Baddeley said. "I was like, wait, I just made birdie."
Meanwhile 31 of 141 players shot 80 or higher. Jim McCabe attempts to dissect what happened.
Wild moment from the Valero Texas Open today as Mickelson's 8-iron broke at impact. He was playing a fairway bunker shot at the 12th. He made bogey and probably will get fined for texting someone after (probably looking for a replacement or a FedExCup shipment of a new one).
The video with great sound and replay zooming from the NBC/Golf Channel crew:
Nice to see Phil's friends at Callaway not running from the moment. This tweet is from their creative director, Johnny Rodriguez:
In the world of bequeathing emeritus status, The Greenbrier's second pro emeritus Tom Watson, has not had his contract renewed, reports Ryan Ballengee.
If there's a contract involved, it's not really an emeritus situation now, is it?
The resort's head, Jim Justice, says he is looking for a new pro and mercifully, one of the non-emeritus variety.
**Rich Stevens actually broke the story and included quotes from Jim Justice, including this:
“Although Tom has been a great emeritus to the Greenbrier, it is very expensive and Tom’s time is very limited,” Justice said via phone. “He’s a great man ... a great, great man and his accomplishments are world-renown, but his time is very limited and considering the component of how difficult it is for him to be at the Greenbrier and the economics of it, it’s probably better for all parties that we go a different way.”
Justice hasn’t named a replacement and attempts to reach Watson were unsuccessful.
Ben Sharpe is out after almost a year at the helm. He replaced CEO Mark King last April.
For Immediate Release:
TaylorMade Golf Company Names David Abeles as CEO and President
CARLSBAD, Calif. (March 26, 2015) — The adidas Group has appointed David Abeles as CEO of TaylorMade Golf Company with immediate effect. Abeles succeeds Ben Sharpe, who has decided to leave the company for personal reasons. Abeles will report directly into adidas Group CEO Herbert Hainer.
Abeles rejoined the company as President of TaylorMade and Adams Golf last month. A 12-year veteran of TaylorMade Golf Company, Abeles brings a deep executive skill set, leadership competence and business acumen built both within the golf industry as well as in the world of sports. Most recently the CEO of the Competitor Group Inc., Abeles is widely respected within the golf community for his relationships and energetic connection with both the retailer and consumer.
Herbert Hainer, CEO of the adidas Group: "David has a proven track record of success and leadership excellence. I am convinced that David will lead our golf business into the next era of growth. At the same time, I would like to thank Ben for his passion and many contributions to our company over the last nine years and I wish him all the best for his professional and private future.”
**David Dusek at Golfweek on Abeles. The piece includes a photo for the Big Oak crowd wanting to kiss up to the new guy.
In March 2014, Abeles, 43, was named CEO of Competitor Group Inc., a company that operates marathons, half-marathons and races. He previously worked at TaylorMade for 12 years and rose to executive vice president of TaylorMade-Adidas Golf. According to his LinkedIn page, Abeles also worked as vice president of sales and marketing for Acushnet Co. for six years ending in 2007.
E. Michael Johnson says this is Abeles' third stint at the company. He also points out that the task will be tall, with parent company adidas wanting to bring products to the market more rapidly, the very strategy that undermined Taylor Made's credibility with some customers.
Another WSJ article published today noted that Adidas' stock price fell 40 percent in 2014 and that it was seeking to bring products to market at a more rapid pace. The article detailed that Adidas reported 2014 net profit of 490 million Euros, down from 787 million Euros the year before, on sales worth 14.5 billion Euros.