The tournament [The Masters] had one thing going for it -- Bobby Jones. He was its sole raison d'etre. If it was assailable, he was not. Golf genuflected before the name of Bobby Jones. It was as if God put together the tournament. Let no man put asunder. JIM MURRAY
I missed this story last week while traveling but I'm not sure what excuse the golf press has for not reporting it. Here it is, first reported (in English) by Marcus Oscarsson in the Times:
This Daily Express story explored things a bit more:
The golfer Tiger Woods has missed the baptism in Sweden of his three-month-old daughter, Sam, according to Swedish media reports.
Woods is married to the Swedish model Elin Nordegren, whose family turned out in force for the christening ceremony in Stockholm yesterday. But one source close to the family said: "“Everybody was very surprised over the fact that Tiger did not show up.”
While the traditional christening was important to Elin and her family, insiders said Woods’s Buddhist beliefs meant the ceremony was less of a priority.
However, photos of Woods, 31, posing with his arms around Desperate Housewives star Teri Hatcher at the fund-raiser 6,000 miles away merely fuelled gossip. One columnist wrote: “Hey, hasn’t the guy heard of a daily planner?
“Couldn’t he and Elin, have picked a free day – no charity events, no golf, no shooting a dozen TV ads – then had their daughter baptised?”
Elin’s Swedish relatives were reportedly “very surprised” her husband was not there.
After flying into Stockholm on a private jet, Elin, 27, and baby Sam Alexis Woods were picked up by the model’s twin sister Josefin and the baby was christened in a specially decorated gymnasium. Meanwhile, last Saturday’s Tiger Woods Block Party in California raised £500,000 for a school learning programme.
A friend said Woods was “in great spirits”, adding: “He was the life and soul of the party. We had no idea his baby was being christened on the same weekend.”
Allan Maki in the Globe and Mail was the only writer to question Tiger's decision:
But hey, hasn’t the guy heard of a daily planner? Couldn’t he and his wife, Swedish model Elin Nordegren, have picked a free day – no charity events, no golf, no shooting a dozen new TV ads – then had their three-month-old daughter baptized?
Now, I could care less what Tiger does or does not do with his spare time. And frankly, I can't say I blame him for skipping a baptism in a gymnasium halfway around the globe.
But considering that way too many questions asked of Tiger this year in press conferences were schmaltzy, lame and mindless softballs revolving around the birth of his daughter, resulting in countless "fatherhood will make him a more complete man" columns, shouldn't some of the scribblers who peddled that at least report this?
"Three weeks ago I did not know who Gary Player was. And I am sure that - with much greater reason - he had never heard of me either. But now we are tangled up in one of South Africa's messiest controversies."
George Monbiot apparently started the Burma nightmare for Gary Player and probably doesn't make things any better with this Guardian guest column discussing his questions for Player's design group following Player's response.
He first explains how the controversy came about:
I came across him while researching the column I wrote about Burma a fortnight ago. In trying to discover which western companies have been operating there, I stumbled upon a list of the country's recent golf course developments. He was named as the designer of the Pun Hlaing course in Rangoon. His website boasted that he had turned "a 650-acre rice paddy into The Pride of Myanmar".
I asked his company who owned the land on which the course was constructed. How many people were evicted in order to build it? Was forced labour used? As his company is based in Florida, did this work break US sanctions? It refused to answer my questions. I suggested in my column that Nelson Mandela should remove his name from the charity golf tournament Player is due to host next month.
My call was taken up by Desmond Tutu and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu). The Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, which claims to own the event, asked Mr Player to stand down as the tournament's guest of honour. Player's company responded by claiming that it was in fact the joint owner of the event; he has refused to stand aside. The controversy is still raging. Cosatu has promised to turn up and protest if Player does not withdraw.
One result of the fuss is that the Gary Player Group was obliged to issue a statement about its involvement in Burma. It maintained that "the company's decision to design the course in Burma was actually humanitarian in that it took no profit from the endeavour, but rather encouraged the developer to put the money toward creating jobs, as well as the establishment of a caddy & agronomy program ... the company was paid expenses only". Converting 650 acres of rice paddy in a country suffering from malnutrition into a golf course likely to be used by the generals looks to me like an unusual object for charity, so I asked Player's company to provide some evidence for these claims.
Oh boy, here's where it reeeaaaaallllyyyy awkward.
The same statement maintained that "Gary Player has always been a great supporter of human rights" and has "a solid record of campaigning for democracy around the world". To test this claim, I ordered the book he wrote in 1966, when he was 30 years old and at the peak of his remarkable career. Grand Slam Golf is well-written and strangely compelling: it makes the game seem almost interesting, even to me. But chapter two contains the following statements: "I must say now, and clearly, that I am of the South Africa of Verwoerd and apartheid ... a nation which is the result of an African graft on European stock and which is the product of its instinct and ability to maintain civilised values and standards amongst the alien barbarians ... The African may well believe in witchcraft and primitive magic, practise ritual murder and polygamy; his wealth is in cattle. More money and he will have no sense of parental or individual responsibility, no understanding of reverence for life or the human soul which is the basis of Christian and other civilised societies. ... A good deal of nonsense is talked of, and indeed thought about 'segregation'. Segregation of one kind or another is practised everywhere in the world."
Journalists in South Africa pointed me to allegations that Gary Player was used as a kind of global ambassador by the apartheid government. In 1975 he collaborated with the Committee for Fairness in Sport, which was set up by the government to try to overcome the global sporting boycott. In 1981 he featured on the UN's blacklist of sports people breaking the boycott. So I asked Player's company questions about these incidents as well.
All this is a long time ago, and Gary Player's attitude towards the apartheid regime is very different today. But another human rights issue is still current. There is a real problem with golf, and it is not confined to the dress sense of the participants. All over the world the construction of golf courses is associated with dispossession and environmental destruction. You'll find a flavour of the controversies it stirs up in Aberdeenshire at the moment, where Donald Trump is promoting a project to create the "world's greatest golf course" on a site of special scientific interest.
From there it spirals into a rant about environmentally destructive practices in golf, not all of which are true.
From Sports Business Journal:
After 10 years, IBM presses ‘escape’ on PGA Tour deal
Oh wouldn't you love to know the Cialis-inspired headlines that were considered?
The company has been the tour’s “official information technology partner” for 10 years and has wide-ranging rights. It is embedded deeply enough into the sport that it may still be involved with the tour or possibly provide products or services to its successor as the tour’s technology sponsor, sources said, but it won’t return as an official sponsor.
Darn, and I was hoping this meant no more lousy IBM laptops in press rooms.
IBM provides the ShotLink real-time scoring system and the TourCast application, which provides online graphical webcasts of tour stops on PGATour.com.
Other than pricing, sources said IBM was distressed that some competitors gained access to tour equity through affiliations with local events, like EDS’ title sponsorship of the Byron Nelson Championship.
Gained access to tour equity. That's a keeper.
Hey, but at least now we all know what business EDS is in.
IBM has been a Masters sponsor for more than 20 years, and with its official PGA Tour status winding down, it is looking at more tournament affiliations. However, the tour is asking its tournaments not to do any exclusive deals with IBM in deference to any future sponsorship it may cut with a technology partner. An e-mail this month from PGA Tour CMO Tom Wade to tournament directors, obtained by SportsBusiness Journal, stated, “A continued relationship with IBM beyond 2007 is uncertain.” It went on to say the tour is in discussions with “a few different technology partners” who would “invest significantly with many of our tournaments.” Wade asks event directors to contact the tour before granting IBM official or exclusive rights.
Meanwhile, Cialis will not renew its official marketing partnership with the tour. Eli Lilly signed the four-year deal late in 2003 as it prepared to go to market with the erectile dysfunction drug.
But their ad looked so good on the scoreboards. And think of all the fathers who will be deprived of the privilege of explaining Cialis to their sons and daughters.
Greg Nared makes it number two to bid farwell.
Based on the Wie family statement, Nared sounds like he was a driver...
Statement on Greg Nared’s Departure from Team Wie
LOS ANGELES—The following is a statement by Jesse Derris, of Sunshine, Sachs & Associates, on behalf of Michelle Wie and her team at the William Morris Agency concerning Greg Nared’s resignation:
“While we are sorry that Greg will no longer be handling the road management of Michelle, we wish to thank him for his work and wish him the best going forward. The core group of agents handling Michelle’s business relationships remains intact, as it has from day one of her professional career.”
While Kirk Semple's New York Times piece on the Kabul Golf Course and passionate proprietor Mohammad Afzal Abdul makes for a fine read, you absolutely must not miss the video feature that Semple narrates to bring his piece alive.
It's almost 8 minutes long, but well worth your time. Abdul is my new hero.
Over the 43 years of its existence and through as many as half a dozen disparate title sponsors from Piccadilly to Colgate to Suntory to Toyota to Cisco to HSBC -- with another on the way -- the World Match Play Championship at Wentworth has been accused of many things, most of them relating to the tournament founder, the late Mark McCormack, packing the field with his own IMG clients.
In truth, Mr. Ten Percent was an easy target, as was his Cleveland-based company's acronym. "IM Greedy" was a popular alternative, as was "International Money Grabbers," with neither barb, of course, by extension doing anything for the World Match Play's standing in the game. "Nice event, good fun, but no integrity," was the widely held view.
But that was then. With a quantifiable and public qualifying system in place nowadays, this long-standing autumnal event has grown in both stature and credibility. Take this year. Of the four semifinalists, only one, Hunter Mahan, pays a percentage of his earnings to IMG, a point worth making in an event offering golf's biggest first prize, a cool £1 million. And even better, eliminating any hint of blatant bias seems to have brought with it a greater diversity, too. Not only were the final four all from different countries, each hailed from a different continent: Ernie Els from Africa, Angel Cabrera from South America, Mahan from North America and Henrik Stenson from Europe.
Such a cosmopolitan lineup has to be commended in a so-called "world" event, even if, with only 16 starters, there remains an air of exhibitionism about the proceedings. And let's not get into the fact that with the arrival of the WGC-Accenture World Match Play Championship that features the planet's best 64 players, the global claim of this event's title is, if one is honest, more than a little dubious.
The headline writers might like it, but it's still the L.A. Open for me.
According to the Tour's press release, the "new partnership marks the beginning of a process of transformation for this high-profile tournament."
Hmmm...and the Commissioner isn't shy in implying things haven't been that well run of late. No disagreement here.
"We are extremely pleased to announce this new partnership with Northern Trust and excited about its plans to further elevate the profile of this storied tournament," Finchem said. "We look forward to working with Northern Trust and the Los Angeles Junior Chamber of Commerce, as the host organization, to review all aspects of the event and determine how best to enhance its impact."And...
As part of the initial move to enhance the tournament, the Northern Trust Open will increase its purse to $6.2 million in 2008, an increase of $1 million over this year. Additionally, the tournament pro-am will go from four amateurs to three per group. Further changes and upgrades are planned and will be announced at a later date.
Hopefully that includes a comprehensive traffic plan for Sunset Boulevard, parking for player caddies, no more mystery meat in the press tent and of course, no more rain. Oh and we need to work on the logo too. It needs one of those forward-swooping things...
"During one day of play, every player fixed at least one ball mark within 10 feet of the fourth hole -- but only three players actually struck the green within 10 feet of the hole."
The Wall Street Journal's Timothy Carroll looks at the latest divot tools that aim to improve conditions, and offers this fun little anecdote:
But is the design of the tool really the only reason so many greens are full of ball marks? Let's talk about the laziness of the "toolee." Etiquette calls for golfers to fix their ball marks, but every time I play, it's obvious that people fail to do so. Mr. Carroll says he's noticed that some people at high-end clubs believe that for their six-figure initiation fees, someone else should repair the marks for them.
Ball marks, one of the few things that golfers are allowed to fix on the green, can be controversial for other reasons, too. A senior USGA rules official recently told me a story from the Masters a few years ago. During one day of play, every player fixed at least one ball mark within 10 feet of the fourth hole -- but only three players actually struck the green within 10 feet of the hole. Were they all fixing old ball marks, or were they trying to correct other blemishes that they're not supposed to be messing with, like scuff marks from a shoe or indentations left by a player leaning on his putter? "Who knows?" he says.
First he was burying the Faldo-Monty lede, but I think John Hopkins may have produced the single worst lede I've read in a major newspaper.
Tell me there was a copy editor strike that had something to do with this:
The West course, damp underfoot, cloudy overhead, was no place for faint hearts or short-hitters in the last eight of the HSBC World Match Play Championship and the men who compete today for a place in tomorrow’s final are big-hitters, really big-hitters, who come from four continents. Truly the use of the word World in the title of this event is not over-egging it.
Daly's erratic round left him 12 shots off Bob May's lead and probably with a better chance of landing the cover of Men's Health than making the cut here. He and playing partner Charles Howell III (2 over par) each began the day driving into rocks, and neither really recovered enough to be concerned with a leaderboard.
"I'm sick of it," Daly said. "I've got the best ball in (the Maxfli Fire) I've ever played with, but I don't know where the hell they are. God bless (Taylor Made). It's not really their fault. It's the plant in (Greenville) South Carolina. I've never swung a club better in my life than I am right now. I'm not going to blame myself anymore. I'm a better player than this.
"They can do whatever the hell they want to me, but they're sending me a harder ball. It's good for a guy who spins the living crap out of it, but I don't and it's killing me. I've told them every week, and they still keep getting me the wrong balls."
Taylor Made officials in California couldn't be reached for comment, although that might be attributed to faulty cell phone reception. There's a good chance the only words they heard on a message left late Thursday afternoon were "John Daly's balls," which they would probably assume had nothing to do with golf and instead just another off-course incident with their imperfect and yet likeable client.
Joining Gallacher in the Montgomerie camp was Sam Torrance, a contemporary of Faldo and, like many who played alongside the Englishman when he was at his peak, not a huge fan of his interpersonal skills. "To even remotely suggest that Colin is not a team man is outrageous. I played in five Ryder Cups with Colin, a couple of World Cups and numerous Dunhill Cups and one thing he is for certain is a team man," Torrance said.
"I don't think you can criticise your players in public. It is not something I would have done and it's not something I've seen any other captain do. You've got to keep nice decorum in the team-room and keep them all happy. I'm sure Nick will learn from this, he will have seen the error of his ways in criticising Colin like that."
Gary Player, whose involvement in the Nelson Mandela Invitational annual charity event has been called into question over a course he designed in strife-torn Burma, has hit back fiercely at those who wish the event to distance itself from the man who has been the driving force behind it.
In a statement placed on the official Nelson Mandela Invitational website on Friday, nine-time major winner Player had this to say:
"I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that my company’s involvement in the design of a golf course in Burma has been taken entirely out of context.
"We did business there when the world’s relations towards the regime there had thawed. We believed that the talks in which the regime was engaged with the democratic opposition would lead to free and fair elections and that, like South Africa, Burma would embrace the chance to free their people and live harmoniously as an example within Asia.
"With that in mind, we completed the design of a golf course in 2002 – an effort for which we were paid expenses only. At the time we were appointed, Dawn Aung San Suu Kyi had been released and it seemed as though real political change was in the air.
"Sadly, since that time it has proven to be a false dawn.
"I therefore, once again, want to make it abundantly clear that I decry in the strongest possible terms the recent events in Burma and wholeheartedly support Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in his efforts to bring peace and transition to that country, including his call for sanctions.
"The Nelson Mandela Invitational charity golf tournament has been, and still is, my way of thanking and paying homage to our truly remarkable former President, whom we all love and respect."
The all time worst buried lede award may go to John Hopkins for sticking this quote from Nick Faldo at the end of a boring piece on Faldo's "Captain's log."
“Monty’s a tough one,” Faldo said. “He was the only one whose emotions I had to deal with. He only came to two of the five team meetings, so that was disappointing. Then he had to be teased out on to the 18th green to support his team. The bottom line was that he hadn’t won a point. That’s why I sent him out first in the singles. That’s the place to get a point. And he did.”
But Gallacher was damning with his response. He said: "Nick should be more discrete at this stage, especially as the Ryder Cup is next year. He should keep that sort of stuff for his memoirs after the Ryder Cup, rather than saying it now."And...
But Gallacher, who had Faldo in all his three teams, said: "I never felt Nick was a real team player but I accepted that as a captain because he gave you points.
"He wasn't a player like Seve, in as much as Seve would try and rule the team meetings and be out on the course rooting for the players. Nick always wanted to play with the best players. I went along with that because he was pretty good.
"But sometimes tactically you need to split the best players up. Seve was always up for that but Nick wasn't."
From Ron Sirak's blog post on the Masters moving to ESPN:
The move also makes sense for USA Network, which at one time had Thursday-Friday coverage of the PGA Tour but is now out of golf, except for the Masters. In 2007, USA Network was live from 4-7 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, with replays from 8-11 both days. CBS did the live weekend coverage from 3:30-7 on Saturday and 2:30-7 on Sunday. One source said the prime-time replays on USA Network hurt its evening ratings and that while the Masters is a prestigious event, it was not worth the price tag needed to secure it.
You know when a caddie is making $1 million donations and establishing his own foundation, that his loop is just really, really good. Especially since the looper in question has about as much personality as...oh how dare I? He loves children:
Williams announced the donation to hospital staff, patients and their families during a holiday in New Zealand.This left me confused:
"My wife Kirsty and I decided we wanted the foundation to support another area that was in real need, where we could make a big difference," Williams said.
"We talked to the Starship Foundation and were immediately sold on the Starship cancer ward.
Williams has been caddie to Woods, the world golf No.1, since 1999, and is one of the highest-earning New Zealand sportsmen.
Sportsmen? Did he win the World Camera Tossing contest? When did caddying become a sport?
He is also a New Zealand speedway motor racing champion.
Shocking as it may seem, but yes, The Donald is running into all sorts of trouble in Scotland. Shocking because, how on earth could anyone not want luxury homes, lots of gold crests everywhere, a massive hotel and two courses on environmentally sensitive dunesland? What is wrong with these people?
Thanks to reader Larry for this David Lister authored story on a fisherman who is standing in the way of The Donald.
To say that Mr Forbes, 55, is a thorn in Mr Trump’s side is an understatement. His 23 acres of land sit directly between the tycoon’s two proposed 18-hole golf courses and a planned 450-bedroom five-star hotel. A golf academy and driving range would be next door. Just a few hundred feet away would be the majestic sweep of Trump Boulevard, the main access road to the £1 billion resort.It's always all about your Donald! And he took the words right out of my mouth...
“I’m right in the middle, you see,” Mr Forbes said yesterday. “I wasn’t against the golf course from the start, but then they just went mental because I wouldn’t sell. They said they’d make my life a misery and they are.”
Mr Forbes’s land, where a saltire hangs in one corner and a barn emblazoned with the words “No Golf Course” greets visitors as they arrive along the single-track unmade road, has become an embarrassing symbol of defiance to Mr Trump.
“All my family came from around here. My grandfather fished down here and all my uncles as well. I’m the last in line and I’ll see it out.”
Although the billionaire has insisted that he will build around Mr Forbes’s property, his irritation burst into the open this week when he launched an extraordinary attack on his neighbour.
Describing the land as “in total disrepair”, Mr Trump said: “Take a look and see how badly maintained that piece of property is. It’s disgusting. There are rusty tractors, rusty oil cans. I actually asked him, ‘Are you doing this on purpose to try and make me look bad, so I have to pay some more money?’”
The dispute has all the hallmarks of the plot of Local Hero, the 1983 cult film in which an American tycoon seeks to buy a tiny Scottish village, though on this occasion the dispute is about golf, not oil. Mr Trump has submitted plans to turn a 1,400-acre site at Balmedie, 13 miles north of Aberdeen, into “the world’s greatest golf course”, with two championship links courses, a five-star hotel, a golf academy, almost 1,000 holiday homes and about 500 private houses.This AP story also looks at some of the issues facing the project:
The billionaire property developer aims to turn sand dunes at the Menie Estate, 15 miles north of Aberdeen, into a $2 billion golf resort with a pair of 18-hole courses, a luxurious 450-bedroom hotel, 950 vacation homes, 36 golf villas and 500 upscale homes.
Standing in his way are the feathered residents of the beach and rolling dunes -- seven species of endangered rare birds including Skylarks and breeding waders, particularly Lapwings and Redshank.
Local residents in the quiet nearby village of Balmedie are also up in arms at the proposed resort, branding it a "gated community" with too many houses which would spoil the bucolic atmosphere of the area.
Concerned that his investment is about to be pitched into the rough, Trump flew into Scotland this week to set out his plans ahead of a crunch meeting later this month by local council members. He warned he would drop the project if the houses were rejected and claimed the course would improve the local environment.
"Each and every golf course I have built has got awards for environmental protection, and I do not think anyone has got as many awards as we have." Trump told reporters at a press conference on the estate. "I believe environmentally, when we are finished, the course will be better environmentally than before we started.
"It's possible I could lose a great deal of money. It would cost a lot less money if we did not care about the environment."
Local protesters claimed the visit was designed to put the heat on members of Aberdeenshire Council, who are expected to make a decision on Oct. 29. If approved, it would then go to the Scottish government for final approval later in the year.
Local opinion is divided. The planning application lodged at Aberdeenshire Council in June has attracted more than three times as many letters of support as it has of objection -- 327 to 105. There is also a petition objecting to the proposal with 28 signatures.
In July, planning officials recommended approval for the project, which would create more than 800 jobs during peak season. But the plan is so controversial that councilors deferred their decision and are refusing to comment until after a consultation process is completed.
...in Australia. Martin Blake reports the unfortunate news that the course closed temporarily because it's not paying its bills. You have to love Clayton's quote:
One source said the course's co-designer, US golf course architect Tom Doak, was owed at least $250,000.
Mike Clayton, Melbourne golf professional, course architect and Age columnist, was the other designer. Mr Clayton said he was disappointed to see the concept struggling. "It's clearly one of the best courses in the country and it needs to work," he said. "We can't afford to lose great courses. We've got too many bad courses around without losing something like this."