It's a boring course. You can fall asleep on it because you're always hitting the same kind of shots--woods or long irons. JACK NICKLAUS on Firestone
Thanks to reader Tuco for this...
Jan. 30 (Bloomberg) -- HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe's biggest- bank by market value, will end its sponsorship of golf's World Match Play Championship five years early to concentrate on the European Tour's Champions tournament in China.
HSBC in 2003 signed a 10-year accord for the 16-player World Match Play at Wentworth, southwest of London, two years before it began to back the Champions tournament in Shanghai. International Management Group, the sports agency founded by Mark McCormack, will seek a new sponsor for next season's 45th edition.
"The World Match Play has taught us a lot about golf and led to the success of the HSBC Champions in Asia,'' the bank said in an e-mailed statement today. The Champions ``has grown faster than we could have hoped and means that now is the right time to make this decision.''
HSBC has struggled to attract top players to Wentworth even after increasing the first prize to 1 million pounds ($1.97 million), the biggest winner's check in the game until this year's FedEx Cup final on the U.S. PGA Tour. Players including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk have regularly shunned the event, limiting the appeal of the contest.
The San Diego Union Tribune's Tod Leonard was subjected to that modern newspaper advertising guru's idea of extending the brand: an online chat.
It did allow him to answer a question I had posed on the site last week:
The Buick Invitational will be played as usual in 2008. The original plan was to play the final two rounds on the North Course, but when the City Council rejected the idea of a redesign, the Century Club asked the USGA for permission to use the South for the weekend, and the USGA agreed.
The chat also provided Leonard a chance to bond with his readers, and to teach someone like yours truly who has been known to use the same word that got Leonard in trouble.
donstone(Q) Do you have any idea what the offensive word "schmuck" means that you used so inappropriately in your column today??
TodLeonard(A) My dictionary.com tells me that it means "obnoxious or contemptible person." Apparently, it's also yiddish for penis, although I certainly did not know that. As is fairly clear in the story, I used it because it rhymed with luck. My apologies if you were offended, and I'll reconsider the next time I think about using it.
L'Chaim to life!
...Peter Harradine. Invited guest in Dubai telling the developers overpaying player architects that they're idiots.
In the liveliest debate of the first day of GolfEx Dubai 2007, Harradine questioned whether money is becoming the only criteria for course designs.Oh and this is beautiful:
"The whole world is based on marketing," said Harradine. "Tiger is the best athlete that's ever walked the earth, but as a golf architect? If a top player is involved in a course design, it usually means it will be over budget and over schedule. My signature stands for quality, built on time and on budget."
Harradine didn't reserve criticism for the players so much as developers and owners. "The players aren't daft, if they know they can ask for $1 million or $2 million more they will, and good luck to them - they realise that daft people will pay them."
Jeremy Slessor, Managing Director of European Golf Design, defended the use of top players putting their names to projects, saying the increased pulling power invariably leads to higher revenues.
"It may be marketing, but as a mechanism it works. If you put Langer's name on a course you know it will be played by Germans," he said.
That new WGC event in China is no longer a WGC...
That means all the WGC events this year will be played in the United States — the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona next month, the CA Championship at Doral in Miami and the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone in Akron, Ohio.Oh I think it's pretty clear!
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and European tour chief George O'Grady said last fall that Mission Hills would host the World Cup for two years, then get a World Golf Championship the following 10 years.
It was not immediately clear how the announcement Monday affects those plans.
Golfobserver.com's Sal Johnson cooked up this stat on Tiger:
Highest winning percentage's on the PGA Tour:
Player Percentage (wins / starts)
Tiger Woods 27.36% (55 out of 201)
Ben Hogan 20.7% (61 of 294)
Byron Nelson 17.8% (50 of 281)
Sam Snead 14.9% (81 of 549
Jack Nicklaus 12.2% (73 of 594)
Billy Casper 9.2% (51 of 556)
Arnold Palmer 8.4% (62 of 734)
I would insert pithy jokes into this press release, but why when it so masterfully does the job all on its own:
Golf’s Dream Team Blows into Dubai
“El Nino” unveiled as designer of Wind course at Jumeirah Golf Estates
Garcia to work in unique collaboration with Greg Norman and ‘father of modern golf course design’ Pete Dye
Fourth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates to take inspiration from the earliest traditions of golf – creating Dubai’s first links-style course
Dubai, UAE: Sergio Garcia was today unveiled as one of the designers of the fourth course – Wind – at Dubai’s premier residential golf community development, Jumeirah Golf Estates.
Garcia is to work on the design of Dubai’s first links-style course, taking its inspiration from the earliest forms of golf, in which uneven fairways, thick rough, small greens and pot bunkers create an exciting golfing challenge – which is then made even more memorable by the swirling patterns
of the wind.
In a world first, “El Nino” – so named because of the energy and dynamism of his game - will be joined by two of the world’s leading golf course designers in creating the Wind course.
Huh, and here I was thinking it had something to do with him being Spanish! Oh wait, I said I wasn't going to interrupt. Sorry.
Greg Norman, one of the world’s most successful player-turned-designers, has signature courses around the world. Already working on the Fire and Earth courses at Jumeirah Golf Estates, Norman will work closely with Garcia in creating the Wind design.
And in his first project in the Middle East, Pete Dye – known as “the father of modern golf course design” – is to collaborate with Norman and Garcia on the project.
David Spencer, chief executive officer of Jumeirah Golf Estates, said:
“We promised something special for Wind and we’re definitely delivering it.
“Garcia is one of the most exciting raw talents in golf today. The excitement and raw energy he brings to the game will be balanced by the maturity and sophistication of Norman and Dye.
Key word here, raw.
“No course in the world has been able to bring together three such major talents. This is a truly unique collaboration.
“Wind is without a doubt going to become one of the most stunning courses
in world golf. It will be a natural work of art – a masterpiece.”
A natural work of art completely manufactured out of desert. Uh huh. Just like Joan Rivers's is a natural work of art.
Scheduled for completion in 2009, Wind joins Fire and Earth – each designed by Greg Norman – and Water, designed by Vijay Singh, in creating one of the world’s leading golf developments.
And on a side note, Philip Bayley will be joining Vijay on the Water Course design, and to return the favor, Vijay in turn will be on backing vocals for Earth, Wind and Fire's joint billing with the Credence Clearwater Revisited this summer at the Fort Lauderdale Center For The Performing Arts and Fair Grounds.
Sergio Garcia said: “I love the demands of links golf. A great links-style course means it is both a physical challenge and a mental test – and offers the most enjoyable golf there is. That’s exactly what we want to create with Wind at Jumeirah Golf Estates."
It almost reads like he wrote that himself.
“I’m really excited to be working with Pete Dye and with Greg Norman on the design. I cannot think of a more experienced and successful pair of golf course designers in the world today.
Oh I can.
Odds that Sergio has ever met Pete Dye?
Greg Norman said: “I don’t know of another project anywhere in the world that has brought together three internationally recognized figures to collaborate on one golf course. Sergio Garcia brings enthusiasm and excitement to this project that is contagious. I'm looking forward to keeping him away from my daughter during his two contractually obligated site visits.
Oh wait, that last sentence shouldn't have gotten in there!
"And working with Pete Dye again is fantastic. There is nobody in the world today that knows more about golf course design – especially links golf.
Pete Dye was champion golfer in his own right, before turning to golf course design nearly 50 years ago. Heavily influenced by his early trips to Scotland, the home of golf, Dye’s designs have established new levels of quality and challenge for golfers over the last four-plus decades. Wind marks his first project in the Middle East and his first collaboration with Garcia.
Pete Dye said: “The Dubai desert provides what every golf course designer dreams of – a completely blank canvas on which to work.
Well, not every designer.
"I’ve always believed the traditional elements of real golf in Scotland offer the greatest test for
golfers and that is what we want to create here.
“You will see the undulating fairways, pot bunkers and protected greens that you’ll find in all the best links courses. We’re determined to create a truly memorable experience.”
Oh yeah, Pete said that!
“These partnerships will help bring to life the amazing feats that occur each week on the LPGA Tour, such as crushing 275 yard drives..."
Thanks to reader Tom for this release. As always, your vote on the most ridiculous of the requisite lame quotes is welcomed:
LPGA announces technology enhancements for telecasts SkyCaddie to provide real-time GPS information
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Jan. 26, 2007- The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) and the Golf Channel have each partnered with SkyGolf, makers of the SkyCaddie® GPS rangefinder, to provide enhanced, real-time information to viewers during live LPGA tournament broadcasts. Analysts will be utilizing SkyCaddie® rangefinders to provide real-time information to viewers of LPGA telecasts on ESPN2 and the Golf Channel, beginning with the Golf Channel's broadcast of the SBS Open at Turtle Bay, Feb. 15-17.
Viewers will be given comprehensive information, including players’ driving distances and positioning, such as distances needed to clear or lay up in front of fairway hazards. The inclusion of this cutting-edge technology and production enhancement represents the first time advanced GPS technology will play such an integral role during LPGA golf broadcasts. The SkyCaddie® rangefinders use the same global positioning system used by the U.S. military, but in a highly portable handheld device about the size of a cell phone that can compute distances to any point on a golf course.
“We are very excited to be working with the LPGA and the Golf Channel to provide a unique perspective to viewers that will help showcase the remarkable talents of these highly skilled professional athletes,” said SkyGolf CEO Richard Edmonson. “These partnerships will help bring to life the amazing feats that occur each week on the LPGA Tour, such as crushing 275 yard drives and pinpoint approach shots.”
Even Bivens in her prime can't top that...crushing 275 yard drives?
“Our research has shown that our viewers are looking for more statistics and information about the great play on the LPGA Tour,” said LPGA Commissioner Carolyn F. Bivens. “We are pleased to team with SkyCaddie to bring enhanced information to our tournament broadcasts. SkyCaddie’s portability and easy-to-use technology will make broadcast implementation seamless, allowing our broadcast partners to clearly illustrate why LPGA players are some of the best athletes in the world.”
MBA Points for use of portability, seamless and partners, but best athletes in the world? Boring...
“The LPGA is extremely popular right now, featuring gifted players and intense competition each week,” said the Golf Channel’s Executive Vice President of Advertising Sales and New Media Gene Pizzolato. “We’re proud to be expanding our production capabilities of LPGA telecasts by incorporating the proven performance of the SkyCaddie into our broadcasts to bring exciting real-time information to our viewers like never before.”
I wonder if they'll plug the SkyCaddie numbers into WinZone in order to make it, well, work?
If you are a bit turned off by the streak of PGA Tour PGA TOUR branded wins, this Tiger streak of no finish worse than 2nd as listed in today's L.A. Times is probably more impressive.
Since missing the cut at the U.S. Open last June, Tiger Woods has finished no worse than second in 12 stroke-play events, a streak that includes victories in his last seven PGA Tour tournaments:
Date Tournament Course Site Result
July 6-9, 2006 Cialis Western Open Cog Hill Lemont, Ill. T-2*
July 20-23 British Open Royal Liverpool Hoylake, Eng 1*
Aug. 3-6 Buick Open Warwick Hills Grand Blanc, Mich. 1*
Aug. 17-20 PGA Championship Medinah Medinah, Ill. 1*
Aug. 24-27 Bridgestone Invitational Firestone Akron, Ohio 1*
Sept. 1-4 Deutsche Bk Champ. TPC of Boston Norton, Mass. 1*
Sept. 28-Oct. 1 American Exp Champ. The Grove Hertfordshire, Eng 1*
Nov. 9-12 HSBC Champions Sheshan Shanghai 2
Nov. 16-19 Dunlop Phoenix Phoenix Miyazaki, Japan 2
Nov. 21-22 PGA Grand Slam Poipu Bay Poipu, Hawaii 1
Dec. 14-17 Target World Challenge Sherwood Thousand Oaks 1
Jan. 25-28, 2007 Buick Invitational Torrey Pines La Jolla 1*
* PGA Tour Event
In the recently announced USGA-Lexus partnership, it is noted that courtesy cars will be available for player use. Included in this is the U.S. Amateur, where a large portion of the field is under 25 (can't even rent a car) and nearly as many contestants are NCAA golfers.
So I'm wondering if these college golfers accept a courtesy car from the USGA (I'm still having trouble envisioning 312 actually being delivered for the U.S. Am), would they be allowed to accept this gift and the free gas that comes with it?
Any NCAA and amateur status gurus out there have thoughts on this?
People say Torrey Pines lacks design subtlty or even the wonderfully quirky blind shots that you find on great links.
But I say they are wrong!
Did you see Tiger's third shot to 18 during the final round of the Buick? Yes, it appeared to be a blind shot!
Granted, it was that lovely Las Vegas-inspired fountain ejaculating so fiercely that it appeared on television to be an obstructed view of the flagstick!
A masterful blend of design genius and algae control there at Torrey Pines.
...but forgot? Ran out of time? Simply didn't care?
Nice going guys! It's okay, we don't care either.
But, if you have absolutely nothing to do, here are the standings.
And yes I'll say what needs to be said. It's tough to address these things, but someone has to do it.
If the FedEx Cup playoffs started today, Todd Hamilton would not be in them.
But just think of the storylines!
Kudos to Peter Kostis for slipping in the "where will we see you next" question of Tiger in his post-final round Buick interview. Word has been quietly filtering out that he's likely not going to play at Riviera, and this was seemingly confirmed by Tiger's absurd answer about the long trip to Dubai and needing time to rest (though it did set up a nice zinger from Faldo about the trevails of traveling on a G5!).
Look Tiger, whether it's the traffic, the lousy weather, the poa greens, the lousy threadcount on the sheets at the Malibu beach house you rented, it doesn't matter. But don't claim fatigue with a week off after Dubai. You are more creative than that!
But it also seems one of the writers (who!?) was pretty skeptical of Tiger's reasoning for likely skipping Riviera, and judging by the answer he received, the question hit a little too close to home...
Q. If you don't play Nissan for whatever reason, if you're not ready or what-have-you, there will probably be some speculation like at East Lake where you're now at a point where you're trying to protect your streak, especially at a place like Riviera where you've never come close to winning; what would your answer be to that?
TIGER WOODS: People can say whatever they want. That's their opinion. They are entitled to it.
Besides Nick Faldo's debut, CBS introduced new graphics and going to one commercial, Jim Nantz plugged everything imaginable, and some cool Killers music reminiscent of an ABC telecast briefly appeared (but lots of tired Yanni for the most part).
The only highlight was the pairing of those two lovebirds, Tiger Woods and Peter Kostis. I'm not sure what exactly gave the love-hate away. The lack of eye contact? The distance between the two, or the general feel of a dentist office conversation?
Well as promised, Kostis delivered pat questions.
Your thoughts on today's round?
How did you feel in terms of your competitive spirit with three rounds under your belt this year?
How do you feel about the overall state of your swing and game?
Thoughts about tomorrow?
Credit for Kostis for not asking any pending fatherhood questions. Those are getting really old. And we have 6 months to go!
There's another donation for charity!
From Rich Beem's post second round press conference at Torrey Pines, courtesy of reader Scott:
Q. Do you think kids will be wanting to win the FedExCup as much as the Masters or U.S. Open?
RICH BEEM: To be honest with you, this is an honest answer, I sure hope not. Because I think that that would be demeaning towards the majors and what everybody grows up -- I mean when I'm out practicing, when you see kids out there practicing, you know, seven-, eight-, nine-year-olds, even 15-, 16-year-olds, "I've got this putt to win the U.S. Open. I've got this putt to win The Masters."
I sure hope there never comes a day where a kid says, "I have this putt to win the FedExCup." I hate to say that because it sound like I'm bashing on the TOUR and the FedExCup and I'm not. I really hope that the kids are dreaming about winning a major championship and winning a title instead of winning something else. I just sure hope not.
JOE CHEMCYZ: Thanks, Rich.
RICH BEEM: Wow.
"I hope 112 years from now, American Express and Lexus will still be involved in a partnership with us."
Travelgolf's Chris Baldwin, talking to USGA Executive Committee members Irv Fish about the Lexus partnership:
"When we were looking at potential partners we were excruciatingly deliberate," Fish told me as waiters circled the room with smoked salmon and crab cake creations. "We passed on several opportunities that would have meant more money but didn’t fit as well. I’m confident that all the good we stand for will remain in place."
Fish is already envisioning a near nirvana future of feel-good Lexus ads.
"I can honestly see these partnerships lasting as long as we went without," Fish said. "We went 112 years without a sponsor. And I hope 112 years from now, American Express and Lexus will still be involved in a partnership with us."
There's always hope!
Say, just typing out loud here. Wouldn't you be more concerned that there be a USGA in 112 years?
It must be nice living inside that little USGA Executive Committee bubble where Blackberry's buzz and groupthink festers.
Thanks to reader Scott for noticing this fun exchange between Brandt Snedeker and the scribblers. He's talking about how excited his parents were at his play and that they were watching it on The Golf Channel GOLF CHANNEL (thanks ASAP for reminding me it goes in caps). Snedeker is staying at the Hampton Inn where, well, he couldn't watch with them.
Q. You keep on talking about your dad; is he here?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: He's not. He's at home watching on TV probably more nervous than I will ever be. He's sweating it out at home.
Q. Did you talk to him? What did he say?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: I talked to him last night. He's giddy as a school girl on cloud nine, could not be happier, just loving every minute of it. He and my mom are watching it on TV, they were watching the replay last night and I don't get the GOLF CHANNEL so I didn't see any of it. They said, give me play-by-play, and it's like, I was out there -- (laughter).
It was a good experience. They are excited and it's great to see them that fired up.
Q. What are their names?
BRANDT SNEDEKER: Larry and Candy. Staying at Hampton Inn. I'm not going to be Will MacKenzie and give you the room number. (Laughter.)
"It's a very rare to find a cross- promotional partner that shares so many brand attributes, but in this instance we have found it," said Ed Kiernan, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Peter Jacobsen Productions.
"The key factors to fostering this relationship stem from Lexus' ongoing commitment to the game and their unwavering support of golf at all levels. The four USGA championships provide Lexus with a one-of-a-kind marketing platform to reach multiple stakeholders through tailored events, select ticket and hospitality opportunities, dealer engagement, co-branded promotions and critically important premium experiences."
Here's the buried money quote on the real reason behind the USGA partnership...
"It's a sizable deal. It's a big deal," Kiernan said. "They bought a sizable NBC package as well. ...
"It's really going to mirror what they've done with the USTA (United States Tennis Association) and the U.S. Tennis Open."
And we know what great shape the USTA is in. Love the corporate banners all over the place too. Hope we get the same interaction opportunities at golf's U.S. Open.
Last month, American Express became the USGA's first corporate partner in its 112-year history.
One of the byproducts of that deal was that American Express card members could purchase sold-out Trophy Club tickets to the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont.
"We are pleased to play a part in this historic union between golf's governing body and the top-selling luxury nameplate in the U.S.," Kiernan said.
Bet you are jotting that one down right now. Top selling luxury nameplate...priceless.
Naturally, this will lead to the inevitable calls that the course is too easy and needs a renovation. Even though the North functions beautifully 51 weeks a year, someone is bound to declare that it has become outdated by today's "better athletes."
"I welcome a partnership like this, where the shared expertise of two leading companies can help us all do more to benefit the game."
You're thinking, which two companies would that be that Annika Sorenstam is referring to? Why, Lexus and the USGA!
From USGA.org's news division (shouldn't that be USGA.com, if they're a company?):
USGA Signs Corporate Partnership With Lexus
January 25, 2007
Far Hills, N.J. – Lexus and the United States Golf Association (USGA) announced an unprecedented multi-year partnership that makes Lexus the automotive partner of the USGA and the official car of the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open, U.S. Senior Open and U.S. Amateur. As a result of this landmark agreement, which was announced at a press conference featuring Annika Sorenstam, Lexus becomes the first automotive partner in the USGA’s 112-year history.
Yes, the U.S. Amateur. Uh Mr. Ouimet, do you remember which color your Lexus is? The valet's can't seem to find it! We have 312 of them!
"Lexus has been involved with golf for many years, but we see how passionate our customers are about this sport and we wanted to step up our involvement," said Deborah Meyer, vice president of marketing for Lexus. "This is a tremendous opportunity for us to partner at a very high level in the sport and engage our customers in unprecedented ways."
The USGA agreement strengthens the relationship that Lexus has with the game of golf and allows the company to use this partnership and USGA championships as opportunities to provide its customers with premium experiences around the sport of golf.
Ah, more $pecial acce$$ for $pecial people.
"The obvious fit is that the USGA will now be able to offer Lexus vehicles and provide the players with an enhanced experience at selected USGA national championships while Lexus gets to showcase its product line at the very top events in golf—the USGA national championships," said USGA President Walter Driver. "We are looking at all of the possibilities and the things we can do together for the benefit of golf."
It's for the good of the game!
Possibilities? That means Walter is really having trouble deciding between oak or mahogany for the dash of his new LS.
Lexus plans to support this corporate partnership through an integrated marketing and communications campaign that includes advertising, public relations, direct marketing, promotions, dealer events, interactive support and online marketing as well as a number of specific USGA membership and onsite activities at championships, such as hospitality, clinics, charitable tie-ins, signage and special events.
Exciting, isn't it? Ah, and now our money quote:
"I’m proud to represent the Lexus brand and the high quality it represents," said Sorenstam, a top member of the Lexus team in golf and the defending Women’s Open champion. "Certainly I welcome a partnership like this, where the shared expertise of two leading companies can help us all do more to benefit the game."
Hey, she's really not that far off. But are they a private or publicly traded company?
And for those of you keeping score at home, the USGA at least had the good taste to omit this graph from the emailed copy when posting it on their web site:
In addition to announcing its USGA corporate partnership, Lexus also introduced its 2007 team of professional golfers. Lexus golfers Annika Sorenstam, Peter Jacobsen, Raymond Floyd and Nick Watney are joined by golfers previously in the Toyota stable:
Key word stable...
Mark O’Meara, Jeff Gallagher, Trevor Dodds (PGA), Janice Moodie (LPGA), Gil Morgan, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Mark Pfeil, Charles Sifford (PGA Champions), Greg Twiggs and Esteban Toledo (PGA Nationwide) to the team.