Sports Outside the Beltway

Dustin Johnson wins his second consecutive Pebble Beach National Pro-Am

He birdied the 18th hole to win by one shot. From AP-

Dustin Johnson had to work a lot longer — and harder — for another victory at Pebble Beach.

With a birdie from the bunker on the 18th hole Sunday, Johnson became the first player in 20 years to win back-to-back Pebble Beach National Pro-Am titles, closing with a 2-over 74 for a one-shot victory over David Duval and J.B. Holmes.Pebble Beach Golf

It certainly wasn’t as easy as last year, when Johnson was declared the winner after 54 holes because of rain.

“All you can ask for is a chance to win on the last hole,” Johnson said.

Johnson posted the highest final round by a Pebble Beach champion since Johnny Miller closed with a 74 in 1994. But when he stepped onto the tee at the famous par-5 18th that runs along the Pacific Ocean, he knew a birdie would make up for everything.

Johnson was the only one of the top 3 finishers to birdie 18. Duval, gunning for his first victory in almost 9 years, pitched it onto the green but too much backspin left the ball on the green’s front edge. Holmes, who has the length to reach 18 in 2, took that out of the equation with a bad drive. His pitch to the green was better than Duval’s but he couldn’t make the putt either. Johnson has to think today’s win was redeeming. He won last year’s tournament after the final round was canceled due to weather.

I was pulling for Duval today. He’s still trying to get his career back together. Despite a 2nd place finish at the U.S. Open in 2009, he was unable to make the top 125 money winners. He won’t ever be again the #1 player in the world like he was for a time in 1999 but a win would say he made some type of comeback.

The PGA Tour returns to Pebble Beach in June for this year’s U.S. Open.


Tiger Woods doesn’t enter WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship

He is still on indefinite leave. From ESPN-

The field for next week’s World Golf Championship is set and it does not include Tiger Woods.

The world’s No. 1 golfer had until 5 p.m. ET on Friday to commit to the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and the deadline passed without a word.

England’s Ross McGowan, who has never played in a World Golf Championship event, is the beneficiary, earning the final spot in the field because he was ranked No. 66 at the close of the qualification period last week. No. 2 Phil Mickelson is also skipping the event to take a family vacation.

Steve Stricker will be the No. 1 seed in the 64-player match play event, which begins Wednesday.

Woods has won the tournament three times and made his highly anticipated return to golf following knee surgery at last year’s event in Arizona, winning his first match before being defeated in the second round by South Africa’s Tim Clark.

This will he won’t he saga will continue for every tournament normally on Tiger’s schedule till he plays competitve golf again. I don’t expect Woods to play before the Masters.


Farmers Insurance Group to sponsor San Diego Open

They are only doing this year’s event but have an option to pick up more. From AP-

The San Diego Open has found a title sponsor one week before its tournament at Torrey Pines, with Farmers Insurance Group agreeing to a deal for at least one year.

The PGA Tour said Monday that Farmers, a subsidiary of Zurich Financial Services, has an option to be the title sponsor beyond 2010.

The tournament, formerly the Buick Invitational, will be called the Farmers Insurance Open when it begins Jan. 28.

There have been plenty of Chicken Little impersonators among both golf bloggers and writers because of the PGA having lost multiple sponsors of late. Farmers Insurance stepping forward is just the latest case of these people being off target. Doom and gloom sells or makes for a better column or blog post, remember that.


Host course for the PGA Tour’s HP Byron Nelson Championship in foreclosure

Part of The Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas, is the TPC at Las Colinas golf course, which has hosted the Byron Nelson since 1983*. From the Dallas Morning News-

One of the Dallas area’s most exclusive hotel properties is facing a possible foreclosure.

Lenders have filed to foreclose on the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas, a 400-acre hotel, spa and golf club in Irving.Four seasons

The Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas has almost 400 rooms and hosts the annual HP Byron Nelson Championship golf tournament. The tournament isn’t expecting any impact from the resort’s financial problems.

The more than 400-room hotel is one of the state’s top-rated accommodations and hosts the annual HP Byron Nelson Championship golf tournament.

U.S. Bank NA is seeking repayment of a $183 million loan on the property and has scheduled a forced sale on Feb. 2, according to legal filings.

The foreclosure posting is the largest in North Texas in more than 20 years.

Golf is taking economic hits just like the rest of the U.S. economy. The annual San Diego Tour stop is without a sponsor and faces an uncertain future.

The 2010 Byron Nelson won’t be affected by the foreclosure sale.

George Conant, tournament chairman for the 2010 HP Byron Nelson Championship, said the golf tournament will not be affected.

“We are pleased with the improvements that have been made to the property in recent years to enhance the golf and fan experience at the tournament, and we look forward to another fantastic championship this May,” he said.

Even if Tiger Woods, the 1997 Byron Nelson Champion, is back playing the PGA Tour he probably won’t be in the field. Tiger last played the Nelson in 2005.

*- After the 1985 edition of the Nelson, which is infamous for Payne Stewart double bogeying both the 72nd hole and the first hole of Sudden Death, the Las Colinas Sports Club was transformed into the TPC at Los Colinas. I don’t know about anyone else, but I consider the changes to the course not to constitute a site change. Some golf journalists will probably write otherwise.

A site change- When a golf tournament moves from Course A to Course B. Not when Course A is rebuilt and renamed Course B.

Hat tip- Ryan at Waggleroom


Will the Globe and Mail’s Lorne Rubenstein please pick up the white courtesy phone

In the aftermath of Geoff Ogilvy’s win yesterday, the golf writer takes us down memory lane as he tells us about other Australians who have had success at professional golf.

Greg Norman, of course, is the Australian who probably comes to most golf-watchers when they consider players from Down Under who have been big winners. Norman won the 1986 and 1993 Open Championships and some 90 other tournaments around the world. He tied for third in the 2003 Open, when he was already a senior golfer.

Actually Norman finished tied for 3rd at the 2008 British Open. This may just be a typo. Also Norman’s PGA Tour profile lists his total victories as 89, two of which are those Open Championship victories of his. Rubenstein has it as 2 plus 90 other wins.

There is more……

But Norman was only following a long line of Aussies who have ruled the game. Peter Thomson won five Opens between 1954 and 1965. David Graham won the 1979 PGA Championship and the 1981 U.S. Open. Wayne Grady won the 1990 PGA while Steve Elkington won the 1995 PGA. Ian Baker-Finch won the 1991 Open. Adam Scott has won six PGA Tour events.

Let me point out something about Thomson. His five British Open Championships are impressive, at the time he did it, those were not considered PGA Tour events. Retroactively they have been changed to wins, and if they weren’t, Thomson would have only one PGA title to his credit.

The reason I mention this. The introduction to Rubenstein’s article.

Greg Ogilvy* is the latest in a string of Australians to become a big winner on the PGA Tour

In his day, Peter Thomson wasn’t considered a big winner on the PGA Tour.

I can name four Australians that Rubenstein fails to mention who have won more tournaments on the PGA Tour than Adam Scott. Can anyone take a guess who those are?

Stuart Appleby 8 wins

Bruce Devlin 8 wins

Bruce Crampton 14 wins

Jim Ferrier 18 wins including the 1947 PGA Championship making him the first Australian born golfer to win a major Championship.

But wait didn’t Ferrier become a U.S. citizen? Yes, but so did David Graham at least of those listed above by Rubenstein.

And let’s not forget Kel Nagle, who won the 1964 Canadian Open. The Canadian Open was a very significant event in those days. Who finished second to Nagle? None other than Arnold Palmer.

I know Rubenstein works in Canada and understand his Canadian Open focus. You want to hear what else Nagle won with Arnold Palmer finishing 2nd?

How about the 1960 British Open.

Rubenstein didn’t write a horrible column, just a mediocre and incomplete one.

*- A name slipup obviously. I pick at Golf writer’s work all the time, but I make those same type of mistakes. There’s a level to my nitpicking.


Will ESPN’s Bob Harig please pick up the red courtesy phone

It didn’t take long at all for golf writer in 2010 to offer up a bad already tried idea. Harig writes-

To help, perhaps a new format for the season-opening tournament — whether it is in Hawaii or elsewhere — is in order. Does any sport have a meeker opening than golf? A winners-only event sounds fine, but just 28 players are in Hawaii this week.

Maybe one of the World Golf Championship events could kick off the season.

This has been done already.

January 8, 2001

Melbourne, Australia — Steve Stricker needed a lot of help to win the Match Play Championship, but not from anyone he played.

Three days before Christmas, Stricker was No. 90 in the world rankings and preparing to start his season next week in Tucson, Ariz., at a second-tier PGA Tour event. He wound up in Australia at a $5 million World Golf Championship event when Tiger Woods, David Duval and two dozen other top players decided against a trip halfway around the world.

So Hariq doesn’t just propose an idea that’s been tried already but one that was a abysmal failure as top ranked players skipped the tournament in droves. Remember only the top 64 go to the match play tournament. At least 26 players(and I think the actual total was in the low 30′s) skipped a WGC event when it was the season opener. Brilliant idea, let’s do it again. NOT!

Harig did say the tournament would be mandatory. Aren’t players independent contractors? If a healthy Woods or Mickelson says no, can the tour keep other players from bailing too?

Do note- Only 3 players are skipping this week’s season opener, the SBS Championship.

If Hariq picks up his call, I’d suggest he take he take some remedial lessons in golf history.


Season opener- PGA Tour SBS Championship begins today

The first U.S. pro golf event begins today in Hawaii. SBS, also known as Seoul Broadcasting System a former long-time partner of the LPGA, is sponsoring it’s first ever PGA Tour event. This weekend’s will feature a gathering of all the PGA winners in 2009. Back in the days of tournaments without sponsors, this was known as the Tournament of Champions and was played in Las Vegas or La Costa California up through 1998 when it was moved to the island of Maui.

Tiger Woods isn’t there, and I’m sure you all know why. Phil Mickelson is also skipping the event, something he has done for several years. The only past winner of the tournament playing this week, is Geoff Ogilvy, the 2009 champion. Much has been made of this fact.

I’m not going to speculate on whether the PGA Tour will survive without Tiger, because they will. Firstly because Tiger will be back some day, secondly because the Tour lived successfully for many years without Woods. Could the Tour lose fans? Absolutely, but they are fair weather ones that have limited interest in golf to begin with. If Michelle Wie could finally take off, the PGA’s loss could be the LPGA’s gain.

A few tournaments are without sponsors. I think the Fall Series could be in for a shaky time. The rest of the tour will do just fine. So let the golf begin.


Crystal Ball Time

My annual sports predictions for the upcoming year. Due to some unknown reason, I skipped doing this a year ago. What matters is I came back, right?

1 Cleveland beats the LA Lakers for the NBA Championship
2 Indianapolis defeats Arizona in the Super Bowl Crystall ball
3 San Jose defeats Washington for the Stanley Cup
4 St. Louis beats the Los Angeles Angels in the World Series
5 Tiger Woods returns to golf, wins at least one tournament but no major championships. That is a risky prediction in light of the fact that Tiger has won majors on 3 of this year’s host courses.(Augusta National, Pebble Beach, St. Andrews)
6 Phil Mickelson wins the US Open
7 Michelle Wie wins at least two tournaments, one of which is a major championship
8 Ji Yai Shin is LPGA player of the year
9 A non-Korean golfer will be LPGA rookie of the year
10 Yu-Na Kim wins figure skating gold at the 2010 Olympics
11 The Miami Dolphins don’t make this year’s playoffs but have a winning 2010 season
12 The Miami Heat make the playoffs but lose in the 1st round
13 The Florida Marlins have a winning record but don’t make the playoffs
14 Urban Meyer doesn’t return as coach of the Florida Gators
15 Joe Paterno announces his retirement after the 2010 Penn State season is complete
16 The Florida Panthers don’t make the playoffs
17 The Florida Panthers trade Goalie Tomas Vokoun
18 Manny Pacquiao loses to Floyd Mayweather
19 Kansas defeats Purdue for the NCAA Basketball Championship
20 Texas defeats Alabama in the BCS Championship game
21 Army has a winning football season and gets a bowl invitation
22 Washington Redskins fire Coach Jim Zorn
23 Serena Williams wins at Wimbledon
24 Versus and Directv finally settle their dispute
25 A North American horse racing track closes its doors.
26 Sebastian Vettel wins the Formula World Drivers Championship
27 New York Rangers fire Coach John Tortorella
28 The New Jersey Nets don’t finish with the worst record in NBA history
29 Connecticut defeats Tennessee for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship
30 At least half these predictions are wrong

We’ll come back on December 31st 2010 and see how I did.


Will Cybergolf’s Dave Andrews please answer the White Courtesy phone

My first advice to him. Check pro golf schedules before making suggestions how to improve a LPGA schedule. Andrews wrote-

It’s hard to believe, even in the current economic downturn, that there are no LPGA events scheduled between the end of February and the last week in March here in the U.S. Ideally, those weeks would be filled with tournaments in Florida and other warm-weather states.

The LPGA would not come to Florida during the dates Dave is suggesting. You know why? Because the PGA Tour is dominating the Sunshine State golf scene at that time. Tournaments known as Doral, Honda, Bay Hill, and the Tampa tournament or the The Players Championship are or were played in usually 4 consecutive weeks. If Dave used that Harvard educated brain of his instead of being lazy or careless in not putting to use’s stat section, he would have noticed the LPGA avoids the Sunshine State when the men are playing here. Traditionally late February and March have been months for LPGA events in Arizona, California, and Hawaii. NOT FLORIDA and I checked back to 1980. No LPGA event has been played in Florida from the last weekend in February through all of March from 1980-2009. The latest a LPGA pre April Florida based tournament has ended in any of those years is February 21st.

He would also have known that the LPGA not starting its US based tournaments till mid March is new either. The LPGA Tour in 2003 didn’t finish its first event till March 16th.

If Dave answers my page, I’d tell him to do some research in the future.


Tiger Woods taking hiatus from golf

He was in an auto accident two weeks ago. From -

I am deeply aware of the disappointment and hurt that my infidelity has caused to so many people, most of all my wife and children. I want to say again to everyone that I am profoundly sorry and that I ask forgiveness. It may not be possible to repair the damage I’ve done, but I want to do my best to try.

I would like to ask everyone, including my fans, the good people at my foundation, business partners, the PGA Tour, and my fellow competitors, for their understanding. What’s most important now is that my family has the time, privacy, and safe haven we will need for personal healing.

After much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf. I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person.

Tiger asked for privacy for he and his family. I don’t expect the media or bloggers to stop the silly gossiping they have indulged in over the last two weeks. Rumors and innuendo have been reported as news, and they have been wrong as often as they were right. This just being one such example. I love certain sports but care little about celebrities and that includes what sports stars do when not on the playing fields. There are some standards for what I will blog about.

Hat tip- Ryan at Waggleroom


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