1. Tiger Talk
By now, you’ve not only been barraged with coverage of Tiger Woods’ latest heroic feat–a sliding left to right putt for birdie at the Arnold Palmer Invitational that ranks just short of divine–but you’ve also heard that Tiger’s “streak” fell short Monday morning at Doral to the Puma-clad Geoff Ogilvy (pictured). Meanwhile, Doral’s star-studded leaderboard, writes GolfWorld’s Jim Moriarty, is evidence of the sharpening of golf’s games in preparation for something called The Masters next month. But armchairgolfer wonders if the USA Today jinxed Woods and his streak, which Golfweek’s Jeff Rude was already comparing rather favorably to Byron Nelson’s?
Woods hardly had time to exactly reflect on the ‘setback’–he was quickly shuttled off to another edition of the Tavistock Cup, where exclusive golf club communities in South Florida (Isleworth and Lake Nona) that happen to boast an inordinate amount of PGA Tour professionals as both homeowners and members, play annually for bragging rights. Whether or not Tiger remains a participant following his imminent jump to his Jupiter-based, Tigerland manor remains to be seen, but given the hefty appearance fees in play, and more importantly to Tiger the competitive camaraderie present, the answer is probably yes. Furthermore, just because Tiger is moving his base from Isleworth doesn’t exactly mean he’s severing his ties with the Tavistock Group, a private equity company founded 30 years ago by Joe Lewis that owns a diversified portfolio of investments including golf resorts. On the contrary, Tavistock is behind Woods and Ernie Els’ joint venture with the Jamaican government for the development of Harmony Cove, a multi-billion dollar exclusive resort destination in Jamaica soon-to-open.
Going back to Bay Hill, Bart Bryant finished runner-up to Woods while wearing Divots Golf’s aero cool and mercerized cotton, which no doubt kept him cool while he sat in the scoring van with his back to Woods’ dramatic finish. Also, NBC camera close-ups of Tiger’s putter on 18 did in fact reveal the Ping logo. But no, Tiger does not play a Ping putter. Tiger, rather, plays a Scotty Cameron 303 GSS (German Stainless Steel) Newport 2 Putter. However, Tiger does use a Ping “Pingman” putter grip on his Scotty Cameron. And according to The Eldrick Tiger Woods FAQ over at GolfWRX.com, where many other Tiger-related myths can be dispelled, “he used to black out the Ping logo with a Sharpie pen, [but] now Ping manufactures the same grip with a blackend logo because of this practice.”
Finally, thegolfblog.com links to a nice You Tube piece of Tiger making art. No, he’s not Luke Donald talented. But I’ll bet his Pollock-like “creations” would sell for a few pennies more than Luke’s watercolors.
GolfWorld Campus Insider Ryan Herrington covered the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic from the University of Georgia GC in Athens this past weekend, which saw Duke’s Amanda Blumenherst finish five strokes better than Arkansas’ Stacy Lewis, giving her “a 2-1 head-to-head record versus Lewis on the season and likely the inside track in their duel to be the NCAA’s top player in 2007-08.” Staying in Georgia, one of the bigger men’s events of the spring takes place Monday through Wednesday at the United States Collegiate Championship at The Golf Club of Georgia’s Lakeside Course in Alpharetta. As for my favorites, Herrington’s Top-5 is SEC heavy, but I’m sticking with UCLA in any tournament they’re entered in. And if any golf agent hasn’t yet heard of Georgia State’s Joel Sjoholm, they will after Wednesday.
Sticking with college golf, for agents looking ahead on their recruiting/scouting calendars, note that The Farms Golf Club in San Diego will host the 2009 Callaway Golf Collegiate Match Play Championship. The event, previously staged during the fall season, will be played March 29-31 and will feature a new format taking into account proposed changes to the NCAA Division I championships.
Ernie Els, right on the heels of announcing that his son Ben is autistic, said recently that he plans on moving his “home base from London to south Florida, where the weather is more suitable for golf in the winter and he can get strong care for his son.” Els is represented by Andrew “Chubby” Chandler and England-based ISM, a firm which specializes in international golfers and cricket players. Will Els switch agencies as well? It’s doubtful, especially since Els not too long ago “severed his links with IMG after the company circulated a letter by the agency without his permission offering sponsors the chance to play a round of golf with the South African for up to $200,000.”
Goal Marketing’s Andrew Witlieb has done an exemplary job diversifying stud client Jim Furyk’s endorsement portfolio, and you can now add another partnership to Furyk’s mix. TOUR GCX Partners announced recently that Furyk will endorse its innovative membership program. Launched in 2004, Tour GCX members purchase a pre-determined number of golf rounds which can be used at any private club in the company’s network. Individual and corporate members thus are able to sample the ‘private experience’ without making the traditional long-term social and financial commitments associated with joining a private golf club. In addition to playing golf on a variable basis, members have access to single-day member/guest outings and tournaments. Individual memberships start at $2,450 annually and membership fees cover cart and greens fees for GCX members and their guests.
“We are proud to be working with Jim,” said David Kaufman, President of TOUR GCX. “Any time you can associate yourself with a person who is consistently one of the best in the world in their field, you jump at the chance. Jim’s professionalism, consistency and extraordinary accomplishments are attributes that we as a company continually strive to achieve.”
Catch up on some golf business tidbits with Golfweek’s Scott Hamilton, who reports that Gaylord Sports’ Phil Mickelson signed a multiyear endorsement deal with Barclays. The agreements is “another golf-related investment for Barclays,” Hamilton notes. “It already sponsors the Barclays Scottish Open on the European Tour, the Barclays Singapore Open on the Asian Tour and The Barclays, the first tournament in the PGA Tour playoffs for the FedEx Cup. Barclays also has an endorsement deal with golfer Darren Clarke.” Also, Crown Sports Management hired Thomas Jordan to serve as vice president of player relations. The Sea Island, Ga.-based firm’s client list includes Davis Love III, Joe Durant, Lucas Glover, Brandt Snedeker and Boo Weekley.
Finally, Hamilton writes that “Safeway Inc. announced that this year’s Safeway International Presented by Coca-Cola will mark the conclusion of Safeway’s sponsorship of the Phoenix-area LPGA event. No new titles sponsor has been named.” Geoff Shackelford loves any opportunity to question LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens (“The Brand Lady,” as he calls her) and links to columnist Bill Huffman, who wonders “what sponsor would walk away from a tournament that has produced champions like [former number one] Annika Sorenstam, Cristie Kerr and [current number one Lorena] Ochoa in the past four years, all the while attracting record crowds?”