Monday, March 09, 2009

The New Look And A New Face

A quick run through what we call 'The Front Nine' each Monday morning:

1. The New Look

Kym Hougham, tournament director for the Wach … I mean Quail Hollow Championship, will spend a few days at Doral this week where the PGA Tour’s best and brightest are gathered for the WGC-CA Championship.

Hougham is there to answer questions players may have about Charlotte’s PGA Tour stop, which is only seven weeks away.

He got a special order of shirts with the new tournament logo so the re-branding process can get an immediate visual boost while Hougham works the practice range talking to players.

His message is simple – the name has changed but the tournament hasn’t.

Hougham said he’s already heard from at least a dozen players, all of whom said they like the new name.

Tournament organizers made it clear last week that they intend for the tournament to keep the Quail Hollow Championship name in the future.

It’s possible the name could include a “Presented By…” addendum in the future but that remains to be seen. What they don’t want to happen for the name to keep changing, something that diminishes a tournament’s image.

Players and fans shouldn’t notice anything different other than the new navy and copper logo. What will disappear will be corporate events related to the tournament, such as private dinner parties with clients and players and a big block party held at Phillips Place.

2. On Second Thought

Nice work by’s Ron Sirak who talked with Barney Frank, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, who eased off his initially stinging criticism of financial institutions sponsoring golf tournaments.

“No one is saying they shouldn’t sponsor golf tournaments and honor existing contracts,” Frank told Golf World. “It’s the spending on luxury hotels and limousines they should not be doing.”
Fair enough.

Frank said he doesn’t see the overall benefit in such marketing but he won’t oppose it quite as vociferously as he did Northern Trust’s involvement in the Los Angeles tournament.

3. The Comeback, Stroke-Play Version

Tiger Woods’ performance this week at the WGC-CA Championship at Doral will be a better indicator of where he is in his comeback than the Match Play Championship two weeks ago.
This is four rounds of stroke-play and, no, making the cut shouldn’t be an issue.

Woods has won three times in six professional starts at Doral and never been out of the top 10.
He’s had two weeks to work on the rusty spots that showed themselves in Tucson, putting another coat of polish on his game. If he’s a factor on the weekend, we’ll know he’s almost there.

4. The List

Putting is a huge part of the challenge at Quail Hollow. Need proof?

Here are the most three-putted holes on the 2008 PGA Tour (the number of three-putts during the tournament is in parentheses).

1. Oakland Hills (PGA), No. 13 (67)

2. Quail Hollow Club, No. 12 (44). That's Anthony Kim lining up a putt at No. 12 at right.

3. Quail Hollow Club, No. 1 (43)

5. All For The Low, Low Price Of…

While there’s no doubt the recession is hitting everywhere, even around the Masters where corporate entertaining will be down along with the cost of previously over-priced rental houses, tickets still aren’t going cheap.

At least not according to the man who called me recently wondering if I could help him sell four Masters badges he owns.

Turns out the man is asking $3,000 apiece for the badges. Good luck.

6. The New Kids On The Block

If you want to get a look at 19-year-old star Rory McIlroy (above) and don’t have tickets to the Masters, he’ll be playing in the Verizon Heritage at Hilton Head the next week.

It’s possible that 18-year old Danny Lee will make his professional debut there, as well.

7. Chip Shots

Mini-tour season is coming alive in the area. The egolf Tarheel Tour kicks off its 2009 season with the $220,000 Open in Bluffton, S.C., while the Hooters Tour makes a visit to the area with the I-40 Hooters Tour Open at Rock Barn in Conover…

The Country Club of North Carolina will host the 2010 U.S. Girls Junior Championship. The club previously hosted the 1980 U.S. Amateur championship won by Hal Sutton.

8. Building On A Trend

Did Y.E. Yang’s victory in the Honda Classic on Sunday signal the onset of a heightened presence of Koreans on the men’s professional scene similar to what has happened on the LPGA Tour?

Probably not but it reinforced the fact that, while we may not know much about him, Yang is a world-class player. The 37-year old beat Tiger Woods to win a tournament in China in 2006 and his victory on the PGA Tour immediately raised his profile here while vaulting him to 33rd in the world rankings.

It was also further evidence of the strong golf training in Korea, which has produced many of the top women’s players. On the same day Yang was winning, Ji-Yai Shin was pulling in another LPGA trophy.

Asked by reporters why Korean men, whose role model has been K.J. Choi, haven’t been as successful as females, Yang pointed to the mandatory two years of military service for men.

9. The Last Word

“I feel very relieved. All the pressure is off my shoulders…What I did when I clapped all of the fans after I won, I did that out of pure emotions. I felt like they were supporting me and I just wanted to thank them.” – Y.E. Yang on his spontaneous high-fiving with fans after his win at the Honda Classic.


Anonymous said...

3-Grand wonder he needs help selling them!

Anonymous said...

He will get that easily. I have gotten almost double that on Ebay.