Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Watch Arnold Palmer "SportsCenter" commercial

And now, a commercial interruption: Arnold Palmer does "This is SportsCenter":

Friday, December 18, 2009

Pinehurst offering on-line gift giveaway today

Looking for that last-minute gift for a golfer?

Today, Pinehurst is conducting a 7 Days 'til Christmas giveaway through its Facebook page: http://bit.ly/893WKO. If you friend Pinehurst on Facebook, you can participate in answering questions that will be posted hourly by the resort.

Some of the giveaway items include golf packages, spa packages and apparel, among other things.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tiger deserved to be Athlete of the Decade

Tiger Woods got something he deserved this week.

He was named Athlete of the Decade by the Associated Press, being chosen over Lance Armstrong and Roger Federer, among others.

It was the right call and the obvious call.

Despite all that has happened over the past three weeks, Woods dominated the decade like no other athlete. The fact that more than half the votes were cast since the scandal surrounding him has unfolded speaks to the magnitude of his achievements over the past 10 years.

Woods' numbers are impressive enough: 64 worldwide wins, including 12 major championships. In this decade, Woods' 54 PGA Tour wins are more than all but four players have won in their careers.

But Woods' deserved the honor because he did more than win tournaments. He changed golf and the way it's viewed around the world. He became, arguably, the most recognizable athlete in the world.

Obviously, what we've learned these past three weeks has changed the way Woods is viewed as a person but that doesn't dim what he's accomplished on the golf course. He became the only golfer to own all four major championships at the same time and he made golf must-see viewing when he was in the chase.

Armstong, Federer, Michael Phelps and others did spectacular things over the past decade but none of them did as much as Tiger Woods. While the attention directed at Tiger has turned to his personal life and his sudden fall from grace, he remains the most transcendant and accomplished athlete of the past 10 years.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2010 City Amateur goes back to Quail

Let's forget Tiger Woods for a moment.

Eventually, when the rain and the muck and the cold are gone, there will be golf played around here. Our own.

If you're good enough, you can make the Charlotte City Amateur your goal for 2010.
It will be played next year at Cedarwood, Carolina and Quail Hollow on the weekend of Aug. 20-22.

It's the second year in a row Quail Hollow will host the final round, changing the course rotation slightly. Because the U.S. Women's Amateur is being played at Charlotte Country Club Aug. 9-15, the decision was made not to play the final round of the City Amateur there next year. Quail Hollow agreed to host it the final 24 players again, a testament to the quality of the championship.

The Charlotte City Amateur does more than determine a champion each summer. It recently made a $10,000 donation to The First Tee of Charlotte.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Does scandal change Tiger's place in history?

How does the Tiger Woods' scandal change his place in golf history?

Ultimately, not much.

It changes the way we see Tiger, no doubt. There's a stain that will fade over time but it will never completely go away. The golden image has been forever tarnished but I expect he'll work hard at rebuilding his reputation when he returns to the public eye. It won't be easy to undo the disappointment he's caused.

But he'll get a second chance from almost everyone except a small group that will refuse to forgive him.

As a golfer, his legacy is still being written. He's reached a critical point now, closing in on his 34th birthday and facing the second long absence from the game in 18 months. He didn't win a major championship in 2009 and he's still five shy of surpassing Jack Nicklaus's all-time record. The work is getting harder.

He is the best there's ever been. He doesn't have all the records yet but chances are he will. We've never seen anyone play golf the way he has -- as spectacularly as he has -- for as long as he has.

Woods has always judged himself against Nicklaus's record and that will continue. The public, however, will also judge him against the Nicklaus image and that's where Woods has taken a devastating hit. Time and hitting all the right notes in his public and private life can soften the long-term impact.

It makes for a more awkward comparison now, however.

When he plays again -- and when he wins again -- Woods will remind us of why we were drawn to him in the first place. When the subject is golf, Woods' place in history is secure.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

How long will Tiger be gone?

How long will Tiger Woods take an indefinite break from golf?

It's anybody's guess right now.

It wouldn't surprise me if he doesn't play before the U.S. Open in June at Pebble Beach but that's purely a guess. He might be away longer than that.

It's safe to say he won't show up at Torrey Pines for the San Diego Open in late January, which is when he was expected to make his 2010 debut. If he were only going to miss one event, there wouldn't be much need for the announcement he made Friday evening.

That probably takes out the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and maybe his regular stops at Bay Hill and Doral.

If he skips the Florida events, it seems unlikely he'd debut at the Masters. That's not a place for the circus that will surround his return.

Could he return at the Quail Hollow Championship? The Memorial? The U.S. Open?

That's Tiger's call and I'm guessing he doesn't know when he'll come back.

Some have suggested Woods should take all of 2010 off. Repair the personal damage he's done to his family and himself. Maybe that's his plan.

We'll have to wait and see.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Charlotte Country Club wins top honor

Charlotte Country Club's recent renovation project has earned it a high honor -- it has been named the top remodeled golf course in 2009 by Golf Digest magazine.

It's one of the premier honors in the golf course business and further enhances the reputation of the course. Ron Prichard handled the remodeling project, working to bring back the classic elements created in the original design by Donald Ross.

Charlotte Country Club was ranked ahead of Olympia Fields outside Chicago, which hosted the 2003 U.S. Open, the California Golf Club of San Francisco and Austin (Tex.) Country Club in the remodel category.

The Pete Dye Course at the French Lick Resort was named best new public course while Pikewood National Golf Club in Morgantown, W.Va., was named best new private club. Sagebrush Golf & Sporting Club was named best new course in Canada.

“America’s Best New Courses of 2009 are all about old school. All four winners were designed by senior golfers with decades of experience…and all four courses built for the purest of reasons, the sheer enjoyment of the game," wrote Ron Whitten, Golf Digest's senior editor for architecture.

More than 900 panelists were involved in the selection process.

Monday, December 07, 2009

De Jonge regains PGA Tour card for 2010

Charlotte resident Brendon de Jonge fired a final-round 66 Monday to easily secure a spot on the 2010 PGA Tour, finishing tied for fifth in the qualifying tournament at Bear Lakes Country Club in West Palm Beach, Fla.

De Jonge is one of several players with local connections who earned their tour cards. Tour veteran Neal Lancaster of Smithfield also tied for fifth to assure his return to the tour after three years without full privileges. Former Duke golfer Joe Ogilvie also secured his tour card for next year.

Five players from the Charlotte-based eGolf Tour also earned tour cards, including Martin Flores, Billy Horschel, David Lutterus, Cameron Tringle and Brent Delahoussaye.

Charlotte resident Bobby MacWhinnie tied for 72nd, former Charlotte 49er golfer Trevor Murphy tied for 78th and Tommy ‘Two Gloves’ Gainey tied for 64th. They will have status on the 2010 Nationwide Tour.

Among the notable names who failed to gain their PGA Tour cards were David Duval, Tom Pernice Jr. (who double-bogyed the last hole to miss by one stroke), Jason Gore, Jesper Parnevik, Shaun Micheel and Todd Hamilton.

At the LPGA Tour qualifying tournament, former Duke golfer Amanda Blumenherst earned her tour privileges by winning the event while another former Blue Devil, Liz Janangelo also earned a spot on the tour.
-- Ron Green Jr.

When and how does Tiger story end?

Another day, another rumor.

When and how does the Tiger Woods story end?

On Oprah? That's one rumor. But there are hundreds of rumors, far more of them than facts.

While Woods created the firestorm in which he's now caught, it just keeps burning. When Nancy Grace gets involved, you know it's crossed into a different dimension. When John Daly is piping in with offers of help, it's jumped the shark.

Maybe Tiger doesn't face the public until he shows up at Torrey Pines in late January to start his 2010 PGA Tour season. That's when his caddie, Steve Williams, said he expects Tiger to play again.

On one hand, it's hard to believe he'll let this story continue to spiral out of his control without saying something. Someone dug up Tiger's quote about the Michael Vick situation a few years ago where he suggested Vick needed to get out in front of the story.

On the other hand, it's not like Tiger to go public with private matters. He's done it already with his statement last week. That may be all we get from him.

The only thing for sure is the story isn't going away any time soon.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

de Jonge in third place at Q-school

Charlotte resident Brendon de Jonge is tied for third place after two rounds in the final stage of the PGA Tour qualifying tournament at Bear Lakes Country Club in West Palm Beach, Fla.,

de Jonge trails leader Troy Merritt by two strokes after shooting 68-69 in the first two rounds. The top 25 finishers will earn full playing privileges on the PGA Tour for 2010.

Smithfield's Neal Lancaster is tied for eighth after two rounds and former Duke golfer Joe Ogilvie is tied for 18th.

Former Charlotte 49er golfer Trevor Murphy is tied for 111th place while Charlotte resident Bobby MacWhinnie is in 147th position, tied with Tommy 'Two Gloves' Gainey.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Where does Tiger Woods go from here?

Now that Tiger Woods has publicly confessed to his transgressions, where does he go from here?

It had to be incredibly difficult for Woods to release the statement he did today, essentially admitting that what the gossip magazines and celebrity stalkers have been suggesting is true. He is a proud man and, as he said in his initial statement after the auto accident, he is embarrassed. Probably more than any of us can appreciate.

Image agents and brand builders can talk about the damage to the Tiger Woods brand, and there will be some of that for sure. It was so carefully crafted and so polished that it can't help but be dented by the events of the past few days.

People - fans and critics - will never look at him in quite the same way.

Sadly, the same may be said of his family. The personal cost may be far greater than the commercial cost.

But he is still Tiger Woods and once the storm has passed and golf has resumed, he'll go back to being Tiger Woods the golfer. Eventually, the story will become his quest to break Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 professional major championships.

There has always been an almost otherworldly view of Tiger. He cultivated it, using his mental and physical skills to create an aura that helped him win golf tournaments. He has always seemed different in an almost imposing way.

Now, he seems terribly human.

It's clear now why Woods was reluctant to offer more details about what happened at 2:30 a.m. last Friday. Beyond the legal issues related to his accident, it's evident there wasn't much he could truthfully say without making the matter more uncomfortable.

It reached a point, however, where he couldn't escape the storm. There's a whole argument to be made about the bottom-feeding style of journalism practiced by gossip sellers, but Tiger can only blame himself.

If we've learned anything the past few years about athletes and celebrities and their failings, it's that we'll eventually forgive them if they'll come clean. Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire apparently still haven't figured that out.

Tiger has always kept his fans at a comfortable distance. It would be wise of him to engage them more when he returns to the golf course. Smile more. Bump a few more fists. Let them touch you.

People admire Woods and they want to love him. They may be disappointed in him right now, but he can win them back.

He's shown us he's not perfect. He's told us he's sorry. What we see from him from now on may tell us more than we ever knew before.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Harrell named state's top junior boys golfer

Logan Harrell, an 18-year old senior at Hopewell High School, has been named North Carolina junior boys golfer of the year by the Carolinas Golf Association and the Tarheel Youth Golf Association.

Harrell, who lives in Huntersville, had a consistently strong year that included 10 top-10 finishes in the 13 events used to determine the state junior rankings.

Among the highlights of Harrell's season, he was medalist in sectional qualifying for the U.S. Junior Amateur where he reached the semifinals of match play; he qualified for the U.S. Amateur; he reached the round of 16 in the Carolinas Amateur; and, he tied for second in the AJGA's Cliffs Championship.

Harrell has committed to play college golf at South Carolina.

Katherine Perry, a 17-year old student at Athens Drive High in Raleigh, has been named the state's junior girls golfer of the year.