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Woods not going to Chevron

For the second straight year, Tiger Woods will not compete in his own Chevron World Challenge. And unlike last year, when Woods at least was able to serve as tournament host while recovering from knee surgery, he won't even be in attendance.

Tournament organizers have canceled Woods' press conference scheduled for tomorrow on site at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Although there is a chance the world No. 1 could still address the media via satellite this week, a report on says Woods, in the wake of the car accident outside his Florida home on Friday morning, was advised by doctors not to make the flight west "due to headaches and soreness."

-- Sam Weinman
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News & Tours

John Deere Not Going Anywhere

In a dose of good news for the golf world, Deere & Company and the PGA Tour announced a six-year extension to sponsor the John Deere Classic in a press release issued Monday.

John Deere has been the title sponsor of the event since 1998 and the host course, TPC Deere Run, which is located in Silvis, Illinois, is two miles from John Deere's World Headquarters.

Thumbnail image for john_deer_blog_1130.jpg

The tournament has been a big success in the Quad City area for both the fans and the local charities it has benefited. Steve Stricker won last year's event by three strokes, thanks in large part to a course-record tying 61 in the second round.

With the struggles of the global economy reaching golf, this is obviously a positive sign for the PGA Tour.

The 2009 season saw the end of sponsorships by Buick and FBR and both Verizon and U.S. Bank have announced they will not renew their contracts with the PGA Tour following the 2010 season. Next year's schedule, though, will still consist of 37 events.

In contrast, the LPGA recently reduced its schedule for 2010 to just 24 tournaments, the fewest since 1971.

-- Alex Myers

(Photo: Michael Cohen/Getty Images)

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News & Tours

Is Padraig's year even worse than it appears?

Padraig Harrington won two major championships in 2008 (the British Open and the PGA Championship), though his encore was less than stellar as he attempted to retool his swing to improve upon a career year. He failed to win in 2009, which might have been the least of his problems.

Harrington and an Irish businessman Dermot Desmond have taken a $26.5 million hit on a failed technology firm, U4EA Technologies, news outlets are reporting.

Lawrence Donegan of the Guardian has reported on it in his blog, while citing this report from Ireland's Sunday Business Post.

-- John Strege

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News & Tours

Woods breaks silence

Tiger Woods made his first statement since his car accident on his own website Sunday afternoon, touching upon both his health as well as the rumors that have been circulating around his family this weekend.

The statement reads:

"As you all know, I had a single-car accident earlier this week, and sustained some injuries. I have some cuts, bruising and right now I'm pretty sore.

This situation is my fault, and it's obviously embarrassing to my family and me. I'm human and I'm not perfect. I will certainly make sure this doesn't happen again.

This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way. Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible.

The only person responsible for the accident is me. My wife, Elin, acted courageously when she saw I was hurt and in trouble. She was the first person to help me. Any other assertion is absolutely false.

This incident has been stressful and very difficult for Elin, our family and me. I appreciate all the concern and well wishes that we have received. But, I would also ask for some understanding that my family and I deserve some privacy no matter how intrusive some people can be."

-- Sam Weinman
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Courses & Travel

West Coast Swing: Clitz Busch

The West Coast swing continues...

I was back in San Diego for Thanksgiving. I met up with my parents, a brother, a sister, a niece and some nephews. I also got a chance to play with one of my Dad's golf buddies, Clitz Busch, a young man with a sweet swing and quite a  competitive bite. I had to birdie the last three holes to limit my losses to $5.


Busch, 90, plays five days a week, carries a 15-handicap and has 43 aces at his home course, Skyline Ranch C.C. Skyline has nine holes with two sets of tees so members have an option to go 18. It's a par 58, 2,818-yards with 14 par 3s and  four par 4s. As a guest, I pay $2 to play nine, $4 to play 18, but it's in good shape and there's no doubt, it's golf.

Busch's eyesight is fading and he'll tell you that once the ball leaves the club face, he can't see where it's going. If he can't see the flag on his approach shots, my Dad helps him get lined up using clock-coordinates: "The pin's at 4 o'clock, Clitz," my Dad will say. Clitz usually hits it to within the half hour, thus qualifying him as a true feel player.

During and after the round I had the chance to pick Busch's brain about golf, the swing and marriage.

You'll be 91 in March, how's your health?
I've had two surgeries on cancer of my bladder, I have high blood pressure, I can't see and I can't hear, other than that I'm in good shape.

How long have you been married to your wife, Jolene?
We've been married for almost 60 years.

What's the key to a successful relationship?
We love each other.

Do you own a cell phone?
No. And my wife got rid of our computer because we were getting too many e-mails.

Any tips to somebody looking to improve their game?
I'd say 75 percent of all golfers need lessons. It's funny how so many people stay with making the same mistakes. You can get resolve with lessons from a pro without too much trouble. My contribution to the game was that I marshaled for 20 years when the pros came to San Diego. That's where I learned about the swing--watching their grips up close--that's when I started getting good.

When did you get your first set of clubs?
I was in the Navy in 1943 and I won some money in a poker game. I went ashore and bought my first match set. I can remember there weren't that many in the pro shop. I got a driver, a spoon, a mid-iron, a mashie and a niblick, which was like a pitching wedge.

What's your favorite course?
I have to say Pebble Beach. I played it once, in probably 1947. I paid $8. I was even par through six holes before the wind and the rain came. I didn't break 90.

Wait, you paid $8 to play Pebble?
Yes. I got ripped off. [Laughs.] I still have a receipt from a day I played Waialae Country Club in Hawaii in 1944. They charged us $1.50 back then.

TEE_TIME_RECEIPT_2.jpgWhat aspect of your game are you working on?
I read the recent article by Tom Watson in Golf Digest. I follow all of his points except one--drop the right foot back--I'm going to try that.

I have to ask, what's the story behind your name?
My name is Clarence, but my brother gave me the nickname "Clitz" when I was a little kid.

Here's a short video of Busch navigating his game:

Quite an inspiration, right? Especially for young guys like my Dad, who just turned 76.

Here's hoping we can all play five days a week when we're 90. As for playing Pebble for $8, that'll never happen.

--Matty G.

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News & Tours

Tiger Woods Dubai: Plan C?

The ramifications of Dubai's financial crisis don't exempt golf, of course (see this post), and Derek Lawrenson of the Daily Mail suggests that Tiger Woods' recent trek to Dubai following the Australian Masters was to discuss the future of his golf course project there, Woods' first course design.

"How's the project coming along? You might well ask," Lawrenson wrote. "No-one is allowed through the front door and no-one is answering any questions. But, given the state of practically every other project in Dubai, it's probably fair to assume that Tiger was there to discuss Plan B."

Or Plan C. The course was scheduled to open this fall, but already had been pushed back to 2010 or beyond

-- John Strege ... Read
Courses & Travel

West Coast Swing: Herb Kohler And Hunting

Thanksgiving_13.jpgThe West Coast swing continues…

Thanksgiving_10.jpgI was in Colusa, Calif. earlier this week. My Uncle Tony, who taught me the game of golf, is also the guy taught me how to hunt. I don’t love to kill things, but I do like hanging out at the duck club and when I’m around the “Tone Dog,” I never have a bad meal. Not only do I not have a bad meal, I have six meals per day. Unfortunately I saw more sides of beef than I did ducks on this trip, but my stay served its purpose--connecting with the Dog. (At his age, eating and smoking like he does, I cherish our time together.) 

On Wednesday morning I conducted an interview from the duck blind (sunrise from the blind is pictured above) with Herb Kohler, owner of American Club and the Old Course Hotel in St. Andrews (not to mention a porcelain empire and the Dukes golf course in Scotland). Kohler, an avid hunter, appreciated the fact that I was phoning in mid-hunt.

“Matt, you’re making me envious,” said Kohler.

“Mr. Kohler,” I said, “if I’m making you envious, I must be doing something right.”

“You’re darn right you are,” he said. And then he critiqued duck calls and wanted to know why we didn't have more mallards in the boat. (We only had one.)

I asked Kohler about a few things you’ll read about in Golf World and Golf Digest in the next few weeks and months, but I also asked him about any other business ventures he has in the works.

He told me about the recent bid he put in on Hamilton Hall (pictured below), the building next to the R&A, behind the 18th green of the Old Course in St. Andrews.

HamiltonHall.jpgHere’s a transcript of that portion of my conversation with Mr. Kohler:

They say capital is king in a down economy. Are you looking to expand your golf empire?
We made a bid on Hamilton Hall in St. Andrews. It’s the most photographed building in golf, that and the R&A building. They stand right next to each other. The view is right down the 18th and the first fairways of the Old Course. It looks towards the Road Hole and the North Sea, so the views are phenomenal. The exterior is intact but the interior is rubble. About three months ago I got on the rooftop, but it was dicey. We should know by the end of the month if we got it.

If you get it, what’s the plan?
We have to discuss that with residents of St. Andrews. We have some ideas but we have to figure out what’s best for everybody.

What would be your ideal scenario?
I would say one scenario would be to turn it into apartments and sell them off. That’s the easiest solution. On the other hand, the building is an icon in the world of golf with a rich history and the roots are important to golf synergy with our Old Course Hotel and amenities of my restaurant, water spa and Dukes. We’ve proven we’re good at restoring old buildings, we have experience at it, and we believe we’re as qualified as anybody to restore it to the standards of historic Scotland. In 1895 it was the Grand Hotel built by a guy named Hamilton. Back then he had applied to the R&A and didn’t get in so he built a building four times the size of the R&A right next door. It’s a funny story and the building should have a long life.

Well, that’s exciting.
It’s really exciting. To think about an upstart-American to have the privilege to restore two of the most significant buildings in golf blows my mind. I certainly never envisioned it.

(The second building Mr. Kohler was referring to is the Old Course Hotel.)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. I certainly have a lot to be thankful for and plenty of people in my life to keep me grounded, regardless of how much I’m on planes and in the air.

When I recently showed my eight-year old nephew a video of me Ambushing the women of Atlanta, little Marco looked at me and asked, “Uncle Matt--That’s your job?

--Matty G.

PS--Tone Dog, smoking is bad for you. Today would be a good day to quit.

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News & Tours

He's got reasons for giving thanks

Lee Westwood last week was asked to assess Rory McIlroy's year. His response:

"What's he got going for him? Twenty years old. Millionaire already. Hits it miles. Nice looking girlfriend. Drives a Lamborghini. Yeah, it's hard, isn't it?"

-- John Strege

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News & Tours

European Tour's Dubai predicament

Two weeks before the European Tour's 2010 season commences (yes, 2010 begins in 2009, according to the European Tour, which features the shortest off-season in sports), it has yet to release its full schedule, hinting strongly at trouble with a prominent sponsor.

Peter Dixon of the Times reported that a rumor suggests that the European Open might become a victim of the economy. Its sponsor is Nakheel, Dixon noted, which also foots the bill for the Race to Dubai. When George O'Grady, the chief executive of the European Tour, was asked last week whether the Race to Dubai would fulfill its five-year commitment, offered only that he was "very confident."

Dixon wrote: "There was a marked silence from Nakheel [at the Dubai World Championship last week). Conspicuous by their absence were the glitzy press conferences, media functions and reach-for-the-sky announcements that have been associated with the Race to Dubai from day one. I wonder why?"

Lawrence Donegan, writing in the Guardian, has an answer. "Does this mean the first Dubai World Championship was also the last? Given the news of Nakheel's financial problems, the only plausible answer is yes."

Donegan based his conclusion on the news that the state-controlled Dubai World has $59 billion in liabilities and "is seeking to delay debt payments, sending contracts to protect the emirate against default surging," according to Bloomberg. Nakheel is Dubai World's property unit and has "$3.52 billion of Islamic bonds due Dec. 14," Bloomberg reported.

-- John Strege

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Courses & Travel

West Coast Swing: Ambush No. 19

The West Coast swing continues…

AmbushNo.19.jpgOn Saturday I Ambushed at Bandon Dunes. Jake Ramirez (second from left) and his six friends and family from New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco were on their sixth annual trek to the best golf resort in the country.

I’ve been to Bandon three times via Eugene. For the second time I came in by way of the North Bend Airport in Coos Bay, which is the better way. It’s only a 25-minute drive as opposed to two hours.

Although the forecast called for cool temperatures, heavy rain and high winds; the winners of the 19th Ambush weren’t disturbed by the potential of rough playing conditions. They gambled and won--again. Five out of six of their years coming to Bandon, the week before Thanksgiving, this group enjoyed good weather.

By coming in the winter, not only did they get a great deal ($580 per guy for three rounds of golf, three rounds of lodging, two breakfasts and unlimited practice), but they also had blue skies and temperatures crept into the 60s.

You’ll read more about Ramirez in the February issue of Golf Digest. What I can tell you now is that I passed out TaylorMade balls and hats with the Ambush logo, three bottles of good wine and Ramirez got a Callaway uPro rangefinder for sending in the entry. I also coordinated a tour of Old Macdonald, the fourth course at Bandon opening in June, and they all got Old Mac hats.

You’ll see why a little bad weather doesn’t shake this crew. Ramirez, their fearless leader, was caught on video in 2005 trying to pull a bull off of Pamplona legend, Julian Medina. Ramirez is the one in a black shirt who comes in at the 1:58 mark and grabs the bull's tail.

Not only would I not run with bulls, I certainly wouldn't pull on a bull's tail.

--Matty G.

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