Daily Flogging: Sergio Garcia on Tiger Woods, Haitian course becomes refugee camp, a new Tour sponsor

Garcia Wants Tiger BackThe pre-tournament buildup for this week's Abu Dhabi Championship has begun, and Sergio Garcia sounded more mature than ever as he gracefully walked the tightrope and talked about Tiger in a positive manner -- not that he has any inside information.
Garcia, who's been out seven weeks with a sore tendon in his right wrist, told the Associated Press:

"The best thing for Tiger at the moment is to get on the course and do what
he knows best. Only he knows when he is going to come back. I have got the feeling that it's going to be earlier that what everybody thinks.... I
think he (Woods) is very strong mentally and it's not like the break he
had for injury a couple of years back when he had the knee problem. If you can't walk you can't swing. It's different."
"There's nothing better than playing against the best. But there is always an upside and a downside. The downside when he is playing is that you know your chances of winning
are a little lower. The upside is that when you know you are
playing against him and you manage to beat him, it's always that much
sweeter to have beaten the best. So for the game, it is not good that
Tiger is out. We hope he gets back as soon as possible."
Good News Department The PGA Tour filled a hole in its fall schedule by adding the McGladrey Classic, which will be played Oct. 7-10 at Sea Island, Ga. Davis Love, a Sea Island resident, will be the tournament chairman. Former Masters champion Zach Johnson, who has an endorsement deal with McGladrey, a tax and business consulting firm, will be on the tournament board. The event will have a $4 million purse. Haitian Course Becomes Refugee Camp Club Petionville in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, has been turned into a refugee camp after last week's earthquake, and the course's golfing days are likely over. Reuters has the grim details: 
Elite U.S. soldiers lie exhausted on
tennis courts and beside a pool. Fifty thousand homeless people cram
the nine-hole golf course. Helicopters land every half an hour with
crates of water and food aid. ... Haiti is the most impoverished nation in the Western Hemisphere but
its elite came to the country club's elegant stone headquarters to dine
and mingle with foreign diplomats and businessmen. Now the club houses
commanders from the U.S. military's crack 82nd Airborne Division.

Down the lawns and beyond a loose military cordon, the golf course
is covered with tents, made from poles and sheets by people who flocked
onto the club's grounds after the earthquake brought down its perimeter
walls, as well as their homes.  ...
Unlike chaotic scenes elsewhere, with refugees fighting and
scrambling for water and food, an orderly queue winds up the lawns of
the club. Each refugee is allowed two bottles of water and one Meal
Ready to Eat (MRE) ration."If they get unruly, we just sit down," said Captain John Hartsock. "It has only happened twice. They get the message. We don't want everyone going nuts, like the scene in 'Black Hawk Down' from Somalia."

There's always Hope The weather forecast looks bleak for the Bob Hope Classic in Palm
Springs, which averages 350-plus gorgeous days a year. It seems the
next three days may be among the 15 "others." A tour rules official
said the 90-hole event will be completed even if it means a Monday
finish.
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem remains optimistic,
meanwhile, about the tournament despite having no title sponsor. It had
been sponsored for 25 years by Chrysler, which dropped out when it
filed for bankruptcy in 2009. The search for a new sponsor continues.
Finchem said: "It's a down economy so things take longer. Everybody
studies everything so it takes a while. That's the fundamental
reason... As long as the economy maintains where it is, maybe picks up
a little bit, I think the prospects are very good... It is a terrific
experience for amateurs and it's performed well in the marketplace. So
I'm very bullish about it for next year."
The Hope isn't looking so good against the competition, however. The Abu Dhabi Championship, this week's stop on the European Tour, has Anthony Kim, Camilo Villegas,
Geoff Ogilvy, Paul Casey, Henrik Stenson, Garcia, Ian Poulter and Rory
McIlroy. The Hope has no players from the top 35 in the world rankings.
AP's Doug Ferguson points
out that all nine players who were given releases from the PGA Tour to
compete overseas this week have European Tour memberships
, so it's not a total defection. But Anthony Kim's absence is especially notable.
What brings the Hope's field so much attention is the absence of Kim, who
spent his high school years in the Coachella Valley and was given a
sponsor's exemption to play when he was a rookie with limited
opportunities. Kim is trying to manage a worldwide schedule. Skipping
what amounts to a hometown tournament is not going to win him
additional fans.

Rick George, the tour's chief of operations, said nine releases were
given opposite the Hope last year. He also noted the number of players
who stayed two weeks in Hawaii, which made the Sony Open stronger.
Others are adding Pebble Beach to the schedule this year with the U.S.
Open coming in June.
"I'd like to think it's just an anomaly," George said. "But that doesn't make it any better for the Bob Hope Classic."

Only for the Pros In his blog, Lawrence Donegan of The Guardian wonders if the new, tour-only ProV1s don't represent a form of bifurcation: "Obviously these two balls have been approved under existing rules but they are something new and different; they have been designed for the pros, will be played only by the pros and they will never be sold commercially to the paying punter. Isn't that some form of bifurcation?" New Nike Clubs Don't Feature WoodsThe Wall Street
Journal, meanwhile, points out that Nike will launch new golf clubs
this month without the promotional muscle of Tiger. Here's what Miguel Bustillo wrote:

Nike says that its Victory Red STR8-FIT Tour fairway woods, which
will go on sale Jan. 28 for $299, were designed with input from all 13 U.S. golf stars who promote Nike's golf products. But the promotional materials make no mention of Mr. Woods, whose tradition of wearing red shirts on the final day of golf tournaments inspired the Victory Red name...Nike's inability to bank on Mr. Woods -- who remains a Nike-sponsored
athlete but is postponing his career as he deals with the fallout from
his alleged extramarital affairs -- comes at a problematic time. The
Beaverton, Ore., company has faced deteriorating golf sales because of
the recession. Annual revenue at the Nike Golf division fell 11% last
year to $648 million after peaking at $725 million the year before.Nike declined to discuss the effect of Mr. Woods's problems on its
business, where overall revenue grew 3% to $19.2 billion in fiscal
2009. But in a conference call with investors last month, Chief
Executive Mark Parker played down the ramifications, even as he acknowledged that larger economic factors were hurting golf sales."We feel very good about how we are managing our golf business
through this period and our position in the broader golf market," Mr.
Parker said, adding, "We'll continue to support Tiger and his family as
we, of course, look forward to his return."

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