The Daily Flogging: Torrey Pines still sponsorless, Jean Van de Velde's new home, Fred Couples's schedule
The Daily Flogging is a smorgasbord of news, opinion and occasional grass clippings from around the wide world of golf. Here's what you've been missing ... Think the Great Recession isn't affecting the PGA Tour? Think again. The tour stop at Torrey Pines, called the San Diego Open this year because it is sponsorless, won't be providing players with a long-time tour perk -- free courtesy cars. And May's HP Byron Nelson Championship, hosted by the swank Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas, could be the first tour event played at a site that is facing foreclosure.
Yup, other than that and, oh yeah, Tiger Woods is still missing in action, everything is hunky-dory in tour land. The story of the failing Four Seasons Resort reported by The Dallas Morning News is basically about warring bankers and lenders. The resort owners want to restructure a $183 million loan, while the lenders are looking to avoid getting a financial haircut and have filed for foreclosure. A tournament spokesman said the Byron Nelson event will not be affected by the money-wrangling.
Tour players will be immediately affected, however, by the courtesy car situation as reported by Golfweek.com. Instead of the 180 free Buicks the San Diego Open used to get, players will get discounted rates for rental cars provided by Enterprise and National. Chrysler formerly supplied cars when it sponsored the Bob Hope Classic. Hope officials told Golfweek.com that players can keep their Hope rental car for events in San Diego and Los Angeles for the weekly rate plus a $40 drop-off charge.
It appears that 2010 may be the year of the disappearing perk on the PGA Tour. Not The Maple Leaf Rag:The lead of the golf story in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix reads: "If Graham DeLaet were to roll up his pant legs today while standing on the tee box of Waialae Country Club, a tattoo of a Canadian flag would be revealed on the back of his calf muscle."
It's January. It's Saskatoon. Every day is a slow news day. Cut our Canadian newspaper friends some slack.
The big news isn't that DaLaet, 27, has a tattoo, it's that this native of Weyburn, Saskatoon, survived Q school and is now embarking on his rookie season on the PGA Tour, starting this week at the Sony Open. His will be one of many rookie stories told in the coming months.
At Weyburn Golf Club, caps with "Graham's Gallery" were popular items for Christmas. "For sure, the biggest seller," said Dean Toles, the club's head pro. "The members love him. He has progressed so well. It hasn't really shocked that many people. They all knew he could do it." Now playing in Asia: The happy Frenchman, Jean Van de Velde, says Golfweek.com. He's 43 and has battled illness and injuries that led to two knee surgeries, but he is teeing it up this week in the Asian Tour qualifying school in Thailand. He'll play more in Asia, he said, because his family is based in Hong Kong now.
"Asia is where my life is now ... I need a change of scenery as well. After 20 years in Europe, I decided it is time to do something different." If you need a reminder about Jean's most famous moment, Google "famous British Open meltdowns." The Champions Tour is the golf media's easiest target, a series of enjoyable but relatively insignificant outings for yesterday's heroes who prove on a weekly basis how good they still are. The tour doesn't get a lot of attention these days in the Tiger Woods Era. But imagine if Greg Norman and Fred Couples were teeing it up with the seniors 25 times a year? That actually sounds pretty good.
Well, you can only imagine that scenario. Norman seldom plays with the seniors and Couples, who turned 50 last October, tells Ron Kroichick in the San Francisco Chronicle that he'll be playing only 10 or 12 Champions events as he tries to keep one foot in the PGA Tour pool this year.
"It's still a thrill to play with guys like Ernie Els and Vijay Singh on Thursdays and Fridays," Couples said. "I played good enough golf at age 48 and 49 that I'm going to play a little longer on the PGA Tour and see what happens." In a San Francisco footnote, the PGA Tour was disappointed in the conditions at Harding Park for last year's Presidents Cup and was not happy with the city's overall maintenance. So it's sending in its own superintendent to improve the course for the next two years, since the course will host the Champions Tour's Schwab Cup in 2010 and '11 and a PGA Tour playoff event in '13 or '14.