The fact that Sergio Garcia served as a consultant to architect Greg
Norman during the construction of the TPC San Antonio is the kind of
tidbit that normally tees up a punchline, but let's not step on a guy's
neck when he's down. Let's just be blunt about the reports on the new
home of this week's Valero Texas Open: Norman has a reputation for building
difficult golf courses (as in borderline-unplayable difficult) and he may have
come close to doing it again.
So, as Rich Oliver writes in The San Antonio News-Express, don't expect any record scores this week. The course is 7,435 yards, narrow and firm with big bunkers and undulating greens.
“Ithe tournament's resurrection
think the golf course has come out great,” Garcia said after his first
round on the course he helped design. “But probably just a little bit
tougher than we maybe expected at the beginning... We didn't want to make it a chip-and-putt course."
Apparently, it's mission accomplished.
Nine years ago, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem had all but pulled
the plug on the Texas Open. The tournament, without a title sponsor,
fund-raising muscle or community backing, was in its death rattle. On
Wednesday afternoon, Finchem sat in a banquet room at the luxurious JW
Marriott resort, the centerpiece of the new TPC San Antonio, and
admitted the obvious. The Texas Open has never been more alive.
a remarkable ascension from 2001, when Finchem already had decided to
jettison the tournament before then-Valero Energy Corp. CEO Bill
Greehey stepped in and negotiated a deal to serve as title sponsor.
Valero's current contract runs through 2012.
“We didn't have
sponsorship, and it had not performed all that well, and Valero said,
‘We think we can take this to a whole other level,' and so we took a
shot,” Finchem said. “In short order, the event made a major shift
right there. So it's been good ever since.”
In that stretch,
the Valero Texas Open has generated roughly $53 million in fundraising.
The past year has seen a move from the lightly regarded Fall Series to
the FedEx Cup regular-season schedule in May and the opening of
“I think schedule is important, and I think the word
of mouth on this change here has been very positive in terms of the
facilities and the golf courses,” said Finchem, referring to AT&T
Oaks and the adjacent AT&T Canyons, which will host the city's
Champions Tour event, the AT&T Championship, beginning in 2011.
added, “And so, you know, the players who aren't here will watch it on
television. They'll see how it plays, and then the word of mouth, the
quality of operations here, this unbelievable setting will help
solidify the quality for the future.”
If you can't set the time, don't do the crimeThere are tantrums and then there are tantrums.
Japanese golfer Yuko Mitsuka has been banned from 11 women's tournaments for quitting last week's World Ladies Championship in mid-round after being penalized for slow play.
She banned herself, raising the bar in the category of pre-emptive strikes. Mitsuka, 25, was fined 2 million yen--about $21,500--and offered to withdraw from 11 future tournaments as punishment. The Japan LPGA accepted her offer as a suitable punishment.
Her fine was the largest in her tour's history but her self-imposed ban may have helped her avoid a more serious penalty.
Like having to attend a USGA meeting and sit through a roundtable discussion on slow play.Michelle Wie is No. 1 (in LPGA marketing value)
Now that Lorena Ochoa has joined Annika Sorenstam in retirement, the LPGA is looking for a new No. 1 player -- not so much in the rankings as in the eyes and minds of the golfing public. So can you take a wild guess whom this week's Bell Micro LPGA Classic at Magnolia Grove's Crossings Course decided to focus on from a marketing standpoint?
Michelle Wie and her one LPGA victory. Even though she's only 20 and is still attending Stanford, she is the LPGA's biggest name. The billboards in place around Mobile, Ala., to advertise the tournament sport a "Wow Wie" theme and likeness of the player, wrote Tommy Hicks in The Press-Register:
"The whole Wow Wie billboards took me back to elementary school,"
Wie said laughing. "It's funny. It's really a great billboard."
In all seriousness, though, Wie said she is aware of the pressure to become more visible on a tour without Sorenstam and Ochoa.
"I think we all have a responsibility for that, including me," Wie
said. "I'm just trying to play as well as I can and provide the best
golf out there. Hopefully, that provides a lot of entertainment and
brings the tour to a whole new level. I think all the players are
really striving toward that. We're all just working together to make a
Few LPGA players are being watched as closely as Wie. It can be a
lot for a 20-year-old to handle, but Wie said she doesn't dwell on the
"I think age is a very interesting thing," she said. "You don't really think about age out here. You just try to play the best you can right now. Whether you're 20
right now or whether you're a little bit older or younger doesn't
really make a difference. You're all right here in the present and
doing the best we can right now."