Thursday, November 11, 2010

Phil Mickelson hasn’t played the Bob Hope Classic in Palm Springs, Calif, since 2007, but like a spurned lover the tournament keeps waiting for him to call. For tournament organizers, the announcement that Mickelson would skip the Hope again in 2011 to play a Euro Tour event in Abu Dhabi in January was like seeing your ex-girlfriend drive by in a convertible with the cast of the Jersey Shore. Larry Bohannan of The Desert Sun newspaper has the details.

“Needless to say, I am disappointed,” Larry Thiel, tournament chairman of the Hope, said Tuesday. “However, I never had a commitment from him to play. What I received from his management people was that if Phil did not to go to Abu Dhabi, he would certainly want to play in the Hope.”
Mickelson, who won the Hope in 2002 and 2004, is the Tour’s biggest draw after Tiger Woods and is especially popular in his native California, which is why the Hope wants him there so badly. Last year, Hope officials were similarly disappointed when  Anthony Kim elected to play in Abu Dhabi instead of the Hope.

In order to skip the Hope and play in a European event the same week, Mickelson must receive a conflicting event waiver. Those waivers have been a sore point with PGA Tour events that have struggled to strengthen their fields as tour members look overseas for events. Last year Hope officials were not pleased that a waiver was given to Anthony Kim, who went to high school in the desert and still has a home in the area, to allow him to play in Abu Dhabi.

“I knew that (the waivers) was certainly a topic of conversation, just as you may have picked up that there will be some designated events for some players in the new season,” said Thiel, who joined the Hope after last January's event. “I haven't heard anything from the tour yet as far as players who have asked for waivers. That's certainly something I will hear about, but perhaps not so soon.” IMG boss: We’re Tiger’s agent, not his caretaker In an interview with Bloomberg News, IMG sports agency CEO Ted Forstmann defended his $40,000 bet on client Roger Federer to beat Rafael Nadal in the 2007 French Open final. However, Forstmann also talked about Tiger Woods’ future with IMG.

Forstmann, worth $1.6 billion according to Forbes Magazine, also said he doesn’t see IMG dropping Woods as a client.

“We’re his agent, we’re not his caretaker,” Forstmann said. “We’re supposed to arrange sponsorships for him.” The lawsuit against Forstmann that claimed he bet on Federer also alleged that Forstmann bet against Woods. Harrington to talk with McIlroy about leaving PGA Tour Rory McIlroy made headlines this week with his decision to drop his membership in the PGA Tour to focus on European Tour events because of his desire to play closer to home. However, Padraig Harrington, who knows a little about playing away games, said he plans to talk with McIlroy about the benefits of the PGA Tour, according to IrishCentral.com.

[Harrington] has been playing full-time in the United States since 2006. He has said that he plans to speak to McIlroy about the move.

He said “There are pros and cons on both sides of the argument…I will have a chat with Rory when I get the chance to see what he says. I have always enjoyed playing in the States, and I have many friends over there. I am comfortable over there and enjoy life there, but then I enjoy playing the European Tour, as well. So there is pros and cons for both.” Stray Shots: Stuff we saw while drafting our statement that we intend to blog primarily on the European Tour next year...
Australian reporter attends first golf tournament and almost gets hit by Tiger Woods wayward drive. (Via The Age newspaper)
Sisters Erica and Lindsey Bensch of the University of Central Oklahoma golf team each made a hole-in-one during the same practice round this week. (Via Dogs That Chase Cars)
For Veterans Day, the Bleacher Report lists the “Top 20 Superstar Military Veterans in Sports.” World War II Air Force veteran Bobby Jones is No. 18.

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