You don't have to be a genius to host a PGA Tour event; you just have to to rich. The latest to prove this is Ray Halbritter, the man responsible for upstate New York's Turning Stone Resort landing a PGA Tour stop after flooding caused the B.C. Open to look for an alternative site in 2006.
It does take savvy to keep a spot on the PGA Tour, and sometimes even that's not enough. Jack Vickers at the International and Joe Hardy at the 84 Lumber Classic are examples of wealthy men who eventually gave up their tournaments.
Halbritter is the guy who decided to give himself a sponsor's exemption to play in this year's Turning Stone Championship, then backed down after a wave of bad publicity. Not long after the tournament was played, he talked himself right off the PGA Tour schedule. Chris Wagner in the Post-Standard writes that Halbritter gave the tour an ultimatum that his event get a stand-alone date two weeks before or after a major, or Turning Stone was out. Halbritter's requirements weren't met, and now his resort has no Tour event.
A close look at that demand reveals few options, basically three dates on the PGA Tour schedule, only one of which was available. Here’s why:
*Because the Masters is played in April, the only major championships applicable were the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship.
*Two weeks before the U.S. Open was Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament; two weeks after was the AT&T National, an event that benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation. Both involve major golf personalities in big markets (Columbus, Ohio and Washington, D.C.). Neither was going to be moved.
*Two weeks before the British Open was the AT&T National; two weeks after (July 29-Aug. 1) was the Greenbrier Classic, an inaugural event in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., that replaced the Buick Open this year. It was played a week before Turning Stone’s event this year.
*Two weeks before the year’s final major, the PGA Championship, was the Greenbrier Classic; two weeks after was the start of the four-event, FedEx Cup playoffs. All were played in major-metropolitan markets, something Syracuse, Utica and Verona can’t provide.
It’s plain to see that the date given to the Greenbrier Classic was the one Turning Stone needed... But any chance to land the time spot was seemingly gone before it became available. The PGA Tour announced Greenbrier would replace the Buick Open on the schedule only three days after the final Buick was played in Grand Blanc, Mich., in 2009. Clearly, in the PGA Tour’s mind, the bid put forth by the new owner of the historic Greenbrier Resort trumped Turning Stone.
For now, it appears that Turning Stone will settle for the Notah Begay III Foundation Challenge, an exhibition that has drawn a few name golfers in past years such as Annika Sorenstam, Vijay Singh, Cristie Kerr and Hunter Mahan, and this year attracted about 4,000 fans. News flash: Bernhard Langer is the top gun on the Champions Tour OK, it's not a news flash. He was the tour's Player of the Year last year and likely will be again. Here's what else isn't a news flash: "Bernhard Langer might lack the charisma of Fred Couples, but Langer won the Masters more (two to one)," writes Ron Kroichick in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Might lack the charisma of Fred? There's no might. But Kroichick's punchline is a good one: "Langer simply marches along, ever stoic and meticulous, churning out victories with ruthless efficiency."
Langer is never an easy subject to write about, but with the Schwab Cup Championship in play this week at Harding Park, he's an unavoidable topic since he's No. 1 in the standings. The nuts and bolts on Langer, according to the Chronicle:
Langer lapped all but one other player this year, with five wins and 14 top-10s. That planted him in prime position to win the seasonlong points race: Couples is the only other player with a chance, and he will take it only if he wins this week and Langer doesn't finish in a two-way tie for fourth or better.
It's no surprise to other tour players, who know Langer's arduous preparation and long history of success in Europe... Langer did not let his work ethic slide once he reached age 50, which helps explain why he quickly emerged as a force on the Champions Tour.
"Bernhard is totally analytical about everything he does," Roberts said. "He has the golf course charted and he's in the fitness trailer for two hours every day. I go in there for a little while to get stretched, and I always see him."
Langer's legacy remains those two Masters wins and what they did for golf back home in Germany. His impact became a popular conversation piece again in August, when Martin Kaymer, a 25-year-old German, won the PGA Championship. Kaymer's victory could accelerate what Langer launched a generation ago. Germany didn't have many courses back then, but now the count has reached about 700, by Langer's estimate, and the number of golfers continues to grow.
"German golf was nothing until the '80s," he said. "When I won the Masters in '85, that's when people recognized golf for what it is and stopped confusing it for putt-putt or mini-golf. And it was confused many times before that."
Those last two lines rank among the most quotable things the stoic Langer has ever uttered. Weir in danger of losing exempt status Picture Mike Weir, the pride of Canada and a former Masters champion, not being exempt on the PGA Tour. It could happen. Blame a torn ligament in his right elbow that ended his golf season in mid-August. Weir didn't have surgery, however, opting instead for rest and rehabilitation. He hopes to test the results by playing in the Shark Shootout in early December. For next year, Weir will use a major medical exemption for the PGA Tour, according to Randy Phillips in the Montreal Gazette, although it's hard to believe that nice guy Weir would have any problem whatsoever getting sponsors' exemptions if he ultimately does need them.
Weir will have five starts in which to earn an amount equal to what the player who finishes 125th on the money list has this season. One official-money Tour event remains, next week's Children's Miracle Network Classic, and Troy Matteson occupies 125th with $733,328. Weir earned $559,092 in making 11 of 19 cuts during a disappointing 2010 made worse by the torn ligament in his right elbow that brought his season to end Aug. 22.
"I'm going to come out prepared and ready, and I fully believe I won't have any trouble reaching that goal," Weir said on his website of the earnings target he must reach to secure playing privileges for the 2011 season.
"Overall, everything is going well and I'm very pleased. I've been busy rehabbing the injured elbow and doing lots of exercise to try and get it better. In the last week or so, I've been actually taking a few shots. Nothing too serious, just doing a little pitching and chipping, and hitting a couple of 5-irons off a tee. And so far, so good.
"I'm not yet ready to try hitting into the ground, I'm still a little worried about impact. But these small steps have been encouraging. Still, there's no guarantee about anything yet in the recovery. It's a day-to-day thing."