Truth & Rumors: Can Houston Open woo Tiger Woods?

Wednesday January 19th, 2011

Can college basketball do what an enormous prize check seemingly can't? In his 14-year pro career, Tiger Woods has made exactly zero appearances at the Shell Houston Open, but as Chris Baldwin of CultureMap Houston points out, this year there is more than just golf to draw Tiger's attention.

Could the Final Four prompt Tiger Woods to play in the Houston Open for the first time ever? You can bet the question's being asked (and prayed on) by Shell Open officials...
Tiger's a courtside regular at Orlando Magic games and while he hasn't shown quite the same love for college basketball as he has the NBA in the past, it's no stretch to imagine him looking at a chance to attend the Final Four as a nice perk in his Masters prep. After his first winless season in 14 years on the PGA Tour, Tiger already will probably be more open to the idea of breaking up his long-held routines and playing the week before a major (the Houston Shell Open is the tournament immediately preceding Augusta).
I agree that there's a better chance than ever of Tiger playing the Shell this year, but the reason has less to do with basketball and more to do with the announcement that prompted this article in the first place. On Tuesday, newly minted world number one Lee Westwood said that he'd be playing in this year's SH Open, presumably as a tune-up to the Masters. While Tiger usually avoids playing right before the majors, it would be a nice sign of his recommitment to the game if he made the best bid possible to regain the title of World's Best Golfer. And what better way to do it than take on Westwood mao-e-mano just days before Augusta? Okay, that was some fun conjecture, but Tiger isn't going to be playing the Shell Houston Open. Sorry. The Final Club Frontier?With growth in golf equipment sales sputtering in America and the rest of the recession-laden world, manufacturers are looking at emerging markets to make up for the revenue they're not seeing in familiar places. Most companies have already established a toe-hold in China, and, as Asia's Business Standard reports, Callaway has its sights set on a whole new set of customers--about 1.1 billion of them.
Identifying India's potential as one of the top three markets in Asia for it, golf equipment maker Callaway Golf Co today said it will continue to invest in the country for the next 3-5 years before it looks to break even here.
"We will continue to invest in India for the next 3-5 years," Callaway Golf Company President (International) Thomas T Yang told PTI when asked by when the Indian operations would break-even. Globally a $1 billion company, Callaway gets more than 50 per cent of business from markets outside the US. Citing China's example, which is another area of focus for the company, Yang said that after four years of continuous investments being made in the country, China operations have "already started giving financial returns".
Yang declined to comment on sales in India but said: "Given the growth of the economy, aspiring middle class and infrastructural developments, India might just surprise us."
I'd be really interested to see the actual sales numbers coming out of India. At the same time, they call them "emerging markets" for a reason, so you've got to respect Callaway for being willing to take a chance. Taken for a RideRickie Fowler is the hottest young gun on the PGA Tour (mostly because Rory McIlroy isn't on the PGA Tour, but that's another story), and sponsor Puma is helping the 22-year old celebrate his Rookie of the Year award in style:

It's kind of a fun little ad, but for me it raises the question of whether that's actually Rickie doing the stunt on that dirt-bike (minus the CGI ball). If that's a stunt-double, isn't this ad incredibly lame? If it's not (and by all accounts Fowler is a fantastic rider and could likely pull off those tricks) isn't Puma out of its mind to risk injuring one of its biggest assets like that, especially one who has already been badly injured in a dirt-bike accident? Tweet of the DayThis Twit pic of a freshly shaven Hunter Mahan, newly married to Kandi, has been making the rounds this morning. Mahan  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The shirt would make the picture by itself, but has Hunter Mahan always looked so much like this guy?

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