DORAL, Fla. (AP) — Louis Oosthuizen got off the plane in Miami after a long flight from Johannesburg only to learn that his golf clubs were missing. This is his second time competing in the United States at a World Golf Championship, so it was a nuisance.
It became a bit more problematic on Tuesday when the pairings were released for the CA Championship.
Oosthuizen will be playing the first two days with Tiger Woods.
“It should be great fun,” Oosthuizen said. “But I wish my clubs would arrive.”
As he spoke, Ping representative Steve Zita pulled up in a cart. Ping is making a new set for the 25-year-old South African in case his clubs were not found, and Zita said a carry bag was being shipped to Doral.
Oosthuizen must have wondered why this had to happen now. Maybe he should call Marc Cayeux of Zimbabwe.
Cayeux made his U.S. debut at Firestone in 2005. He burned the inside of his left hand on the grill two weeks before the tournament, and while he should have withdrawn, he figured he couldn’t miss a chance to play such a lucrative event. Just his luck, he drew Tiger Woods in the first two rounds.
Oosthuizen got to his hotel Sunday and turned on the television to see Woods on the 16th hole at Bay Hill. He watched the final 30 minutes, including Woods’ 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win by one shot.
“You would never bet against him to miss that putt,” Oosthuizen said. “He’s something else. People say that one of these days, the luck is going to turn. But I always remember Gary Player saying that the harder you practice, the luckier you get.”
What to expect on the Blue Monster?
The last time Oosthuizen played in the same tournament with Woods was at the Dubai Desert Classic, where Woods charged from four shots behind in the final round with a 31 on the back nine to win.
“I’ve got to focus on my game, because I’ll be looking at him the whole time,” Oosthuizen said. “I want to see how he handles himself, because that’s the level we all want to get to.”
SPELL IT OUT: Boo Weekley was on the practice green late Monday when he noticed a teenager watching, then challenged him to a contest for the next 30 minutes. When they finished, Weekley reached into his bag for a ball, and carefully signed his name.
Too bad Arnold Palmer wasn’t around to see this. The King would have approved.
Palmer imparted unsolicited advice last week to young players on how to sign an autograph.
“I don’t know where a player comes off, a young player particularly, that is being asked to give an autograph and he scribbles something down there that you can’t read,” Palmer said. “Well, who in the hell knows what it is? Why take the time to do it? Why not make it legible?”
Palmer said he can always recognize something signed by Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. As for his own autograph, it is among the most recognizable in sports.
“If you’re going to give an autograph, make it legible so that people know what the hell they have in their hand,” Palmer said.
Weekley passes that test easily.
TICKING CLOCK: The PGA Tour is trying to save two tournaments that no longer have sponsors, with the priority on Tampa, Fla., because it comes first on the 2009 schedule, part of the Florida swing in March. The other is in May outside Atlanta, where AT&T will bail out after this year.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said he would know something about Tampa in the next 90 days.
“We’re getting close to a point where we’ve got to move forward,” he said. “We’re still focused heavily on Tampa and Atlanta.”
One prospective sponsor was at Innisbrook two weeks ago and said to be enthusiastic.
If that doesn’t work out, the tour could have a hole in the Florida Swing. Among the fall tournaments that could slide into the spring is the Texas Open in San Antonio, which has led the tour in charitable giving the last few years despite being relegated to either the Fall Series or held opposite the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup.
“It would be awkward to leave Florida,” Finchem said. “But I don’t think it’s the most important thing.”
CADDY FOR A CADDIE: Imagine a player standing over a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win the EDS Byron Nelson Championship. The camera might want to be trained on the caddie, who also will have plenty at stake.
In an effort to “salute the allies” of the PGA Tour, the tournament is awarding a Cadillac to the caddie of this year’s champion.
A notice posted in the caddie trailer last week said the “Caddy for a Caddie” deal means a 2007 Cadillac XLR-V for the winning looper. The value of the car was listed at $85,000.
Previously, one of the best perks for caddies came at the Wachovia Championship, where the caddie for the defending champion is given a Mercedes-Benz as a courtesy car for the week.
SENDEN CONSOLATION: Two straight weeks. One putt.
That was enough to keep John Senden out of the CA Championship. The lanky Australian was poised to crack the top 50 at Innisbrook until Stewart Cink holed a 50-foot birdie putt that forged a six-way tie for second, costing Senden precious world ranking points.
He had one last chance at Bay Hill, but wound up in a six-way tie for 48th. Had it been a five-way tie for 48th, or if Senden had finished one spot higher, he would have been No. 50. Instead, he finished .003 points behind Nick Dougherty.
Tough break, yes, but not the end of the world.
Senden at least is in the Masters. He went to Augusta National on Monday to play his first practice round.
DIVOTS: Tiger Woods won an award last week that was largely overlooked, perhaps because it happens so often. He received the 2007 Mark H. McCormack Award for being No. 1 in the world ranking for the most weeks. Woods has won the award every year since it began in 1998. … Already a member of Augusta National and close to 100 other golf clubs, Arnold Palmer added another jewel when he learned last month he had been accepted as a member of Cypress Point. Palmer is part of the business group that owns Pebble Beach. … Americans have won 20 of the 27 World Golf Championships, with Tiger Woods capturing 15 of those.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Tiger Woods has won 18 tournaments when the field has been 72 players or fewer.
FINAL WORD: “I’m pleased that I was able to do what I did from a golfing standpoint. I would like to think that I left them more than just that.” — Arnold Palmer.