Add Jeff Stein of The LA Times to the list of people who sound disappointed that Tiger Woods hasn't been heckled since his return to competitive golf last month. Reporting on Woods's pro-am round at the Quail Hollow Championship in Charlotte on Wednesday, Stein notes the presence of six police officers on the first hole–with pistols and handcuffs, he adds–and says Woods got a "subdued" response from fans at his 7:30 a.m tee time.
The Quail Hollow Championship is the first "public" tournament of Woods' comeback from the sex scandal that turned his life into tabloid fodder. Though all went smoothly during his run to a fourth-place finish at the Masters, it seems the PGA Tour and tournament officials aren't taking any risks with a public given far easier access to tickets.
"We're not going to be scared to take somebody off the property," tournament director Kym Hougham had said one day earlier, later adding that he expected any untoward comments would be met with warnings and not ejections.
Quail Hollow patrons offered little cause for concern Wednesday, though the response from those who followed Woods' 7:30 a.m. group seemed rather subdued even by pro-am standards. Scattered cheers mixed in with the applause that greeted his introduction, good shots were acknowledged politely.
Well, it's a pro-am. Good shots will be acknowledged politely. Golf is a spectator sport for people who think baseball is too fast-paced. It's not like Ben Roethlisberger getting the business from Cleveland fans this fall. If you're waiting for Woods to get a hostile reception on a golf course, it's never going to happen, except maybe in Wales for the Ryder Cup, where you have teams and rooting interests. (I suspect Woods will get heckled in Wales with more humor than nastiness.) In truth, those police in Charlotte are unnecessary because the galleries will police themselves. If a guy is giving Woods a hard time, other fans will tell him to shut up.
The other thing I don't get is why everybody is referring to this as Woods' first "public" tournament. The Quail Hollow Championship sells tickets, reviews press-credential requests and is contested on a private golf course. That's not any more public than the Masters. If you can't beat 'em, bribe 'em The golf industry, still smarting from being shut off from federal stimulus funds, formed a lobbying group (We Are Golf) to represent the game's interests in Washington, D.C. The group made its first visit to Capital Hill on Wednesday, according to The Washington Post.
Industry leaders say Congress too often treats the sport as a marginal luxury item rather than a major engine of economic growth, and wrongly tags the mostly middle-class sport as a pastime of the idle rich. Golf courses are also regular targets of environmentalists, the industry says. The business has not had a major lobbying presence in Washington in recent years.
The PGA reported no lobbying at all in 2009, although the PGA Tour — representing the profitable professional golfing events — spent about $400,000. The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America spent $60,000, and the World Golf Foundation spent nothing in 2009, according to disclosure reports.
The We Are Golf group will have a $15,000-a-month lobbying budget, according to The Post. They don't know Jack The Royal and Ancient is still waiting to hear if three-time Open champion Jack Nicklaus will participate in celebrations to mark the tournament's 150th anniversary at St. Andrews this summer. Nicklaus rankled some Scotsmen with his comments at the Masters that he'd only make the trip if his sponsor, the Royal Bank of Scotland asked him to. Euen Mclean of The Scottish Daily Record has the details.
Open legend Jack Nicklaus has still not confirmed whether he will come to St Andrews this summer after shocking his fans with mercenary comments about the prestigious Champions Challenge event.
The Golden Bear is one of only two past Claret Jug winners still to respond to the Royal and Ancient's invitation to take part in the four hole event intended to celebrate the 150th anniversary of The Open.
Greg Norman has delayed to see if he is fit enough after undergoing shoulder surgery, but Nicklaus' silence is a worry for organizers, who saw him as a star attraction.