You can say what you want about the St. Jude Classic but in the end, it delivers. The whole flap about Lee Westwood and rival sponsors seems to be forgotten in the happy ending. Westwood got to play in the St. Jude Classic as part of his U.S. Open preparation and the Classic got the No. 3 ranked player in the world in its field. Even if he wears a UPS logo in the city that FedEx calls home and in the tournament that FedEx used to sponsor.
Dan Wolken has the story for the Commercial Appeal as Westwood tees it up in Memphis:
After striping the first tee shot of his practice round at TPC
Southwind on Wednesday afternoon, Lee Westwood got a tap on the
shoulder from tournament director Phil Cannon.
"I said, 'You know what we say in the South? That dog will hunt,'" Cannon recalled. "He got a kick out of that."
For Cannon, it was a homespun olive branch of sorts toward Westwood,
the world's third-ranked golfer who was initially denied a sponsor's
exemption to the St. Jude Classic presented by Smith & Nephew until
the story became public, forcing Cannon to reverse course and admit his
"It was just a misunderstanding more than anything," Westwood said.
The Cliff's Notes version: Two years ago, Westwood, who is based in
Europe and doesn't play very often on the PGA Tour, requested a
sponsor's exemption to the St. Jude Classic. A week before the event,
he withdrew. By the time Westwood requested another one this year,
Cannon had already promised the maximum number of sponsor's exemptions,
so he declined Westwood — a move he later acknowledged as
ill-conceived, given Westwood's status as one of the world's elite
Westwood mentioned to the media at the Wachovia Championship that he
wanted to play in Memphis, the week before the U.S. Open, but was
denied a sponsor's exemption. When asked why, he tugged on the UPS logo
sewn prominently on his shirt, and the story instantly made headlines
literally across the world: Was Westwood declined by Memphis, the home
of FedEx, due to his association with competitor UPS?
Though both sides can now look back and laugh, Westwood said the UPS
logo indeed got some attention Wednesday during his first spin around
"There were a couple comments, people recognizing that I wear UPS on
my chest, and this is a town associated with another package deliverer,
I suppose," Westwood said. "It's quite amusing."
Paddy's KneeAnother player whose performance in Memphis may have implications for Pebble Beach is Padraig Harrington, the Irishman who had arthroscopic surgery 16 days ago to remove two floating pieces of cartilage from his right knee. William S. Callahan writes in the Irish Times that Harrington will go ahead and play in Memphis.
After a thorough examination Tuesday by Dr. Mike Voight revealed all was well with the joint, Harrington was given the all-clear to play nine holes. As this was the first time Harrington had made full-blooded swings at the golf ball since his surgery, and taking into account the heat in Memphis, the medic recommended the Irishman take Wednesay off and as a further precaution, wear a light ice-sheat over the joint.
Yet the prognosis is good as Harrington prepares for Pebble Beach. "All is well with the knee and I'm looking forward to getting back into action at Southwind," Harrington said.
Gouging Gamers?Tiger Woods can't escape controversy, mild though it is, with his popular Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 video game
produced by EA Sports. Here's a mostly favorable review from Doug
Elfman of The Game Dork:
First, let's say this: Tiger again gives us the best sports game
of the year (so far). If you're a casual gamer, you can play as Tiger
or as other pros and have fun. If you're a serious gamer, you can
create a golfer from scratch and slowly improve your game, earn better
clubs and topple the golfing world.
But there's definitely some shenanigans going on with Tiger's game franchise, no matter how pretty, intuitive and smooth it is.
Shenanigan No. 1: If you rent Tiger or played a borrowed or used
copy, you can't golf against other gamers online for free. Instead, you
have to spend $10 for an online Tiger code. EA is instituting that fee
with is sports games this year. If the airline industry was saved by
baggage fees, EA and others could be buoyed by online fees. However,
game companies must proceed at the peril of their reputations. More
Americans now hate airlines. Likewise, some gamers are furious about
Elfman also writes that he is bothered by the Tiger online store in
which gamers can spend hundreds of real dollars to buy better virtual
"I'm not sure who to be more repulsed by, EA or cheating gamers. But I'm repulsed, I tell ya."
Life is tough, pal. Real or virtual. So move on. Diamond HuntThe only thing tougher than finding a needle in a haystack may be finding a diamond in an airport. Yet Brian Gay and volunteers from the St. Jude Classic proved that, like the PGA Tour slogan says, anything's possible.
Mike Mueller had the story for the Memphis Commercial Appeal about the missing ring, tour player Brian Gay and thankfully no mention of Frodo and his pals. Gay arrived at the Memphis airport with his wife, Kimberly, and 10-year-old daughter Makinley but when the courtesy shuttle neared the TPC Southwind course, Gay's wife, sitting in the back seat, noticed her wedding ring was missing its stone.
"I hear this huge (gasp) and I go, 'What in the world is going on back there?' Brian Gay said. His wife then showed him her finger, adorned the ring he gave her for their 10th anniversary, missing its centerpiece. "She says, 'My ring!' I was very proud of the way she handled herself. I thought she would have flipped out."
At Kimberly's request, the driver of the van radioed Debbie Perkings, the volunteer who met the Gays at the airport, and asked if she could check the bathroom and "just look" for the stone. About 20 minutes later, Perkins called back to say that she found it.
"They found it on the curb, which was a miracle, but my wife was pretty happy," Gay said. "The lady actually kind of kicked it and that's how she found it."
Gay is hopeful the recovery of his wife's stone will be the first of many good things that happen for him this week. As to the value and size of that stone, Gay called "big enough."
"Our insurance wouldn't be happy," he said.
LPGA in Good HandsYou may remember the LPGA tour. Its intermittent schedule has helped reduce its visibility here in the United States. But this week's State Farm Classic in Springfield, Ill., is a reminder why tour commissioner Mike Whan is one of the best things that ever happened to the LPGA.
Whan, who visited a Peoria hospital with several LPGA players in tow earlier this week, was the subject of a story by Dave Kane in the State Journal-Register. It seems clear that Whan has a handle on where the LPGA is going:
"I went to Bloomington (Ill.) two months ago and talked to the State Farm people," Whan said. "We talked about the fact that this tournament's been around for a long time… Sometimes they get taken for granted. We have to make sure we don't do that here.
"State Farm is humongous. But they'll tell you, 'Illinois is who we are.' To understand State Farm, you have to understand Springfield and the charities. I came in early to do that. They talk about their 13 charities with a passion."
Whan, who lived in Naperville from age 8 to 16 and whose parents are from Davenport, Iowa, said the LPGA needs to maintain its sense of home while continuing to expand around the world.
"I compare the LPGA to international companies," Whan said. "We've had a tournament in northern Arkansas for several years and that's as important as Singapore or Malaysia.
"We're a U.S. company that's going global. But like any business, you don't want to wake up and realize you're homeless. It makes sense to showcase our brand in new places but Springfield and Portland and Arkansas, that's really us.
"When people talk about golf coming to the Olympics in 2016 and what it'll mean for the game, I'll laugh to myself and say, 'I'll see the Olympics right here in Springfield starting Thursday.' You're talking about women from 23 different countries. We don't have to wait for the world. It's here now."