Monday, June 27, 2005

Tiger in Toronto today

Woods to host closed clinic at Nike event: This appearance is only for the elite National Post Friday, June 24, 2005 Page: S6 Section: Sports Byline: Robert Thompson Column: On Golf Source: National Post
Tiger Woods is coming to Canada. But casual golf fans won't get to see it in person and if you aren't watching TSN, you might miss Woods' only Canadian appearance this year. That's because he is coming on Monday to play Magna Golf Club, the ultra-exclusive private course north of Toronto controlled by auto-parts magnate Frank Stronach. Woods will be there with 72 individuals for an invite-only session in which he'll give a clinic and then play nine holes apiece with two groups of four golfers.
It is all part of a Nike Golf event, which involves some of Woods' other corporate sponsors like Tag Heuer and General Motors, and is aimed at some of the sports clothing giant's top partners and customers. If you aren't invited, or work at the golf course, you won't see Tiger at all. That's a change from the last time Woods gave an exhibition in Toronto, in 2002 as part of an American Express promotion on Toronto Island that was open to the public.
TSN will be the only media allowed on site to cover the event, according to Tim O'Connor, a Nike Canada spokesman. The sports station will be doing a one-hour special on the Woods outing to air Monday night.
"Part of the idea was since there is so much activity around Tiger, we'd limit it to just TSN," said O'Connor.
Don't come to Aurora, where Magna is located, hoping to crash the gates and see golf's pre-eminent star. The club is gated and unless your name is on the guest list, you're not going to get far.
Kevin Thistle, general manager of Angus Glen Golf Club in Markham, will be one of the lucky eight who gets a close look at Woods. He's playing alongside Gordon Stollery, the Calgary oil baron and owner of Angus Glen, and will golf the back side of Magna with Woods. Thistle has played with Mike Weir, K.J. Choi and Wayne Gretzky, but admits that playing with contemporary golf's most legendary figure will be different.
"I think this will be different because no one really gets through to Tiger," says Thistle. "It is so tough. In this case, I look at it like I'm not just playing golf with him, but I'm getting to spend some time with him as a person.
"I'm not really worried if I duck-hook it off the first tee."
Thistle says four groups made a donation to the Tiger Woods Foundation in order to secure two spots apiece. Others playing with Woods include Ron Joyce, the billionaire former owner of Tim Hortons.
It is likely that the Magna Nike event will be the only Canadian appearance for Tiger this year. The Canadian Open, which Woods has not played in since 2001, is being held at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club in Vancouver this year. That location makes it difficult for golfers like Tiger to travel to the West Coast from Boston after playing the Deutsche Bank Championship, which ends on Labour Day.
Bill Paul, the head of tournament operations for the Royal Canadian Golf Association, says the Nike event won't have any effect on whether Tiger decides to show up at Shaughnessy.
"It has nothing to do with it," Paul said. "It is a corporate event, part of Tiger's contract with Nike, regardless of how Nike wants to spin it. I've spoken to both Tiger and his agent, Mark [Steinberg], and they haven't said no yet."
Not that Paul is overly optimistic Woods will show up for the Canadian Open, despite a strong buzz about the golf course.
"Do I think it is 50/50 that he'll turn up? No. It is less than that."

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