Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Vijay out/in for Canadian Open

Well, only a few hours after news reports that Vijay Singh had to withdraw from this weekend's tournament because of a back injury, the noted news station Mojo in Vancouver is reporting that the big man will turn up to defend his title at the Canadian Open.
It is kinda stunning to find that Mojo has a direct link to Singh's home. But maybe that isn't as weird as the fact Singh hurt his back playing a game of ping pong. I'm surprised he let that one get out. Maybe it was a game of contact ping pong?

Mike Weir: "I'm nearly 100%"

So there's a story in both the National Post and Globe and Mail today (link courtesy of about Mike Weir. Ostensibly Weir was in Toronto to announce a sponsorship deal with Dynamic Mutual funds (we only have press conferences for these things in Canada...)

"I feel really close," said Weir, who has had a difficult year putting, not a good factor for a golfer who isn't particularly long off the tee. At least Weir has stopped making excuses -- I think everyone had grown tired of them. Interestingly, for a guy in such good shape, Weir complained in one of the stories that playing multiple events in consecutive weeks wears him out. Strange that, because Weir isn't exactly Vijay Singh when it comes to teeing it up.

While we're speaking of Weir and sponsorship, wonder if there's anything to the rumour his deal with Taboo, a golf course in Muskoka that bills itself as "Mike Weir's home course" (even though he lives in Utah) is nearing an end?
  • Speaking of rumours, everyone hearing the speculation about Glen Abbey? That's all I'm saying for now....
  • On If they can pull up a link to the Globe and Mail's golf stories, why don't they link to my blog when I post my weekly column? Now the Post may restrict access on the Internet, but people can see my columns here. Ugh. Guys, if you are reading this, you know what to do....

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

SI: Trump to host a major?

Sports Illustrated's Gary Van Sickle has apparently had the opportunity to play The Donald's course in Bedminster, NJ and has come away impressed.
The Donald desperately wants a major at his new Tom Fazio-designed track and Van Sickle seemed impressed enough to think the course could hold one. Van Sickle is usually a pretty critical writer, but he seems very involved with the whole media soliciting process that Trump is currently involved in. Though it is deemed to be a pretty exclusive course, Trump seems to be inviting a lot of people out to see it these days -- including a media day with TaylorMade.
Golf Magazine recently ranked the course #47 in the US, which is pretty strong for a new course that doesn't have the word "Bandon" or "Dunes" in it.
Apparently The Donald wasn't satisfied:
"I know Ashley's (Trump's golf GM) happy we're 47th, but I think 47th sucks. We want to be in the top 10."
Van Sickle then comments that, "Like many who aren't golf insiders, Trump thinks he can buy his way into the top 10 and a major championship. He's half-right."
The only problem is that most PGA and USGA events are booked more than a decade out. Sure many of the courses for the PGA and the Ryder Cup are particularly uninteresting, but that doesn't mean they could be dropped just because Trump wants an event.
Be prepared to wait, Donald. You'll be wearing a very grey hairpiece by the time someone comes knocking on your door to offer you that major event you are so keen on hosting.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Donalda under water

While it might not be the wrath of the hurricane that hit New Orleans, here is a photo of Donalda Golf and Country Club in Toronto following the storm that hit the city over a week ago. And by the way folks, that's a tee box and you don't usually need a canoe in August to get to it....

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Group of seven excels at the US Am

Today's National Post golf column:

Robert Thompson
On Golf
It was arguably the biggest thing to happen in Canadian golf since Mike Weir won the Masters and the Canadian media hardly noticed it. It wasn’t even worth a brief to most papers.
Canadian golf may have come of age on this week when seven players from this country teed it up among the final 48 in the U.S. Amateur at the wonderful Merion Golf Club, a historic club located just outside of Philadelphia. It is the largest number of Canucks to make the matchplay segment of the most prestigious amateur tournament in the world.
Topping it all off, three made it through to the quarter final, with one making it to the weekend semi-final match today.
Some of the names, like NCAA champion James Lepp, might be recognizable to the hardcore golf nut. But most of the Canadians in the field aren’t well known -- yet.
“They all could end up on the PGA Tour,” says Doug Roxburgh, the head of the Royal Canadian Golf Association’s player development program. “It is hard to say for certain, since the development period for a professional golfer can be six or eight years. But they all have a shot.”
For the record, the group of seven who made it through to the match play portion of the event were Lepp, Alberta’s Ryan Yip, Quebec’s Kevin Fortin-Simard, Ontario’s Andrew Parr, J.C. Deacon and Mark Leon, New Brunswick’s Ron Harvey Jr.
The only unfortunate part of having so many Canadians make it through to match play was that Canadians were paired against one another in two of the matches. Regardless, four Canadians made it through the first match play round at Merion, whose devilish rough forced golfers in the field to carefully consider every shot.
There’s s camaraderie between the Canadians in the field that has certainly helped them push forward, Roxburgh said.
“They all know each other from tournaments in Canada and college golf in the U.S.,” he said. “They push each other and help each other out. It is a great group of guys.”
For Lepp, 21, the U.S. Am caps off a remarkable year in which he won the NCAA championship. Strangely, he didn’t make it into the top 64 at the Canadian Amateur held earlier this month at Bell Bay Golf Club in Nova Scotia, but came roaring back to claim medallist honors this week by shooting 65 at Philadelphia Country Club in the final round of the stroke play portion of the tournament.
Lepp has looked a lot stronger this year than he did at the Canadian Open at Hamilton in 2003. At that time Lepp was coming off a six stroke win at the Canadian Tour’s Greater Vancouver Open. But his swing had a lot of moving parts, leading to some inconsistency. Roxburgh said Lepp, who sat out the 2003-04 U.S. college golf season after transferring to the University of Washington from the University of Illinois, has refined his swing to go along with a strong short game.
Despite being hotly tipped, Lepp narrowly avoided being eliminated in the first round of match play, taking 19 holes to dispatch #64 seed Kyle Reifers. Yesterday, he fell in his morning match, losing 2-and-1, but Yip, Leon and Deacon all made it through to quarter final matches, with Deacon besting Leon to head to the semi-final.
Though the U.S. Amateur field looks very strong from a Canadian standpoint, one notable name is missing from the list of Canadians competing this week. Richard Scott, who won the Canadian Amateur with Lepp caddying for him, didn’t make it through qualifying.
Roxburgh says the most fascinating factor for the Canadians is they are all of comparable skills. Though Lepp has gained much of the attention, there is no single golfer who is more likely than the others to follow Mike Weir, David Hearn and Jon Mills onto the PGA Tour.
“They are all very close in ability,” he said. “And this hasn’t happened over night. It has been building and now we are seeing the results.”
Call it what you will -- maybe the Canadian golf renaissance is a good term for what’s happening this week in Philly. Regardless of whether one of the Canadians manages to repeat Gary Cowan’s feat of winning the U.S. Amateur this year or maybe next, the future of Canadian professional golf appears to be in good hands.
National Post

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Wet TO courses; the "final" major; Gore on the PGA Tour and Canucks rock at Am

  • Apparently the number of courses swamped by last week's storm in Toronto includes the National, Thornhill, Donalda (closed for the year), Scarboro and Ladies Golf Club of Toronto. The National apparently has something in the area of $1-million worth of damage to its final couple of holes.
  • Does anyone actually consider the "Jeld-Wen Tradition" a major? Come on, with a name like the Jeld-Wen, can anyone take this event seriously? You know the answer. Too bad because the Senior Tour did play some neat spots this year, like Royal Aberdeen for the British Senior. The reality is that the Champions Tour is impossible to compare to the PGA Tour. No one watches it and hardly anyone cares.
  • Jason Gore is about the only interesting player teeing it up at the Buick Championship. Let's hope he wins. With so little interest in the event, could this be one of the tournaments that disappears once Tim Finchem reworks the schedule as part of his new TV deal?
  • So seven Canadians made it through to the match play portion of the US Am, a new record according to the folks at the RCGA. Canada's great hope in the tournament, NCAA champ James Lepp, narrowly made it through against the 64th seed, which makes one wonder if he's brought his A-game. But match play, especially on a course as difficult as Merion, is very different from medal play, and some players can't make the adjustment. Anyway, there are four Canadians in matches today.
  • The Globe's Lorne Rubenstein writes an article about the Canadian Open and its questionable field. Hard to get a clear take on what Lorne thinks, but he runs through a list of players who will and will not be making the trip out to Shaughnessy. Surprisingly, Phil Mickelson isn't one who is going to show up, despite saying at last year's Open that he was thrilled to see an event on the West Coast, since he lives in California. Maybe he ran out of jetshare or something.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Nine past champs in Canadian Open field, but the big one is missing

Here's a posting from the RCGA about the Canadian Open. While it may be great to have John Rollins in the field (I know the spirited Mr. Rollins draws tons of spectator interest), looks like Tiger's name isn't in the list. Don't expect it to be added:

From the RCGA: Among those confirmed include two-time champion Steve Jones (’89, ’97) as well as David Frost (’93), Dudley Hart (’96), Billy Andrade (’98), Mark O’Meara (’95), Scott Verplank (’01), John Rollins (’02), Bob Tway (’03) and defending champion Vijay Singh, who confirmed his intention a few weeks ago.

“It’s exciting to announce that nine of our past champions will be joining the field at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club,” said Bill Paul, RCGA Tournament Director. “Each of these men has played a major role in shaping the history of this championship over the years and we are excited that they can join in our celebration as we bring Canada’s national open championship back to Western Canada for the first time in 39 years.”

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Canadians look strong at Merion for US Am

Though it doesn't have the same profile it once did, the US Amateur is on this week. Th0ugh it only plays 6,800 yards from the tips, Merion in Philadelphia, which is hosting the tournament, is among the toughest golf courses in the world. While only half of the stroke play rounds were played at Merion (Philly Country Club played host to the other round), the match play will be held at Merion.
Worth noting that NCAA champ, and Canadian James Lepp has topped the leaderboard after shooting 65 at Philly Country Club. In fact there are seven Canadians among the top 48 who made it to the match play component on the tournament, a fairly remarkable accomplishment. The leaderboard can be found here.
I had the chance to play Merion in June and it was simply beastly, far tougher than Pine Valley, which is often regarded as one of the hardest golf courses in the world. It surely rivals Oakmont, which hosted the 2003 event. The fairways are narrow and the rough is long. The greens are devilish. Looks like it'll be a fun weekend.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Internet problems...Toronto golf hit by storms

  • So the same storm that knocked out my Internet connection (leaving me on painfully slow dial-up. So 1996!), flooded a great number of golf courses in the Toronto area. Apparently Donalda is expecting to be shut for several weeks, and perhaps longer, Bayview, Thornhill, Scarboro and Credit Valley also got more water than they could deal with. Interesting to see the impact of the storm on area courses -- especially since a lot of private and public golf was already struggling. Compounding this, there's a rumour in circulation that a very large, new public course in the Toronto area is about to go bust, with mounting debts and little revenue. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out. Can you say, 'an opportunity for Clublink,' anyone?
  • Played Eagles Nest today and the course was in terrific shape, despite all the rain. If you haven't seen this one yet (it is in North Toronto), run, don't walk. Apparently there will be some special green fees on the upcoming long weekend.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Review: Tom McBroom's Ridge at Manitou

Ridge at Manitou, Parry Sound, Ont.
Designer: Thomas McBroom
Length: 6,815 yards
Access: Private with access through Inn at Manitou

Toronto-based designer Tom McBroom has created some fairly interesting, though subtle, work in the last couple of years. His creation of Wildfire, near Peterborough, has yet to become a business success, but it is hard to argue the course wasn't an artistic success.

Which brings us to his latest course, The Ridge at Manitou, which officially opened all 18 holes about a month ago. Near Sudbury, Ont., The Ridge is a private course affiliated with the Inn at Manitou, an amazing small inn directly across the street from the course. If you want to access The Ridge and don't want to kick out $55,000, this is your only way on.

The course opens easily enough, with a relatively simple par five. Though there is some use of rock on the hole, by and large, The Ridge uses the Canadian Shield more judiciously than McBroom's other work, like Rocky Crest or Lake Joseph Club. The green site on the opening hole, like most on the course, is subtle, with fine ridges and swails. Don't expect any wild contours similar to what appeared on McBroom's earlier work ("my drug phase," McBroom now jokes).


What you get at The Ridge is a course that is less bold than McBroom's recent nearby design, Peter Schwartz's Oviinbyrd, but one that is equally playable and interesting in its own way. There are also some exceptional holes on the property.

Take, for example, the driveable par four second (below), which tips the scales at 306 yards from the tips. A good pop with the driver and you can be putting for eagle; but pull the shot slightly and it will result in a lost ball. McBroom rival Doug Carrick could learn from the hole -- a good short par four can really define a golf course. And by short, I mean 300 yards, not 355.

The real standouts at the course are the par threes, which appear to be the basis upon which the Ridge was routed. All appear to head in opposite directions and offer a variety of lengths, though McBroom appears to be most interested in long par threes this time round. The best of the bunch is the 11th, a beast that plays over a wetland and into a head wind. Pins in the front are difficult to get to with a long iron, but shots hit past the flag face difficult downhill putts.

The only real knock on the Ridge is the par fives are largely the least interesting parts of the course (and there are five of them), with the exception of the downhill 13th, which makes great use of an interesting green site to add some drama to the mix. The par five 18th, which is certainly among the prettiest holes on the golf course (right), is listed as a three shot hole, but realistically is a strong par four. Still, it allows even high-handicappers a shot at a four on the card, and everyone loves a birdie, don't they? McBroom may be pandering a bit with this hole, but I'd rather see a short five than a 650-yard monster, the likes of which are cropping up on a number of courses these days.

At The Ridge, McBroom, in many ways has created his homage to Canada's golfing heritage. The course uses a very Stanley Thompson-esque routing (especially with the 3-3-3 mix of holes on the back nine) and the designer even captures some Thompson-like shapes. Witness the 372-yard par four 16th (right), which uses a green shape very similar to the fourth hole at Highlands Links.

My only real knock against the course is that it is too consistent. McBroom, in his quest to avoid the critics whom have often argued that his creations were more ambitious than successful, has created a course that takes very few risks. That means The Ridge offers 18 strong holes, but very few truly great ones. You might come away recalling the experience more than singular holes. It is kind of like a girl who is looking for a stable, reliable boyfriend. She may miss out on the danger of the bad boy, but she still gets a reward by playing it safe. In the end, that may not be that much of a drawback for the Ridge. It all depends on personal preference.

The only stumbling block facing the Ridge these days seems to be attracting members to this Northern Muskoka location. But with a course this strong and consistent, it is hard to imagine that will be a problem in the long run.

The Ridge at Manitou's website is located here.
The website for the Inn at Manitou can be found here.

Only the cream rises to the top

Only the cream rises to the top: Three Canadian golf clubs make it onto Top 100 list
National Post Friday, August 19, 2005
Robert Thompson Column: On Golf
What's the value of a number?
Well, if you are Hamilton Golf and Country Club in Ancaster, Ont., St. George's in Etobicoke, Ont., or the remote Highlands Links in Cape Breton, N.S., numbers can mean a great deal.
All three clubs appeared in Golf Magazine's list of the Top 100 golf courses in the world. Long regarded as two of the best in the country, Highlands (ranked 71st) and St. George's (82nd) have long been part of the list, a pair of Stanley Thompson designs sitting alongside Scotland's Muirfield and California's Pebble Beach. Considering there are an estimated 31,857 golf courses in the world, according to Golf Digest, placing in the Top 100 is a remarkable achievement.
Hamilton appeared on Golf's list for the first time, much to the surprise of golf pundits and, apparently, the club itself.
Rob McDannold, head professional at Hamilton, said many of the club's members were not aware of the club's No. 84 ranking in the world as the magazine is just hitting newsstands in Canada. Hamilton was ranked as the best course in Canada last year by Score Magazine.
McDannold said the club was pleased by the rating but added most members already knew they were playing at a great course. "It is like being picked for a baseball team when you're in gym class in high school," he said. "You like to be picked early on, but if you aren't, it won't be a life-altering experience. Still, it is nice to be recognized."
Hamilton, a wonderful hilly design that actually rests on the escarpment overlooking the city, was created by Englishman Harry Colt and opened in 1914. The course was one of only two created in Canada -- the other was Toronto Golf Club -- and was designed around the time Colt was consulting on Pine Valley, the club that has been regarded as the best in the world for most of the past 50 years.
The course gained a renewed prominence after hosting the Canadian Open in 2003. Many felt the course, which played slightly less than 7,000 yards, would be beaten up badly by the best golfers in the world. Instead it yielded few low scores but many accolades from the likes of Vijay Singh, Brad Faxon and winner Bob Tway as a fair, but difficult, test of golf.
"I guess this notice is a sign of the greatness of what Harry Colt created," said McDannold.
St. George's has long been accustomed to being considered one of the best courses in the world since it first opened 76 years ago. With that in mind, general manager Michael Chadsey says the course's members take the responsibility of protecting its reputation very seriously.
"I think the members understand this is a great course and that they've been handed a stewardship over it," he said. "The club is pretty careful with any step it takes."
Each of the courses has its flaws. The green on St. George's third hole, a wonderful downhill par three, is nearly unputtable at current green speeds. Hamilton's bunkers have little in common with the original Colt work. And a mid-1990s renovation of Highlands Links by architect Graham Cooke failed to reinstate any of Thompson's majestic concepts.
But that, largely, is nitpicking. World class is a phrase too commonly tossed around. In the case of these three golf courses, that's exactly what they are.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Toronto Star columnist blasts Royal Montreal selection

  • Interesting column from Dave Perkins this morning in the Toronto Star. Perkins argues it was a mistake for the RCGA to support taking the Presidents Cup to Royal Montreal in 2007. Mind you, Perkins doesn't seem to be fully aware of the extent of the changes at the club, which amount to a Rees Jones overhaul. Gutting, some might call it. Perkins argues the tournament would have been better off going to the exclusive Magna Golf Club, but I don't see that. Magna benefited from the lobbying of former GM Dave Kaufman, but hardly anyone actually thinks it is a great golf course. Sure Magna would have spent a lot of money (probably a lot of it would have been Magna shareholders' cash...), but I'm sure Royal Montreal isn't going to be a spendthrift about the tournament either. Angus Glen wanted the tournament as well, but the decision seems to have been closed -- it wasn't coming to Toronto. Too bad. They should have used this opportunity to take it to St. George's, and benefited from the success the RCGA has had in taking the Canadian Open to a great old course.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The spectacular Ridge at Manitou; Toronto Golfnuts rocks!

  • Just back from the Ridge at Manitou, the new Tom McBroom course near Parry Sound. It was a pretty fantastic course, and I'll post a full review and photos in the coming days. Some great downhill par threes, and subtlety was the rule of the day. That gave the course a timeless feel, which I've recently really enjoyed in McBroom's work. Anyway, I've got to get caught up on some reviews -- including Pine Valley (not a review, more a photo essay), Georgian Bay Club, Seguin Valley and some others. Nice to be playing some more regular golf, though I still am not hitting it off the tee like I have in past years. I made five birdies in my first round at The Ridge and still only shot 74. Ugh.
  • Stumbled across a cool Web posting site called Toronto Golf Nuts. A kind fellow there referenced Going For The Green, saying I was a "an excellent and under-read writer for the National Post." I wish I wasn't under-read, but I'll take the excellent bit. Funny that. I was in the restaurant at the Inn at Manitou last night and the sommelier introduced me to a fellow who was at the restaurant with his female companion. The gentleman said, "Are you the Robert Thompson from the National Post?" Not being certain if that was meant as a good or bad question, I just shrugged and said, "yep." Then I briskly said hello, grabbed Jen and headed for the door. Maybe he liked my writing, but I'm also concerned that people will be so bothered by the right-of-center politics at the Post that they'll paint me with the same brush. Of course, maybe he just wanted to talk about golf. Didn't matter - I was outta there.
  • Oh yeah. Some guy named Mickelson won the PGA Championship while I was playing golf yesterday morning. This isn't news to anyone. However, I did pick him in the golf pool I participated in (run by Carrick Design), leaving me in second place and in the money! I love Phil! Interestingly, I picked Tiger to win the British and Masters, and Phil the PGA. Didn't get Michael Campbell, but three out of four ain't bad.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Weston, Georgian Bay Club, Seguin Valley and then Ridge at Manitou

After a couple of months of looking after my year-old daughter, I finally got to whack it around a golf course some last week. Played Weston, a historic Willie Park Jr. course that was recently given a bunker face lift by my good friend Ian Andrew. Ian came along to play as well, which was great fun. Weston becomes increasingly better each time I play it. It is close to being outstanding.
Then it was off to Georgian Bay Club, a Hurdzan/Fry design that was actually created by Jason Straka. It was also better the second time round. The first time I played it, in mid-summer 2004, I thought it was just OK, with overly busy bunkering. This time I found the vistas to be exceptional and there were more outstanding holes than I recalled, including #1, #3, #17, #18. It is up for Golf Digest's Best New Course in Canada, and though I don't think it is the best I've seen (that's Eagles Nest), it was a lot better than I remembered. A close second, I think.
Then it was off to Seguin Valley, which came recommended to me by the editor of a noted golf publication. This editor felt it was as good as anything in Muskoka, and was the sleeper of the area. He's wrong. While it does feature some pretty great settings, the dull bunkering, which often reminded me of a bad muni, and the simply goofy routing and holes on the back really hurt any feeling I had for the course. There are a couple of great holes, most notably the par five 6th and the terrific 7th (a 210 yard shot over a pond to a green that didn't sport a single bunker). But the strange short ones on the back hurt the course badly. The routing was also among the strangest I've seen in some time -- 3,700 yards on the front nine and barely 3,000 on the back. It struck me there could be a great course on the site, but it wasn't the one the designer (no one can tell me who it is and it wasn't listed in the GD list) decided to try.
Off with Jen, my lovely golf widow, to see the Ridge at Manitou this week. Staying at the terrific Inn at Manitou, which I've heard cracking things about, so we'll see if the course lives up to its reputation. Some pundits are saying it is better than Peter Schwartz's Oviinbyrd, but that remains to be seen.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Golf's Top 100 list leaks

I'll comment more on this later -- notice the three Canadian tracks, including a big move by St. George's:

1. Pine Valley
2. Cypress Point
3. St. Andrews
4. Augusta National
5. Shinnecock Hills
6. Pebble Beach
7. Muirfield
8. Sand Hills
9. Royal County Down
10. Royal Melbourne
11. Merion
12. Royal Portrush
13. Pacific Dunes
14. Oakmont
15. Royal Dornoch
16. Ballybunion
17. Turnberry
18. Pinehurst #2
19. National Golf Links
20. Kingston Heath
21. Carnoustie
22. Seminole
23. Crystal Downs
24. San Francisco
25. Prarie Dunes
26. Winged Foot West
27. Cape Kidnappers
28. Fishers Island
29. Oakland Hills
30. Bethpage
31. Royal Birkdale
32. Roayal St. George's
33. Chicago Golf Club
34. New South Wales
35. Hirono
36. The Country Club
37. Riviera
38. Muirfield Village
39. Oak Hill
40. Royal Troon
41. Casa De Campo
42. Baltusrol
43. Portmarnock
44. Olympic
45. Southern Hills
46. Sunningdale
47. Woodhall Spa
48. Whistling Straits
49. Barnbougle
50. TPC Sawgrass
51. LA CC
52. Royal Lytham & St. Annes
53. The Golf Club
54. Royal Adelaide
55. Medinah
56. Kiawah Island
57. Morfontaine
58. Kauri Cliffs
59. Harbour Town
60. Quaker Ridge
61. Winged Foot East
62. Inverness
63. Maidstone
64. Garden City
65. Kingsbarn
66. Loch Lomond
67. Lahinch
68. Ganton
69. Bandon Dunes
70. Valderamma
71. Cape Breton
72. Royal Liverpool
73. Cabo Del Sol
74. Friars Head
75. Shoreacres
76. Scioto
77. Somerset Hills
78. Cruden Bay
79. Congressional
80. Kawana
81. Durban
82. St. George's
83. Shadow Creek
84. Hamilton
85. Wentworth
86. Bandon Trails
87. Trump National
88. Spyglass Hills
89. Camargo
90. Ocean Forest
91. European Club
92. Walton Heath
93. East Lake
94. Tokyo Golf Club
95. Nine Bridges
96. Wade Hampton
97. Colonia
l98. Peachtree
99. Cascades
100. Naruo

Friday, August 12, 2005

Book deal with Harper Collins

While it may not exactly be golf related (though I met Ron through a golf game), here is the announcement of my book deal with Ron Joyce for Harper Collins. It was announced today in Quill and Quire, a publishing trade paper in Canada.

HarperCollins rolls up rim and wins
Posted by derek at 2:08:52 PM EDT on Aug 10, 2005 — The favourite spot of Canadian coffee addicts will soon be making inroads in the literary market. Double Double: Ron Joyce and the Story of the Tim Horton’s Empire will be published as a lead title in fall 2006 by HarperCollins Canada, which won Canadian rights in a reportedly fierce bidding war. The book, acquired by senior editor Jim Gifford, will be authored by Tim’s co-founder Joyce and National Post reporter Robert Thompson. It will document how the donut and coffee purveyor grew to be not only the largest restaurant chain in the country, but a national icon as well. The deal was arranged by agent Hilary McMahon of Westwood Creative Artists.

Forget about Tiger: the story of the year is Jason Gore

Jason Gore: He's John Daly without the three ex-wives

National Post Friday, August 12, 2005 Page: S3 Section: Sports Byline: Robert Thompson Column: On Golf Source: National Post

Some think Tiger Woods is the top golf story of 2005. It is not an unreasonable assumption. He has two majors under his belt, contended in a third and, despite a dreadful start yesterday, could still challenge in the PGA Championship this weekend.
But when it comes to golf stories, Woods has been eclipsed by a chubby, 31-year-old journeyman who had considered giving up on pro golf more than a few times.
Jason Gore is the best thing to hit the sport in a long time. He's a combination of John Daly and Roy McAvoy of Tin Cup fame. He jokes with the crowd en route to shooting 59. He sits at the top of the U.S. Open leaderboard heading into the final day. He wins three straight events on the Nationwide Tour -- something that has never been done before -- and breaks into tears when he realizes the victory vaults him onto the PGA Tour. What more could one ask for?
Well, perhaps a back story that is the stuff screenplays are made from. After gaining a scholarship to the University of Arizona, the pressure of the events caused him to throw up blood brought on by stress-induced ulcers. It wasn't the only bit of bad luck to befall Gore; the day he turned pro in 1998, his father died from a heart attack.
All of this should have been enough to finish off Gore. But it didn't. He withstood everything that could be thrown at him and won a couple of times over the next five years on golf's top minor league. But 2005 didn't look like it had the makings of a great year. Gore only had conditional status on the Nationwide Tour and played marginally through the first half of the year.
Still, he qualified for the U.S. Open. Of course, being Jason Gore, even getting to the U.S. Open wasn't easy. Thieves broke into his car during the drive to North Carolina, stealing practically everything, including his underwear.
No one expected he would last more than two days at the Open, but he managed to play well and end up in the final group heading into Sunday. Everyone expected him to fold like a house of cards and to never hear from him again.
They were partly correct. He did fall apart on Sunday, shooting 84 in the last round, but Gore didn't disappear. He held his head high and went back to the Nationwide Tour.
He played fine upon his return -- tying for 17th -- and then rattled off one of the most improbable streaks in professional golf with three straight wins. Prior to the U.S. Open, Gore hadn't given any indication he was capable of such a feat. But after his rise to celebrity, anything appeared possible.
Even more remarkably, he joined that rare group of golfers who have shot 59 when he made an eagle putt on the final hole in his second round in Omaha this past week. It was a remarkable accomplishment that few others in the history of professional golf have managed to pull off. Gore's response to the achievement was typically understated: "That was pretty cool, wasn't it?"
Gore is everything Vijay Singh, Davis Love III and the other country club PGA Tour pros aren't. He's fat. He shows a lot of emotion. He clearly loves the fans that rally to support him. He's John Daly without the chain-smoking habit, the gambling problems and three ex-wives.
And while some might have thought his final round at the U.S. Open was the end of the story, Gore looked at it as a beginning.
"People kept saying I gassed it,'' Gore told the PGA Tour's Web site. "But I didn't. It was the final round of the U.S. Open. I kept saying I'd be a better player for it, that I would be back. That was the truth.'' The truth indeed. Next stop: the PGA Tour.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

I participated in Ontario Golf's Top 50 courses in Ontario panel. Now mine was quite a bit different from the final list (I'll detail some of the issues in a coming post), but I thought it might interest some people to see the Top 50 in the province as decided by the panel, which included 50 people ranging from media to golf pros. It is an interesting list and the decision to publish the names of the panelists and their top five courses makes this list an intriguing proposition. More ratings panels should be this transparent.

Ontario Golf Magazine's 2005 Top 50 Courses are listed below:
1) St. George's G&CC 2) Hamilton G&CC 3) The National Golf Club of Canada 4) Beacon Hall GC 5) Westmount G&CC 6) Bigwin Island GC 7) Eagles Nest GC 8) Redtail GC 9) Devil's Paintbrush 10)Rocky Crest GC 11)London Hunt & CC 12)Taboo 13)Glen Abbey GC 14)Toronto GC 15)Essex G&CC 16)Brantford G&CC 17)Devil's Pulpit 18)The Georgian Bay Club 19)Deer Ridge G&CC 20)Osprey Valley GC (Heathlands Course) 21)Mississaugua G&CC 22)Heron Point Golf Links 23)Wildfire G&CC 24)St. Thomas G&CC 25)Magna GC 26)Scarboro G&CC 27)Angus Glen GC 28)Rosedale G&CC 29)Copper Creek GC 30)Granite Golf 31)Oakdale G&CC 32)Deerhurst Highlands33)King Valley 34)Mad River 35)Lookout Point 36)Cherry Hill Club 37)Osprey Valley GC (Wasteland Course)38)Weston G&CC 39)Eagle Creek GC 40)National Pines 41)Burlington G&CC 42)Summit G&CC 43)Crimson Ridge GC44)Cataraqui G&CC 45)Timberwolf GC 46)Credit Valley G&CC 47)Thornhill G&CC 48)The Oaks G&CC 49)Wooden Sticks 50)The Marshes GC

Golf Magazine's Top 100 in the world -- Hamilton makes the list!

Here's the press release on Golf Mag's Top 100 in the world. Most of the buzz is about Trump's Bedminster course jumping into the Top 100. There are two Canadian courses on the list -- St. George's and Highlands Links -- and it'll be interesting to see how that shakes out as well. The fascinating bit is that a third Canadian course, Harry Colt's excellent Hamilton Golf &CC has appeared on the list, vaulting to 74 in the world. It is impressive and it will make it interesting to see how it compares with St. George's once I get my hands on the final list.

New York, NY, August XX, 2005 – GOLF MAGAZINE will release its biennial rankings of the Top 100 Courses in the United States and Top 100 Courses in the World in the September 2005 issue (on newsstands August 16). While the 2005 rankings mark the 20th consecutive year that Pine Valley has retained its number one position on both prestigious lists, 13 newcomers receive recognition for the first time and Nebraska’s remote Sand Hills Golf Club (No. 8 in World) becomes the first modern course to rank on the World list’s top ten. “Sand Hills is a forerunner of an emerging trend in golf course design,” said GOLF MAGAZINE Editor David M. Clarke of the course, built in 1995. “Designers have traditionally focused on building conveniently located courses to provide easy access to a wide range of golfers. Today, however, many courses rely more on a spectacular setting and a stunning, challenging design to receive national recognition – such as a spot on GOLF MAGAZINE’s Top 100 Courses list – and draw golfers.”Aligned with that trend, ten of the 13 new courses to join this year’s lists are modern constructions, such as Trump National, which cracked the top 50 on the U.S. list with its debut at No. 48 and is one of three new courses that ranked on both the U.S. and World lists, taking the No. 87 spot in the world. With its best holes forming a natural amphitheater on the front nine, real estate mogul and TV boss Donald Trump dreams of hosting a U.S. Open at the Tom Fazio-designed course, built on the Bedminster, New Jersey estate of another larger-than-life mogul, John DeLorean.Following are the names and ranks of courses making their debut on GOLF MAGAZINE’s 2005 lists of Top 100 Courses in the U.S. and Top 100 Courses in the World listed by rank: Course U.S. RankWorld RankCape Kidnappers (Kerikeri, New Zealand)-27Barnbougle (Tasmania, Australia)-49Friar’s Head (Baiting Hollow, NY)4174Hamilton Country Club (Ontario, Canada)-84Bandon Trails (Bandon, Ore.)4786Trump National (Bedminster, NJ)4887Trump International (W. Palm Beach, Fla.)73-Cascata (Boulder City, Nev.)84-Holston Hills (Knoxville, Tenn.)86-The Bridge (Bridgehampton, NY)90-Calusa Pines (Naples, Fla.)92-Tokyo Golf Club (Sayama-City, Japan)-94Nine Bridges (Jeju Island, South Korea)-95Six of the top ten courses in the U.S. also ranked in the top ten in the world.
Following are the names of the top ten courses on GOLF MAGAZINE’s 2005 lists of Top 100 Courses in the U.S. and Top 100 Courses in the World listed by rank (and 2003 rank):
U.S. Courses Rank
World CoursesRank Pine Valley (Clementon, NJ)1 (1)Pine Valley (Clementon, NJ)1(1)Cypress Point (Pebble Beach, Calif.)2 (2)Cypress Point (Pebble Beach, Calif.)2 (2)Augusta National (Augusta, Ga.)3 (4)St. Andrews (Old Course) (Scotland)3 (6)Shinnecock Hills (Southampton, NY)4 (3)Augusta National (Augusta, Ga.)4 (5)Pebble Beach (Pebble Beach, Calif.)5 (5)Shinnecock Hills (Southampton, NY)5 (4)Sand Hills Golf Club (Mullen, Neb.)6 (7)Pebble Beach (Pebble Beach, Calif.)6 (7)Merion (East) (Ardmore, Pa.)7 (8)Muirfield (Gullane, Scotland)7 (3)Pacific Dunes (Bandon, Ore.)8 (11)Sand Hills Golf Club (Mullen, Neb.)8 (11)Oakmont (Oakmont, Pa.)9 (9)Royal County Down (Newcastle, N. Ire.)9 (10)Pinehurst No. 2 (Pinehurst, NC)10 (6)Royal Melbourne (Composite) (Melbourne, Australia)10 (8)To determine the rankings, GOLF MAGAZINE’s course-rating panel, consisting of prominent players, administrators, journalists and architects (note: participating architects were not allowed to rate courses they designed), gave one subjective grade to each of the 545 nominated courses they played. The panel’s votes were also weighted to favor courses they have played during the past five years. This year, GOLF MAGAZINE is also inviting aspiring golf course architects to submit their own sketches of a par-5 hole to GOLF MAGAZINE’s “Armchair Architect Contest.” Renowned golf course architect Tom Doak – who saw his two newest courses, Cape Kidnappers and Barnbougle, join the Top 100 in the World list this year – will select the winner based on the merits of the design (not the sketch) and the winner will earn the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to accompany the course designer on an all-expense paid trip to Montana, Mexico or Scotland (schedule may vary) to consult on one of his exclusive projects. Check out the September 2005 issue of GOLF MAGAZINE for details on the “Armchair Architect Contest” and to see a complete list of the Top 100 Courses in the U.S. & the World.***

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Golf Magazine's World Top 100 Golf Courses

  • Golf Magazine's list of the Top 100 golf courses in the world will be out any day now. But already there's a lot of talk about it, including a segment on the Golf Channel. The list is done every two years, and though the panel is much smaller than that of Golf Digest (which only does a US list and on which I participate), it includes a number of prominent names, including Canadians Lorne Rubenstein, desiger Tom McBroom and Redtail owner Chris Goodwin. In 2003, Pine Valley was tops, and according to the list Golf Channel showed, that won't be changing. Interestingly, on their US list, Donald Trump's overwrought Trump National ended up #48. Let the fighting begin -- it'll all come out in the wash when the magazine hits news stands within a week.

Tiger returns to the hunt: Critics were a little too hasty in writing off Woods after some substandard seasons

My column from today's PGA Championship supplement in the National Post

National Post
Tuesday, August 9, 2005
Robert Thompson On Golf
Tiger Woods is back. There can be no doubt about it. But is the current incarnation as good as the one that dominated golf in 2000, winning seven times, including both the British and U.S. Opens?
His success this year -- wins at both the Masters and British Open, as well as at two other tournaments -- seems to suggest the answer is yes. While golf pundits started the year talking about the so-called "Big Four," which included Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh, heading into golf's fourth major the talk is all about No. 1 -- Tiger Woods.
Not that it has been a cakewalk for Woods. He's continued to struggle with his driver all year, a factor that might hold him back at Baltusrol, site of this year's PGA Championship. Of course, this is nothing new. There's been a lot of talk about Woods' abilities with a 1-wood in his hands since having knee surgery at the end of 2002.
While he won immediately after returning in early 2003, Woods apparently came to the realization that he would have to make some changes to compensate for the damage done to his knee. The swing that took him to the career Grand Slam in record fashion, crafted carefully by mentor Butch Harmon, would have to go.
Harmon would also get the boot, and Woods would struggle for much of 2004.
He emerged with a new swing coach -- Hank Haney, Mark O'Meara's instructor -- and began deconstructing his game.
"It was like Michelangelo going back to chisel a more impressive six-pack on David," said Jaime Diaz of Golf Digest.
Despite the overhaul, last year Woods won only once, leading Monday morning swing critics to say Woods had made a mistake in altering such a good thing. Woods insisted he was getting closer to the form from his remarkable run in 2001. No one really believed him.
His opening round at the Masters this year, where he shot 74 and putted a ball off a green and into the water, led more to say Woods was not the player he had once been. Those who had been quietly critical in the past were suddenly more vocal. Tiger, they said, had lost it.
He would silence them with two days of rounds in the 60s and a final-day duel with Chris DiMarco that he'd win in extra holes.
Although he narrowly missed winning the U.S. Open, finishing second to surging winner Michael Campbell, a resurgent Tiger headed to St. Andrews, the sight of his dramatic British Open win in 2000.
Hardly anyone was surprised when Woods disposed of his competitors and won by five strokes. He was on a hot streak -- and a hot streak by Tiger Woods is unlike anything else in golf.
Suddenly, Woods is once again the most dominant player in golf. Just as in 2000, his supposed chief rivals -- Singh, who is having another strong year in regular tournaments, and Els and Mickelson, who have both been relatively quiet -- have yet to prove they are able to beat Woods in a head-on duel. None of the three have been factors in Woods' two major victories this year.
Tiger's return to dominance coincides with his return to hitting the ball astonishing distances off the tee this year. His tee shots are averaging 312 yards this year, the second longest on tour. He's playing Nike's new driver and, in a change of pace, armed it with a graphite shaft. The combination has once again made Woods the foremost long hitter on tour.
He still doesn't hit a lot of fairways, even with the new technology. Woods ranks an abysmal 170th in driving accuracy, hitting fairways only 57% of the time.
That wasn't an issue at St. Andrews, where Woods' prodigious distance was helped by the course's wide and forgiving fairways. It also wasn't a problem at the Masters, where the rough is still tame and the nature of the course allowed Woods to recover when his driver went awry.
But Baltusrol, a traditional parkland layout, could be tougher for Woods, especially if he's having a difficult time finding fairways.
Still, his remarkable power off the tee will also put short irons in his hand on many holes. Woods seems to be aware that his chances at Baltusrol are pretty strong.
"Well, like any other PGA, it will be fair," he said following his win at the British Open. "The rough will be up, but at least it will be fair. Greens will be quick but they won't be over the top. The PGA, over the years that I've played, has certainly been very fair. They are set up stern but fair. I think that's why we all love playing that championship, because they never go over the edge."
So how good has Tiger Woods been this year? He leads the money list with more than US$6-million in earnings. And, despite missing his first cut since 1997, he's come within a couple of putts of winning all three majors. He handily won two.
The naysayers who said Woods would never rebound have been drowned out among those trying to gush out accolades about his remarkable performance this year. While he may have started the year in a cloud of uncertainty, no one would be surprised if he adds Baltusrol and the PGA Championship to his growing legend.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

This week: Jason Gore on the PGA Tour; Georgian Bay Club and Seguin Valley

  • One would think the terrible final round that befell Jason Gore at the US Open would have broken him. Here was Tin Cup with a shot at the Open and he fell apart. Apparently it didn't have much of an impact. He rattled off his third straight Nationwide Tour victory in a row today, including shooting 59 in the second round. Amazing. Prior to playing the US Open, Gore wasn't going anywhere, having missed a couple of cuts, with his best finish being an 18th showing. The week before the Open he was better. Following the round in which he shot 84 in the US Open, he placed 10th in the Nationwide and then three straight wins. Talk about the power of a streak. Let's hope he can take it over to the PGA Tour.
  • I'll be seeing three new Ontario golf courses over the next week in an attempt to complete my Golf Digest ratings. The courses include Georgian Bay Club, Ridge at Manitou and the unheralded, but supposedly quite good, Seguin Valley. I'll report back my findings.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The worst kept secret in golf: Royal Montreal gets the 2007 Presidents Cup

Apparently no one can keep their lips shut, and the club sent out invites way too early, but in any case, Royal Montreal has been awarded the Presidents Cup and will announce in on Aug. 15. I had an associate who is a member at the club tell me about this yesterday, but it hardly warranted much comment. Apparently Mike Weir and Tim Finchem will be on hand to announce the event. Will Weir even be in contention to be on the team in two years given his play this year?
Apparently Royal Montreal has undergone a Ree Jones-ification in order to "toughen" it up for the event. Are members at these clubs crazy? Why mess up a course and spend millions to make it harder for a couple of days? The members are never going to play the new tees and the Canadian Open is never going back to the club, especially after the RCGA partnered with Angus Glen owner Gord Stollery on his new Tom Fazio-designed club in the city.
Here's a story about some of this in the Toronto Star.

Putting more Canada in the Canadian Tour: New commish wants more domestic events
National Post
Friday, August 5, 2005
Robert Thompson On Golf
To many, the Canadian Professional Golf Tour all but dropped off the face of the Earth over the past few years.
Maybe that has something to do with the fact that it has a short season and a number of its events now take place outside Canada, in places with exotic names such as Mazatlan, Mexico. Even the tour championship is held outside of this country, in Brimley, Mich., which is southwest of Sault Ste. Marie.
Rick Janes doesn't want to change all of that, but he's also keen on building a foundation for the tour in Canada, and specifically in Ontario where it has languished for years.
Janes is the tour's new commissioner, having taken over in January from Ian Mansfield. He was in Niagara Falls this week, alongside PGA Tour bomber John Daly, to promote next month's Canadian Tour event there.
Daly was also in Niagara Falls to talk about his role in creating a new golf course where the Canadian Tour event will be held and to draw attention to the facility by attempting to hit a golf ball over the Horseshoe Falls.
It turned out Daly couldn't pull off the stunt. Long John hit more than 20 balls into the water, never making it over the falls entirely. Janes is hoping his task of resurrecting the Canadian Tour also won't come crashing down on the rocks.
"I'm not going to mince words," says Janes, an expression he uses regularly during our interview. "People just don't understand what the Canadian Tour is about."
Part of that problem rests with the individuals who have run the tour over the past decade. While great players such as Kirk Triplett, Tim Herron, Hank Kuehne and Mike Weir have graduated from its events, the organization has struggled for any notoriety recently, overshadowed by other tours, and unstable because of poor leadership and questionable business decisions.
Former commissioner Jacques Burelle managed to land a television deal with the Golf Channel but was ousted by the players in 2002 and replaced by former Telus executive Ian Mansfield. One of Mansfield's first acts was to announce that Ceres Corp., which operated under the Perfectly Natural brand, would sponsor a British Columbia-based event. When that fell apart amid some corporate intrigue, Mansfield's reputation as a rainmaker who could turn to Bay Street for support took a hit from which it never recovered.
Now there's a lot riding on Janes, a former executive director of the CPGA and a former marketing executive with MacLaren Momentum. He knows a thing or two about sports sponsorships.
All of which makes the Niagara Falls event so important to the tour. By operating without an event in Ontario, the tour was cut off from Bay Street and the potential sponsorship money that can flow from the myriad of banks and businesses which operate in Toronto's downtown core.
"This event is hugely important for us," he said of the Niagara Falls Casino Resort Pro-Am scheduled for Sept. 12-18. "In order to create a national tour, we need national coverage. We need to get into the board rooms and present our product. We need to get out there are pound the pavement. We need people to know what we are about."
The aim is to expand the tour within Canada, though Janes admits it would likely be easier to grow in the U.S. But the current goal is to avoid the U.S. market and add three events in Ontario within three years, along with more events in other provinces.
Prior to taking over as commissioner, Janes was best known in golf circles for a failed attempt to bring a European Tour event to Canada. Will he try it again?
Janes says his attention is firmly rooted on the Canadian Tour these days, and that his dalliance (he tried and twice failed to bring an event to Canada) with the European Tour is now behind him.
"My job is to build the Canadian Tour," he explains. "My role is to create a centrepiece for the Canadian Tour."
It is a role Janes takes very seriously. He says if the Canadian Tour disappeared, Canada's place as a top golfing nation would take a serious hit.
"If there is no Canadian Tour, it will be tough for a Canadian to have a legitimate shot at success. Where would the next Mike Weir come from? Where would the next Jon Mills come from?" he said. "If we can't pull this off, we risk becoming a third-world golfing nation."

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Merion's problems are issues for many courses

Here's an clip from a story in the Philly Inquirer about the problems facing Merion, which is now shut down in the hope they can get the course together for the US Am. Apparently this is a big issue facing a lot of Canadian clubs as well -- St. Thomas is really struggling, for example. An industry source says it could be a bad year to be a superintendent -- because the conditions will mean a lot will lose their jobs, whether they are responsible for the problems on their courses or not.

Anyway, from Philly:

On Saturday, Merion, battling cauldron-like heat and humidity, decided to close the showcase East Course until the Amateur."It has been a hell of a summer," said Bill Iredale, the Merion member who is chairman of the club's championship committee. "The water, the temperatures, the humidity."The two-week breather will spare the course from the traffic of almost 2,000 rounds and give superintendent Matt Shaffer and his staff a free hand in battling the ravages of pythium blight.Pythium and bacterial wilt, diseases that kill and discolor grasses on greens, fairways and in the rough, have been giving superintendents from Virginia to the Poconos fits. Both are triggered by the rare combination of extreme heat, humidity and abundant rain.Yesterday, as he looked out over the 18th fairway at Merion, Shaffer called the region's battle with pythium bad."You get a 41/2-inch rain like we did on the 16th of July and it's like growing grass in a bathtub but the cork won't come out," Shaffer said. "It is the worst of the worst."Merion, with its large staff and budget, is better off than many courses. Four holes had been splotchy from the blight, but Shaffer had the resources to replace the turf. He also has the luxury of a budget that won't be bankrupted by $4,000 chemical applications, which won't last more than a week.Still, with the heat failing to relent and with Merion wanting to shine during Amateur week, Shaffer is hardly relaxing."There's an old axiom that when the temperature and the humidity add up to 180, you're going to get pythium," Shaffer said. "I can tell you, it has been well north of 180."

Daly can't clear the falls

The "big" news in Canadian golf yesterday was John Daly's attempt to hit a ball over the Horseshoe Falls as part of a publicity stunt for the launch of Thundering Waters, a course that he helped "design."
Well, not surprisingly, Daly couldn't carry the falls, which spanned 340-yards. Canadian golf writer Brent Long wrote a freelance piece in the Globe and Mail about it, though it looked a bit like he was struggling for words to fill the piece. What do you say after pointing out Daly didn't pull off the stunt?
So how is the golf course? I haven't seen it yet. It was designed by former Ted Baker associate Boris Danoff. Daly, once more not surprisingly, had almost nothing to do with the course except to have his name put on it for promotional purposes. I wonder what kind of golfer actually seeks out a John Daly golf course? Do you have to have a couple of drinks and put a large wager on every shot?
Daly's other "design," Wicked Stick in Myrtle Beach, has never been thought of as a good golf course. Maybe Thundering Waters, which was built on land as flat as a table top, will be a better try.
That said, there have got to be some economic concerns about opening a golf course in Niagara Falls these days. The rise in the Canadian dollar and border security has kept a lot of American clientele away from the clubs in the area. And more courses keep coming online -- including the Rees Jones' designed Grand Niagara Resort -- which recently opened for business.
Grand Niagara is also built on an uninspiring site, though an associate tells me the result is pretty good.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Canadian Open announces preliminary field

Bill Paul and the RCGA today announced some of the players the organization expects to compete in the tournament, which is held in September at Vancouver's great Shaughnessy Golf Club.
Interestingly, four of the players announced today golfed in a paid event for Bell Canada earlier in the year, but event organizers said it definitely wasn't a case of appearance fees. Those four players are Chris DiMarco, Fred Funk, returning champ Vijay Singh and Mike Weir. No real surprises here. But you'll also won't see Tiger, Phil and Retief in this lineup. We'll have to see how many golfers are willing to head to Vancouver. It could be ugly.

Here's the list:

Stuart Appleby
Peter Lonard
Geoff Ogilvy
Stephen Leaney

Brian Davis
Justin Rose

Vijay Singh

Shigeki Maruyama

New Zealand
Craig Perks

Carlos Franco

South Africa
Tim Clark
Rory Sabbatini

South Korea
K.J. Choi
Kevin Na

Jesper Parnevik
Carl Pettersson

Phillip Price

United States
Chris DiMarco
Fred Funk
Rich Beem
Shaun Micheel
Sean O’Hair
Chris Riley
Hank Kuehne
Mark Calcavecchia

Ernie Els speaks

So Ernie Els is giving fans a pretty good sense of what happened and the degree of seriousness of the knee injury that shut down his year last week.
"Basically, I injured my knee while I was on a sailing holiday with the family in the Mediterranean last week and, having undergone surgery on Thursday, I’m going to have to take a break from golf on the recommendation of my medical advisers," Els said on his website. "As I was saying last week, it’s the only sensible course of action, so that I can be sure of a prompt and full recovery. Obviously the timing is unfortunate. Although let’s face it, there’s no such thing as a good time to get injured. But what can you do?"
The injury sounds nasty -- a rupture of his ACL -- and though doctors expect him to hit balls within a couple of months, one has to wonder whether this could be more serious than anyone is letting on. Then again, this isn't basketball we are talking about and as long as Els can walk 18, he should be fine. Time will tell.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Greg Norman: The occasional senior

  • There's an interesting story in Golfweek about the reluctance of Greg Norman to become a regular on the senior circuit. Who can really blame him? Norman surely gets a better buzz off doing a real estate deal these days than he does from beating a bunch of aging golfers. The issue, however, isn't just Norman. Lorne Roberts won't be playing that much on the senior tour for a while, and Peter Jacobsen and Craig Stadler still spend a fair bit of time playing with the flatbellies. All of which makes the Champions Tour terrifically dull to watch.
  • Wandered up to Eagles Nest in north Toronto to hit some balls and work on some drills my instructor has been suggesting in order to recover my disappearing golf game. The club, one of the best in Toronto, looked awfully odd, with beach chairs sitting near the pond off the 18th hole. Turns out the course has been paid a ton of cash to be used as the site of "Cheaper By the Dozen II," a Hollywood flick featuring Steve Martin. Good for Eagles Nest, I guess. But did anyone actually watch Cheaper by the Dozen I?
  • Thanks to Geoff Shackelford for pointing out some recent stories on the strange battle between Sean O'Hair and his father. Worth a read. Apparently O'Hair's father no longer wants 10% of Sean's winnings for the rest of his life, though he says they have a deal signed to that effect. I guess that would be like my father having said, at the time I went to university, 'Look Rob, mom and I will help pay your car insurance, but if you make it as a journalist, you'll be paying us back until you are 60.' Aren't parents supposed to support their kids? What's wrong with Marc O'Hair?

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