The European Tour sent out a news release on Lee Westwood, the No. 1 player in the world, hopeful of capturing what he considers to be the fifth major. That would be the BMW PGA Championship in England later this month, not the Players Championship, which Westwood is skipping.
Westwood made it clear last year that he doesn’t rate the Players Championship among his top five, instead putting the World Golf Championships behind the majors.
Then again, he’s not a PGA Tour member. And he’s not alone.
Martin Kaymer of Germany, who is No. 2 in the world and not a PGA Tour member, will be at the Players Championship. He referred to it as one of the majors “because of the world ranking points.”
But asked if he would rather win the Players or a World Golf Championship, he got even more specific.
“The World Golf Championships, and preferably the one at Firestone because it’s a fantastic golf course and a beautiful place,” Kaymer said. “It’s a small field of great players, and you can call yourself a world champion.”
FOOTBALL TIME: Back on the PGA Tour for the first time since the Masters, Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer played as if they were home in Europe when they arrived for the Wells Fargo Championship last week.
They were invited to take part in a soccer game against a local club in Charlotte. They were joined by Mick Doran, the caddie for Camilo Villegas, and Stuart Cage, one of McIlroy’s managers.
About all that is known is the final score. The Charlotte team won 7-4. Details after that get a little fuzzy.
Kaymer said he scored the first goal for the European side and tried to inspire the team. That brought laughter from McIlroy, who said the German didn’t even show up until after halftime.
“It was good, good fun,” McIlroy said. “I think four or five players turned up, a few caddies. Played a local team from here who were a lot better than us. It was 4-1 at halftime. We got it back to 4-all halfway through the second half, and then they turned it on at the end and beat us. Luckily, no injury, so we’re ready to go for this week.”
Doran put it all into perspective.
“They were a good team, passing it beautifully, and we were just sort of chasing after the ball,” he said. “I think they let us score a few goals after the half just to make a game of it.”
NELSON AWARD: Former PGA Tour commissioner Dean Beman has been selected for the Byron Nelson Prize, awarded to a person in golf who embodies the philanthropic spirit for which Nelson was known.
Beman was the architect for the PGA Tour business model, serving as commissioner from 20 years starting in 1974. Under his leadership, nearly all PGA Tour events devoted themselves to charity efforts.
“During my years as commissioner of the PGA Tour, I always pointed to the HP Byron Nelson Championship as the event other sponsors should use as a model in their own communities,” Beman said. “Byron Nelson was always held up as the gentleman and golfer who should be emulated by our members. For me, there is no greater honor than receiving a prize which bears his name.”
Beman will be honored May 24 at the opening ceremony of the Byron Nelson Championship. The Salesmanship Club of Dallas, which operates the tournament, donates $100,000 to the charity of the winner’s choice. Beman has selected The Duvall Home in Florida, which provides residential and day training to those with developmental disabilities.
GOING PUBLIC: Royal & Ancient Chief Executive Peter Dawson believes the PGA Tour and European Tour should start going public with their discipline of players.
The PGA Tour does not disclose when a player is fined, and the European Tour typically keeps such matters quiet. It made an exception when Tiger Woods was shown on TV spitting on the green in Dubai because of the enormous publicity. Woods later apologized on Twitter.
“I would not want to give the impression in any way that the standards of behavior in golf are poor,” Dawson told the Press Association on Tuesday at Royal St. George’s. “I think they are very high, and golf is still held up as a model for many other sports. These particular incidents that we see do get a great deal of publicity and rightly so.
“As regards what the tours’ disciplinary policy should be in terms of whether it should be made public, I think if you look at the wider world of sport, that has become the norm,” he said. “There are many good reasons for keeping it quiet, but I think it’s possibly something that the tours who do that should look at changing, because I think putting these things in the public domain has a lot of benefits—especially now that golf is an Olympic sport.”
NAME GAME: Engraving the name of Louis Oosthuizen on the Claret Jug has proven far easier than pronouncing it, even in the nine months since the South African won the British Open at St. Andrews.
First came a reporter’s bungled attempt to mention his name during a press conference at the Masters, only for Charl Schwartzel to smile and correct the pronunciation.
Then came this nugget from The Daily Mail.
According to the British newspaper, Oosthuizen was at a PGA Tour event recently when he gave the starter a crash course on how to pronounce his name. Sure enough, the starter nailed it, introducing him as “Loo-ee WEST-high-zen.”
If only he had stopped there.
The starter then saw the initials RSA (Republic of South Africa) next to his name -- and added, “… from Russia.”