AN INAUSPICIOUS DEBUT
Lyle Anderson, the Arizona-based land developer, has a nose for
good real estate and a knack for promoting it through top-shelf
golf tournaments. It was Anderson who recognized the value in
holding the inaugural Skins Game, in 1983, at his Desert
Highlands development near Scottsdale. And in only eight years
Anderson turned the Tradition into one of the so-called major
championships on the Senior tour as well as a classy marketing
tool for his fledgling Desert Mountain property. Now he has
created a European tour event to showcase Loch Lomond, a new
private club a half hour's drive north of Glasgow, Scotland. But
last week's $1.16 million Loch Lomond World Invitational ran
into a couple of obstacles right out of the box.
First, Anderson decided that he would not pay appearance fees to
marquee players, even though they are a matter of course on the
European tour. As a result, only two of the world's top 20--Nick
Faldo and Colin Montgomerie--and no Americans of note entered.
Second, the event was overshadowed by the Solheim Cup.
Anderson doesn't blame players for demanding appearance money.
He simply takes a long view on how the fees would work against
the credibility of his limited-field event, which was won by
Thomas Bjorn of Denmark. "Players have a right to make
arrangements for people to pay them," Anderson says. "I just
don't think you can have a world championship with people not
playing on a level field."
The scheduling was a bigger problem. Most of the media were
focused on the Solheim Cup and delighted in reporting the tirade
by European team captain Mickey Walker, who said the Euro tour's
attempt to bigfoot the Solheim Cup by scheduling Loch Lomond for
the same week was "insensitive, disrespectful, a slap in the
face and an insult to women's golf."
The good news is that if Anderson stays the course, 1997 figures
to be a better year for three reasons: There will be no Solheim
Cup. Word of the conditions at the highly acclaimed Tom
Weiskopf-designed course and the red-carpet treatment given the
pros last week will attract some Europeans. Most important, Loch
Lomond will probably be played right after the Ryder Cup at
Valderrama in Sotogrande, Spain, making it a convenient stop for
many of the world's best players.
DUMB LIKE A FOX
Indications are that 70-year-old Frank Chirkinian has worked his
last golf telecast for CBS. Chirkinian, who during his 46 years
at the network came up with such innovations as listing the
players' scores against par and miking the tees, was feted at a
lavish dinner hosted by PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem during
the Presidents Cup. At the end of the week, when CBS concluded
its coverage of the event, Jim Nantz signed off by saying, "Good
night from the Frank Chirkinian broadcast team," something he
had never done before.
Chirkinian, his agent and Dave Kenin, the president of CBS
Sports, are to meet soon to discuss Chirkinian's future.
High-ranking CBS executives reportedly want to replace
Chirkinian with 41-year-old Lance Barrow, his longtime
apprentice. If that change is made, Chirkinian might be pushed
into the arms of the Fox network, which recently bought a
one-third stake in the Golf Channel. Fox is expected to bid on
PGA Tour events--including the three new worldwide tournaments
announced last week--when contracts come up for renewal after
the 1998 season. At Fox, Chirkinian would be reunited with Pat
Summerall and might also be in a position to resurrect the
career of the banished Ben Wright.
The International team is 0-2 between the ropes in the
Presidents Cup but undefeated at getting its way. Having already
threatened to boycott this year's match if David Graham did not
resign as captain, the Internationals again laid down the law by
demanding that the event be held overseas in 1998--or else.
Finchem had planned to hold the '98 match in the U.S. and move
it to one of the International countries in 2000. The
Internationals were not keen on that timetable and said so on
the final day of this year's competition. Finchem acquiesced and
is now faced with trying to sell CBS on the idea of a
tape-delayed broadcast from a foreign venue.
FOR PETE'S SAKE
Pete Jordan may have lost a one-hole playoff to Fred Funk at
last week's rain-shortened B.C. Open in Endicott, N.Y., but he
was a big winner nevertheless. Jordan earned $108,000 to go from
163rd to 97th on the money list, securing a Tour card for 1997
and proving that there is justice in golf.
A year ago Jordan was in danger of losing his card but couldn't
do anything about it at the Las Vegas Invitational, the last
tournament of the season, because Tour officials failed to
notify him when a spot in the field opened up at the last
minute. When Jordan, who was the next alternate and should have
been called, filed a protest, the Tour gave him two tournaments
at the start of the '96 season to win $2,423 and earn his card.
Jordan missed the cut at both the Nortel Open in Tucson and the
Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in Palm Springs, Calif., the latter by
one stroke after a 41 on his final nine. "I was playing really
well at the end of last year but not at the beginning of this
year," he says. "There was more pressure in the Hope than in
Jordan, whose father died two months ago, didn't have a top-15
finish until the Buick Open in early August, and has played in
only five events since. But something clicked in Endicott. He
shot 67-64 to lead after 36 holes and tacked on a 66 on
Saturday. He bogeyed the final hole, which turned out to be the
difference between first and the playoff.
THE TIGER LINE
Wally Uihlein, the president of Titleist, is confident that the
Tiger Woods sweepstakes is over. He only wishes that everyone
else agreed. Ely Callaway reportedly has made Woods a $3 million
offer to play the Great Big Bertha driver, and other club
companies are said to be circling the Woods camp looking for a
loophole in the multimillion-dollar oral agreement Titleist
reached with Woods on the day he turned pro.
Hughes Norton, Woods's agent, says Uihlein need not worry. The
three-year, $3 million deal is awaiting only the final approval
of the lawyers on both sides. "Titleist is giving Tiger a wide
berth to get into the product," Norton says. "It doesn't want to
do anything to jeopardize his comfort level and his play. Tiger
has free rein to create whatever model of clubs he wants and can
also go back and forth and play Titleist or Cobra [both
divisions of American Brands]."
Woods currently uses two clubs carrying the Titleist brand, a 15-
degree three-wood and a Scotty Cameron putter, plus a
nine-degree King Cobra driver. His bag is filled out with Mizuno
irons and Cleveland wedges. All his clubs, even his driver, have
steel X-100 shafts.
THE SHORT GAME
On Sept. 18 at the B.C. Open, Tour official Arvin Ginn handed Ed
Fiori an envelope. "Sorry," said Ginn. "This has been rejected."
The 43-year-old Fiori, who two weeks ago won the Quad City
Classic, opened the envelope to find his application for the
next Q school, which he gleefully ripped into tiny pieces....
En-Joie Golf Club began a major renovation project as soon as
the B.C. Open ended. Par will change from 71 to 72, with the
par-3 16th becoming a short par-4.
COLOR PHOTO: ANDREW REDINGTON/ALLSPORT Loch Lomond's bonnie links, plus dates near the Ryder Cup, could be a boost in '97. [Golfers on Loch Lomond golf course]
COLOR PHOTO: BILL FRAKES If CBS fingers Chirkinian for retirement, he could wind up back with Summerall doing golf for Fox. [Frank Chirkinian]
COLOR PHOTO: JOE PICCIOLO A few days after winning the Quad City Classic, Fiori scrapped his plans. [Ed Fiori]