WHEN JACK VICKERScanceled the International three weeks ago, he laid the corpse at the feet ofTiger Woods, saying, "If something isn't done, you're not going to have aTour. Right now, it's a one-man show" (GOLF PLUS, Feb. 19). But thelong-held belief that Woods alone drives ratings has taken a hit so far thisyear. Woods has played only twice, though at press time full ratings were notyet available for the Accenture Match Play. At the Buick Invitationalviewership was down 8.2% on Sunday from the 2006 figure, even though Woodsstarted in contention and rallied on the back nine to win. (It is still themost-watched golf broadcast of the season so far.) Meanwhile, Sunday ratings atTiger-less Pebble Beach were up 19.0% for Phil Mickelson's cruise to victory,and they were up again the next week (31.1% over '06) when Mickelson lost theNissan Open in a playoff to Charles Howell. The only other event that wasbroadcast on network television, the FBR Open, in which Woods didn't play andMickelson (right) missed the cut, posted ratings that were down 14.4%.... GolfChannel had a breakthrough last Thursday, when 989,000 households watched thethird round of the Match Play, besting the 895,000 who watched on ESPN in '06.It was the first time Golf Channel has beaten an '06 telecast of any sort. Butthe triumph comes with a big asterisk. The Golf Channel number is the combinedviewership of its live afternoon telecast and its prime-time rerun, the onlymeasurement the channel will release or allow Nielsen to report.... GolfChannel's weekday telecasts of the Match Play began at noon, Tucson time. Onthose days Woods teed off at 12:02, 12:00 and 12:00. Coincidence?
• WOODS ANDMickelson passed by each other in more than just the ratings. Before the firstround of the Match Play the righthanded Woods and the lefty Mickelson warmed upback to back but did not acknowledge each other, much less exchange a word.After 10 minutes Mickelson circled behind Woods and issued a brief "goodluck" as he passed. Woods answered with a briefer greeting. No eye contactwas made.... The Tour must've been happy with its decision to move the MatchPlay to the Gallery in Tucson. La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., theformer site of the event, had been plagued by bad weather and last weekexperienced .26 inches of rain, and the temperature never rose above 65Àö allweek.... No doubt Fred Funk likes the Mayakoba Classic more than the MatchPlay. After his win at the Mayakoba (making the 50-year-old the second playerafter Craig Stadler to win a PGA Tour event after winning a Champions tourevent), he's 1--0 in the former and 0--7 in the latter.
• SUGGESTED WOODSBABY NAME OF THE WEEK Seven.
• For AlanShipnuck's Hot and Not column, go to SI.com/golf.
"Their tour is not as deep as the LPGA's."--PEPPER MILL, PAGE G24
Putts inside eight feet missed by Geoff Ogilvy duringthe Match Play final.
Forget joining--now you can buy Pine Valley
WHAT Pine Valley Golf Resort
WHERE Elizabethtown, Ky.
COST $5.9 million
HOOK No, not that Pine Valley. This is an 18-holer(6,644 yards, par-72) with a restaurant (3 Putt Willie's), a bar (Ben HoganLounge), a 24-unit lodge and two pools. In 1990 and '91 the course was the siteof the Elizabethtown Open, a Ben Hogan (now Nationwide) tour event.
FRINGE BENEFIT Located just off Dixie Highway, themain artery leading to Fort Knox, about 15 miles away, where you could findenough gold to acquire that other Pine Valley.
STEVEN SENNE/AP (MATSUZAKA)
¬†PITCHING WEDGE Taking a break from spring training, Boston Red Sox importDaisuke Matsuzaka dealt with a hazard--the Japanese media--at last Friday'sChildren's Hospital Celebrity Classic in Fort Myers, Fla.
MATT SULLIVAN/REUTERS (MICKELSON)
COURTESY OF PINE VALLEY GOLF RESORT