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Golf Roundup: Double amputee goes from Olympics to Euro Tour pro-am

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Oscar Pistorius of South Africa, the 25-year-old double amputee coming off inspirational performances in the Olympics and Paralympics, will play this week in the pro-am competition in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on the European Tour.

The tournament will be played on the Old Course at St. Andrews, Carnoustie's Championship Course and the Kingsbarns Golf Links.

"It's a real treat to play in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship," said Pistorius, who plays to an 18 handicap. "I am a big golf fan and love the game.

"I have never played St. Andrews, Carnoustie or Kingsbarns before, so playing them in a world-class event is a unique opportunity. There is so much history at St. Andrews, every golfer longs to play there.

Pistorius, nicknamed "Blade Runner," runs on carbon fiber blades and captured two gold medals and a silver medal at the recent Paralympics in London.

He also represented South Africa in the 400 meters and the 1,600-meter relay in the Olympics.

"As a South African, it will be lots of fun to be playing in a tournament with other great names of the sport from my country in Ernie Els, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel," Pistorius said.

"I can't wait to get on the first tee. When the invitation came to play, not even a holiday was going to stop me."

Other amateurs in the field are Olympic swimming great Michael Phelps, actor Greg Kinnear, musician Huey Lewis and former Dutch soccer stars Ruud Gullit and Johan Cruyff.

--Ping announced that it has re-signed Lee Westwood, Bubba Watson and Louis Ousthuizen, three of its major endorsers, to new contracts.

All three have been members of Ping's Tour staff throughout their careers.

The three players are required under terms of the new deals to play a minimum of 11 Ping clubs, including a Ping driver and putter. In addition, they must wear a Ping hat and carry a company staff bag. Terms of the endorsement contracts were not disclosed.

Westwood is the only one of the three who has not captured a major championship, but he has won 40 times around the world and took the No. 1 spot in the World Golf Rankings from Tiger Woods in November 2010 and held it for a brief time last year.

Watson captured the Masters earlier this year, and Oosthuizen won the 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews.

--Phil Mickelson appeared in his ninth Ryder Cup last week at Medinah, setting a record for the United States team.

Lefty went into the books when he teamed with Keegan Bradley in the morning foursomes Friday. He broke a tie with Lanny Wadkins, Raymond Floyd and Billy Casper.

Jim Furyk, Mickelson's teammate, appeared in his eighth Ryder Cup at Medinah.

Mickelson has played on every Ryder Cup team since 1995. He had a 11-17-6 record in the Ryder Cup before last week and went 3-0 in doubles play with Keegan Bradley, but Justin Rose beat him, 1 up, in singles with birdies on the last two holes.

--Michael Phelps, who owns a record 22 Olympic medals in swimming, including 18 gold, has taken up golf and was at the Ryder Cup last week at Medinah.

Phelps never competed in a world championship or the Olympics on home soil.

"It's something I would have loved to do," said Phelps, who holds 29 world records and competed in the 2000 Olympics at Sydney, the 2004 Olympics at Athens, the 2008 Olympics at Beijing and the recent Olympics in London.

"These guys don't have a chance to come together as a team much and hear the U-S-A chants," Phelps said after meeting with U.S. captain Davis Love III, a hookup that was arranged by Bubba Watson. "And the excitement of it being on American soil, with the Europeans having won six of the last eight Cups, it's going to be so cool."

Phelps, who is the student on this season's version of "The Haney Product" on the Golf Channel, made his competitive debut in the pro-am portion of the Ryder Cup.

Phelps was trying to pick up some tips while watching the pros.

"Some of the things I've been learning from 'The Haney Project' I could see when I was watching Tiger (Woods)," Phelps said during a promotional event with Omega, one of his sponsors. "I may not hit good golf shots, but I can see what I'm supposed to be doing.

" ... There are a lot of frustrating days on the course. This is something I do want to improve on. This is something that my friends can still beat me on the course. I want to give them a challenge once in awhile."

Phelps also spoke to the American team about representing their country before the start of the matches on Friday.

--Vance Heafner, a former PGA Tour winner who also had an outstanding college and amateur career, died last week at the age of 58 in Raleigh, N.C.

Cause of death was not announced.

"Vance was always very competitive, a very good player and a good guy, too," said Scott Hoch, who played with Heafner from youth golf all the way to the Champions Tour.

"When you grow up like we did, playing against each other at MacGregor, you get to know a lot about a guy. Vance always had a good way about him."

Heafner, a native of Charlotte, N.C., who grew up in Cary, was a three-time All-American at North Carolina State in the mid-1970s. As an amateur, he captured the North Carolina Amateur, the Carolinas Open, the Porter Cup and the Eastern Amateur.

He helped the United States win the 1977 Walker Cup team, posting a 3-0 record in the matches.

Heafner made 258 starts on the PGA Tour from 1978 to 1988, winning the 1981 Walt Disney World National Team Championship with playing partner Mike Holland.

Heafner's late father, Clayton, was a seven-time PGA Tour champion and two-time runner-up in the U.S. Open who also played on two victorious U.S. Ryder Cup teams.

Vance Heafner played occasionally on the Champions Tour and was director of golf at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary. He had been reported in poor health recently after a serious fall but had been teaching at Wildwood Green Golf Club in Raleigh.
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