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Golf Roundup: Eight-man match-play event scheduled for Turkey

The SportsXchange

Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Tiger Woods will lead an eight-man field in a lucrative new event, the $5.3 million Turkish Airways World Golf Finals, in October, nine days after the Ryder Cup at Medinah.

The winner of the match-play event will earn $1.5 million, and the runner-up will get $1 million. Just for showing up, a player will receive $300,000 even if he does not win a match at a course yet to be determined on Turkey's Antalya Coast.

Others in the field are Hunter Mahan, Charl Schwartzel, Webb Simpson and Justin Rose. Steve Stricker and Martin Kaymer turned down invitations, which were based on the World Golf Rankings the week before the Masters in April.

The reports also said Woods has signed a three-year contract with Turkish Airways.

The tournament, which has been masterminded by super agent Chubby Chandler, will be played Oct. 9-12, Tuesday through Friday, opposite the Frys.com Open on the PGA Tour and the Portuguese Masters.

Turkey is staging the event to enhance its bid for the 2020 Olympic Games. Golf will be played in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil after an absence 112 years, since the 1904 Games in St. Louis. Golf is also in the schedule for 2020.

"As it bids for the 2020 Olympics, Turkey is determined to prove its ability to host big sporting occasions and, indeed, the biggest sporting superstars," according to report in the Daily Telegraph in London.

In addition, the Turkish Open will become a part of the 2013 European Tour schedule. It landed a date in April.

--Congressional Country Club was closed to fans for the third round of the AT&T National two weeks ago after a ferocious storm wreaked havoc in the Bethesda, Md., on Friday night, but there were plenty of people watching Sunday.

In addition to a full house at the course because tickets for Saturday and Sunday were honored, there was a huge television audience watching Tiger Woods claim his 74th PGA Tour victory to pass Jack Nicklaus for sole possession of second on the all-time list.

CBS's ratings for the final round were up 188 percent from last year, with a 4.6 rating and a share of 10. And that didn't even count ratings Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Columbus, Ohio, because of the lingering effects of the storm, which knocked out power to millions.

The ratings peaked at a 6.8/14 from 6:30 to 6:45 p.m. EDT, when Woods outlasted Bo Van Pelt for his third victory of the season after not winning an official event since 2009.

In addition, the ratings for third-round coverage were up 69 percent from last year the metered markets.

--Officials of Shriners Hospitals have signed a five-year contract extension that will keep the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas through 2018.

Beginning next year, the tournament purse will be increased from $4.5 million to $6 million, and like all tournaments in the PGA Tour's Fall Series, it will have a full allocation of FedEx Cup points for the 2014 season.

"I think this is the light that we were all kind of reaching for," tournament director Adam Sperling said of inclusion in the FedEx Cup series. "To be able to attain it is a great success for everybody involved and the city of Las Vegas.

"I imagine a lot of players on tour will step back a little bit and look at their schedules now. The schedule used to be: 'When and where do I want to play from January through September?'

"Being at the front end of the schedule, guys (might) prefer to play in Vegas in October as opposed to some other locales during different times of the year, when the weather may be a little less predictable. So I think we can see guys kind ... reshape their schedules."

Tiger Woods has not played in Las Vegas since 1997, when he returned to defend his first PGA Tour title, and Phil Mickelson has not played in the tournament since 2003.

Kevin Na, who lives in Las Vegas, will return to defend his title in the Oct. 4-7 event.

--The Greenbrier Resort signed a six-year extension that carries the Greenbrier Classic agreement through 2021, making it the longest current tournament commitment on the PGA Tour.

The original six-year contract runs through 2015.

The extension also includes the length of the PGA Tour's television agreements with CBS, NBC and Golf Channel to telecast the event at White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

Tournament chairman Jim Justice, a West Virginian who was born and raised near the Greenbrier, wanted to bring a PGA Tour tournament to the Greenbrier from the time he purchased the resort in May 2009, believing a top-tier tournament would help restore The Greenbrier's reputation as a five-star resort.

In only its second year, the Greenbrier Classic received several awards during last year's annual PGA Tour Tournament Meeting in December, including the coveted Best in Class among all tournaments.

"Jim Justice has shown genuine passion and commitment to not only host a PGA Tour event, but to build one into a premier stop on the PGA Tour," commissioner Tim Finchem said.

"Through his dedicated efforts, Jim has managed to achieve his goal in just two years, as evidenced by last year's Best in Class Award. He has turned The Greenbrier Classic into a true celebratory event during Fourth of July week. We're obviously thrilled that Jim had a desire to move forward and extend beyond his original commitment after just three years."

Stuart Appleby shot 59 in the final round on the Old White TPC Course, the Greenbrier's original of four golf courses dating to 1914, to win the inaugural Greenbrier Classic in 2010.

--Five years after burning some Solheim Cup bridges, Dottie Pepper is back in the American camp.

Meg Mallon, the United States captain for the 2013 Solheim Cup matches at Colorado Golf Club, announced that Pepper would be one of her two assistant captains.

"I have complete 100 percent faith in our captain's choice," said Paula Creamer, one of the top American players. "To have Dottie be there, she's red, white and blue. It's going to be a pretty motivating team room.

"I'm looking forward to picking her brain, on how it is to be so competitive and feisty, and learn from her."

The 46-year-old Pepper, a fierce competitor during her playing days who now is a commentator for NBC, called the Americans "choking freaking dogs" when she thought the Golf Channel had cut to a commercial during the 2007 Solheim Cup.

Pepper apologized for what she called "a poor choice of words," and the U.S. eventually beat the Europeans, 16-12, but some hard feelings remained in the ensuing years.

"When I got home and I listened to the telecast, knowing Dottie as long as I've known her, it just was Dottie in her passion, and her passion for the game and her passion for the Solheim Cup," Mallon said. "I know it wasn't out of ill will by any part.

"That's where I feel like Dottie needed to stop carrying this burden around. And that she needs to be a part of this event, and these players need to get to know the Dottie that I know."

Pepper, who had a 13-5-2 record during her Solheim Cup career, said she has had conversations with several players on the 2007 team since the incident, some good and other contentious.

That was all forgotten during an emotional press conference when he was introduced by Mallon.

"I don't know if there's a broadcaster in sports that hasn't said something that they don't regret saying, whether or not it was intended for air," Pepper said. "I reached out to the LPGA immediately to get a message that they could put my head on a plate if they so cared to.

"There was definitely a lot of hurt in both directions. I have had a number of players reach out to me -- some very upset, some not. But there's not a day really that goes by that I don't regret that it happened."

Pepper captured 17 LPGA Tour events, including two majors, during her career.
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