Golf notebook: Tiger's event will go on without title sponsor

Tom LaMarre, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

--Tiger Woods put up in the neighborhood of $4 million of his own money to keep alive the World Challenge, which has been played every December since 2001 at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Even though the tournament still does not have a new corporate sponsor, the Tiger Woods Foundation announced enough corporate money has been raised to keep the tournament going.
"There wasn't a doubt whether we could stage it," said Greg McLaughlin, president of the Tiger Woods Foundation and tournament director. "The question was whether we could get the necessary corporate support. We're happy that we have a lot of support for the event that we've been able to generate the last few months.
"This is our 15th year, and it's very important to Tiger. For our foundation, it's the first event we ever did. It would be hard to ever imagine not doing the event. I've had so many people, players, media, stop me throughout the year and say, 'Are you doing the event again?'"
The tournament is scheduled for Dec. 5-8 at Sherwood, and McLaughlin said he would announce the sources of the corporate support at a later date.
Since it began in 1999 on the Raptor Course at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., the World Challenge has raised more than $25 million for college-access programs through the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif., and the Earl Woods Scholarship Program.
The World Challenge is one of three tournaments this year that benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation. The others are the AT&T National at Congressional and the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston. The foundation has taken over operations of the Deutsche Bank event from IMG.
Graeme McDowell won the World Challenge for the second time last year, and tournament host Woods has won it a record five times.
Past title sponsors have been Target, Chevron and Williams.
--Kris Blanks, a member of the PGA Tour since 2009, was arrested at Palm Beach International Airport and charged with carrying a concealed weapon after a loaded gun was found in his carry-on luggage.
The 40-year-old Banks, a resident of Jupiter, Fla., was preparing to board a flight from West Palm Beach, Fla., to Charlotte, N.C., in order to play in a charity event benefiting the Duke Cancer Institute.
When Blanks' carry-on bag went through the scanner at a security checkpoint, airport officials said they found a fully-loaded .40-caliber Glock 27.
Blanks reportedly told authorities that he had forgotten to remove the gun from his bag after being on a trip a week earlier, and admitted that he did not have a concealed weapons permit.
After posting a $3,000 bond, he was released and apparently caught another flight because he posted a message on Twitter the following day about playing in the charity event.
Although he did not acknowledge being arrested, Blanks said in the Tweet: "Heading home from DC. Had a great time helping raise money for cancer research today. Capital city pro-am. Cool part of the job!!!"
Blanks, who tied for fourth in Q-School last year to keep his PGA Tour card, has been hampered by a shoulder injury, undergoing surgery on Feb. 28, and has played only once on the tour this year, missing the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
When he returns to the PGA Tour, he will be eligible for a major medical extension.
Blanks' only victory came in the 2008 Bank of America Open on the then-Nationwide Tour, with his best result on the PGA Tour solo second in the 2010 Puerto Rico Open.
--Tom Watson, charged with restoring the United States' reputation in the Ryder Cup as captain of the U.S. team for the 2014 matches at Gleneagles in Scotland, has appointed Andy North as his first assistant captain.
"My friendship with Andy dates back to 1967," said Watson, who was captain when the U.S. won in 1993 at the Belfry in Sutton Coldfield, England, the last time the Americans won the Ryder Cup on foreign soil.
"Any time you have a friend, you can talk honestly to that friend about anything. Whatever conversations I have with Andy, I've always known that they're private and they're not going to go anywhere else. I really, truly value Andy's observations."
The 63-year-old North, who counts the 1978 and 1985 U.S. Opens among his 14 professional victories, played on the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 1985.
Since 1993, he has been a golf analyst for ESPN.
"It took me maybe a second and a half," North said of accepting the position. "He didn't get it out of his mouth before I was giddy, absolutely giddy over the opportunity to not only hopefully have a role to get the Cup back, but also to be able to help a dear friend. ... If I can take a little bit of the responsibility off of his shoulders and make it an easier week for him, that will be awesome for me. I'm looking forward to it, a lot of excitement to the Ryder Cup; it means an awful lot to me.
"I've been lucky enough to cover it for ESPN for maybe the last four Ryder Cups, and I get emotional covering it. It's going to be a great experience, and the bottom line is we get a 'W' at the end of the week."
The U.S. leads the series, 25-12-2, but the Europeans have captured seven of the last nine competition, staging a brilliant rally in Sunday singles last year to win at Medinah, 14 1/2-13 1/2.
--After all the talk that the PGA Tour and the PGA of America might bifurcate and go their own way in defiance of the ban on anchored putters enacted by the United States Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, sanity prevailed.
There still will be only one set of rules in golf.
The PGA Tour announced that it would adopt the anchoring ban that will take effect on Jan. 1, 2016, and soon after the PGA of America followed suit.
"The United States Golf Association is pleased with the decision by the PGA Tour and PGA of America to follow Rule 14-1b, when it goes into effect in January 2016, for their respective competitions," the USGA said in a statement.
"As set forth in our report, 'Explanation of Decision to Adopt Rule 14-1b,' the game benefits from having a single set of rules worldwide, applicable to all levels of play, and the acceptance of Rule 14-1b by the PGA Tour and PGA of America supports the game in this regard."
At the same time, the statement virtually dismisses a suggestion by the PGA Tour and PGA of America that the USGA extend the timeframe for recreational golfers to conform to the anchoring ban until 2024.
The PGA Tour and the PGA of America cited a similar instance in which the USGA outlawed clubs with square grooves in 2010, but put off the ruling for non-elite amateurs until 2024.
The USGA, in its ruling released May 21, wrote: "To create a (r)ule that enabled one set of players (non-elite amateurs), perhaps 30-40 times a round, to make strokes in a manner that is deemed to provide a potential advantage, while prohibiting another set of players (professionals/elite amateurs) from doing so, would be to start well down the road of creating two different games. This (r)ule is a central example of the importance of defining golf as a single game with a single set of (r)ules."
Nine players on the PGA Tour who use anchored putters, including Masters champion Adam Scott, Tim Clark and Carl Pettersson, have retained an attorney, and legal action remains a possibility.
--Natalie Gulbis is not having a very good season on the LPGA Tour, but apparently things are going very well off the course.
Gulbis, 30, told Golf World that she will be married later this year to Josh Rodarmel, a former Yale quarterback and co-owner of Power Balance Technologies, which produces hologram bracelets.
Gulbis said she met Rodarmel, 29, through her dealings with Power Balance.
"It's been nice living under the radar," Gulbis said, apparently pleased that she had been able to keep the relationship out of the media and gossip columns until now. "A lot of my life has been so public. This is nice."
Gulbis, who was featured in the 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue in a bikini that was painted on her body, turned pro in 2001 and has one career LPGA victory, the 2007 Evian Masters, which now is considered a major championship.
In the past, Gulbis was involved in highly publicized relationships that did not turn out so well, with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dustin Johnson of the PGA Tour.
--A week after being denied the use of a golf cart to scout potential prospects during a United States Junior Amateur qualifier, golf coach Casey Martin of the University of Oregon received word that he would be allowed a cart for any United States Golf Association events he attends.
Martin, 41, said he was told by John Bodenhamer, the USGA's senior managing director of rules, competitions and amateur status, that he would be granted the use of a cart at the U.S. Junior Amateur in at Martis Camp Club in Truckee, Calif., on July 22-27, and all ensuing USGA events.
Joe Goode, the USGA's managing director of communications, confirmed the decision.
Martin, who had asked for and was granted access to a cart before the qualifier, was on the course observing play when he was told he could no longer use the cart because of confusion over the rules.
He still is unhappy with the USGA's original statement on the matter.
It read: "The United States Golf Association has been and continues to be a strong supporter of Casey Martin. The unfortunate situation at the U.S. Junior qualifier stems from a misunderstanding over the USGA Cart Policy at our championship events. We regret that this misunderstanding may have caused Casey an inconvenience, but it certainly was unintentional. We have extended to Casey accommodations that we offer all disabled spectators at our championships. Despite this unfortunate situation, we continue to admire what Casey has been able to accomplish in the game as both a player and a coach."
Disabled spectators at USGA events are allowed to be transported to designated areas on the golf course to watch the competition, but are not allowed to roam the premises in a golf cart.
Martin was born with a debilitating condition in his right leg that makes walking difficult. He successfully sued the PGA Tour in 2001 for the right to use a golf cart during competition under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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