Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - With three of the top four players in
the world rankings skipping your lucrative event, you know change is coming.
You also know this because this is the last year of the sponsor's contract.
Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson, who are ranked Nos. 1, 2, and 4 in
the world rankings, are not competing at this week's World Golf Championship-
Accenture Match Play Championship.
Whether it be family obligations or just wanting to stay home and practice
more, three of the best in the world will not be at Dove Mountain this week.
And the end of that last sentence is another part of the reason change is
coming to this event. Over the years, players have not been the biggest fans
of Dove Mountain, which is located in Marana, Ariz.
The weather is generally on the nice side, but seemingly every year there is a
frost delay. A few years back, snow forced a delay.
Changing venues on the PGA Tour isn't the easiest thing to do. Events like the
AT&T National and The Barclays have survived being played at different venues,
but a World Golf Championship with 64 of the best players in the world needs
La Costa hosted for seven years in a row and this will be the ninth
consecutive year at Dove Mountain. Those nine years were split - three years
on the South Course and the last six years on The Golf Club at Dove Mountain,
which uses holes from both the Saguaro and Tortolita nines.
The players haven't been the biggest fans. Mickelson, for one, skips the event
yearly to go on vacation with his kids, who are on break from school.
A replacement for Accenture, the tournament's main sponsor, has not been
announced at this point. One would have to think the new sponsor would want to
bring the event to the city of their choice.
Imagine Comcast being the sponsor and bringing the event to the Philadelphia
area. First off, there are more than enough courses to choose from as the host
site, so that wouldn't be an issue.
Secondly, and this will be the biggest issue going forward for this event,
where will the tournament fall on the schedule? There is precious little room
for movement on the PGA Tour schedule, especially now that the Fall Series is
the start of the new wrap-around schedule.
There isn't enough time between the British Open and the PGA Championship, and
definitely not enough room between the PGA and the start of the FedExCup
What does that leave? January through the early part of July. That seems like
a long time, but certain events "have their weeks," and there is no getting
around that fact.
The Greenbrier Classic has locked down 4th of July weekend. The U.S. Open is
Father's Day weekend and The Masters is generally the first full weekend in
April or the weekend following the NCAA men's basketball championship.
If the event were to remain in its current slot on the schedule, a new course
will have to be chosen, or some of the top players will continue to skip the
tournament. That course would have to be in California, Arizona, Florida or
Hawaii if the event is kept in the United States.
There aren't many other areas that have courses that are in good-enough shape
this time of year. Maybe move the event to Hawaii and start the year with
three straight tournaments in the Aloha State.
Two things with that. The Hyundai Tournament of Champions has been rumored to
be on shaky footing as the season opener, and it would push back the current
California/Arizona events that start the calendar year.
The biggest lull in the schedule is the eight weeks between the Masters and
the U.S. Open. The Wells Fargo Championship and the Players Championship are
played back-to-back, and along with the Memorial are the three biggest events
in that span.
As you can see, there are many factors that will come into play regarding the
future of this tournament. It will not go away, but moving it to a later spot
on the schedule and to a more northern state will bring challenges.
The tour has done this dance before with other events, but World Golf
Championships are a big deal to the PGA Tour, so the possibility of a new
sponsor and new venue will be thoroughly examined before anything is
WATSON GETS BACK INTO WINNER'S CIRCLE
Having gone nearly two years since winning the Masters, the questions were
there about Bubba Watson. Would he win again, or was the Masters his defining
Watson has been close several times since donning the green jacket at Augusta.
He shot even-par 140 over the final two rounds at the 2012 Tour Championship
to lose by five after being two back heading to the weekend. Last year at the
Travelers Championship, Watson shared the lead heading to the final round,
only to triple-bogey the 16th hole and lose by one stroke.
Three weeks ago, Watson seemed to be in control of the Phoenix Open. He led by
two strokes entering Sunday's round, but managed an even-par 71 in the final
round to lose by one.
There were other events, too. But at tough Riviera, Watson held strong and
showed he has the internal fortitude to win.
After making the cut by two strokes and trailing the leader by eight strokes,
Watson went 64-64 on the weekend to soar from well off the pace to earn the
Watson, who had missed the cut in two of his previous four starts at the
Northern Trust Open, had one huge statistic that helped him win - zero bogeys
over the final 36 holes. He was the only player in the field to make that
Afterward, you got another glimpse at who Watson really is: He shed tears
while hugging his wife and son, then quoted bible scriptures in post-round
Watson is a fun-loving guy as you can see in his television commercials, but
religion and family keep him grounded more than anything.
And his being grounded was a big factor in his ability to overcome his past
failures and hang tough for the win at Riviera.
- Days after saying their famous trees survived a crippling ice storm, Augusta
National officials announced they have to take down the famous Eisenhower
tree, a loblolly pine on the 17th hole. Former president Dwight D. Eisenhower
hit the tree so often that he requested it be removed. Instead, the club named
the tree after him. The tree, estimated to be some 125 years old, has had a
prominent role in deciding many Masters championships.
- As if people in the eastern part of the United States need to be reminded,
but there has been a plethora of snow and ice storms this winter. Pinehurst,
host of the U.S. Open, and Valhalla, which will host the PGA Championship,
haven't lost any famous trees like Augusta, but seeing the three major venues
covered by snow and ice is sobering.
This will brighten things up, a little: There are just over 50 days until this
year's Masters starts.
The Sports Network