Originally created 10/10/01

Golf notebook



Just call it the Scottish Clambake.

The Dunhill Links Championship makes its debut next week with the potential to become one of the most popular events on the European tour. The pro-am will have 156 teams involving several celebrities, and it will be played over three courses that are among the most famous in the world.

Sound familiar?

Dunhill chief executive officer Johan Rupert once played in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and has always wanted a similar event for Europe.

"He felt replicating the AT&T format in Europe would give him a broader opportunity for corporate entertainment," said Alastair Johnston, head of IMG's golf division.

The tournament replaces the Dunhill Cup, which was played at St. Andrews and featured stroke-play matches among three-man teams.

The field includes Ernie Els, Colin Montgomerie, Retief Goosen and every big name from the European tour. Johnston said more celebrities planned to play until the terrorist attacks, but the list still includes actor Michael Douglas and race car driver Nigel Mansell.

As for the courses? While the AT&T offers Pebble Beach, Spyglass and Poppy Hills, the Dunhill Links counters with St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns. The final round will be played at St. Andrews.

The total purse for the pros is $4.8 million, making it the richest stop on the European tour (excluding the majors and World Golf Championships).

And because it is played the third week of October, the Dunhill Links and Pebble Beach Pro-Am might have one more thing in common - nasty weather.

Still, while Pebble was referred to for many years as the "Crosby Clambake," Johnston wasn't sure if the same nickname would apply.

"I don't think anyone in Scotland has heard of a clambake," he said.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: At least this year, Tiger Woods had to wait until October to wrap up the Player of the Year award from the PGA of America.

Woods clinched the points-based award when David Toms did not enter the Invensys Classic in Las Vegas.

Woods has a 54-point lead with three tournaments left. Victories count 10 points, while points also are awarded for positions on the money list and Vardon Trophy standings for the lowest adjusted scoring average. Woods leads both categories.

Woods won the award for the third straight year, one short of the record set by Tom Watson from 1977-80.

Next up is the Vardon Trophy, in which Woods has a big lead over Sergio Garcia. It would be his third straight award, making him the first player since Watson ('77-79) to do that.

TRIVIA TIME: Who is the only player besides John Daly to lead the PGA Tour in driving distance since 1991?

MORE ON PEBBLE: The tournament director for the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am has an extra selling point for this year's event.

"The biggest Super Bowl party in northern California," Ollie Nutt said.

Pebble Beach is one of the most popular events on television. It features spectacular scenery, has Tiger Woods in the field and is usually played one week after the Super Bowl. That changed when the Super Bowl was pushed back one week.

Nutt already has considered the ramifications, and they're not all bad.

"I think our TV ratings will go up substantially because it will be a terrific alternative to hours and hours of pregame shows," he said.

Nutt said the tournament likely will try to move up its tee times and aim for a 2 p.m. PST finish, about an hour before the Super Bowl comes on.

There might not be as many fans on the course Sunday, but the largest galleries traditionally come out on Saturday to watch the celebrities.

And he wasn't kidding about that Super Bowl party, especially with the number of corporate hospitality tents already in place.

"They can have their clients stay," he said. "See great golf, and then watch the Super Bowl."

BAD TIMING: Chad Campbell became the second player to earn a promotion to the PGA Tour by winning three times on the Buy.com Tour. But the move up won't be instant.

Unlike Heath Slocum, who graduated to the big tour in August, Campbell will have to wait until next year to make his debut as a tour member.

He is behind Q-school graduates on the waiting list for tournaments, and the fields at Las Vegas, Disney, Callaway Gardens and the season-ending Southern Farm Bureau Classic already are booked.

PIE IN THE FACE: As if the bright yellow box wasn't enough, Titleist added a bizarre twist to the marketing campaign of its new NXT ball line.

The company unveiled a commercial in which CEO Wally Uihlein takes a pie in the face from a man pretending to be an enraged golf course architect who claims the NXT goes so far it's making his designs obsolete.

Titleist even teased golf writers by circulating e-mails from the architect - Ian MacCallister - saying that if Titleist didn't acknowledge the pie attack, then he would take the matter public.

Ian MacCallister is actually comedian John Cleese, from Monty Python.

The pie was coconut cream.

"We did the commercial in five takes," Uihlein said. "I had to make three wardrobe changes, and the stage was getting pretty slippery by the end. But we got it done."

DIVOTS: For the second straight Olympics, an LPGA member will be carrying the torch. Solheim Cup captain Patty Sheehan was chosen to be one of the 7,200 torchbearers for the Salt Lake City Games. Karrie Webb of Australia carried the flame during the Sydney Games. ... The Senior Slam, for winners of the Senior Tour's four majors, will move from the Bahamas to the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla., for this year only. The tournament will be played Nov. 10-11, ending in time for the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. ... Franklin Langham, who played in the Tour Championship last year, is scheduled to have surgery on his left elbow this week and is finished for the year. Langham hasn't played since the PGA Championship and likely will ask for a medical exemption for next year.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Davis Love III in 1994.

FINAL WORD: "I'm a traditionalist." Justin Leonard, on why he plays the original Titleist Pro V1 ball instead of two new versions designed to increase or decrease the spin.