PGA Notebook: Tiger to host Los Angeles Open; Australian Masters canceled

By Tom LaMarre, The Sports Xchange
Tiger Woods will host the Los Angeles Open. File photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI
Tiger Woods will host the Los Angeles Open. File photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo

--The Tiger Woods Foundation will be the host organization for the tournament that began as the Los Angeles Open, the PGA Tour announced.

Earlier, Hyundai Motor America became the title sponsor for the event next year at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. The tournament was played for the last time as the Northern Trust Open in February, when Bubba Watson won for the second time in three years.


"This is a fantastic opportunity for my foundation," said Tiger Woods, who grew up about an hour from Riviera in Cypress, Calif. "This is the first PGA Tour event I ever played, and it means a lot to contribute to a community that has supported me and my foundation for more than 20 years.

"I'm committed to playing in my foundation's events, and it will be exciting to return to Riviera."


Woods' foundation, which has headquarters in Irvine, Calif., also is the charity arm of the two other PGA Tour events which he hosts, the Quicken Loans National in Bethesda, Md., and the unofficial Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.

The Los Angeles Open was first played in 1926 at Los Angeles Country Club, where "Lighthorse" Harry Cooper claimed the title.

Over the years, it also has been played at El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana, Hillcrest Country Club, Wilshire Country Club, Harding Golf Course in Griffith Park, Fox Hills Country Club in Culver City, Inglewood Country Club, Rancho Park Golf Course, Brookside Country Club in Pasadena and Valencia Country Club in Santa Clarita.

Riviera took over as permanent host site in 1973, and the tournament has been played there every year since, except 1998, when it was contested at Valencia because Riviera was hosting the U.S. Senior Open that year.

Woods played his first PGA Tour event at Riviera in 1992, when he was a sophomore at Western High in Anaheim, Calif., and he missed the cut.

Surprisingly, Woods has never won the tournament in nine appearances as a pro, losing in a playoff to Billy Mayfair at Valencia in 1998 and tying for second, two strokes behind Ernie Els of South Africa, the following year at Riviera.


Woods finished in the top 20 in his first eight pro starts in the event until he shot 69-74 to make the cut before withdrawing because of the flu in 2006. He has not been back since.

--The Australian Masters, which traditionally joins the Australian Open and the Australian PGA Championship to make up the Australian Triple Crown, was canceled for 2016.

IMG, which manages the tournament, which has been played since 1979, said the event is undergoing a "reimagining" process and plans for the future will be announced when they are complete.

David Rollo, the vice president-director of golf for IMG Australia and New Zealand, added that the 2016 golf calendar, which includes the return of golf to the Olympic Games in August at Rio de Janeiro, and the return of the World Cup of Golf to Kingston Heath in Australia contributed to the cancellation.

Smaller crowds also influenced the decision, as attendance has been down at the Australian Masters since Tiger Woods played in 2009 and 2010.

Barry Vivian of Australia won the first playing of the tournament in 1979, followed by Gene Littler the next year. Greg Norman claimed the first of his record six titles in the event in 1981.


Other winners of the tournament include Woods, Bernhard Langer of Germany, Mark O'Meara, Justin Rose of England, Colin Montgomerie of Scotland, Ian Poulter of England, Michael Campbell of New Zealand and Australians Adam Scott, Ian Baker-Finch, Craig Parry, Stuart Appleby, Aaron Baddeley, Graham Marsh, Robert Allenby and Peter Lonard.

Peter Senior of Australia won it for the third time last year at the age of 56.

--The primetime exhibition match between Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler scheduled for this summer at Detroit Golf Club was canceled.

The Detroit News reported that the made-for-TV event set for June 7 in prime time won't take place.

"We were informed that due to circumstances beyond our control, the proposed event featuring Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler that was to be played at the Detroit Golf Club will not be happening," Detroit Golf Club president Owen Nagy said in a statement.


"This is obviously disappointing news for all of us at Detroit Golf Club. ... Unfortunately, as the venue, we had no influence in the discussions or any decisions that were made relative to finalizing the agreements for the proposed event."

Quicken Loans, which was expected to be the lead sponsor, said it has "no plans to participate in a Detroit-based golf event in 2016."

The McIlroy vs. Fowler match was expected to be shown live on the Golf Channel and CBS, and reportedly celebrities Justin Timberlake and Mark Wahlberg would have rounded out the foursome.

--Gregory Silveira, a La Quinta, Calif., man who last year pleaded guilty to a money-laundering operation with a reported link to Phil Mickelson, is trying to change his plea.

ESPN reported that Silveira filed a court motion to withdraw his guilty plea because his new lawyer said his client received bad advice from his original attorney, James D. Henderson Sr.

Silveira, a 57-year-old former sports-gambling handicapper, pleaded guilty last June to three counts of laundering funds of nearly $3 million from an unnamed gambling client.

ESPN's "Outside the Lines" show reported that the client was Mickelson. The transactions reportedly occurred between February 2010 and February 2013.


Mickelson's attorney declined to comment on the case to ESPN. Mickelson has not been charged with a crime and is not under investigation.

James T. Duff, Silveira's new attorney, stated in the court filing that the money his client transferred was "a personal favor to an individual who did not wish his wagering activity to become public," adding that he paid a friend's gambling debt with legally earned money.

--Gary Planos, who started out as a bag boy at Kapalua Resort on Maui and went on to become tournament director of the PGA Tour's Tournament of Champions, died unexpectedly at the age of 62.

Kapalua officials said Planos was found in the home where he lived the last 25 years. No cause of death was given.

Rickie Fowler, Billy Horschel and other PGA Tour players paid tribute to Planos on Twitter, calling him "Mr. Kapalua."

Planos, an Evans Scholar at the University of Illinois who later became a director for the Chicago-based Western Golf Association, moved to Maui in the mid-1970s and worked in the bag room at the Bay Course at Kapalua, earning $3 an hour with playing privileges.

After becoming a PGA teaching professional, he worked seven years on Maui before he was hired as a head pro at Kapalua.


Planos held nine titles during his time at Kapalua, the last senior vice president of resort operations in 2011, when his job was eliminated because Kapalua decided to no longer manage golf courses and tournaments.

"Gary is Kapalua," Steve Stricker said when he won the 2012 Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

Planos ran the tournament, which was then the Mercedes Championships, from the time the winners-only event moved to Hawaii in 1999 and was the opener to the PGA Tour season.

Part of his job was taking care of the players' needs, from Tiger Woods to Ernie Els. He took David Toms pheasant hunting and arranged for Adam Scott's family and other guests to go whale watching.

Planos ended almost every conversation with, "Do you need anything?"

--Rory McIlroy announced that he will skip the Masters Par-3 Contest the day before the start of the first major of the season this week at Augusta National because he considers it a distraction.

McIlroy, who will make his second attempt at completing the career Grand Slam, has never finished higher at the Masters than his fourth-place result last year. He has played the tournament seven times.


"It's a bit of a distraction and the year I had my best chance at Augusta (in 2011), I didn't play the Par-3 Contest," McIlroy said. "So maybe the decision not to play it this year can work in my favor."

In 2011, McIlroy was in contention at Augusta heading to the back nine on Sunday before he unraveled. He finished in a tie for 15th after shooting 8-over-par 80.

Two months later, he claimed his first major title at the U.S. Open.

In the last two years, McIlroy played the Par-3 event with notable caddies. Last year, it was One Direction band member Niall Horan, and in 2014 it was Caroline Wozniacki, his then-girlfriend and a highly ranked tennis player.

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