Golf notebook: Padraig Harrington likes Sergio Garcia's changed attitude

By Tom LaMarre, The Sports Xchange  |  April 17, 2017 at 11:13 AM
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Sergio Garcia said all the right things after claiming his first major title in the Masters, including paying tribute to Spanish idols Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal.

Much was made in the media about the maturing of Garcia, but in an interview on Irish Radio RTE 2fm a few days later, Padraig Harrington reminded everyone what it was like when he beat the Spaniard in a playoff to win the 2007 Open Championship at Carnoustie.

"I gave (Garcia) every out I possibly could at the 2007 Open," three-time major winner Harrington said. "I was as polite as I could, and as generous as I could be. But he was a very sore loser, and he continued to be a very sore loser. So clearly after that, we had a very sticky wicket I'd say."

In the years since, Harrington and Garcia have crossed paths many times, and although they are civil, there is not a warm and fuzzy attitude to the relationship.

Even as teammates on the Ryder Cup team.

"We say hello to each other every day we meet, but it's with gritted teeth, there's no doubt about it," Harrington said.

Despite that, Harrington said he was happy to see Garcia finally break through after being considered perhaps the best player without a major championship.

And he noted the new attitude.

"I was delighted to see the emotion on the 18th green," Harrington said. "Anybody watching that has got to feel for him and see, maybe I'm a bit harsh in the fact that I look at it and say: 'Well, everything comes easy to Sergio.' But clearly, it hasn't come easy to him. It really hasn't. And you could see in that moment in time that, you know, he probably paid his dues."

Maverick McNealy of Stanford selected 2017 Byron Nelson Award winner

McNealy, a senior from Portola Valley, Calif., is No. 3 in the Golfweek/Sagarin collegiate rankings and No. 2 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He has claimed 11 victories in his college career, tying the Stanford record set by Tiger Woods in 1996 and tied by Patrick Rodgers in 2014.

As a sophomore, McNealy won six times and was named winner of the Haskins Award.

"It is an absolute honor to be the recipient of this award, one that carries on Mr. Nelson's legacy," McNealy said. "I am humbled to be thought of as an exemplar of what he stood for, and his example will continue to serve as a great model in golf and life. I look forward to the challenge of representing and upholding the values of this award to the best of my abilities."

The Byron Nelson Award is awarded annually to a graduating college senior, and the selection committee considers equally a nominee's college academic and golf career, as well as his character and integrity while in college.

A nominee's citizenship, following the example of namesake Byron Nelson, also is a strong consideration.

The other four finalists for the Byron Nelson Award were Jared du Toit of Arizona State, Matt Gilchrest of Auburn, Jimmy Stanger of Virginia and Mack Farley of St. John's (Minn.).

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan named sports executive of the year at Cynopsis Sports Media Awards

Whan was honored in New York on Thursday.

Whan, who became the eighth commissioner of the Ladies Professional Golf Association on Jan. 4, 2010, received the prestigious Vision Award during a breakfast function held at the New York Athletic Club.

"In selecting the honoree, we look at the previous season and examine ratings, new sponsor deals, media partnerships, new initiatives, growth and so on," said Chris Pursell, head of content for Cynopsis Sports. "For us, the LPGA really hit the mark on all of these fronts during the past year."

During his seven years leading the LPGA Tour, Whan has guided the organization through the end of a global economic downturn and put the LPGA Tour on a solid financial footing with strong business relationships, growing the tournament schedule worldwide, maximizing fan experience and increasing exposure for the LPGA membership.

Known for his big-picture thinking, marketing skills and willingness to take a calculated risk, Whan has increased the number of LPGA events from 23 to 34 since 2011, while television ratings have steadily risen as the Tour reached more than 400 televised hours in a season for the first time last year.

LPGA Tour purses increased a total of $4.4 million in 2016, and new tournaments were added for this season in New Zealand, Scotland, Green Bay and Indianapolis.

Eleven of 30 returning events this year feature increased prize money, and four of the five majors have bigger purses, including a record $5 million up for grabs at the U.S. Women's Open conducted by the USGA.

The LPGA Tour website is accessed by fans in 235 countries. The tour boasts television partners in 175 countries, with the five major championships this season available to more than 500 million TV households around the world.

Past winners of the Vision Award include CEO and chairman Brian France of NASCAR in 2014, commissioner Gary Bettman of the National Hockey League in 2015 and commissioner Don Garber of Major League Soccer in 2016.

Shark Shootout has new title sponsor

The Shark Shootout, hosted by Greg Norman, announced that QBE Insurance Group of Sydney, Australia, will be its new title sponsor and that the tournament will stay in Naples, Fla., at least through its 30th anniversary in 2018.

QBE is one of the largest insurers in the world, and Norman announced an agreement for the Australia-based company to take over from Franklin Templeton as title sponsor beginning with this year's PGA Tour-sanctioned event.

The two-player team tournament will be Dec. 6-10 at Tiburon Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples. The event will be known as the QBE Shootout after the company agreed to a multiyear agreement.

"As one of the world's premier insurance brands, QBE is the perfect partner for this event and we are thrilled to have them as our new title sponsor," Norman said in a release. "The QBE Shootout is the longest running late-season tournament on the tour calendar, and this new agreement assures a 30-year anniversary in 2018, which is sure to be a landmark event."

Franklin Templeton will remain involved with the Shootout as a sponsor after being title sponsor for 20 of the Shootout's 28 years.

Harris English and Matt Kuchar won the Shootout last year by one stroke over Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly. It was the second title in three years for English and Kuchar, who are expected to defend their title this December.

Last year's event featured an LPGA Tour player, Lexi Thompson, for the second time. Annika Sorenstam was the first.

The 2017 field will consist of 24 professionals paired into 12 two-person teams. The QBE Shootout will have a scramble format for the first round, a modified alternate-shot format on Saturday, and a better-ball format for the final round on Sunday.

Claret Jug to go on tour

Golf Channel announced that the iconic Claret Jug, given to the winner of the Open Championship, will be made available for viewing in a coast-to-coast tour of the United States in advance of the 146th Open at Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport, England, scheduled for July 20-23.

The tour, in partnership with The R&A, began at Universal Hollywood and will include stops at sporting and cultural events, golf venues and popular locations in more than a dozen cities across the country before concluding at Universal Orlando two weeks before The Open.

"The Claret Jug is not only one of the most iconic trophies in sports, but it's also had a unique history in traveling the world with the champion golfer of the year," said Regina O'Brien, senior vice president of marketing for Golf Channel. "Given the many celebrations and wonderful memories for past champion golfers of the year associated with the Claret Jug, it's fitting that the tour will include a number of festivals and cultural events for all to admire ahead of The Open in July."

Fans visiting one of the tour stops will have an opportunity to take photos with the trophy that dates to 1872.

Attendees also will receive a ball marker branded for the Open Championship which they can engrave with their initials to replicate the traditional engraving process used each year to inscribe the name of the winner of the oldest golf tournament in the world.

Fans also can have their picture taken in front of a 6-foot, 10-inch replica of the Claret Jug, which will feature the names of all the winners of the Open Championship.

NBC Sports Group will televise nearly 50 hours of live tournament coverage from Royal Birkdale, where Henrik Stenson of Sweden will defend the title he won last July at Royal Troon.

Fan also snags a Green Jacket

Sergio Garcia became the latest golfer to claim the famed Green Jacket when he won the Masters, but an unidentified golf fan also recently landed one.

The familiar green blazer, embroidered with Augusta National's famous logo, was purchased for $140,000. The jacket reportedly was discovered by another person in a pile of used clothes in 1994 with a $5 price tag affixed to the sleeve.

Officials at Augusta National Golf Club confirmed the jacket as authentic, although the club refused to provide further information about its origins.

Golf memorabilia experts at Green Jacket Auctions believe the jacket dates to the 1950s, but no one knows if it belonged to an Augusta National member or a Masters champion.

"Perhaps Augusta National knows something about this jacket that they aren't telling us," read the description of the jacket on the auction house's website.

"Until they do, the mystery of its original owner will continue to be the subject of curiosity and speculation."

First PGA Tour event in South Korea announced

PGA Tour officials announced the circuit's first official event in South Korea will be the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges, which will be played on Oct. 19-22 at the Club at Nine Bridges on Jeju Island.

Nine Bridges has hosted the CJ Nine Bridges Classic on the LPGA Tour and the World Club Championship, an amateur competition for the world's top 100 golf club champions.

It is the only golf course in Korea to be named among the world's top 100 golf clubs.

"I am very pleased that the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges will host the inaugural event on Jeju at a course that will give a demanding test for some of the world's best golfers," said Jeff Monday, the PGA Tour's senior vice president for Asia tournaments. "In addition to a great tradition of professional golf at Jeju, the area will provide players, their families, tournament fans, sponsors and our staff with beautiful scenery as well as an abundance of activities to enjoy outside the ropes."

The CJ Group and Nine Bridges signed a 10-year agreement with the PGA Tour.

Senior LPGA Championship set

The LPGA Tour announced the opening of entries for the inaugural Senior LPGA Championship, which will be contested July 10-12 on the Pete Dye Course at the French Lick Resort in Indiana.

A total of 81 professionals will compete in the 54-hole, no-cut event for a total purse of $600,000, with a first-place prize of $90,000. The LPGA Tour announced the championship in December 2016, along with a multiyear deal with Golf Channel for live television coverage.

"The Legends Tour players can't wait to play for a title on one of Pete Dye's signature courses, where we will be given the true test of golf," Rosie Jones, a 13-time LPGA Tour winner and seven-time Legends Tour winner.

"I'm sure it will be a fantastic week showcasing LPGA players and current players on the Legends Tour."

The Senior LPGA Championship is open to female professionals 45 and older as of July 10, 2017, with members of the LPGA Tour and/or World Golf Halls of Fame given first priority to fill the field.

Next priority will be given to winners of Legends Tour events in the previous three years, including this year, followed by winners of an official LPGA Tour event in the previous 10 years.

"I'm proud that the LPGA has taken the lead to host the Senior LPGA Championship," said Lorie Kane, a four-time LPGA Legends Tour winner and Canadian Golf Hall of Fame member. "We're heading into a new chapter for senior women's golf."

The Legends Tour, senior tour of the LPGA, has a long relationship with French Lick Resort and the Pete Dye Course. From 2013-16, the course hosted the Legends Championship, with Trish Johnson (2016), Juli Inkster (2015), Laurie Rinker (2014) and Kane (2013) winning those tournaments.

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