Woods faces new challenge

WGC tournament complicates filling field for his event

April 14, 2011

By resolving the colossal date conflict between the Presidents Cup and South African Open, golf's global schedule now has another on its hands — with Tiger Woods caught in the middle.

South African tour officials agreed to push its national tournament back a week, relieving its top talent from having to choose where to play Nov. 17-20. Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and Hall of Famer Ernie Els are among five South Africans among the top eight on the International team's points list.

Here's where it gets juicy: The tour also managed to wrangle a new World Golf Championships event, which it slotted for Dec. 1-4 — opposite the Chevron World Challenge that Woods hosts.

We can assume Woods won't grace that WGC stop, but he has to fill 17 other slots in the field. Last year that included U.S. Open champ Graeme McDowell, PGA Championship winner Martin Kaymer and FedEx Cup winner Jim Furyk, plus such names as Matt Kuchar, Luke Donald and Dustin Johnson.

All presumably would meet qualifying criteria for the new WGC event and its $10 million purse — golf's richest. "They will have to move (the Chevron)," South African tour chief Gareth Tindall said.

No word yet from the Woods camp, with the golfer in China for a post-Masters appearance.

PGA salutes Nelson: Larry Nelson, a three-time major champion who didn't take up golf until after returning from the Vietnam War, has been named this year's winner of the PGA of America's Distinguished Service Award.

After two years in Vietnam, Nelson learned the game in 1968 by reading Ben Hogan's famed "Five Fundamentals of Golf." The Georgia pro earned his PGA Tour card five years later and won 10 times on the circuit — including the 1981 and '87 PGAs and 1983 U.S. Open.

Tap-ins: Even with Woods hanging around the leaders, ratings for Sunday's final Masters round couldn't top Phil Mickelson's triumph last year. CBS showed a 10.4 overnight rating Sunday, compared with last year's 12.0. … Cherry Hills CC, site of Arnold Palmer's 1960 U.S. Open win, landed the FedEx Cup as host of the 2014 BMW Championship. Cog Hill G&CC outside Chicago takes one more BMW turn this year.

— Jeff Shain

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