LPGA to debut ‘Raceway Golf’ event in April
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The LPGA will be trying out a new format in Jamaica next year called “Raceway Golf,” which organizers hope will appeal to the purists and attract new fans to golf.
The Mojo 6 has a $1 million purse and will be held April 15-16 at Cinnamon Hill Golf Course in Montego Bay, the first time in two decades that the LPGA has an event in the Caribbean.
Suzann Pettersen, Paula Creamer and Christina Kim already have signed up for the event.
Raceway Golf pits 16 top players against each other in a series of six-hole matches. On the first day, each player has three six-hole matches to accumulate points. The top eight players advance to the second day and compete in single-elimination, with three matches required to win.
The holes are set up differently each day for players to consider options depending on who they play.
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HARRINGTON’S COACH: Padraig Harrington brought his swing coach with him to Sherwood Country Club for his final tournament of the year, unusual only because Bob Torrance doesn’t get to these parts every often.
“It’s been a long time since he’s been in the States,” Harrington said. “It’s a big trip. He’s in his mid-70s now, so it’s a lot of effort.”
But this is no vacation.
Harrington works at the Titleist Performance Institute in southern California, which uses computer modules to help a player get the most out of his swing. The Irishman essentially has two sets of eyes – a computer and a Scottish coach.
“I want to coordinate the two of them to make sure I’m doing what the golf coach is telling me with what TPI reckons you should be doing with your body,” he said. “They all agree, to be honest. It’s startling how Bob’s teaching would agree completely with what is a computer-generated golf swing. I’m looking forward to seeing how the science meets the man.”
And if there’s a difference?
“Bob is the man,” the three-time major champion said. “At the end of the day, the last say always rests with him.”
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ANOTHER RENEWAL: Lost amid the coverage of Tiger Woods and his car accident was a piece of good news from the PGA Tour, which announced that John Deere has agreed to a six-year extension as title sponsor of a Tour event.
The John Deere Classic is now signed up through 2016.
It was the fifth title sponsor to renew its PGA Tour contract this year, along with adding new title sponsors for Kapalua (SBS Championship) and The Greenbrier.
John Deere has been title sponsor in Moline, Ill., since 1998, and it has generated $30 million for local charities.
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CADDIE CHANGE: Christian Donald is at the Chevron World Challenge. His more famous brother, Luke Donald, is not.
Christian Donald, who has been his brother’s caddie for most of the decade, said they decided last month to part ways. Luke Donald, a former NCAA champion at Northwestern, has won four times, along with the World Cup with Paul Casey and Tiger Woods’ charity event.
“It’s been eight years,” Christian said. “That was a good run.”
He figured their relationship as brothers took precedence over the strain of working with each other inside the ropes. Donald now caddies for Casey.
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DIVOTS: Lee Westwood celebrated his stellar season by signing a new multiyear deal with Ping Golf. The biggest change for Westwood is that the Ping logo will return to the front of his cap. ... Vijay Singh started and ended his 2009 season the same way – with knee surgery. The big Fijian, who went winless this year for the first time since 1996, had arthroscopic surgery last week to clean out some cartilage. He had to miss the Chevron World Challenge and a tournament in Australia. ... Royal Cinque Ports will be host of the British Amateur in 2013. It has hosted two Open Championships, the last one in 1920 won by George Duncan.
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STAT OF THE WEEK: Lee Westwood started and ended the 2000s by winning the European Tour money title. Both times, he finished ahead of a player from Northern Ireland – Darren Clarke in 2000 and Rory McIlroy in 2009.
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FINAL WORD: “There would be no point in you guys writing the actual middle-of-the-road stories, because I wouldn’t be reading it. I want to read the high or the low.” – Padraig Harrington, who reads stories about all athletes except himself.