Notes: Disney tournament searching for a sponsor

Justin Rose hits out of the bunker at No. 17.

Justin Rose hits out of the bunker at No. 17.

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When the 2013 PGA Tour schedule was confirmed earlier this week, what was listed for March 14-17 was the “Tampa Bay Championship.”

With Transitions having ended its three-year run as title sponsor of the tournament at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla., the search has been on for a new one. A PGA Tour source said there is great optimism that officials have someone ready to move in, but until the contract is signed, the event will be listed as is.

Such optimism doesn’t spread, however, to the annual tournament spot at Walt Disney World near Orlando, which has been on the schedule since 1971.

The Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals’ contract as title sponsor will be up after this year’s final round (Nov. 11), and the same PGA Tour source said as of yet a replacement hasn’t been found. Thus, the 2013-14 schedule doesn’t include the stop at Disney, though room certainly could be made should an interested sponsor arrive.

As for the first wraparound 2013-14 season, it will tee off Oct. 10-13 with the Frys.com Open, then move to Las Vegas (Oct. 17-20). The CIMB Asia Pacific Classic in Malaysia will be Oct. 24-27, the HSBC Champions Oct. 31-Nov. 3, then a lengthy trip back to Sea Island, Ga., for the fourth edition of the McGladrey Classic (Nov. 7-10).

Presently, plans call for the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Cancun (Nov. 14-17) to close down the first portion of the FedEx Cup schedule, but the Tour source said Nov. 21-24 would remain open, should the Disney stop beat the odds and survive.

Players would then have six or seven weeks off to prepare for the resumption of the schedule at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions on Maui.

• • •

THROWING CURVEBALLS: The appearance of Ernie Els in Shanghai was a bit surprising. Then again, The Big Easy seems to be predictably unpredictable.

Consider that back at the Deutsche Bank Championship in early September, Els was talking of his desire to be ready for the 2013 majors and to do so, he needed to rest more in the fall. He said post-FedEx Cup playoffs that he would play the Dunhill Links, the Frys.com Tour, the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda, then shut it down. No China, no Middle East, no heavy travel.

“My left side is a bit sore. I need to work on that. So I need to get that stronger and my body stronger, so it'll be great for me to stay home for five, six weeks (in the fall),” Els said at the DBC.

So much for that plan, because Els – who turned 43 on Oct. 17 – withdrew from the tournament in Bermuda (ankle injury) and is teeing it up at the HSBC Champions in China.

He’s doing so with a new management company that sort of looks like the old management company. That’s because it is. Els recently returned to the IMG family, with whom he had been for several years before leaving to go with Chubby Chandler’s ISM group. A little more than a year ago, Els left ISM to join Vinny Giles’ Pros Inc., but has returned to IMG.

• • •

THIS WOULDN’T HAVE HAPPENED IN LAWSON LITTLE’S TIME: No, sir, because back then guys could carry the entire garage in their bag. But given that you are now limited to 14 clubs, it becomes a challenge at times to make choices.

Case in point: Padraig Harrington at last week’s PGA Grand Slam of Golf at Port Royal GC in Bermuda. When he stepped to the tee at the majestic, but incredibly difficult par-3 16th, Harrington knew he had problems. With roughly 230 yards to the hole and the wind whipping in off the ocean, left-to-right, the Irishman figured fairway metal was too much and 4-iron not enough.

“I needed a 3-iron,” Harrington said.

Only problem is, he had taken the 3-iron out of the bag that morning. Instead, he chose 4-iron and though he successfully carried his tee shot over the cliff and landed safely, he came up short and made bogey. “Needed 3-iron,” Harrington said.

Next day for the final round, Harrington took out the 4-iron and put in the 3-iron, just for that tee shot. So what happened? The wind switched and was helping a bit more and 3-iron was too much. He hit 5-iron, again came up short, but salvaged par.

“Needed 4-iron,” Harrington said with a smile.

• • •

TIMELY BIRDIE: While Keegan Bradley was busy moving from the Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda to the HSBC Champions in China, his friend and roommate, Jon Curran, was scripting a successful story to the first stage of Q-School. With a birdie at the par-5 72nd hole at Florence (S.C.) Country Club, Curran made the cut on the number – though the numbers showed just how brutally tough this competition is.

Making the cut on the number sounds like you scraped through, right?

But the reality is, Curran concluded 72 holes at 3 under and tied for 11th, just six off the winning score. Yet the flip side is, had he made par at the final hole, he would have gone home empty-handed.

Crazy stuff, this Q-School, but Curran rejects the notion that there’s more pressure given that this is the last year in which graduates will earn cards right onto the PGA Tour. “No, not at all,” he said. “It’s the same deal as in the past. I actually think there’s less pressure. You can put as much pressure on yourself as you like or you can dumb it down, and that’s what I’ve done.”

At Florence it was a different story for Tadd Fujikawa, who struggled before withdrawing after 54 holes.

• • •

HEARTACHE CORNER: With 14 first-stage sites, there are bound to be a number of Q-School stories, good and bad. One of the tougher ones involved Paul Imondi of Tustin, Calif.

Having put together rounds of 70-67-76-69 for a 6-under 282 total at Dayton Valley GC in Nevada, Imondi figured he was free to make plans for second stage.

Turns out, the final-round 69 was really a 70, that his splits were 35-35, not 34-35. Imondi concedes he already had signed the card, but didn’t think they would be official until the totals were written in by the scorer. When he heard the scores read off for a front-nine 34, Imondi said he told the scorer that was wrong. He said he asked if he couldn’t have the card back to adjust the totals, especially since 70 – 283 still would have advanced him to second stage.

Imondi didn’t get the card back and his appeal was denied.

“End result of the whole thing is, it was a clear miscommunication on both my part and the committee scorer,” Imondi said via email from Lima, Peru, where he’s playing in this week’s Latinoamerica tournament. “But ultimately the responsibility falls on the player. Unfortunate, but (it’s a) lesson learned and the only way I can move from here is to go forward and not dwell on it.”

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