Tiger Woods is hosting another tournament, this one for recreational golfers on courses that include Merion and Congressional, and a gem north of Boston that a century ago was reputed to be the toughest U.S. Open course.
The Tiger Woods Foundation, which has seven learning centers and funds the Earl Woods Scholarship Program, has been raising money primarily through five events. There's the Tiger Jam in Las Vegas (a charity concert and poker night) and the Tiger Woods Invitational (a private tournament for donors at Pebble Beach). The foundation also benefits from the Quicken Loans National and Deutsche Bank Championship on the PGA Tour, and his 18-man World Challenge in December.
The latest venture is called the Tiger Woods Charity Playoffs. It's an amateur golf series that stretches over five months on eight golf courses, and it rewards the best players and fundraisers with a final event in Orlando, Fla., at the end of the year.
"My foundation provides really awesome experiences, and this event allows all golfers to play cool courses for charity," Woods said in an email through his foundation.
Two-person teams can select a regional qualifying tournament with a registration fee ($500 per player on most courses), a $1,000 charity pledge and a goal of fundraising. The teams with the low net and gross score from each site, along with any team that raises $10,000 or more, qualify for the Charity Playoff Finals on Dec. 1-2.
Finalists gets two days of golf, two nights in the Four Seasons Resort at Walt Disney World Resort, a private exhibition with Woods and clubhouse credentials to the World Challenge. The team that raises the most money will get pro-am spots in the three PGA Tour-sanctioned events for 2015.
The first event is May 27 at Cascata in Las Vegas. Other courses are Congressional, Merion, Trump National in New Jersey, Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif., Pelican Hill in Newport Beach, Calif., Innisbrook in Florida and Myopia Hunt north of Boston.
Most of the courses are private, including Myopia Hunt outside Boston, which hosted the U.S. Open four times between 1898 and 1908 and produced three of the highest winning scores in U.S. Open history.
The series was announced three weeks ago, and 31 donors already have signed up for Merion, where the U.S. Open was played last year for the fifth time.
"We wanted to reach out to a new audience, amateur players, who can play these great courses and raise money for charities," Foundation spokeswoman Emily Taylor said.
Players can sign up at www.twcharityplayoffs.com.
Taylor said the foundation did not set a goal for how much money to raise. Proceeds are to benefit the Tiger Woods Learning Centers -- the main one in Anaheim, Calif., one in Florida, two in Philadelphia and three in the Washington, D.C., area -- and the Earl Woods Scholarship Program. Some of the money will be split among the foundation and charities designated by regional tournaments, particularly if they don't have a learning center.
DIVOT PATTERN: USGA executive director Mike Davis isn't worried about too many divots in collection areas at Pinehurst No. 2 when the U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open are held in consecutive weeks.
Davis said the grass was mown a quarter-inch in 1999, so low that most players used a putter. Six years later, the grass was slightly higher -- about 0.3 inches -- which gave players another option.
"It was a little harder to putt because they had to hit it harder," he said. "But it gave you a little bit more cushion where you could hit a bump shot or you could hit a pitch shot. ... We saw very, very, very little divoting during the last two Opens. The players who do decide to pitch it are more just clipping it. They're not really playing a type of shot a flop shot that creates a divot. So I don't think we're going to have that problem."
MANY HAPPY RETURNS: Jarrod Lyle made an emotional return from leukemia when he played in Australia in December. Now, the two-time cancer survivor is getting ready to try out his game in America.
Lyle has committed to play three times on the Web.com Tour in July and Augusta, starting with the Midwest Classic near Kansas City, Mo., the last week in July.
The 32-year-old Australian has a major medical exemption. When he returns to the PGA Tour, Lyle will have 20 events to earn $283,825 and reach the equivalent of No. 125 on the money list in 2012, the year he suffered a recurrence.
MASTERS DEGREE: Graeme McDowell watched the final round of the Masters, just like millions of other viewers.
He was among the few taking notes.
McDowell said he remains baffled by Augusta National, where he has missed the cut four times in seven appearances and has yet to crack the top 10. He opened with a 72 and was four shots off the lead, only to follow that with a 78 to miss the cut.
"I watched the coverage on Sunday afternoon, taking notes about the way the balls react around the pin positions," McDowell said. "Like the eighth, for example, Fred Couples leaving the putt 15 feet short down to the corner. Jordan Spieth did the same thing -- slowed down in the corner. That's the little nuances you have to know about Augusta. I found myself taking notes on Sunday. Hopefully, I'll need them over the next few years."
MODERN RYDER CUP: Tom Watson recalls the first scouting trip he made to the Ryder Cup course when he was U.S. captain the first time. This was 1993 at The Belfry in England. Watson saw it for the first time in September when he arrived with his team.
"I showed up like all the other players -- players that hadn't played it before. I was new," he said last week at Hilton Head.
It was an example of how much the event has changed over the last two decades. Europe has just started its run of dominance. It was still an entertaining event held every other year. Watson recalls doing no more than a half-dozen press conferences in the year leading up to the matches.
"I've had several dozen already about the Ryder Cup," he said. "And that's the difference."
DIVOTS: Brooks Koepka, who already has used his allotment of PGA Tour exemptions, earned a spot in the Zurich Classic this week through Monday qualifying. He needs seven FedEx Cup points (64th place alone) to be eligible for special temporary membership and have access to unlimited exemptions. ... Matt Kuchar's victory in the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head bumped Patrick Reed out of the top five -- in Ryder Cup standings. Kuchar is now at No. 3 behind Bubba Watson and Jimmy Walker. ... Turning Stone Resort, which once hosted a PGA Tour event, has been selected to host the PGA Professional National Championship in 2016, the tournament in which top 20 club pros qualify for the PGA Championship.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Four of the top six players on the LPGA Tour money list are Americans.
FINAL WORD: "There's no one at the USGA that even talks about that we want even par to win." -- USGA executive director Mike Davis, on the perception that the U.S. Open tries to protect against low scoring.
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