Friday, November 18, 2011

Fighter jet getting tougher to defend

Even Stephen Harper's detractors will acknowledge - after a few libations and with no microphones in view - that the prime minister has generally shown a deft hand in foreign affairs. Indeed, along with economic management, this has become one of Harper's greatest strengths.

So why, some in and around Ottawa wonder, is the Harper government so dead-set on championing the much-delayed, expensive and controversial F-35 fighter purchase, even as the project takes on ever more ballast?

Day after day in the House of Commons, opposition MPs pose pointed, scathing questions about why the government has "sole-sourced" this estimated $16-billion (including maintenance costs) purchase from U.S. aircraft maker Lockheed Martin, with no competitive tender. Day after day a trio of ministers - up to and including the prime minister himself - deliver wan responses, looking unhappy as they do so.

Polls have shown that a majority of Canadians doubt whether ultrahigh-tech new fighters should be a priority. The government's three stock arguments in their defence - it was the Liberals who launched the program in the late 1990s, our pilots deserve the best, and the industrial spinoffs will be huge - look weak in an era of looming budget cuts.

International support for the joint strike fighter has gone wobbly. The Turks are out, because of a disagreement over rights to the F-35's critically important software source code. Australia is buying Boeing's Super Hornets. Norway has delayed its pur-

chase. The British are reviewing their purchase of more than 100 F-35B models - the Joint Strike Fighter's vertical-landing variant. And there are rumblings the Italians may soon do the same, if they can order any planes at all, given their debt woes.

As if all that weren't bad enough, the U.S. military - on the hook for 2,443 F-35s, at an estimated cost of $380 billion US - is under siege because of America's own debt crisis. There is rampant speculation the Pentagon itself will soon be forced to curtail its order. Because pricing is based on economies of scale, that would change the game for every other member of the consortium, including Canada. As orders get reduced, the price per plane goes up.

Therefore, why so dogged? Here's a partial answer. The growing turmoil, itself, is one reason why the Harper government remains grimly at the table. In a global system increasingly reliant on multilateral co-operation, and in which Ottawa is now deemed by its friends to be a reliable ally, the prime minister doesn't want to be seen to welch on a big deal. The Prime Minister's Office is keenly aware that a review by Canada could have a domino effect on other F-35 consortium members.

"When we've given our word (internationally) you can count on it," said a source familiar with the government's thinking. "A number of good deeds would quickly be forgotten if you took out a significant (commitment) like this."

Fair enough, as far as that goes. We remember the "soft-power" years, when Canada finger-pointed shrilly from the sidelines, while gutting the military. Few Canadians would take us back there.

But here's what the PMO clearly did not bargain for: In addition to being very costly - independent estimates put the price at between $110 million and $150 million per plane, in contrast with Ottawa's $75 million figure - even the basic version of the F-35 has technical problems that will be expensive to remedy.

The slightest scratch to the stealth coating, for example, makes the plane much more visible to radar; maintenance requires the coating be removed, then later replaced; and the F-35 can't communicate in the Far North without the addition of an external pod, which would again make it un-stealthy. There are issues with takeoff and landing speeds and therefore runway length; glitches with the high-tech helmet worn by pilots; and oceans of as-yet unwritten software, years behind schedule.

And there's this: Why does Canada need what is essentially a first-strike weapon, when this country is not in the business of first strikes? Would it not make more sense for the RCAF to fly greater numbers of less advanced, cheaper, more workmanlike planes? These questions are not going away. They have yet to be satisfactorily answered by the government.

Those who say the entire F-35 project is doomed are probably off the mark: The U.S. military has bet the farm on this aircraft and now has no option but to slog ahead. This doesn't mean, however, that Canada can't and won't scrap its own buy if the Americans and Europeans recast the rules by slashing their orders.

Economic slumps worldwide make that a growing possibility now, whatever the ministers may say in the House.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Obama blasts GOP candidates for failing to defend gay soldier

Speaking at an event hosted by a prominent gay advocacy group, President Obama on Saturday night chastised the his GOP presidential rivals for failing to speak up when some members of the audience at a debate last month booed a gay soldier.

“We don’t believe in the kind of smallness that says it’s okay for a stage full of political leaders -- one of whom could end up being the President of the United States -- being silent when an American soldier is booed,” Obama said at the Human Rights Campaign’s annual dinner in Washington. “We don’t believe in that. We don’t believe in standing silent when that happens. We don’t believe in them being silent since. You want to be Commander-in-Chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it’s not politically convenient.”

Obama was referring to an incident that took place at a Sept. 22 Republican debate in Tampa, Fla., hosted by Fox News Channel and Google.

Just days after the official end of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that banned gays from serving openly, a gay soldier who had been deployed to Iraq drew boos from some in the audience when he asked the GOP candidates if they intend to “circumvent the progress that’s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military.”

2012 candidate and former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) answered that if elected, he would reinstate DADT.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Top-ranked Donald fond of Canadian Open

The last time the world's top-ranked golfer showed up at the Canadian Open, he left with the trophy in tow.

No pressure, Luke Donald.

"(The top ranking) always brings a little more expectation, a little bit more media, a little bit more time commitment, but I'm excited for the challenge," Donald said after Wednesday's pro-am event at Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club.

"Since being No. 1, I've been able to hold on to it for a number of weeks now. I'm trying to draw on all the good things that got me to No. 1. I draw from all of those positives and bring that to each week."

This week's showdown at Shaughnessy marks Donald's fifth appearance at what's now known as the RBC Canadian Open, but it's his first since he reached the summit of the world golf rankings earlier this year.

Vijay Singh had just finished his ascent to the top of the point-based standings when he arrived at Glen Abbey in 2004, continuing his roll in what turned out to be a dream season and spoiling what would have been a national celebration when he clipped Canada's beloved lefty, Mike Weir, in a playoff.

Ironically, Donald is paired with Weir and world-No. 8 Matt Kuchar for Thursday's opening round at Shaughnessy.

That threesome would create a stir at any PGA Tour stop, but they're certainly not the only big names in the field for the latest instalment of 'our' national open championship.

Golf fans can thank RBC for that.

Not only is the financial institution entitled to splash its logo across Shaughnessy as the title sponsor of this week's Canadian Open, it also provides backing for a handful of golf's big names, including Donald, Kuchar, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk and Anthony Kim, plus Weir, Stephen Ames and a slew of up-and-coming Canucks.

Appearance fees are outlawed on the PGA Tour, but you bet can the guys with the RBC logo on their hats and bags were "¦ um "¦ encouraged to attend this event, and it's no surprise they're all at Shaughnessy this week. Kinda like Tiger Woods always showed up at the Buick Invitational during his partnership with the automotive company.

This week's event has also attracted darn good golfers that don't belong to Team RBC, with Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, Puma posterboy Rickie Fowler and 'Long' John Daly among the headliners.

Names like Paul Casey, Justin Leonard, Hunter Mahan, Louis Oosthuizen, Geoff Ogilvy, Camilo Villegas and defending champion Carl Pettersson should also ring a bell for most golf fans.

All told, seven of the current top 25 players in the world will tee it up at the latest instalment of 'our' open championship. That might seem like a watered-down field for an event that counts Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman and Woods among its past champions and Jack Nicklaus as a seven-time runner-up, but the truth is it's not a bad turnout for the week after a major that's contested on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

After missing the cut at the British Open, Donald jetted to Chicago for the weekend and then continued on to Vancouver.

With US$5.6-million in earnings around the world so far this season, he could have afforded a vacation.

And with most of his contenders taking a week off, he likely doesn't have to worry about losing his top billing this week, either.

But the 33-year-old has always had a soft spot for the Canadian Open, where he survived his first cut as a professional at Royal Montreal in 2001. The archived world rankings for the following week don't even show his name, meaning he wasn't yet among the top 200.

"The focus really isn't on the world rankings," Donald added. "It's nice to be world-ranked No. 1, but the focus for me is always the same -- that is to continually try to improve every aspect of my game a little bit each day and continue to get better and continue to put myself in position to win tournaments."

Thursday, June 30, 2011

EP 6-year-old wins Little People World Golf Championship

Eden Prairie’s Pranay Singh faces a dilemma. When asked to name his favorite golf memory, he has a hard time deciding. Is it last year’s hole-in-one he carded on the No. 7 hole at Waters Edge in Shakopee, or the up-and-down that iced last week’s Pepsi Little People World Golf Championship Tournament in Quincy, Ill.?

When pressed, the soon-to-be first-grader wearing the Snoopy belt picks the up-and-down.

“The kid he was playing against hit his tee shot a couple feet from the hole,” said Vivek Kumar, Pranay’s father. “Pranay chunked his. It was the last hole and Pranay was leading by three. If the other kid birdies and Pranay gets a five, it’s a tie.”

Singh’s second shot settled just off the green, some 20 yards from the hole.

By the time he hit his third shot, the green was ringed with an estimated 100 spectators.

Going for par, he hit a flop shot that bounced once and then rolled in the cup. Game over.

Singh finished with a two-round 61 (30, 31), besting the second-place finisher (Texas’ Rohan Kommineni) by four strokes. The field included 30 golfers.

His all-time favorite golf memory? “Winning,” he said.

Early start

Yes, Singh started golfing at an early age.

“He started walking at 11 months,” said his dad, “and held his first club shortly after that.”

At first, he used plastic clubs and a plastic ball. From there, he progressed from a plastic ball to a real ball. The rest, as they say, is history.

His favorite club? “Driver,” he said, “because it goes far.”

At a hair shy of four feet, the 6-year-old can hit a ball 140 yards.

But that’s not his strength; his strength is his short game, minus the putting.

“He’d rather hit from just off the green than just on the green,” said his dad.

As one might guess, his golfing ability has attracted some attention.

“More experienced golfers watch him swing and get pretty depressed,” said mom.

The true measure of his ability, however, can be seen on the course.

“They see us at the tee box,” said dad, “and right away think they’ll play through.”

“But they never catch us,” adds Singh.

In July, Singh will take his game to San Diego, where he’ll compete in the Junior World Championships, a tournament that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson won in their youth.

Last year, Singh finished 21st. This year’s goal? “Winning,” he said, while adding that he thinks he’ll have to shoot a one-under- par 53 to do so.

When asked if he’s ever finished under par, he smiled before he answered. “Not yet,” he said.

Read more: Eden Prairie News - EP 6 year old wins Little People World Golf Championship

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Johnny Miller: The show will go on without Tiger Woods

The U.S. Open will miss Tiger Woods this week at Congressional Country Club.

But Johnny Miller said golf fans have begun to acclimate to the absence of the game’s marquee attraction.

“I think the U.S. golf fan, the world golf fan is unfortunately getting used to not having Tiger around,” said Miller, the lead analyst during NBC’s coverage of the 111th U.S. Open. “Obviously we’d like to have him here and it was a heartbreak for him and us that isn’t here. But golf is bigger than Tiger.

“For awhile, it was a toss-up.”

Woods, 35, will miss his first U.S. Open since he was an amateur in 1994 as he continues to recover from injuries to his left knee and Achilles tendon.

During his career-long, 19-month winless streak, Woods has been plagued by lingering injuries and personal strife, and has undergone a major swing change.

In the process, he’s played just 22 full-field events worldwide, with six top-10 finishes - nearly a third his 2009 total (17) in 19 events. That year, he won eight times, but underachieved in his mind because he didn’t win a major.

Woods’ Sunday charge on April 10 at the Masters indicated better days were to come, even though he missed some key putts that ultimately led to a tie for fourth place.

The old Tiger - who won 14 major championships - never would have missed two short putts he needed on the back nine of a major championship.

But rather than work on his game, Woods had to rest injuries he re-aggravated during the third round at Augusta National. Woods tried to play a month later at The Players Championship, but withdrew after shooting a 43 for nine holes.

If Woods, a three-time U.S. Open champion, had played this week, he’d have been rusty, lacking confidence and likely out of the mix on Sunday.

Miller, the 1973 winner, would have liked to have seen for himself, but said the U.S. Open will go on without Woods and provide the kind of drama no tournament in the world can match.

“Everyone wants to see who can handle the pressure and play well and be a hero or make mistakes the last day,” Miller said. “There’s nothing like the U.S. Open. There’s more trainwrecks and carwrecks than any other championship.

“I’m sure the ratings would be higher if Tiger is in contention on Sunday, but bottom line it’s going to be great. It’s the U.S. Open, man.”

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Colin Montgomerie Summer Golf School at Turnberry

Turnberry, A Luxury Collection Resort, located on the beautiful southwest coast of Scotland is offering golfers the perfect opportunity to improve their game at the “Monty Summer Golf School”, 19th-21st August 2011. Hosted by world-renowned golfer and Ryder Cup stalwart Colin Montgomerie, golfers of all skill levels will be given the chance to benefit from the world-class tuition provided by Colin and his talented team.

Taking place at the Colin Montgomerie Links Golf Academy, the first links golf academy in the world, the golf school aims to help golfers get the most out of their game. Colin will share his distinctive teaching philosophy working to develop individual golf swings whilst teaching personalised improvement techniques and discussing the specific challenges of links golf. Colin Montgomerie commented:

“Links golf is notoriously difficult and that’s why we created the world’s first links golf academy at Turnberry to help golfers improve their technique and performance at one of the world’s most famous
links courses.

“Any golfer of any ability will benefit from spending a few days learning from a team of experienced golfers and understanding the unique skill set required to accomplish these tough courses. I am very much looking forward to meeting our new recruits this summer.”

The Turnberry professional golf team are all well trained in the ‘Monty Method’ having worked closely with Colin and will be on hand to provide step-by-step instructions and guidance for guests. The Academy is located just a few yards from the Clubhouse and the first tee of the world class Ailsa and Kintyre Championship courses, whilst the 9-hole Arran course is the ideal place to perfect one’s short game. All three courses will be played throughout the three-day clinic.

Home to the iconic Ailsa, an Open Championship course four times over, Turnberry provides a fantastic setting for high-calibre play during this exclusive weekend hosted by the legendary world-class golf pro. The fully-inclusive golfing experience starts at £798 per golfer and includes tailor made sessions with Colin and the Turnberry team and play on all three of the resort’s famous courses.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Top five year-round golf courses in the world

There's a reason why so many professional golfers live in Florida. It's warm there year-round and they can practice their craft any day of the year. If golfers could have a choice, they would live in a place where it's warm all the time so they can live on the golf course.

Here's my picks for five public courses I would want to play golf year-round, if money were no object and I lived nearby:

Despite the occasional hurricane and afternoon thunderstorm, Florida is a fantastic place for golf. Florida has over 1,000 golf courses from which to choose. Florida has an entire golf culture in the state and you can find courses just about anywhere. Get tee times early in the morning before it gets too hot to play. Golfers would have trouble playing every course in a single year. TPC Sawgrass hosts the PGA's Players Championship in mid-May and is one of the premier public courses in the state. TPC Sawgrass is in Ponte Verde Beach.

Ironwood Hills, Hawaii

Hawaii has some of the most unique golf holes on the planet due to its unique geography. Some holes drop a few hundred feet from the tee box to green. Others are right near the ocean with the surf in the background. With over 50 courses on six islands, living in Hawaii is a golfer's paradise. The lone course on Molokai is Ironwood Hills. It has only nine holes and doesn't even have a pro shop for one of the most remote golf courses in the world. It's a public course and costs $36 to play.

Cable Beach, Bahamas

The Bahamas are a vacation paradise with some resort elements. Even though there aren't many golf courses from which to choose, you'll soon forget your troubles as you play near the ocean and among the palm trees. Cable Beach Golf Club is the oldest golf course in the Bahamas and is a par-71. It was just renovated to become a nine-hole course among the palm trees.

Denaru Golf Club, Fiji

If you can make it to the South Pacific, Fiji has over 300 islands and a dozen golf courses. Pro tournaments are played on the islands every year with good reason. This tropical destination has some of the best golf in the world. Denaru Golf Club was designed by Japanese golf pros and is one of the three championship courses on Viti Levu Island. If you want to play right next to the ocean with some palm trees swaying in a warm ocean breeze, this is your place.

Innisfail Golf Club, Australia

North Queensland in Australia has a tropical climate and is warm year-round. Although the area is known for its surfing and nature preserves, there are over 50 courses to play in the sun. Turtle Point Golf Course at Laguna Whitsundays is considered one of the best courses in Australia. There's a reason Greg Norman learned how to play golf down under because there are great courses to play all the time. Innisfail is a public course in the middle of lush tropical surroundings. Like other courses in the middle of nature, it has nine holes that can be stretched into 18.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Official apologizes for Obama chimpanzee email

A California Republican official has apologized for sending an email that depicts President Barack Obama as a young chimpanzee.

"To my fellow Americans and to everyone else who has seen the email I forwarded and was offended by my action, I humbly apologize and ask for your forgiveness of my unwise behavior," Marilyn Davenport said in a statement obtained by CNN.

Davenport, who is a Tea Party activist and an elected member of the central committee of the Republican Party of Orange County, said she felt the email was a joke, CNN affiliate KTLA reported.

The email contains a doctored photo of what appears to be a family portrait of two adult chimpanzees posing with a young chimpanzee with Obama's face pasted on it.
Local GOP chair weighs in on Obama email

The caption that ran with the photo says "Now you know why no birth certificate," the affiliate reported.

Davenport said she would not repeat her error in the apology that included two Bible passages.

"I am an imperfect Christian lady who tries her best to live a Christ-like honoring life," the statement said. "I would never do anything to intentionally harm or berate others regardless of ethnicity. So I ask for your forgiveness, for I am truly sorry."

Despite criticism, Davenport told the affiliate that she does not need to resign her position because of the e-mail.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Blagojevich wants notes from FBI interview of Obama

Rod Blagojevich’s lawyers on Monday moved to have prosecutors turn over FBI notes from an interview with President Obama – something a judge turned down a year ago.

It’s a request that at least one legal observer says is unlikely to be met.

Still, defense lawyers say insight into Obama’s interview will help them cross-examine union leader Tom Balanoff in Blagojevich’s retrial, set to begin April 20.

Testifying at the former governor’s first trial last summer, Balanoff said he received a call from Obama the night before the presidential election, which he saw as a signal to have discussions with Blagojevich about the possible appointment of Valerie Jarrett to Obama’s soon-to-be-open U.S. Senate seat.

Blagojevich’s team says that contradicts an Obama team report that was issued Dec. 23, 2008. That report stated “President Obama did not direct anyone to speak on his behalf regarding the White House’s preferences for the Senate seat appointment,” Blagojevich lawyers wrote.

In Dec. 2008, FBI agents and prosecutors interviewed Obama, then President-elect, along with his then chief-of-staff-in-waiting Rahm Emanuel and advisor Jarrett as they transitioned into the White House. Investigators were interested in their interactions with Blagojevich, who had been arrested earlier that same month with scheming to sell Obama’s vacant Senate seat.

A White House spokesman said, “We’re not going to comment on an ongoing criminal proceeding.” Balanoff’s lawyer could not be reached for comment.

Defense lawyers complain that if Obama were anyone else but the president, they would have the FBI notes from the interview, called a “302.”

“Based upon the content contained in the disclosed 302s of other individuals that were tendered by the government, the Obama 302s at issue would almost certainly have been disclosed if the interviewee was anyone other than the President,” Blagojevich’s lawyers wrote.

Ronald Safer, a former federal prosecutor, said the government would only be required to release the interview notes if they contained information showing a defendant’s innocence or called into question a witness’s testimony. Since Obama is unlikely to be called as a witness in the case, “there’s no obligation to turn it over,” Safer said.

Last year, Blagojevich’s attorneys asked U.S. District Judge James Zagel to subpoena Obama and release the interview notes, requests the judge denied.

Blagojevich’s lawyers could, as an intermediate step, ask Zagel to review the 302 to verify that it contained no information exonerating Blagojevich, Safer said. But the judge could grant or deny that request, too.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Obama lacks authority to shutter Yucca site, court told

Lawyers for Washington state and South Carolina on Tuesday accused President Barack Obama of exceeding his constitutional power in closing the Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste repository.

Washington state Assistant Attorney General Andrew Fitz told a federal appellate court that Obama's refusal to fund continued development of the Nevada site violates the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act.

"He's acting unconstitutionally under the separation of powers doctrine because he doesn't have the authority under the statute," Fitz told a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. "He had no authority to reverse it."

In 1987 amendments to the nuclear-waste law, Congress designated Yucca Mountain as the central site for radioactive debris from the nation's 104 commercial reactors - and from nuclear-weapons sites that have held even more toxic waste since the Cold War.

The government has spent $10 billion developing the Yucca site, but Obama has stripped funding for it from his last two budget proposals to Congress.

Republicans, who have proposed legislation to revive the repository, accuse Obama of making a political gesture to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, whose residents dislike the notion of burying radioactive debris from across the country at a subterranean site 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Washington, home to the Hanford nuclear reservation in the eastern part of the state, and South Carolina, which hosts the Savannah River Site on its border with Georgia, sued Obama. Aiken County, S.C., where Savannah River is located, and three businessmen in Washington state joined the lawsuit.

Other large former nuclear-weapons complexes include the Idaho National Laboratory and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

Chief Judge David Sentelle and Judge Brett Cavanaugh repeatedly challenged Fitz on whether the lawsuit by Washington and South Carolina is premature.

Sentelle and Cavanaugh said three administrative judges in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in June rejected a bid by Energy Secretary Steven Chu to withdraw the Energy Department license to build and operate the Yucca repository.

The case has been before the NRC since then, with no indication of when the full commission will rule on the license withdrawal.

The judges and lawyers didn't address the merits of the case, avoiding the complex scientific and environmental issues tied to the Yucca site.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson echoed Fitz's courtroom claims in comments after the hearing.

"The government's decision to arbitrarily break federal law and derail Yucca Mountain is wrong and unconstitutional," Wilson said. "Congress passed laws to build Yucca Mountain as a safe repository for America's nuclear waste."

At Obama's direction, Chu set up the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future in January 2010 and gave it two years to come up with an alternative to drilling deep tunnels beneath Yucca for nuclear -waste disposal.

"Nuclear-waste storage at Yucca Mountain is not an option," said Lee Hamilton, the commision's co-chairman and a former Indiana congressman. "The commission will be looking at better alternatives."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Putting the 'world' back into WGC

WHEN THE top four players in the world rankings and 10 of the top-20 are European, it seems a little incongruous that a World Golf Championship (WGC) event hasn’t been played on European soil since 2006, when Tiger Woods won the American Express Championship at The Grove.

But world number four Graeme McDowell, who is among the favourites for this week’s WGC Cadillac Championship over the famed TPC Blue Monster at Doral, Florida, acknowledges that finding alternative venues outside the US creates a logistical nightmare for the players and the International Federation of PGA Tours.

The demise of the World Cup as a WGC event and the promotion of the HSBC Champions in Shanghai to WGC status at the end of 2009 means three of the four events in the series are now staged in the US.

Yet despite that move, and with 33 of the world’s top-50 hailing from outside the US, the grumbling about a US-centric golfing world goes on.

Just two weeks after the Accenture Matchplay in Tucson, and with the WGC Bridgestone Invitational set for Firestone Country Club in Ohio the week before the US PGA Championship in August, finding a non-US venue is a headache that won’t go away any time soon.

McDowell is not a fan of the course at Dove Mountain, where he was ousted from the matchplay in the third round just two weeks ago.

Tucson’s four-year contract is up, but while the event still appears likely to go ahead there again next year, McDowell sees no way of moving it out of the US in the near future.

“My feelings are that the matchplay is the wrong one to do that with,” McDowell said of a possible move to Australia, Europe or Asia. “It is a long way to fly to China to get beaten in the first round.

“Of course, Tucson is a long way to go for everyone, but at least you have Los Angeles the week before and the Florida swing the week afterwards.

“A lot of the top-50 in the world will be going on to play the Florida swing anyway.

“Having the matchplay in the States makes geographical sense, but with the international flavour of golf right now it is important that the WGCs become world events.”

Making that happen will be difficult in the extreme with the PGA Tour about to enter negotiations on a new television contract, with the current one due to expire next year.

Attracting major sponsors is increasingly difficult and staging an event outside US prime time TV slots is not attractive to the powers at Ponte Vedra Beach.

“It’s pretty hard when you start thinking about it as an overall schedule,” McDowell said. “Scheduling is a problem because you have got to think about WGCs as top-50 events and the guys in the top-50 are going straight to the majors.

“It’s difficult to take them anywhere else.

“Maybe they could turn the likes of the Scottish Open into a WGC, the week before the British Open. It’s tough to get the blend right.

“But there seems to be a kind of rivalry there between the tours. I understand the PGA Tour want to protect themselves and their members, and so do the European Tour. It is the eternal debate and it is tough to get it 100 per cent right.”

Monday, February 21, 2011

WGC-Cadillac Championship to honor military and their families

The World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship will honor members of our U.S. Armed Forces and their families throughout tournament week as part of the Birdies for the Brave military outreach initiative. Program highlights include free tournament admission, complimentary hospitality and a military appreciation ceremony. The 2011 Cadillac Championship will feature the world's best golfers at the TPC Blue Monster at Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Doral, Fla., March 9-13.

As part of Birdies for the Brave, all active duty, retired, and Reserve military members and their dependents will be invited to attend the tournament all week free of charge. Complimentary tournament tickets for military members may be downloaded at Veterans interested in attending this year's event may purchase a discounted ticket through the Miami VA by contacting Bill Bray at (305) 324.4455, extension 3619.

Once inside the gates, all military guests and veterans will enjoy complimentary access to the Birdies for the Brave Patriots' Outpost presented by Lockheed Martin, a military hospitality chalet located on the 17th green on the TPC Blue Monster. The Patriots' Outpost will be open from Thursday, March 10, through Sunday, March 13, with complimentary lunch provided each day by Applebee's.

"Attending the Cadillac Championship is a terrific way for our U.S Armed Forces and their families to spend time together," says Don Butler, VP Cadillac Marketing. "Birdies for the Brave is one of many worthy initiatives associated with the tournament and Cadillac is proud to be a part of it all."

This year's tournament will kick off with opening ceremonies on Thursday, March 10, at 10 a.m. on the first tee of TPC Blue Monster, where festivities will include a dedication by representatives from United States Southern Command, an aerial demonstration by the U.S. Army Black Daggers, ceremonial tee shots, and a special presentation to wounded warrior retired Lieutenant Ben Baar, a second generation service member who was injured in Iraq following 21 years in the U.S. Army. Other military outreach activities during the tournament will include the opportunity for uniformed military personnel to serve as announcers on the 9th and 18th greens throughout the week.

Sponsors who are making military outreach activities possible during the Cadillac Championship include Lockheed Martin, Applebee's, Blue Bell Ice Cream, VBrick, Timbar, Tanberg/Cisco, Nature Valley, Johnny Rockets and Pepsi.

For more information on the Cadillac Championship, visit

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mickelson to Play in Match Play

Phil Mickelson says he has decided to compete in the Match Play Championship.

Mickelson, who skipped the World Golf Championship event in Arizona a year ago, had said last November he was contemplating sitting out again becauase it might conflict with a family vaction. He said after his final round at Pebble Beach that he would be there.

Lee Westwood will be the No. 1 seed at Match Play, which starts Feb. 23 at Dove Mountain north of Tucson. Martin Kaymer will be the No. 2 seed, followed by Tiger Woods and Mickelson.

The 64-man field is determined by the world ranking that was to be published later Sunday.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Wilson and Bjorn both enter top 60

Mark Wilson won for the second time this season on Monday and moved up 40 places in this week's official world rankings.

Wilson's playoff victory on Monday got him up to 50th in this week's rankings.

Thomas Bjorn claimed a win on the European Tour Sunday at the Qatar Masters. The victory moved the Dane up a staggering 74 spots to No. 60 this week.

Lee Westwood stayed in the first spot, followed by Martin Kaymer, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Graeme McDowell. Kaymer can once again wrestle that No. 1 spot from Westwood this week in Dubai, where Woods is also teeing it up.

Paul Casey remained in sixth, but Rory McIlroy inched up one to seventh. Steve Stricker fell one to eighth, while Luke Donald and Jim Furyk switched rankings this week with the Englishman in ninth and the American in 10th.

Ernie Els, Ian Poulter, Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson held their places from last week. Robert Karlsson climbed one notch to 15th, while Retief Goosen sank one to 16th.

Francesco Molinari, Bubba Watson, Louis Oosthuizen and Edoardo Molinari rounded out the top 20.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Michelle Obama Hits Back at Her Fashion Critics

Her wardrobe choices have been making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

And now Michelle Obama has hit back at the critics who reacted with anger after she chose to wear a British design to a White House formal dinner.

In an interview with Good Morning America, the First Lady insisted she will continue to dress in the clothes that make her comfortable - regardless of the label.

She said: 'Look, women, wear what you love.

'That's all I can say. That's my motto. I wear what I like because...I gotta be in the dress, so...'

Thursday, January 27, 2011

topless woman on golf course jab at Tiger's sex scandal?

Tiger Woods, who has just been through one of the biggest sex scandals in sports history, has been able to catch his breath now that he is no longer front page news. Just when he thought all was quiet, this topless woman surfaces as a reminder of the days that shook his world to the core? No one knows for sure, but one golf fan thinks this is why this woman's image was planted somewhere it should not have been!

Tiger Woods PGA PlayStation Golf game has created a topless avatar for one surprised player! Jo Eley said she “spent ages” creating her likeness in an avatar for the Tiger Woods PGA PlayStation game, just to have the woman, who looks very much like her, come out wearing only short shorts! This avatar was wearing golf shoes, glasses and swinging a golf club, but she was also topless, according to the Sun News.

Jo Eley, who is a big golf fan believes that it was Tiger Woods sex scandal that may have prompted a programmer to put the topless avatar into the game as a joke, according to the Sun. She believes the programer planted a "secret strip" in the game. She said she could not stop laughing and that she cannot get rid of the topless avatar, according to the sun.

To create her virtual self in this virtual world of golf, Jo Eley used the face mapping technology. The avatar does have a remarkable resemblance to Jo, in facial features, but the avatar was only partially dressed!

A spokesperson for the makers of the game, Electric Arts, believe that it was some type of hacker outside of their manufacturing plant that did this to the Tiger Woods game. They say it is impossible to create this topless avatar from their game in its original retail form.

Connecticut fans of Tiger Woods want to see him play this year in the Travelers Championship. This tournament, which is held in Cromwell Connecticut, is the only PGA tour stop in the Nutmeg State. Tiger has not made it to this tournament yet and year after year his fans are hopeful that this will change and Tiger will grace the greens of the Nutmeg State’s tournament with the rest of the pros! Maybe 2011 will be the year!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Poll: Most want Obama, GOP to work together

Americans overwhelmingly want to see cooperation, not confrontation, between President Obama and congressional Republicans as a new legislative year begins, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds — but they're not particularly optimistic about what they'll get.

One week before the president delivers his State of the Union Address, most of those surveyed don't expect the government to work better now that Republicans have won control of the U.S. House or Obama to do a better job now that he has had two years of experience in the White House under his belt.
Those expectations pose risks for the president and the GOP.

"They've got to find a way to thread the needle and agree on some major issues," says Steven Schier, a political scientist at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. Reducing the federal budget deficit, raising the nation's debt ceiling and repealing or revising the health care law loom as divisive debates ahead.
"The issues are big, the differences are large, and the way forward is unclear," Schier says.
Americans are looking for things to get done:

•Eighty percent say the president should work to pass legislation Democrats and Republicans can agree on, even if it's not what most Democrats want. Even 70% of Democrats polled feel that way.
•Eighty-three percent say it's extremely or very important for House Republicans to pass legislation that both parties can agree on. Even 77% of Republicans polled feel that way.

Still, 39% also say it is important for House Republicans to block legislation the GOP disagrees with, including 55% of Republicans. And 53% of Republicans say it's very important for GOP leaders to consider the goals of the Tea Party movement.

The poll of 1,032 adults taken Friday through Sunday has an error margin of 4 percentage points.

No one starts the year with glowing ratings.

Obama's job-approval rating is 47% — precisely where it was in early January — and his favorable rating is 53%, up a bit from recent months. House Speaker John Boehner's favorable rating is 42%, almost exactly where Democrat Nancy Pelosi stood when she became speaker four years ago. Sarah Palin's favorable rating dropped to 38%, the lowest since just after bursting onto the national scene as John McCain's running mate in 2008. In the wake of controversy over her response to the Tucson shooting, her unfavorable rating hit a new high, 53%.

While Americans say they want conciliation, deep divisions remain over how to proceed on the health care law passed last year. House leaders have scheduled a vote for Wednesday on repealing it.

One-third of those polled, 32%, want the law repealed entirely, and 25% say it should be scaled back. On the other side, 24% say the law should be expanded, and 13% say it should be kept as it is.

There is also significant support for a showdown over raising the debt limit, a step that may have to be taken by late March to keep the government out of default. Half say Congress should agree to raise it only if there is an agreement in place on reducing the deficit in the future. Just 16% say it should be raised in any case.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pet Tips: Passive Smoking Hazardous to Furry Friends

Cigarette smoking is not only bad for your health, it also affects the health of your pets. According to the American Lung Association of the Mountain Pacific, recent medical research shows that cats and dogs living with people who smoke risk developing cancer, allergies and other illnesses from secondhand smoke.
If you've been on the fence about giving up smoking for the New Year, the Seattle Humane Society urges you to consider these facts:
* There is an increased risk for animals because they not only inhale tobacco smoke, but also ingest the residue that collects on their fur.
* Puppies that eat multiple cigarette butts can die of nicotine poisoning.
* Cats exposed to frequent cigarette smoke are at least twice as likely to develop a fatal cancer called feline lymphoma.
* When grooming themselves, cats are likely to ingest nicotine residue which makes them susceptible to developing oral cancers commonly found in smokers.
* Similarly, secondhand smoking increases the risk of certain cancers in dogs. Dogs with longer noses are at an even greater risk of developing nasal and sinus cancer. Short nosed dogs risk developing lung cancer.
* Due to animal sensitivity to smell, all pets can have severe reactions to smoke particles in the air. Much like their human companions, animals can develop respiratory infections, eye irritation, lung inflammation and asthma as a result of secondhand smoke.