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The Tradition, Tiger and other golf tidbits

I’m not sure exactly how the dictionary defines tradition, but to me it’s usually something that has to do with an annual event involving the same place and people who have same modus operandi. In other words, it’s time-honored like Thanksgiving or Christmas.

That’s why I had to laugh just a little when it was announced this week that The Tradition, the Champions Tour major that began in 1989 at Desert Mountain Golf Club, was moving again for a fourth time. After spending 12 years in Scottsdale, one year in Gold Canyon and nine years in Portland, golf’s version of “The Changeling’’ is on its way to Birmingham, Ala., and infamous Shoal Creek Golf Club.

Yes, so much for tradition as The Tradition becomes The Regions Tradition – for the record the tournament’s fifth new name. Perfect, considering The Tradition has been known as the Champions’ “fifth major’’ ever since it left the Valley.

What a shame, really. When Tradition founder Lyle Anderson gave birth to the event in 1989 he patterned it after the Masters and he backed it up with a quality venue and digs and first-class amenities never seen before on the Champions Tour. It really did have all the elements of the real deal held annually at Augusta National. And if you needed more in the line of tradition(s), Jack Nicklaus won it a record four times.

But when The Tradition was moved from Desert Mountain to Superstition Mountain Golf & Country Club, it lost some of that major championship luster. It wasn’t because Superstition Mountain CC wasn’t a big-time venue, it was. The problem: It moved from Desert Mountain, where there had been, uh-hum, a tradition.

After one year and out in Gold Canyon due to Countrywide Home Loans pulling out as title sponsor, the tournament hit rock bottom in Portland, where people are more interested in kayaking than golf. I remember seeing a photo in Golf World showing the tournament’s grandstand and nobody – not one person – was in the seats.

That the third version of The Tradition went up against the city’s LPGA’s Safeway Classic this year (not to be confused with the Safeway International that also unceremoniously left Superstition Mountain) also was not good. But mostly it was just a bad move to a city that loves to play golf but won’t watch it.

So now the PGA Tour is crowing about the move to Birmingham and Shoal Creek, where it replaces another Champions event – the Regions Charity Classic – and comes to rest at a course that lost the 1990 PGA Championship due to its membership policy involving racial discrimination. Or have you forgotten about Hall Thompson and his fiery declaration over the club’s exclusion of blacks?

Yes, The Tradition has come a long way – from Arizona to Oregon to Alabama — but some might say it’s not exactly what Anderson originally envisioned. In fact, from this point of view, I think it’s time for a name change. How about something like, say, The Transition?

TIGER’S BIG “D’’

Don’t ever expect to learn the exact amount of money that Tiger Woods paid Elin Nordegren to end their tarnished marriage. Even though Greg Norman and Nick Faldo set the bar with their divorces costing them about $100 million each, guessing how much Woods paid out is just that – a giant guess.

Supposedly, there was a prenuptial agreement but that certainly went by the wayside once we learned that Woods had multiple affairs and that prescription drugs were involved. Oh, the stories the former Mrs. Woods probably could have told had there been no settlement, and so there was a peaceful but pricey end to it all.

Personally, I’m glad it’s over and that Woods can move on and hopefully recover his golf game. TV ratings have plunged 16 percent this year from an all-time low last year, and like him or not, Planet Golf needs Tiger Woods if it’s to stay on its axis.

More important than who got what, the divorce allows Woods and Nordegren to move on but still share parenting of their children. Hopefully, they’ll become the new role models for parents who get divorced because there certainly is a need in that ever-growing demographic.

Now the question becomes: Can Tiger get his groove back?  I’m betting he can even if his “real’’ name isn’t Eldrick Tiger Woods. That’s right, according to the divorce, the “T’’ after Eldrick stands for “Tont’’ not Tiger. Oh, man, who would have guessed?

CHIP SHOTS

Dina Ammaccapane is taking major heat over her treatment of a local caddie at last week’s Safeway Classic. According to the Portland Oregonian, Ammaccapane was offered caddie Cameron Kiyokawa but rejected him because he was too small.

“Do you have anyone bigger?’’ she was quoted as saying while the 5-foot-3, 115-pound Kiyokawa stood dumbfounded.

John Canzano, columnist for the newspaper, took Ammaccapane to task: “Thing is, he wouldn’t have been the smallest person on the course,’’ Canzano wrote. “That would have been Ammaccapane.’’

Yes, Dina, the little sister of Danielle Ammaccapane, can be pretty blunt at times, especially when she’s gone two seasons without making any money ($7,489 for 2009 and 2010). At the same time, I’ve always liked her and she had point, even if it was a small one. . . .

Speaking of the LPGA, the TV rules guy got Juli Inkster last week for using a training device – a weighted swing donut – during the third round of the Safeway Classic. Yes, viewers like to call in and get players DQed when they think they see a rules infraction. Personally, calling the shots from your couch ought to be a two-stroke penalty.

At the same time, wouldn’t you think the Hall of Famer would know better? . . .

And, finally, Golfweek reported that Matt Every has been suspended by the PGA Tour for three months for being in possession of marijuana. Apparently Every got caught with pot along with a couple of other guys as they exited a casino during a weekend binge that occurred during the  John Deere Classic.

The penalty means that Every  most likely will lose his card for next year, as he’s 144th on the money list and won’t be eligible for another event until the final tournament of the season. Seems like a harsh penalty for using a drug that’s in no way performance-enhancing.

Ask Every, who finished T-56 at the Deere.





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