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Golf notebook: PGA Tour returns to Alabama

GolfPGA TourTiger WoodsRory McIlroyPGA ChampionshipClubs and AssociationsRyder Cup

The Sports Xchange

By Tom LaMarre, The Sports Xchange

Golf notebook: PGA Tour returns to Alabama

--The PGA Tour will play a tournament in Alabama next year for the first time since the 1990 PGA Championship at Shoal Creek in Birmingham.

The Barbasol Championship will be contested on the Lake Course at Grand National on the Robert Trent Golf Trail in Opelika, Ala., next July. Tournament officials announced that they signed a four-year contract.

"I hope this is the start of a long relationship between Alabama, the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail and the PGA," Gov. Robert Bentley said a news conference at the state capitol in Montgomery.

The tournament, which will be an opposite-field event played the same week as the Open Championship at St. Andrews, is expected to have an economic impact of about $25 million for the state, Bentley added.

The state Tourism Department will provide $200,000 to $250,000 to help stage the event, tourism director Lee Sentell said, and the purse will be $3.5 million.

The Lake Course is one of three courses at Grand National, part of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

It is possible the Barbasol Championship could move to one of the other RTJ courses during the initial four-year run of the event, said Andy Pazder, executive vice president and chief of operations for the PGA Tour.

Pazder said about 70 PGA Tour players usually play in the Open Championship, which would leave 130 available for the Barbasol Championship.

The Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Miss., was held the week of the Open Championship in recent years, but it is being moved to November beginning this year, Padzer said.

The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail hosts two LPGA Tour events, the Airbus LPGA Classic at Magnolia Grove Golf Club in Mobile, and the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic at Capitol Hill in Prattville.

--Tiger Woods left Valhalla after missing the cut in the PGA Championship thinking he still might be able to play for the United States in the Ryder Cup next month, and he told Captain Tom Watson exactly that.

Watson said Woods remained on his radar, but then Tiger returned home to Florida and his doctors told him that several weeks of rest and rehabilitation were needed to heal a muscular back injury unrelated to his March 31 surgery.

Woods subsequently told Watson and the PGA of America that he was taking himself out of consideration for one of Watson's three captain's picks for the Ryder Cup squad.

"I've been told by my doctors and trainer ... not to play or practice now," Woods said in a release. "I'm extremely disappointed that I won't be ready for the competition. The U.S. team and the Ryder Cup mean too much to me not to be able to give it my best. I'll be cheering for the U.S. team. I think we have an outstanding squad going into the matches."

Woods hopes to return in December for the World Challenge, which benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation.

--Alison Lee of UCLA, the top-ranked college player in the nation, was one of three players chosen to represent the United States in the Women's World Amateur Team matches Sept. 3-6 at Karuizawa 72 Golf East in Karuizawa, Japan.

Lee, a 19-year-old from Valencia, Calif., garnered All-America honors in her freshman year at UCLA and earned the first Annika Award as women's college player of the year. She will be joined by joined on the U.S. team by Emma Talley, a junior at Alabama from Princeton, Ky., and 16-year-old Kristen Gillman, 16, of Austin, Texas, who recently won the Junior PGA Championship and the U.S. Women's Amateur on consecutive weeks.

"I am so proud of Kristen, Alison and Emma for their accomplishments both on and off the golf course," said Daniel B. Burton, USGA vice president and chairman of the international team selection committee. "They represent the very best in the game, and we are honored to have them join the likes of Paula Creamer, Beth Daniel, Juli Inkster, Jessica Korda and Nancy Lopez as USA Women's World Amateur Team players."

Two other UCLA players will represent their countries in the World Amateur Team event, junior Louise Ridderstrom playing for Sweden and sophomore Bronte Law with Great Britain.

South Korea has won the biennial event the last two times it was played. The Americans have not won since 1998, but they have captured the Espirito Santo Trophy a record 13 times.

--Rory McIlroy committed earlier this year to play in the Open, which will start the 2014-15 season on the PGA Tour in October, but now he will be unable to make it.

By winning the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool and the PGA Championship at Valhalla, he qualified for the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda, which begins the day after the final round of the Fry's at Silverado Country Club in Napa, Calif.

So McIlroy, No. 1 in the World Golf Rankings, deferred his commitment to the tournament by one year.

"Fry's congratulates Rory on his victories and looks forward to him playing next year," Fry's tournament president Duke Butler said in a release. "We are going to have an outstanding tournament this year, with many well-known professionals competing at Silverado."

McIlroy is one of eight players who received a waiver from the PGA Tour to participate in the 2012 Turkish Airlines Open, an unsanctioned event that was held opposite the Open.

As part of the waiver, each player agreed to play in the California-based event at least once in the following three years, a window that will end in 2015.

McIlroy's manager contacted tournament officials to indicate that the 25-year-old would not be playing this fall, and McIlroy sent a letter confirming his intention to play in the event in 2015.

The Fry's was first played at Cordevalle Golf Club in San Martin, Calif., in 2010, but it is moving to Silverado this fall, when Jimmy Walker will defend his title on Oct. 9-12.

--Ted Potter Jr. hoped to climb into the top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings and qualify for the PGA Tour playoffs that start this week, but now he hopes to miss only about three months because of a broken ankle.

Potter, whose only PGA Tour victory came in the 2012 Greenbrier Classic, was injured when he landed wrong while stepping off curb last month in Montreal, where he was playing in the RBC Canadian Open.

"I slipped on a curb, rolled my ankle and busted it up pretty good," Potter told the Ocala Star Banner of the injury, which required surgery.

Doctors inserted plates and screws in the ankle and told Potter he probably will not be able to swing a club for three months.

Potter's two-year exemption for winning the Greenbrier expires next month. He was 146th in the FedEx Cup standings, hoping that good results in the Barracuda Championship and the Wyndham Championship would put him in the playoffs.

Not only will he be unable to retain his PGA Tour playing card, Potter also will be unable to play in the Tour finals that begin later this month.

Potter has his past champion status as a last resort, but he hopes the PGA Tour will grant him a minor medical exemption.

He believes February is the earliest he will be ready for competitive golf.


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