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.