Golf

Local golf notes: Players say Woods' absence will affect the Tour

GREER

The last time Kevin Johnson played on the PGA Tour, in 2001, Tiger Woods was concluding his "Tiger Slam" of professional golf's four majors by winning that year's Masters.

In January, when the 42-year-old former Clemson All-American begins his second shot at golf's highest level, it will be without Woods, who said he will take an indefinite leave from golf in the wake of revelations about his marital infidelities.

"He's been the fact of the tour," Johnson said. "The PGA Tour's image has been the highest of any sport. It's bad timing, but I'm sure he and we will get through it."

Johnson laughed. "I guess I'll become the face of the tour," he said, stroking his scruffy beard. "I might have to shave first."

Johnson's reaction to the Woods drama was typical among PGA Tour players attending the Tiger Golf Gathering, Clemson's annual fundraiser, at Thornblade Club on Thursday and Friday. Most called Woods' departure and his marital discord "a personal matter," but agreed there will be fallout for others, too.

"I think it will impact the game a lot," former Columbia resident Jonathan Byrd said. "Whenever he's not playing, it hurts our tour, point-blank, no question."

U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover has been closest to Woods among the Clemson players. He played a week ago in Woods' Chevron World Challenge, which Woods did not attend.

"It's a personal thing for him and his family," Glover said. "He's my friend, and I hope we get to see him soon. I hope it gets worked out."

Glover said it might take a while to see the impact of Woods' absence since he seldom plays early in the year.

"I hope it doesn't impact anything too much, because he's done us a lot of favors," Glover said. "We need him out there, we want him back, but he doesn't need to be out there until personal life is settled."

Byrd said Woods' position in golf is unique. "It's hard to relate, because I've never been under the same temptations," he said. "A lot of people think they want Tiger Woods' life, but it's a lot harder than it seems.

"I'm sad for the guy, his wife and kids. I hope he can work it out and save his marriage. ... But I think it definitely will hurt our tour."

Tigers' home. Clemson's golf team has a name for its in-progress clubhouse. Next up: making the Larry B. Penley Jr. Golf Facility a reality.

Construction is to begin in May on the three-story, 6,600-square-foot home for Penley's team, with completion expected to take a year. More than $750,000 has been raised toward the $1.5 million-$2 million project.

Penley said plans are for the clubhouse to be "a showcase for our past successes." One of the show items will be Glover's bag from his U.S. Open victory in June.

"We have a really neat place (planned) in the clubhouse to put it," Penley said. "There'll be a railing between the first and second floors where all our (former players') Tour bags will go. Lucas' bag might have its own area."

Sanders, Boyd honored. Former University Club (now Cobblestone Park) professional Curt Sanders and former Charleston resident Bob Boyd captured player and senior player of the year honors from the Carolinas PGA Section.

Former Columbia resident Larry Boswell (Jamestown, N.C.) was named senior associate player of the year. The trio will be honored Feb. 21 at the CPGA awards ceremony at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

Chip shots. Spartanburg lawyer Doug Smith was elected as president of the S.C. Golf Association, after serving as vice president in 2008-09. Camden's Vic Hannon was chosen as secretary. Locals named to the 13-member executive board were Columbia's Ron Swinson and John Durst, Blythewood's David Dupre and Jeff Connell, and Aiken's Tom Wyatt, Jeff Howell and John Roy. ... Dr. Morris Pickens, PGA Tour mental coach whose clients include Glover, British Open champion Stewart Cink and 2007 Masters winner Zach Johnson, will conduct a workshop at 2 p.m. on Dec. 20 at Charwood CC for the Irmo Chapin Winter Youth Golf Tour. The tour includes 16 area courses and is open to ages 7-18. USC golf coach Bill McDonald will conduct a clinic today at 3 p.m. at Charwood. Call (803) 772-3336 or (803) 345-6181.

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