Phil Mickelson

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Posted by pompos 04/06/2009 @ 19:11

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News headlines
Captain Corey Pavin wants Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson to tee it ... -
Mickelson has also done a little saber-rattling, suggesting he would begin competing more on the European Tour in spite of the FedEx Cup system and in favor of the new European Tour Race for Dubai. The Wales Open also begins on June 4th, the same date...
Phil Mickelson s DVD offers tips on chipping and putting - San Jose Mercury News
By Eric Pinkela Earlier in his career, Phil Mickelson was approached about doing an instructional video. His answer was, "I'm not going to do an instructional video until I win a major. I don't have the credibility." Now that Mickelson has three major...
Phil Mickelson still has hope at Players Championship despite 11 ... - New York Daily News
Phil Mickelson birdied his final hole Friday at The Players Championship, making the cut on the number. And even though he's 11 shots back, Lefty still believes he can win the tournament. "I'm not frustrated yet," Mickelson said after poor putting left...
Phil Mickelson says he played well, but scored high - Chicago Tribune
Phil Mickelson has a memento from his Wednesday practice round with local legend Tim Tebow. "I remember he used my driver because there's a big mark on the top of it," Mickelson said. The driver was one of several clubs in Mickelson's bag that...
Brunswick golf goes airborne to avoid traffic jam - Greenwich Time
... of missing the biggest tournament of the year because of a major traffic jam on Interstate 95, several members of the Brunswick School golf team went to new heights this week to reach their match, one more befitting Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson....
No Tiger, but Nelson fans should have plenty to roar about - Dallas Morning News
2 Phil Mickelson and No. 9 Singh. Thirteen of the top 50 in the World Ranking – same as last year – committed. Dallas' Anthony Kim (No. 15) and England's Ian Poulter (No. 18) are the only other top-20 members in the field. Mickelson and Singh were...
Phil Mickelson, the anti-Tiger - News & Observer
Phil Mickelson shoots a 67. He's tied for second. Although their numbers are similar, their styles could not differ more. Tiger plays as if he and his caddy, and on occasion his playing partners, are the only humans that matter. He doesn't banter,...
Hot? John Daly. Not? Phil Mickelson. -
Phil. His best golf is as good as Tiger's best, but the Players graphically illustrated the difference between these two mega-talents. When Woods struggles he still grinds out a high finish; when Mickelson doesn't have his A-game he seems quite content...
What they said: Phil Mickelson - PGA Tour
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I mean -- yeah, I knew I had to make four to have a chance. I hit a good drive. I hit a good 3-wood on the green. I hit a good lag putt, made birdie. I struggled on the greens today. I hit the ball really well today....
Tour Twitters: Davis Love III, Christina Kim, Dave Pelz -
Short-game guru and advisor to Phil Mickelson, Dave Pelz caught the twitter bug this week, musing about both science and golf. Padraig Harrington on poor play: "It's an interesting game, playing bad at times is just the nature of it"....

Phil Mickelson


Philip Alfred Mickelson (born June 16, 1970) is an American professional golfer. He is one of the leading players of his generation, having won three major championships and a total of 36 events on the PGA Tour. He has reached a career high world ranking of 2nd in multiple years. He is nicknamed "Lefty" for his left-handed swing, even though he is otherwise right-handed.

Mickelson was born in San Diego, California and raised there and in Arizona. He swings a golf club left-handed, which he learned by watching his right-handed father swing and mirroring it. He is right-handed otherwise. He graduated from the University of San Diego High School in 1988, then attended Arizona State on a golf scholarship, where he graduated in 1992. During his time at Arizona State, he became the face of amateur golf in the United States, capturing three NCAA individual championships and three Haskins Awards (1990, 1991, 1992) as the outstanding collegiate golfer. He was the second collegiate golfer to earn first-team All-American honors all four years. In addition, in 1990, he became the first left-hander to win the U.S. Amateur title. Perhaps his greatest achievement, though, came in 1991 when he won his first PGA Tour tournament, the Northern Telecom Open. He did so as an amateur, becoming only the fourth in PGA history to accomplish this feat and the first since Scott Verplank, who won the 1985 Western Open in Chicago.

Mickelson continued to win many PGA Tour tournaments, including the Byron Nelson Golf Classic and the World Series of Golf in 1996, the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in 1998, the Colonial National Invitation in 2000 and the Greater Hartford Open in 2001 and again in 2002. He also won the Buick Invitational in 2000, defeating Tiger Woods and ending his streak of consecutive tournament victories at six. After his win, Mickelson said, "I didn't want to be the bad guy. I wasn't trying to end the streak per se. I was just trying to win the golf tournament." Mickelson also shot a round of 59 at the PGA Grand Slam of Golf at Poipu Bay Golf Course on November 24, 2004. Mickelson was known for his powerful full swing but even more so for his superlative short game, most of all his daring "Phil flop" shot in which a big swing with a high-lofted wedge against a tight lie flies a ball high into the air for a short distance.

Despite these accomplishments, for many years Mickelson was often described as the "best golfer never to win a major." Mickelson often played well in majors: in the five-year span between 1999 and 2003 he had six second-place or third-place finishes. But victory always eluded him, for reasons that were ascribed to taking too many risky shots, missing too many short putts, or a general lack of what it takes to close out a big tournament. Undaunted, Mickelson continued to refine his game and his course strategy and psychology.

Mickelson shares a record for the most second-place finishes in the U.S. Open with four (along with Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, and Jack Nicklaus).

According to a Sports Illustrated feature entitled "The Fortunate 50", Mickelson is the second-highest paid athlete in the world, behind Tiger Woods. In 2007, Mickelson earned $62 million, $53 million of it from endorsements. The same article estimated that he earned $51 million in 2006. In January 1994 Mickelson made a short cameo appearance in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman in the episode named "Witness".

Just prior to the 2004 Ryder Cup, Mickelson was dropped from his long standing contract with Titleist/Acushnet Golf when he took heat for a voicemail message he left for a Callaway Golf executive. In it, he praised their driver and golf ball and thanked them for their help in getting some equipment for his brother. This memo was played to all of their salesmen and eventually found its way back to Titleist. He was then let out of his multi-year deal with Titleist 16 months early and signed on with Callaway golf, his equipment sponsor to this day. He endured a great deal of ridicule and scrutiny from the press and fellow Ryder Cup members for his equipment change so close to the crucial Ryder Cup matches. He faltered horribly at the 2004 Ryder Cup going 1-3-0, but refused to blame the sudden change in equipment or his practice methods for his performance.

The following year, in a Monday final round, Mickelson captured his second career major championship with his victory at the 2005 PGA Championship at Baltusrol. On the 18th hole, Mickelson hit one of his trademark soft pitches from deep greenside rough to within a foot and a half of the cup, and then made his birdie to finish at a 4-under-par total of 276, one shot ahead of Steve Elkington and Thomas Bjørn. Mickelson captured his third major championship the following spring by winning the 2006 Masters. He won his second Green Jacket after shooting a 3 under par final round, winning by 2 strokes over his nearest rival Tim Clark. This win propelled him to 2nd place in the Official World Golf Rankings (his career best), behind Tiger Woods and ahead of Vijay Singh and Retief Goosen.

At the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, Mickelson finished second to Geoff Ogilvy after one of the most memorable final hole collapses in major championship golf. Coincidentally, Scottish golfer Colin Montgomerie also had a similar collapse on the 18th handing victory to Ogilvy. Mickelson, then leading by a stroke with one hole to play, chose to hit driver on the final (72nd) hole of the tournament, and hit it well left of the fairway. This decision was widely criticized since he had only hit two of thirteen fairways previously in the round. The ball bounced off a corporate hospitality tent and settled in an area of trampled down grass that was enclosed with trees. He decided to aggressively go for the green with his second shot rather than play it safe and pitch out into the fairway. His ball then hit a tree, with the following shot plugging into the greenside bunker. He was unable to get up and down from there, resulting in double bogey and costing him any chance of winning the championship outright or getting into a playoff (a bogey would have gotten him a playoff with Ogilvy), and also ending his bid to join Ben Hogan and Tiger Woods as the only players to win three consecutive professional majors (he had two heading into Winged Foot).

Reflecting on his performance afterwards Mickelson admitted: "I still am in shock that I did that. I just can't believe I did that. I'm such an idiot".

Demonstrating grace after even the toughest defeats, showing appreciation to legions of his fans and always honoring the traditions and history of the game has made Mickelson one of the most popular players ever to play on the Tour.

During the third round of the 2006 Ford Championship at Doral, Mickelson gave $200 to a spectator after his wayward tee shot at the par-5 10th broke the man's watch.

Mickelson has also shown other signs of appreciation. In 2007, after hearing the story of retired NFL player Conrad Dobler and his family on ESPN explaining their struggles to pay medical bills, Mickelson volunteered to pay for Conrad's daughter Holli's college education at Miami University in Ohio.

Frustrated with his driving accuracy, Mickelson made the decision in April 2007 to leave longtime swing coach Rick Smith. He currently works with Butch Harmon, a former coach of Tiger Woods.

On May 13, 2007, Mickelson came from a stroke back on the final round to shoot a three-under 69 to win The Players Championship with an 11-under-par 277. This Mother's Day win was his first without his wife and children present.

In the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont, after shooting 11 over par after 2 rounds, Mickelson missed the cut (by a stroke) for the first time in 31 majors, since the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie. He had been hampered by a wrist injury that was incurred while practicing in the thick rough at Oakmont a few weeks before the tournament.

On September 3, 2007, Mickelson won the Deutsche Bank Championship which is the second FedEx Cup playoff event. On the final day he was paired with Tiger Woods who ended up finishing 2 strokes behind Mickelson in a tie for second. It was the first time Mickelson was able to best Woods while paired together on the final day of a tournament. The next day Mickelson announced that he would not be competing in the third FedEx Cup playoff event. His withdrawal stemmed from a disagreement with PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem over issues Mickelson would not explain.

Mickelson has spent over 550 weeks in the top-10 of the Official World Golf Rankings, the most by anyone not ranked number one.

In a recent Men's Vogue article, Mickelson recounted his effort to lose 20 pounds with the help of sports trainer Sean Cochran. "Once the younger players started to come on tour, he realized that he had to start working out to maintain longevity in his career," Cochran said. Mickelson's regimen consisted of increasing flexibility and power, eating five smaller meals a day, aerobic training, and carrying his own golf bag.

Mickelson, paired with Tiger Woods, struggled mightily at the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. He even notched a quadruple bogey.

He won for the first time in 2009 by defending his title at the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club. He finished one stroke ahead of Steve Stricker. It was Mickelson's 35th win on tour, allowing him to surpass Vijay Singh for all time wins at the current time on the PGA Tour. A month later, he won his 36th title on the tour, and his first World Golf Championship win at the 2009 WGC-CA Championship with a one stroke win over Nick Watney.

Mickelson was inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 2008 as his heritage is Italian on his mother's side.

LA = Low Amateur DNP = did not play CUT = missed the half-way cut "T" = tied Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10.

1Cancelled due to 9/11 DNP = Did not play QF, R16, R32, R64 = Round in which player lost in match play "T" = tied NT = No Tournament Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10.

Being a very popular golfer as well as a successful one, Mickelson is able to earn far more from endorsements than he does in prize money. According to estimates by Fortune Magazine Mickelson's income for 2007 was over $51 million, with $47 million coming from endorsements.

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Official World Golf Rankings

The Official World Golf Rankings is a system for rating the performance level of male professional golfers. They were introduced in 1986 and are endorsed by the four major championships and the six professional tours which make up the International Federation of PGA Tours, namely the PGA Tour, the European Tour, the Asian Tour, the PGA Tour of Australasia, the Japan Golf Tour, and the Sunshine Tour. Points are also awarded for high finishes on the Canadian Tour, Nationwide Tour and Challenge Tour.

The initiative for the creation of the Official World Golf Rankings came from the Championship Committee of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, which found in the 1980s that its system of issuing invitations to The Open Championship on a tour by tour basis was omitting an increasing number of top players because more of them were dividing their time between tours, and from preeminent sports agent Mark McCormack, who was the first chairman of the International Advisory Committee which oversees the rankings. The system used to calculate the rankings was developed from McCormack's World Golf Rankings, which were published in his World of Professional Golf Annual from 1968 to 1985, although these were purely unofficial and not used for any wider purpose (such as inviting players to major tournaments).

The first ranking list was published prior to the 1986 Masters Tournament. The top six ranked golfers were: Bernhard Langer, Seve Ballesteros, Sandy Lyle, Tom Watson, Mark O'Meara and Greg Norman. Thus the top three were all European, but there were thirty-one Americans in the top fifty (compared with twelve at the end of 2008).

The method of calculation of the rankings has changed considerably over the years. Initially, the rankings were calculated over a three year period, with the current year's points multiplied by four, the previous year's points by two and the third year's points by one. Rankings were based on the total points and points awarded were restricted to integer values. All tournaments recognised by the world's professional tours, and some leading invitational events, were graded into categories ranging from major championship (whose winners would receive 50 points) to "other tournaments" (whose winners would receive a minimum of 8). In all events, other finishers received points on a diminishing scale that began with runners-up receiving 60% of the winners' points, and the number of players in the field receiving points would be the same as the points awarded to the winner. In a major, for example, all players finishing 30th to 40th would receive 2 points, and all players finishing 50th or higher, 1 point.

Beginning in April 1989, the rankings were changed to be based on the average points per event played instead of simply total points earned, subject to a minimum divisor of 60 (20 events per year). This was in order to more accurately reflect the status of some (particularly older) players, who played in far fewer events than their younger contemporaries but demonstrated in major championships that their ranking was artificially low. Tom Watson, for example, finished in the top 15 of eight major championships between 1987 and 1989, yet had a "total points" ranking of just 40th; this became 20th when the system changed to "average points". A new system for determining the "weight" of each tournament was also introduced, based on the strength of the tournament's field in terms of their pre-tournament world rankings. Major championships were guaranteed to remain at 50 points for the winners, and all other events could attain a maximum of 40 points for the winner if all of the world's top 100 were present. In practice most PGA Tour events awarded around 25 points to the winner, European Tour events around 18 and JPGA Tour events around 12.

In 1996, the three year period was reduced to two years, with the current year now counting double. Points were extended to more of the field, beginning in 2000, and were no longer restricted to integer values. Beginning in September 2001, the tapering system was changed so that instead of the points for each result being doubled if they occurred in the most recent 12 months, one eighth of the initial "multiplied up" value was deducted every 13 weeks. This change effectively meant that players could now be more simply described as being awarded 100 points (not 50) for winning a major. Beginning in 2007, the system holds the points from each event at full value for 13 weeks and then reduces them in equal weekly increments over the remainder of the two year period.

At first only the Championship Committee of the Royal and Ancient used the rankings for official purposes, but the PGA Tour recognized them in 1990, and in 1997 all five of the then principal men's golf tours did so. The rankings, which had previously been called the Sony Rankings, were renamed the Official World Golf Rankings at that time. They are run from offices in Virginia Water in Surrey, England.

Twelve players have been Official World No. 1. Seve Ballesteros took over from Bernhard Langer shortly after Langer had been the first ranking leader in 1986 and then vied with Greg Norman for the No.1 spot for three years, when Nick Faldo took over as Greg Norman’s main rival. Ian Woosnam and Fred Couples held the position at various times during 1991 and 1992 before Nick Faldo took over again until 1994, when Nick Price’s career year took him to No. 1. Greg Norman would return to the top ranking in 1995 and 1996, then after a single week at No. 1 by Tom Lehman, Tiger Woods dominated the position from 1997 to 2005 with brief interruptions from Ernie Els and David Duval. In September 2004 Vijay Singh became the twelfth World No. 1, and he and Woods swapped the position several times in 2005, but Woods eventually opened a wide lead. Woods' lead over his nearest rivals in the rankings in June 2008 was large enough that he remained number one at the end of that year, despite taking six months off following knee surgery. Woods holds the longest consecutive streak as No. 1 at 264 weeks.

Points are awarded on the basis of final positions in official money events on the qualifying tours. For each tour, a minimum number of points are available for each event. For most events the actual number of points available depends on the current rankings (top 200) of the participating golfers and the ranking of the top 30 golfers entered from the "home tour". Major championships have a fixed number of 100 points for the winner. In addition, most tours have a "premier event" that is guaranteed a much higher minimum point level.

The winners of the three individual events in the World Golf Championships series generally receive 70 to 78 points. The winner of most PGA Tour events gains a number of points in the range from 24 to the 70s, and most European Tour events offer a points tally between 24 and 50s for the winner. Before 2007 the official points allocations were half these levels, and they were initially doubled up to calculate weighted points. For example a major championship win carried 50 points for the winner, which was initially given a weighting of two, so the adjusted points tally was 100. This system, which was confusing and had no apparent advantages, was abandoned in mid 2007. Tournaments which are reduced to 54 holes by inclement weather or other factors retain full points, but if a tournament is reduced to 36 holes, its points allocation is reduced by 25%.

Each player's personal ranking is calculated from the ranking points he has obtained over the previous two years. Firstly, his points from all the tournaments he has played in are scaled down over a two year period. The full value of a tournament holds for 13 weeks, but from then on it is reduced in equal weekly increments over the remainder of the two year period, in order to give priority to recent form. The player's adjusted points are then totalled, and this total is divided by the number of ranking tournaments in which he has participated over the previous two years, subject to a minimum denominator of 40 tournaments. The resulting averages for all players are put into descending order to produce the ranking table. This means that the player who has obtained most cumulative success does not necessarily come top of the rankings: it is average performance levels that are important, and some golfers play substantially more tournaments than others. Players with full membership of one of the larger tours (that is, almost all players in the top few hundred in the rankings) usually play between 20 and 35 ranking tournaments each year, unless they are injured. New rankings are released every Monday.

A professional golfer's ranking is of considerable significance to his career. For example, a ranking in the World Top 50 explicitly grants automatic entry to four majors and the three World Golf Championships, see table below. Also, ranking points are the sole criterion for selection for the International Team in the Presidents Cup and one of the qualification criteria for the European Ryder Cup team - and playing in either of those tournaments gives a player an automatic two year exemption on the PGA Tour. The rankings are also used to help select the field for various other tournaments.

Note: The PGA Championship does not have an official automatic entry based on the Official World Golf Ranking but has invited those in the top 100 for the last several years. It makes note of its strong field by referencing the number of top 100 ranked golfers entered in its press releases.

The rankings are well known to those who follow men's professional golf and feature prominently in media coverage of the sport. When Vijay Singh temporarily ended Tiger Woods' record run as world number 1 in 2004 it was one of the most reported golf stories of the year.

These are the top 10 ranked golfers and their point tallies as of April 5, 2009.

Tiger Woods set the record for the highest Points Average on June 3, 2001, when he ended the week with an average of 32.44 (1459.64 points averaged over 45 events).

Tiger Woods also achieved the largest ever lead of 19.40 average points in the rankings on May 20, 2001. His lead was over then world number two Phil Mickelson following his victory at the Deutsche Bank - SAP Open TPC of Europe.

Ernie Els holds the record for most weeks in the World Top 10, with 758. He is followed by Greg Norman (646 weeks) and Tiger Woods (626 weeks).

These are the golfers who have topped the rankings, in order of the number of weeks they have spent at Number 1 up to April 5, 2009, at which date Tiger Woods was World Number 1. His current spell at the top of the rankings is his tenth. It began on June 12, 2005 when he regained first place from Vijay Singh.

Of these players Bernhard Langer and Seve Ballesteros would be most likely to gain additional weeks at number 1 if the rankings were backdated to before April 1986, with Ballesteros also being ranked number one in Mark McCormack's world golf rankings in 1983, 1984, and 1985, which were only published at the end of each year. Tom Watson was number one according to that system from 1978 to 1982. Jack Nicklaus was number one on those year-end rankings from 1968 to 1977 inclusive, and would have been likely to have been number one from around 1965 onwards if the McCormack rankings were backdated.

On a few occasions the ranking system has caused discussion about whether it has produced the "right" World Number One. This usually occurs when the number one ranked player has not won a major championship during the ranking period, while a rival has won more than one - notably in 1990, when Nick Faldo remained ranked just behind Greg Norman despite winning three majors in two years. On that occasion, as detailed in Mark McCormack's "World of Professional Golf 1991" annual, it was also the case (but less apparent) that Norman had won 14 events during the ranking period, to Faldo's 10, and when the two had competed in the same tournament, had finished ahead of his rival 19 times to 11. At the end of 1996 and 1997, Greg Norman also remained narrowly ahead of first Tom Lehman, and then Tiger Woods and Ernie Els, in the rankings, despite his rivals enjoying major victories in those years while he won none. In 1998, Woods himself finished the year ranked number one, after a season in which Mark O'Meara won two major titles while Woods won just once on the PGA Tour. When Vijay Singh won the PGA Championship in 2004 and with it took the number one ranking, the change served to highlight the fact that Woods had not won a major for over two years. Woods responded by winning the very next major, the 2005 Masters, and with it regained the number one spot. Following surgery to a knee injury in the summer of 2008, Woods missed the whole of the second half of the year, while Pádraig Harrington won two major championships, to add to the Open Championship he won in 2007. Despite earning no further ranking points during his absence, Woods remained as World number one on the ranking system in December 2008.

A breakdown of the year-end top-100 by nationality.

A breakdown of the year-end top-100 by eligibility for the major team competitions: Ryder Cup (USA vs. Europe) and Presidents Cup (USA vs. non-European international team).

See History section above for notes on changes to method of calculation.

Since 1996, the International Federation of PGA Tours has sanctioned a World Money List which is the total official money earned by a player on all member tours. It is computed in United States dollars. The yearly leaders are listed below.

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Masters Tournament

File:Masters logo.png

The Masters Tournament, also known as The Masters, or The U.S. Masters outside of the United States, is one of four major championships in men's professional golf. Scheduled for the first full week of April, it is the first of the majors to be played each year. Unlike the other major championships, the Masters is held each year at the same location, Augusta National Golf Club, a private golf club in the city of Augusta, Georgia, USA. The Masters was started by Clifford Roberts and Bobby Jones, who designed Augusta National with course architect Alister MacKenzie. The tournament is an official money event on the PGA Tour, the PGA European Tour, and the Japan Golf Tour. The field of players is smaller than those of the other major championships because it is an invitational event, entry being controlled by the Augusta National Golf Club.

The tournament has a number of traditions. A green jacket is awarded to the winner of each tournament, which must be returned to the clubhouse after a year. The Champions dinner, inaugurated by Ben Hogan, is held on the Tuesday before each tournament, and is only open to past champions and certain board members of the Augusta National Golf Club. Beginning in 1963 legendary golfers, usually past champions, have hit a honorary tee shot on the morning of the first round. Such golfers have included Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, and Arnold Palmer, who has hit the tee shot the last two years. Since 1960 a semi-social Par 3 Contest, on a par-3 course on Augusta National's grounds, has been played on the day before the first round of each Masters Tournament.

Jack Nicklaus has won more Masters Tournaments than any other golfer, winning six times between 1963 and 1986. Other multiple winners include Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods, with four apiece. Gary Player, from South Africa, was the first non-American player to win the tournament in 1961. The tournament organisers regularly extend the length and layout of the course to meet developments in equipment technology and player skill.

In accordance with typical golf tournament formatting, the Masters Tournament is a 72-hole tournament held over four days. It is held under the rules of golf, as defined by the United States Golf Association. The Masters is the first acknowledged major golf championship of the year, and since 1940 has been played so that the final round is always on the second Sunday of April.

Because the Masters has a relatively small field compared to other golf tournaments, the competitors play in groups of three for the first 36 holes on the first two days. After 36 holes have been played by all players, a "cut" is made to reduce the field. To "make the cut", players must be in one or both of the following categories: (1) within 44 places of the lead (ties counting) or (2) not more than 10 strokes behind the 36-hole score set by the leader. These rules have applied since the 1961 tournament; from 1957 to 1960 the best 40 scores and ties, and those within 10 strokes of the leader, made the cut. Before 1957 there was no 36-hole cut.

The total prize money for the 2008 tournament was $7,500,000, with $1,350,000 going to the winner. In the inaugural year, the winner Horton Smith received $1,000 out of a $5,000 purse. After Jack Nicklaus's first win in 1963, he received $20,000, while after his final victory in 1986 he won $144,000. In recent years the purse has grown quickly. Between 2001 and 2008, the winners share grew by $270,000, and the purse grew by $1,500,000.

In addition to a cash prize, the winner of the tournament is presented with a distinctive green jacket, awarded since 1949. The green sport coat is the official attire worn by members of Augusta National while on the club grounds; each Masters winner becomes an honorary member of the club. Winners keep their jacket for the first year after their first victory, then return it to the club to wear whenever they visit. The tradition began in 1949, when Sam Snead won his first of three Masters titles. The green jacket is only allowed to be removed from Augusta National by the reigning champion, after which it must remain at the club. The only exception to this rule is Gary Player, who refused to return his jacket after his 1961 victory, although he arguably followed the spirit of the rule, as he has stated that he has never worn the jacket.

By tradition, the winner of the previous year's Masters Tournament puts the jacket on the current winner at the end of the tournament. In 1966, Jack Nicklaus became the first player to win in consecutive years and he donned the jacket himself. When Nick Faldo (in 1990) and Tiger Woods (in 2002) repeated as champions, the chairman of Augusta National put the jacket on them.

There are several awards presented to players who perform exceptional feats during the tournament. The player who has the daily lowest score receives a crystal vase, while players who score a hole-in-one or a double eagle win a large crystal bowl. For each eagle a player makes they receive a pair of crystal goblets. The winner of the Par 3 competition, which is played the day before the tournament begins, wins a crystal bowl.

In addition to the green jacket, winners of the tournament receive a Gold Medal. They have their names engraved on the actual silver Masters trophy, introduced in 1961, which depicts the clubhouse. This trophy remains at Augusta National; since 1993 winners have received a sterling silver replica. The runner-up receives a Silver Medal, introduced in 1951. Beginning in 1978, a Silver Salver was added as an award for the runner-up.

In 1952 the Masters began presenting an award, known as the Silver Cup, to the lowest scoring amateur to make the cut. In 1954 they began presenting an amateur Silver Medal to the low amateur runner-up.

As with the other majors, winning the Masters gives a golfer several privileges which make his career more secure. Masters champions are automatically invited to play in the other three majors (the U.S. Open, the Open Championship, and the PGA Championship) for the next five years, and earn a lifetime invitation to the Masters. They also receive membership on the PGA Tour for the following five seasons and invitations to The Players Championship for five years.

Because the tournament was established by the amateur golfer Bobby Jones, the Masters has a tradition of honoring amateur golf. It invites winners of the most prestigious amateur tournaments in the world. Also, the current U.S. Amateur champion always plays in the same group as the defending Masters champion for the first two days of the tournament.

Since 1963 the custom in most years has been to start the tournament with an honorary opening tee shot at the first hole, typically by one of golf's legendary players. The original honorary starters were Jock Hutchison and Fred McLeod; this twosome led off every tournament from 1963 until 1973, when poor health prevented Hutchison from swinging a club. McLeod continued on until his death in 1976. Byron Nelson and Gene Sarazen started in 1981, and were then joined by Sam Snead in 1984. This trio continued until 1999 when Sarazen died, while Nelson discontinued in 2001. Snead hit his final opening tee shot in 2001, a year before he too died. In 2007, and again in 2008, Arnold Palmer took over as the honorary starter.

The Champions' dinner is held each year on the Tuesday evening preceding Thursday's first round. The dinner was first held in 1952, hosted by defending champion Ben Hogan, to honor the past champions of the tournament. At that time fifteen tournaments had been played, and the number of past champions was eleven (including Hogan). Officially known as the "Masters Club," it includes only past winners of the Masters, although selected members of the Augusta National Golf Club have been included as honorary members, usually the chairman. The defending champion, as host, selects the menu for the dinner. Over the years, one of the most notable dishes was haggis, served by Scotsman Sandy Lyle in 1989.

The Par 3 Contest was first introduced in 1960, and was won that year by Sam Snead. Since then it has been played traditionally on the Wednesday before the tournament starts. The par 3 course was built in 1958. It is a nine-hole course, with a par of 27, and measures 1,060 yards (969 m) in length. There have been 67 holes-in-one in the history of the contest, with a record five of them in 2002. No Par 3 Contest winner has also won the Masters in the same year. There have been several repeat winners, including Pádraig Harrington, Sandy Lyle and Sam Snead. The former two won in successive years. In this event, golfers may use their children as caddies, which helps to create a family-friendly atmosphere. In 2008, the event was televised for the first time by ESPN.

Before 1982 all players in the Masters were required to use the services of an Augusta National Club caddie, who by club tradition was always an African-American. Since then, players have been allowed the option of using their own caddie. The Masters requires caddies to wear a uniform consisting of a white jumpsuit, a green Masters cap, and white tennis shoes. The surname, and sometimes first initial, of each player is found on the back of his caddie's uniform. The defending champion always receives caddie number "1": other golfers get their caddie numbers from the order in which they register for the tournament.

The idea for Augusta National originated with Bobby Jones, who wanted to build a golf course after his retirement from the game. He sought advice from Clifford Roberts, who later became the Chairman of the club. They came across a piece of land in Augusta, Georgia, of which Jones said: "Perfect! And to think this ground has been lying here all these years waiting for someone to come along and lay a golf course upon it." Jones hired Alister MacKenzie to design the course, and work began in 1931. The course formally opened in 1933, but MacKenzie died before the first Masters Tournament was played.

The first "Augusta National Invitation" Tournament, as the Masters was originally known, began on March 22, 1934, and was won by Horton Smith. The present name was adopted in 1939. The first tournament was played with current holes 10 through 18 played as the first nine, and 1 through 9 as the second nine then reversed permanently to its present layout for the 1935 tournament.

Gene Sarazen hit the "shot heard 'round the world" in 1935, holing a shot from the fairway on the par 5 15th for a double eagle. This tied Sarazen with Craig Wood, and in the ensuing 36 hole playoff Sarazen was the victor by five strokes. The tournament was not played from 1943-45, due to World War II. To assist the war effort, cattle and turkeys were raised on the Augusta National grounds.

The Big Three of Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus dominated the Masters from 1960 through 1978, winning the event eleven times between them during that span. After winning by one stroke in 1958, Palmer won by one stroke again in 1960 in memorable circumstances. Trailing Ken Venturi by one shot in the 1960 event, Palmer made birdies on the last two holes to prevail. He would go on to win another two Masters in 1962 and 1964.

Jack Nicklaus emerged in the early 1960s, and served as a rival to the popular Palmer. Nicklaus won his first Green Jacket in 1963, defeating Tony Lema by one stroke. Two years later, he shot a then-course record of 271 (17 under par) for his second Masters win, leading Bobby Jones to say that Nicklaus played "a game with which I am not familiar." The next year, Nicklaus won his third green jacket in a grueling 18-hole playoff against Tommy Jacobs and Gay Brewer. This made Nicklaus the first player to win consecutive Masters. He won again in 1972, again by three strokes. In 1975, Nicklaus was locked in a duel with Tom Weiskopf and Johnny Miller. In one of the most exciting Masters to date, he claimed the victory by one stroke over his two challengers.

Gary Player became the first non-American to win the Masters in 1961 beating Arnold Palmer, the defending champion. In 1974 he won again by two strokes. After not winning a tournament for four years, and at the age of 42, Player won his third and final Masters in 1978 by one stroke over three players. Player currently shares (with Fred Couples) the record of making 23 consecutive cuts, and has played in a record 51 Masters.

In 1975, Lee Elder became the first African-American to qualify for the Masters, doing so fifteen years before Augusta National admitted its first black member.

Non-Americans collected eleven victories in twenty years in the 1980s and 1990s, by far the strongest streak they have had in any of the three majors played in the United States since the early days of the U.S Open. Jack Nicklaus became the oldest player to win the Masters in 1986 when he won for the sixth time at age 46.

During this period, no golfer suffered from the pressure of competing at Augusta more than Greg Norman. In 1987, Norman lost a sudden-death playoff to Larry Mize. Mize holed out a remarkable 45-yard pitch shot to birdie the second playoff hole and win the Masters. In 1996, Norman tied the course record with an opening round 63, and had a six stroke lead over Nick Faldo entering the final round. Norman shot a 78 while Faldo scored a 67 to win by five shots. Norman also suffered in 1986 when after birdieing four straight holes, and needing only a par to tie the leader, he badly pushed his approach to 18 and made bogey.

In 1997, Tiger Woods won the Masters by twelve shots at age 21, in the process breaking the tournament four-day scoring record that had stood for 32 years. Woods completed his "Tiger Slam", winning his fourth straight major championship at the Masters in 2001. The Masters was his again the next year, making him only the third player in history to win the tournament in consecutive years, as well as in 2005 when he defeated Chris DiMarco in a playoff for his first major championship win in almost three years.

More recently, the club was targeted by Martha Burk, who organized a failed protest at the 2003 Masters to pressure the club into accepting female members. Burk planned to protest at the front gates of Augusta National during the third day of the tournament, but was knocked back. A further appeal was also knocked back. In 2004, Burk stated that she had no further plans to protest against the club.

The 2003 tournament was won by Mike Weir, who became the first Canadian to win a major championship, and the first left-hander to win the Masters. The following year, another left-hander, Phil Mickelson, won his first major championship by making a birdie on the final hole to beat Ernie Els by a stroke.

As with many other courses, Augusta National's championship setup has been lengthened in recent years. In 1998, the course measured approximately 6925 yards (6332 m) from the Masters tees. It was lengthened to 7270 yards (6648 m) for 2002, and again in 2006 to 7445 yards; 520 yards (475 m) longer than the 1998 course. The changes attracted many critics, including the most successful players in Masters history, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Tiger Woods. Woods claimed that the "shorter hitters are going to struggle." Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson was unperturbed, stating, "We are comfortable with what we are doing with the golf course". After a practice round Gary Player defended the changes saying, "There have been a lot of criticisms, but I think unjustly so, now I've played it.... The guys are basically having to hit the same second shots that Jack Nicklaus had to hit ".

Originally, the grass on the putting greens was the wide-bladed Bermuda. The greens lost speed, especially during the late 1970s, after the introduction of a healthier strain of narrow-bladed Bermuda, which thrived and grew thicker, slowing the speed of the greens. In 1978, the greens on the Par-3 course were reconstructed with bentgrass, a narrow-bladed species that could be mowed shorter, eliminating grain. After this test run, the greens on the main course were replaced with bentgrass in time for the 1981 Masters. The bentgrass resulted in significantly faster putting surfaces, which has required a reduction in some of the contours of the greens over time.

Just before the 1975 tournament, the common beige sand in the bunkers was replaced with the now-signature white feldspar. It is a quartz derivative of the mining of feldspar and is shipped in from North Carolina.

CBS has televised the Masters in the United States every year since 1956, when it used six cameras and covered only the final four holes. Tournament coverage of the first 8 holes did not begin until 1993 because of resistance from the tournament organizers, but by 2006, over 50 cameras were used. USA Network added first- and second-round coverage in 1982, which was also produced by the CBS production team. The Masters is broadcast each year in high-definition television, one of the first golf tournaments to ever hold that distinction, and the early round coverage previously aired in that format on USA's sister network, Universal HD. In 2008, ESPN and ESPN HD replaced USA and Universal as the weekday coverage provider; coverage will continue to be jointly produced with CBS.

In 2005, CBS broadcast the tournament with high-definition fixed and handheld wired cameras, as well as standard-definition wireless handheld cameras. In 2006, a webstream called "Amen Corner Live" began providing coverage of all players passing through holes 11, 12 and 13 through all four rounds. This was the first full tournament multi-hole webcast from a major championship. In 2007, CBS added "Masters Extra," an hour's extra full-field bonus coverage daily on the internet, preceding the television broadcasts. In 2008, CBS added full coverage of holes 15 and 16 live on the web.

While Augusta National Golf Club has consistently chosen CBS as its U.S. broadcast partner, it has done so on successive one-year contracts. Due to the lack of long-term contractual security, as well as the club's limited dependence on broadcast rights fees (owing to its affluent membership), it is widely held that CBS allows Augusta National greater control over the content of the broadcast, or at least perform some form of self-censorship, in order to maintain future rights. The club, however, has insisted it does not make any demands with respect to the content of the broadcast.

There are some controversial aspects to this relationship. Announcers are required to refer to the gallery as "patrons" rather than spectators or fans, and use the term "second cut" instead of "rough". Announcers who have been deemed not to have acted with the decorum expected by the club have been removed, notably Gary McCord. There also tends to be a lack of discussion of any controversy involving Augusta National, such as the 2003 Martha Burk protests. However, there have not been many other major issues in recent years.

The club mandates minimal commercial interruption, currently limited to four minutes per hour (as opposed to the usual 12 or more). In the immediate aftermath of the Martha Burk controversy, there were no commercials during the 2003 and 2004 broadcasts, although international commercial broadcasters continued to insert their own commercials into the coverage. The Players Championship began imposing the same rule in 2007 and some of the other major championships have tried to follow suit.

The club also disallows promotions for other network programs, with the sole exception of an on-screen mention of 60 Minutes should the final round run long, or right before the coverage ends. Other broadcast material not allowed include sponsored graphics, blimps, on-course announcers, and the regular CBS sports graphics template. CBS and ESPN coverage as of 2008, use a variation on an older CBS graphics set with additional gradients for high-definition. When USA Network covered The Masters from 1982-2007, they used their regular graphics except that instead of blue and red, it was green and yellow. There is also typically no cut-in for other news and sports, either from CBS or its affiliates. It uses "Augusta" by Dave Loggins as theme music instead of the normal ESPN and CBS Sports golf music. USA Network's broadcasts of The Masters used a different version of "Augusta" with different instruments.

Significant restrictions have been placed on the tournament's broadcast hours compared to other major championships, perhaps to increase the tournament's Nielsen ratings, or to reward ticket-holders. Only in the 21st century did the tournament allow CBS to air 18-hole coverage of the leaders, a standard at the other three majors. Only three hours of cable coverage is scheduled for the early rounds. International broadcasters do not receive additional coverage, although they may take commercial breaks at different times from CBS or ESPN. The networks always stay past the allotted times until the end of live golf action on all four days, whereas on American television coverage of the other three majors (and The Players Championship) continues only until the end of a scheduled broadcast window on all days except Sunday or a Monday-finish.

Westwood One has provided live radio play-by-play coverage in the U.S. since 1956. This coverage can also be heard on the official Masters website. The station provides short two to three minute updates throughout the tournament, as well as longer three to four hour segments towards the end of the day.

The BBC has broadcast the Masters in the U.K. since 1986, and it also provides live radio commentary on the closing stages on Radio Five Live. With the 2007 launch of BBC HD, UK viewers can now watch the championship in that format. BBC Sport currently holds the TV and radio rights through 2010. The BBC's coverage airs without commercials because it is financed by a license fee. In Ireland, from 2008 Setanta Ireland will broadcast all four rounds live having previously broadcasted the opening two rounds with RTÉ broadcasting the weekend coverage.

Although tickets for the Masters are not expensive, they are incredibly hard to come by. Even the practice rounds can be difficult to get into. Applications for practice round tickets have to be made nearly a year in advance and the successful applicants are chosen by random ballot. Tickets to the actual tournament are sold only to members of a patrons list, which is closed. A waiting list for the patrons list was opened in 1972 and closed in 1978. It was reopened in 2000 and subsequently closed once again. In 2008, The Masters also began allowing children (between the ages of 8 and 16) to enter on tournament days for free if they are accompanied by an older patron.

The Masters has the smallest field out of the major championships at around ninety players. It is an invitational event, with invitations largely issued on an automatic basis to players who meet published criteria. The top fifty players in the Official World Golf Rankings are all invited.

Past champions are eligible to play in any edition, but since 2002 the Augusta National Golf Club has discouraged them from continuing to participate at an advanced age.

Most of the top current players will meet the criteria of multiple categories for invitation. The Masters Committee, at its discretion, can also invite any golfer(s) not otherwise qualified, although in practice these invitations are currently reserved for international players.

The first winner of the Masters Tournament was Horton Smith in 1934. He repeated his win in 1936. The current champion, winning in 2008, is Trevor Immelman, who won by three strokes from Tiger Woods. The player with the most Masters victory is Jack Nicklaus, who won six times between 1963 and 1986. Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods have each won four, and Jimmy Demaret, Gary Player, Sam Snead and Nick Faldo have three titles to their name. Gary Player also became the tournament's first overseas winner with his first victory in 1961. In recent years Phil Mickelson has won on two occasions. Other notable winners include Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan and Tom Watson, who have all won the Masters twice.

The number in parentheses indicates the number players involved in each playoff.

The youngest winner of the Masters is Tiger Woods, who was &0000000000000021.00000021 years, &0000000000000104.000000104 days old when he won in 1997. In this year Woods also broke the records for the widest winning margin (12 strokes), and the lowest winning score, with 270 (–18). Jack Nicklaus was &0000000000000046.00000046 years, &0000000000000082.00000082 days old when he won in 1986, making him the oldest winner of the Masters. Nicklaus is the record holder for the most top tens, with 22, and the most cuts made, with 37. Gary Player holds the record for most appearances, with 51. Player holds the record for the number of consecutive cuts made, with 23 between 1959 and 1982 (Player did not compete in 1973 due to illness). He shares this record with Fred Couples, who made his consecutive cuts between 1983 and 2007, not competing in 1987 and 1994. Nick Price and Greg Norman share the course record of 63, with their rounds coming in 1986 and 1996 respectively. This score is also a record for all major championships. The highest winning score of 289 (+1) has occurred three times: Sam Snead in 1954, Jack Burke, Jr. in 1956, and Zach Johnson in 2007.

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Ernie Els

Ernie Els shares a laugh during the practice round for the 2004 Buick Classic

Theodore Ernest "Ernie" Els (born 17 October 1969) is a South African golfer who has been one of the top professional players in the world since the mid-1990s. A former World No. 1, he is known as "The Big Easy", for his imposing physical stature (he stands 1.90 metres) along with his fluid, seemingly effortless golf swing.

Growing up just east of Johannesburg in Kempton Park, South Africa, he played rugby union, cricket, tennis, and, starting at age 8, golf. He was a skilled junior tennis player and won the Eastern Transvaal Junior Championships at age 13. Els learned the game of golf at the Kempton Park Country Club where he started carrying for his father, Neels. He was soon playing better than his father (and his older brother, Dirk), and by the age of 14 he was a scratch handicap. It was around this time that he decided to focus exclusively on golf.

Els married his wife Liezl in 1998 in Cape Town and they have two children, Samantha and Ben. In 2008 after Els started to display an "Autism Speaks" logo on his golf bag it was announced that their five year old son was autistic. Their main residence is at the Wentworth Estate near Wentworth Golf Club in the south of England. The family also has a home in Jupiter, Florida in order to get better treatment for Ben's autism.

Among Els numerous victories are three major championships: Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 at the Oakmont Country Club and 1997 (this time at the Congressional Country Club), and the The Open Championship in 2002.

Other highlights in Els' career include topping the 2003 and 2004 European Tour Order of Merit (money list), and winning the World Match Play Championship a record seven times. He has held the number one spot in the Official World Golf Rankings and has been consistently ranked in the top five. He has been in the top ten for over 750 weeks; nobody has been in the top ten longer. In 2003 he was voted 37th on the SABC3's Great South Africans. He won the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit in the 1991/92 and 1994/95 seasons.

Unlike most of his contemporaries, Els is known for his willingness to participate in tournaments all around the world (he regularly plays in European Tour-sanctioned events in Asia, Australasia, and his native country of South Africa). He says that his globe-trotting schedule is in recognition of the global nature of golf, but it has caused some friction with the U.S. PGA Tour, an organization that would prefer Els to play more tournaments in the United States. In late 2004, Tim Finchem, the director of the PGA Tour, wrote quite a firm letter to Els asking him to do so, but Els publicized and rejected this request. The PGA Tour's attitude caused considerable offense in the golfing world outside of North America.

In 1989 Els won the South African Amateur Stroke Play Championiship and turned professional the same year. Els won his first professional tournament in 1991 on the Southern Africa Tour (today the Sunshine Tour). In 1993 Els won his first tournament outside of South Africa at the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan. In 1994 Els won his first major championship at the U.S. Open. Els was tied with Colin Montgomerie and Loren Roberts after 72 holes and they went to a 18 hole playoff the next day. The play-off consisted of 18 holes of golf but Els and Roberts were still tied by the end with Els eventually prevailing on the second hole of sudden death.

Els brought his game all around the world in his young career winning the Dubai Desert Classic on the European Tour, and the Toyota World Match Play Championship defeating once again Colin Montgomerie four-and-two. The following year, Els defended his World Match Play Championship, defeating Steve Elkington three-and-one, won the Byron Nelson Classic in the United States then headed back home to South Africa and won twice more. In 1996 Els won his third straight World Match Play Championship over Vijay Singh three-and-one. No player in history had ever managed three successive titles in the one-on-one tournament. Els finished the year with a win at his home tournamnet at the South African Open.

1997 was a career year for Els first winning his second U.S. Open (once again over Colin Montgomerie) this time at Congressional Country Club, making him the first foreign player since Alex Smith (1906, 1910) to win the U.S. Open twice. He defended his Buick Classic title and added the Johnnie Walker Classic to his list of victories. Els nearly won the World Match Play Championship for a fourth consecutive year, but lost to Vijay Singh in the final. 1998 and 1999 continued to be successful years for Els with 4 wins on both the PGA and European tours. 2000 started in historic fashion for Els being given a special honour by the Board of Directors of the European Tour awarding him with honorary life membership of the European Tour because of his two U.S. Opens and three World Match Play titles. 2000 was the year of runner ups for Els; with three runner up finishes in the Majors (Masters, U.S. Open and The Open Championship) and seven second place finishes in tournaments worldwide. Els had a disappointing 2001 season, failing to win a US PGA tour event for the first time since 1994 although he ended the year with nine second place finishes.

2002 was arguably Els's best year which started with a win at the Heineken Classic at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club. Then went to America and outplayed World Number one Tiger Woods to lift the Genuity Championship title. The premier moment of the season was surely his The Open Championship triumph in very tough conditions at Muirfield. Els overcame a four man playoff to take home the famed Claret Jug for the first time, also quieting his critics about his mental toughness. The South African also took home his fourth World Match Play title, along with his third Nedbank Challenge in the last four years dominating a world class field winning by 8 shots.

2003 gave Els his first European Tour Order of Merit. Although playing less events than his competitors Els won four times and had three runner ups. He also performed well in the United States with back to back victories at the Mercedes Championship and Sony Open and achieved top 20 spots in all four majors including a fifth place finish at the U.S Open and sixth place finishes at both the Masters and PGA Championship. To top of the season Els won the World Match Play title for a record tying fifth time.

2004 was another successful year as Els won 6 times on both tours including big wins at Memorial, WGC-American Express Championship and his sixth World Match Play Championship, a new record. His success didn't stop there. Els showed amazing consistency in the Majors but lost to Phil Mickelson in the Masters when Mickelson birdied the 18th for the title, finished ninth in the U.S. Open after playing in the final group with friend and fellow countryman Retief Goosen and surprisingly losing in a playoff in the Open to the unknown Todd Hamilton. Els had a 14-foot put for birdie on the final hole of regulation for the championship, but Els missed the putt and lost in the playoff. Els ended the major season with a fourth place finish in the PGA Championship. In total Els had 16 top 10 finishes, a second European Order of Merit title in succession and a second place finish on the United States money list. 2004 was the start of the "Big Five Era" which is used in describing the era in golf where Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, and Phil Mickelson dominated the game of golf. The five switched up and down the top five positions in the World Golf Ranking; most notably Vijay Singh's derailing of Tiger Woods as the best golfer in the world. The five stayed, for the most part in the top five spots from 2004 till the start of 2007. Nine majors where won between them many fighting against each other head to head.

In July 2005, Els injured his left knee while sailing with his family in the Mediterranean. Despite missing several months of the 2005 season due to the injury, Els won the second event on his return, the Dunhill Championship.

At the start of the 2007 season Ernie Els laid out a three-year battle plan to challenge Tiger Woods as world number one. "I see 2007 as the start of a three-year plan where I totally re-dedicate myself to the game." Els told his official website.

Els has often been compared to Greg Norman in the sense that both men’s careers could be looked back on and think what could have been. Although the two of them are multiple major championship winners they have both shared disappointment in majors. Their disappointments have ranged from nerves, bad luck and simply being outplayed. 1996 was the year where Norman collapsed in the Masters and Els in the PGA Championship. Els has finished runner-up in six majors and most notably for his runner-up finishes to Tiger Woods. Els has finished runner-up to Woods more than any other golfer and has often been described as having the right game to finally be the golfer to beat Woods in a major.

On March 2, 2008, Els won the Honda Classic contested at PGA National's Championship Course in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Els shot a final round 67 in tough windy conditions, which was enough to give him the win by one stroke over Luke Donald. The win marked the end of a three and a half year long stretch without a win on the PGA Tour for Els. The win was his 16th PGA Tour victory of his career.

Els is represented by International Sports Management. When not playing, he has a golf course design business, a charitable foundation which supports golf among underprivileged youngsters in South Africa, and a highly-regarded wine-making business. Els has written a popular golf instructional column in Golf Digest magazine for several years.

On April 8, 2008, Els officially announced that he was switching swing coaches from David Leadbetter (whom Els had worked with since 1990) to Butch Harmon who has revamped the golf swings of many established pros (which started with Greg Norman). During Els 2008 Masters press conference Els said the change is in an effort to tighten his swing, shorten his swing, and get a fresh perspective.

Els's victories in The Open and the WGC-American Express Championship count as wins on both the PGA Tour and the European Tour. His two U.S. Opens do not count as European Tour wins because the three U.S. based majors did not become part of the European Tour's official schedule until 1998.

These figures are from the respective tour's official sites. Note that there is double counting of money earned (and wins) in the majors and World Golf Championships since they became official events on both tours.

DNP = did not play CUT = missed the half-way cut "T" = tied Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10.

1Cancelled due to 9/11 DNP = Did not play QF, R16, R32, R64 = Round in which player lost in match play "T" = tied WD = withdrew NT = No Tournament Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10.

He is also responsible for the refinement and modernisation of the West Course, Wentworth-Virginia Water, England, which took place in 2006.

The Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation was established in 1999. It has the objective of identifying youths which show talent and potential in the game of golf from under-privileged backgrounds. It provides educational assistance amongst other moral and financial help in order for these youths to reach their full potential.

The first Friendship Cup was played in 2006 which is a match play competition, played in a Ryder Cup type format. In the cup, Els's foundation plays against the foundation of Tiger Woods. Els's foundation won 12.5 points to 3.5 points.

Els has also participated several times in the Gary Player Invitational series of charity golf events, to assist friend Gary Player raise significant funds for underpriveledged children around the world.

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Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods giving a driving demonstration aboard the USS George Washington.

Eldrick Tont "Tiger" Woods (born December 30, 1975) is an American professional golfer whose achievements to date rank him among the most successful golfers of all time. Currently the World No. 1, he was the highest-paid professional athlete in 2008, having earned an estimated $110 million from winnings and endorsements.

Woods has won fourteen professional major golf championships, the second highest of any male player, and 66 PGA Tour events, third all time. He has more career major wins and career PGA Tour wins than any other active golfer. He is the youngest player to achieve the career Grand Slam, and the youngest and fastest to win 50 tournaments on tour.

Woods has held the number one position in the world rankings for the most consecutive weeks and for the greatest total number of weeks. He has been awarded PGA Player of the Year a record nine times, the Byron Nelson Award for lowest adjusted scoring average a record eight times, and has tied Jack Nicklaus' record of leading the money list in eight different seasons. He has been named Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year a record-tying four times, and is the only person to be named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year more than once.

Since his record-breaking win at the 1997 Masters Tournament, golf's increased popularity is attributed to Woods' presence. He is credited for dramatically increasing prize money in golf, generating interest in new audiences as the first black person to win the Masters, and for drawing the largest TV audiences in golf history.

Woods was born in Cypress, California to Earl (1932-2006) and Kultida (Tida) Woods (1944). He is the only child of their marriage but has two half-brothers, Earl Jr. (born 1955) and Kevin (born 1957), and one half-sister, Royce (born 1958) from the 18-year marriage of Earl Woods and his first wife, Barbara Woods Gray. Earl, a retired United States Army lieutenant colonel and Vietnam War veteran, was of mixed African American (50 percent), Chinese (25 percent) and Native American (25 percent) ancestry. Kultida (née Punsawad), originally from Thailand, is of mixed Thai (50 percent), Chinese (25 percent), and Dutch (25 percent) ancestry. This makes Woods himself one-quarter Chinese, one-quarter Thai, one-quarter African American, one-eighth Native American, and one-eighth Dutch. He refers to his ethnic make-up as “Cablinasian” (a portmanteau he coined from Caucasian, Black, (American) Indian, and Asian).

At birth, Woods was given "Eldrick" and "Tont" as first and middle names, respectively. His middle name, Tont, is a traditional Thai name. He got his nickname from a Vietnamese soldier friend of his father, Vuong Dang Phong, to whom his father had also given the "Tiger" nickname. He became generally known by that name and by the time he had achieved national prominence in junior and amateur golf, he was simply known as "Tiger" Woods. He grew up in Orange County, California and graduated from Western High School in Anaheim in 1994.

Woods is a Buddhist. He has said that his faith was acquired from his mother and that it helps control both his stubbornness and impatience.

In November 2003, Woods became engaged to Elin Nordegren, a Swedish model. They were introduced during The Open Championship in 2001 by Swedish golfer Jesper Parnevik, who had employed her as an au pair. They married on October 5, 2004 at the Sandy Lane resort on the Caribbean island of Barbados and live at Isleworth, a community in Windermere, a suburb of Orlando, Florida. They also have homes in Jackson, Wyoming, California, and Sweden. In January 2006, they purchased a $39 million residential property in Jupiter Island, Florida, which they intend to make their primary residence. Their Jupiter Island neighbors will include fellow golfers Gary Player, Greg Norman and Nick Price, as well as singers Celine Dion and Alan Jackson. In 2007, a guest house on the Jupiter Island estate was destroyed in a fire caused by lightning.

Early in the morning of June 18, 2007, Elin gave birth to the couple's first child, a daughter, Sam Alexis Woods, in Orlando. The birth occurred just one day after Woods finished tied for second in the 2007 U.S. Open. Tiger chose to name his daughter Sam because his father said that Tiger looked more like a Sam. On September 2, 2008, Woods announced on his website that he and his wife were expecting their second child. Five months later, it was announced that Elin had given birth to a boy, named Charlie Axel on February 8, 2009.

Woods was a child prodigy who began to play golf at the age of two. In 1978, he putted against comedian Bob Hope in a television appearance on The Mike Douglas Show. At age three, he shot a 48 over nine holes at the Navy Golf Club in Cypress, California, and at age five, he appeared in Golf Digest and on ABC's That's Incredible. In 1984 at the age of eight he won the 9–10 boys' event, the youngest age group available, at the Junior World Golf Championships. He went on to win the Junior World Championships six times, including four consecutive wins from 1988 to 1991.

While attending Western High School in Anaheim at the age of 15, Woods became the youngest ever U.S. Junior Amateur Champion, was voted Southern California Amateur Player of the Year for the second consecutive year, and Golf Digest Junior Amateur Player of the Year 1991. He successfully defended his title at the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, becoming the first multiple winner, competed in his first PGA Tour event, the Nissan Los Angeles Open and was named Golf Digest Amateur Player of the Year, Golf World Player of the Year and Golfweek National Amateur of the Year in 1992.

The following year, Woods won his third consecutive U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, and remains the event's youngest-ever and only multiple winner. In 1994, he became the youngest ever winner of the U.S. Amateur Championship, a record that stood until 2008 when it was broken by Danny Lee. He was a member of the American team at the 1994 Eisenhower Trophy World Amateur Golf Team Championships and 1995 Walker Cup. Later that year, he enrolled at Stanford University, and won his first collegiate event, the William Tucker Invitational. He declared a major in Economics and was nicknamed "Urkel" by his college teammates. In 1995, he defended his U.S. Amateur title, and was voted Pac-10 Player of the Year, NCAA First Team All-American, and Stanford's Male Freshman of the Year (an award that encompasses all sports). He participated in his first PGA Tour major, the Masters Tournament, and tied for 41st as the only amateur to make the cut. At age 20 in 1996, he became the first golfer to win three consecutive U.S. Amateur titles and won the NCAA individual golf championship. In winning the Silver Medal as leading amateur at The Open Championship, he tied the record for an amateur aggregate score of 281. He left college after two years and turned professional.

With the announcement, "Hello World," Tiger Woods became a professional golfer in August 1996, and signed endorsement deals worth $40 million from Nike, Inc. and $20 million from Titleist. He played his first round of professional golf at the Greater Milwaukee Open, tying for 60th place, but went on to win two events in the next three months to qualify for the Tour Championship. For his efforts, Woods was named Sports Illustrated's 1996 Sportsman of the Year and PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. He began his tradition of wearing a red shirt during the final round of tournaments, a link to his college days at Stanford and a color he believes symbolizes aggression and assertiveness.

The following April, Woods won his first major, The Masters, by a record margin of 12 strokes, becoming the youngest Masters winner and the first winner of African-American or Asian-American descent. He set a total of 20 Masters records and tied 6 others. He won another three PGA Tour events that year, and on June 15, 1997, in only his 42nd week as a professional, rose to number one in the Official World Golf Rankings, the fastest-ever ascent to world No. 1. He was named PGA Player of the Year, the first golfer to win the award the year following his rookie season.

While expectations for Woods were high, his form faded in the second half of 1997, and in 1998 he only won one PGA Tour event. He answered critics of his "slump" and what seemed to be wavering form by maintaining he was undergoing extensive swing changes with his coach, Butch Harmon, and was hoping to do better in the future.

In June 1999, Woods won the Memorial Tournament, a victory that marked the beginning of one of the greatest sustained periods of dominance in the history of men's golf. He completed his 1999 campaign by winning his last four starts — including the PGA Championship — and finished the season with eight wins, a feat not achieved in the past 25 years. He was voted PGA Tour Player of the Year and Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year for the second time in three years.

Woods started 2000 with his fifth consecutive victory and began a record-setting season, where he would win three consecutive majors, nine PGA Tour events, and set or tie 27 Tour records. He went on to capture his sixth consecutive victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am with a comeback for the ages. Trailing by seven strokes with seven holes to play, he finished eagle-birdie-par-birdie for a 64 and a two-stroke victory. His six consecutive wins were the most since Hogan in 1948 and only five behind Byron Nelson’s record of eleven in a row. In the 2000 U.S. Open, he broke or tied a total of nine U.S. Open records with his 15-shot win, including Old Tom Morris's record for the largest victory margin ever in a major championship, which had stood since 1862, and became the Tour's all-time career money leader. He led by a record 10 strokes going into the final round, and Sports Illustrated called it "the greatest performance in golf history." In the 2000 Open Championship at St Andrews, which he won by eight strokes, he set the record for lowest score to par (−19) in any major tournament, and he holds at least a share of that record in all four major championships. At 24, he became the youngest golfer to achieve the Career Grand Slam.

Woods's major championship streak was seriously threatened at the 2000 PGA Championship, however, when Bob May went head-to-head with Woods on Sunday at Valhalla Golf Club. Woods played the last twelve holes of regulation seven under par, and won a three-hole playoff with a birdie on the first hole and pars on the next two. He joined Ben Hogan (1953) as the only other player to win three professional majors in one season. Three weeks later, he won his third straight start on Tour at the Bell Canadian Open, becoming only the second man after Lee Trevino in 1971 to win the Triple Crown of Golf (U.S., British, and Canadian Opens) in one year. Of the twenty events he entered in 2000, he finished in the top three fourteen times. His adjusted scoring average of 67.79 and his actual scoring average of 68.17 were the lowest in PGA Tour history, besting his own record of 68.43 in 1999 and Byron Nelson's average of 68.33 in 1945, respectively. He was named the 2000 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, becoming the first (and only) athlete to be honored twice. Woods was ranked as the twelfth best golfer of all time by Golf Digest magazine just four years after he turned professional.

The following season, Woods continued dominating. His 2001 Masters Tournament win marked the only time within the era of the modern Grand Slam that any player has been the holder of all four major championship titles at the same time, a feat now known as the "Tiger Slam." It is not viewed as a true Grand Slam, however, because it was not achieved in a calendar year. Surprisingly, he was not a factor in the three remaining majors of the year, but finished with the most PGA Tour wins in the season, with five. In 2002, he started off strong, joining Nick Faldo (1989-90) and Jack Nicklaus (1965-66) as the only men to have won back-to-back Masters Tournaments.

Two months later, Woods was the only player under par at the U.S. Open, and resurrected buzz about the calendar Grand Slam, which had eluded him in 2000. All eyes were on Woods at the Open Championship, but his third round score of 81 ended Grand Slam hopes. At the PGA Championship, he nearly repeated his 2000 feat of winning three majors in one year, but bogeys at the thirteenth and fourteenth holes in the final round cost him the championship by one stroke. Nonetheless, he took home the money title, Vardon Trophy, and Player of the Year honors for the fourth year in a row.

The next phase of Woods's career saw him remain among the top competitors on the tour, but lose his dominating edge. He did not win a major in 2003 or 2004, falling to second in the PGA Tour money list in 2003 and fourth in 2004. In September 2004, his record streak of 264 consecutive weeks as the world's top-ranked golfer came to an end at the Deutsche Bank Championship, when Vijay Singh won and overtook Woods in the Official World Golf Rankings.

Many commentators were puzzled by Woods's "slump," offering explanations that ranged from his rift with swing coach Butch Harmon to his marriage. At the same time, he let it be known that he was again working on changes to his swing, this time in hopes of reducing the wear and tear on his surgically repaired left knee, which was subjected to severe stress in the 1998-2003 version of his swing. Again, he anticipated that once the adjustments were complete, he would return to his previous form.

In the 2005 season, Woods quickly returned to his winning ways. He won the Buick Invitational in January and in March he outplayed Phil Mickelson to win the Ford Championship at Doral and temporarily return to the Official World Golf Rankings number one position (Singh displaced him once again two weeks later). In April, he finally broke his "drought" in the majors by winning the 2005 Masters Tournament in a playoff, which regained him the number one spot in the World Rankings. Singh and Woods swapped the #1 position several times over the next couple of months, but by early July Woods had reclaimed the top spot for good, propelled further by a victory at the 2005 Open Championship, a win that gave him his 10th major. He went on to win six official money events on the PGA Tour in 2005, topping the money list for the sixth time in his career. His 2005 wins also included two at the World Golf Championships.

For Woods, the year 2006 was markedly different from 2005. While he began just as dominantly (winning the first two tournaments he entered on the year) and was in the hunt for his fifth Masters championship in April, he never mounted a Sunday charge to defend his title, allowing Phil Mickelson to claim the green jacket.

Then, on May 3, 2006, Woods's father/mentor/inspiration, Earl, died after a lengthy battle with prostate cancer. Woods took a nine-week hiatus from the PGA Tour to be with his family. When he returned for the 2006 U.S. Open, the rust was evident — he missed the cut at Winged Foot, the first time he had missed the cut at a major as a professional, and ended his record-tying streak of 39 consecutive cuts made at majors. Still, a tie for second at the Western Open just three weeks later showed him poised to defend his Open crown at Hoylake.

At the 2006 Open Championship, Woods staged a tour de force in course management, putting, and accuracy with irons. Using almost exclusively long irons off the tee (he hit driver only one time the entire week — the 16th hole of the first round), he missed just four fairways all week (hitting the fairway 92 percent of the time), and his score of −18 to par (three eagles, nineteen birdies, 43 pars, and seven bogeys) was just one off of his major championship record −19, set at St Andrews in 2000. The victory was an emotional one for Woods, who dedicated his play to his father's memory.

Four weeks later at the 2006 PGA Championship, Woods again won in dominating fashion, making only three bogeys, tying the record for fewest in a major. He finished the tournament at 18-under-par, equaling the to-par record in the PGA that he shares with Bob May from 2000. In August 2006, he won his 50th professional tournament at the Buick Open — and at the age of thirty years and seven months, he became the youngest golfer to do so. He ended the year by winning six consecutive PGA Tour events, and won the three most prestigious awards given by the PGA Tour (Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Byron Nelson Awards) in the same year for a record seventh time.

At the close of his first eleven seasons, Woods's 54 wins and 12 major wins had surpassed the all time eleven-season PGA Tour total win record of 51 (set by Byron Nelson) and total majors record of 11 (set by Jack Nicklaus). He was named Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year for a record-tying fourth time.

Woods and tennis star Roger Federer, who share a major sponsor, first met at the 2006 U.S. Open tennis final. Since then, they have attended each other's events and have voiced their mutual appreciation for each other's talents.

Woods began 2007 with a two-stroke victory at the Buick Invitational for his third straight win at the event and his seventh consecutive win on the PGA Tour. The victory marked the fifth time he had won his first tournament of the season. With this win, he became the third man (after Jack Nicklaus and Sam Snead) to win at least five times in three different events on the PGA Tour (his two other events are the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and WGC-CA Championship). He earned his second victory of the year at the WGC-CA Championship for his third consecutive and sixth win overall at the event. With this victory, he became the first player to have three consecutive victories in five different events.

At the 2007 Masters Tournament, Woods was in the final group on the last day of a major for the thirteenth time in his career, but unlike the previous twelve occasions, he was unable to come away with the win. He finished tied for second two strokes behind winner Zach Johnson.

Woods earned his third victory of the season by two strokes at the Wachovia Championship, the 24th different PGA Tour tournament he has won. He has collected at least three wins in a season nine times in his 12-year career. At the U.S. Open, he was in the final group for the fourth consecutive major championship, but began the day two strokes back and finished tied for second once again. His dubious streak of never having come from behind to win on the final day of a major continued.

In search of a record-tying third consecutive Open Championship, Woods fell out of contention with a second-round 75, and never mounted a charge over the weekend. Although his putting was solid (he sank a 90-footer in the first round), his iron play held him back. "I wasn't hitting the ball as close as I needed to all week," he said, after he finished tied for twelfth, five strokes off the pace.

In early August, Woods won his record 14th World Golf Championships event at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational by 8 strokes for his third consecutive and sixth victory overall at the event. He became the first golfer to win the same event three straight times on two different occasions (1999-2001) and (2005-2007). The following week, he won his second straight PGA Championship by defeating Woody Austin by two strokes. He became the first golfer to win the PGA Championship in back-to-back seasons on two different occasions: 1999-2000 and 2006-2007. He became the second golfer, after Sam Snead, to have won at least five events on the PGA Tour in eight different seasons.

Woods earned his 60th PGA Tour victory at the BMW Championship by shooting a course record 63 in the final round to win by two strokes. He sank a fifty-foot putt in the final round and missed only two fairways on the weekend. He led the field in most birdies for the tournament, and ranked in the top five in driving accuracy, driving distance, putts per round, putts per green, and greens in regulation. Woods finished his 2007 season with a runaway victory at the Tour Championship to capture his fourth title in his last five starts of the year. He became the only two-time winner of the event, and the champion of the inaugural FedEx Cup. In his 16 starts on Tour in 2007, his adjusted scoring average was 67.79, matching his own record set in 2000. His substantial leads over the second, third, and fourth players were similar in 2000 (1.46 (Phil Mickelson), 1.52 (Ernie Els), 1.66 (David Duval)) and 2007 (1.50 (Els), 1.51 (Justin Rose), 1.60 (Steve Stricker)).

Woods started the 2008 season with an eight-stroke victory at the Buick Invitational. The win marked his 62nd PGA Tour victory, tying him with Arnold Palmer for fourth on the all time list. This marked his sixth victory at the event, the sixth time he has begun the PGA Tour season with a victory, and his third PGA Tour win in a row. The following week, he was trailing by four strokes going into the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic, but made six birdies on the back nine for a dramatic one-stroke victory. He took home his 15th World Golf Championships event at the Accenture Match Play Championship with a record-breaking 8 & 7 victory in the final.

In his next event, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Woods got off to a slow start, finishing the first round at even par and tied for 34th place. After finishing the third round in a five-way tie for first place, he completed his fifth consecutive PGA Tour victory with a dramatic 24-foot putt on the 18th hole to defeat Bart Bryant by a stroke. It was also his fifth career victory in this event. Geoff Ogilvy stopped Woods's run at the WGC-CA Championship, a tournament Woods had won in each of the previous three years. He remains the only golfer to have had more than one streak of at least five straight wins on the PGA Tour.

Despite bold predictions that Woods might again challenge for the Grand Slam, he would never mount a serious charge at the 2008 Masters Tournament, struggling with his putter through each round. He would still finish alone in second, three strokes behind the champion, Trevor Immelman. On April 15, 2008, he underwent his third left knee arthroscopic surgery in Park City, Utah, and missed two months on the PGA Tour. The first surgery he had was in 1994 when he had a benign tumor removed and the second in December 2002. He was named Men's Fitness's Fittest Athlete in the June/July 2008 issue.

Woods returned for the 2008 U.S. Open in one of the most anticipated golfing groupings in history between him, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott, the top three golfers in the world. Woods struggled the first day on the course, notching a double bogey on his first hole. He would end the round at +1 (72), four shots off the lead. He scored -3 (68) his second day, still paired with Mickelson, managing 5 birdies, 1 eagle and 4 bogeys. On the third day of the tournament, he started off with a double bogey once again and was trailing by 5 shots with six holes to play. However, he finished the round by making 2 eagle putts, a combined 100 feet (30 m) in length, and a chip-in birdie to take a one shot lead into the final round. His final putt assured that he would be in the final group for the sixth time in the last eight major championships.

Woods' absence from the remainder of the season caused PGA Tour TV ratings to decline. Overall viewership for the second half of the 2008 season saw a 46.8 percent decline as compared to 2007.

Touted as "one of the most anticipated returns in sports," Woods returned to the PGA Tour after an eight month layoff at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Despite a first round victory, he succumbed to Tim Clark in the second round. Woods first stroke play event was the WGC-CA Championship at Doral where he finished 9th (-11). Woods won his first title of the year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he was five strokes behind Sean O'Hair entering the final round. Woods shot a final round 67 and made a 16 foot birdie putt at the final hole to defeat O'Hair by one stroke.

When Woods first joined the professional tour in 1996, his long drives had a large impact on the world of golf. However, when he did not upgrade his equipment in the following years (insisting upon the use of True Temper Dynamic Gold steel-shafted clubs and smaller steel clubheads that promoted accuracy over distance), many opponents caught up to him. Phil Mickelson even made a joke in 2003 about Woods using "inferior equipment" (meaning outdated technology), which did not sit well with either Nike, Titleist or Woods. During 2004, Woods finally upgraded his driver technology to a larger clubhead and graphite shaft, which, coupled with his prodigious clubhead speed, made him one of the Tour's lengthier players off the tee once again.

Despite his power advantage, Woods has always focused on developing an excellent all-around game. Although in recent years he has typically been near the bottom of the Tour rankings in driving accuracy, his iron play is generally accurate, his recovery and bunker play is very strong, and his putting (especially under pressure) is possibly his greatest asset. He is largely responsible for a shift to higher standards of athleticism amongst professional golfers, and is known for putting in more hours of practice than most.

Early in his professional career, Woods worked almost exclusively with leading swing coach Butch Harmon, with whom he started in 1993, but since March 2004, he has been coached by Hank Haney. In June 2004, Woods was involved in a media spat with Harmon, who works as a golf broadcaster, when Harmon suggested that he was in "denial" about the problems in his game, but they publicly patched up their differences.

While Woods is considered one of the most charismatic figures in golfing history, his approach is, at its core, cautious. He aims for consistency. Although he is better than any other Tour player when he is in top form, his dominance comes not from regularly posting extremely low rounds, but instead from avoiding bad rounds. He plays fewer tournaments than most professionals (15–21 per year, compared to the typical 25–30), and focuses his efforts on preparing for (and peaking at) the majors and the most prestigious of the other tournaments. His manner off of the course is cautious as well, as he carries himself in interviews and public appearances with a carefully controlled demeanor reminiscent of the corporate athlete persona developed between Nike and Michael Jordan.

Woods has won 66 official PGA Tour events, an additional 22 individual professional titles, owns two team titles in the two-man World Golf Championships-World Cup, and won the inaugural FedEx Cup playoffs. He has successfully defended a title 22 times on the PGA Tour, has finished runner-up 24 times, third place 17 times, and has won 29% (66 out of 225) of his professional starts on the PGA Tour. He has hit a combined total eighteen holes-in-one in the course of his lifetime — his first at the age of six. He has a 31-6 record when leading after 36 holes in Tour events, and a 44–3 record when leading after 54 holes. He is 14-0 when going into the final round of a major with at least a share of the lead, and he has never lost any tournament when leading by more than one shot after 54 holes. He has been heralded as "the greatest closer in history" by multiple golf experts. He owns the lowest career scoring average and the most career earnings of any player in PGA Tour history.

Woods has been the PGA Player of the Year a record nine times, the PGA Tour Money Leader a record-tying eight times (with Jack Nicklaus), the Vardon Trophy winner a record seven times, and the recipient of the Byron Nelson Award a record eight times. He has spent over ten years atop the world rankings in his 13-year career. He is one of five players (along with Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player) to have won all four professional major championships in his career, known as the Career Grand Slam, and was the youngest to do so. Bobby Jones won all four of what were in his era considered major championships. Woods is the only player to have won all four professional major championships in a row, accomplishing the feat in the 2000-2001 seasons. His win at the 2005 Open Championship made him only the second golfer (after Nicklaus) to have won all four majors more than once. With his win in the 2008 U.S. Open, Woods joins Nicklaus as the only golfers to win each major at least three times. He holds at least a share of the scoring record in relation to par in all four majors, and also holds the margin of victory record in two majors, The Masters and the U.S. Open.

At the 2003 Tour Championship, Woods set the all-time record for most consecutive cuts, starting in 1998, with 114 (passing Nelson's previous record of 113) and extended this mark to 142 before it ended on May 13, 2005 at the EDS Byron Nelson Championship. Many consider this to be one of the most remarkable golf accomplishments of all time, given the margin by which he broke the old record (and against stronger fields in terms of depth than those in Nelson's day) and given that during the streak, the next longest streak by any other player was usually only in the 10s or 20s. With his victory at the 2006 WGC-American Express Championship, he became the first player in PGA Tour history to win at least eight times in three seasons. His victory in the Buick Invitational in January 2007 placed him 2nd for the longest PGA Tour win streak at 7 straight, trailing only Byron Nelson's streak of 11 wins in 1945.

At the 2008 Arnold Palmer Invitational, Woods became the first golfer to win four PGA Tour events five or more times. In winning the U.S. Open in 2008, he became only the sixth person to win it three or more times, the first person to win a PGA Tour tournament on the same course seven times, and the first person to win two tournaments at the same golf course in the same season.

When Woods turned pro, Mike "Fluff" Cowan was his caddie until March 8, 1999. He was replaced by Steve Williams, who has become a close friend of Woods and is often credited with helping him with key shots and putts.

LA = Low amateur DNP = Did not play WD = Withdrew CUT = Missed the half-way cut "T" = Tied Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10.

Woods has established several charitable and youth projects.

Woods has also participated in charity work for his current caddy, Steve Williams. On April 24, 2006 Woods won an auto racing event that benefited the Steve Williams Foundation to raise funds to provide sporting careers for disadvantaged youth.

Woods has written a golf instruction column for Golf Digest magazine since 1997, and in 2001 wrote a best-selling golf instruction book, How I Play Golf, which had the largest print run of any golf book for its first edition, 1.5 million copies.

Woods announced on December 3, 2006 that he will develop his first golf course in the United Arab Emirates through his golf course design company, Tiger Woods Design. The Tiger Woods Dubai will feature a 7,700-yard (7,000 m), par-72 course named Al Ruwaya (meaning "serenity"), a 60,000-square-foot (6,000 m2) clubhouse, a golf academy, 320 exclusive villas and a boutique hotel with 80 suites. Tiger Woods Dubai is a joint venture between Woods and Tatweer, a member of the government-affiliated Dubai Holding. Woods chose Dubai because he was excited about the "challenge of transforming a desert terrain into a world-class golf course." The development is scheduled to be finished in late 2009 at Dubailand, the region's largest tourism and leisure project.

On August 14, 2007, Woods announced his first course to be designed in the U.S., The Cliffs at High Carolina. The private course will sit at about 4,000 feet (1,200 m) in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, North Carolina.

In early 2009, reports emerged that Woods had plans to create a resort styled on South Africa's Sun City resort in the town of Kariba in Zimbabwe costing US$608 million.

Woods has been called the world's most marketable athlete. Shortly after his 21st birthday in 1996, he began signing numerous endorsement deals with companies including General Motors, Titleist, General Mills, American Express, Accenture and Nike, Inc.. In 2000, he signed a 5-year, $105 million contract extension with Nike. It was the largest endorsing deal ever signed by an athlete at that time.

Woods's endorsement has been credited in playing a significant role in taking the Nike Golf brand from a "start-up" golf company earlier in the past decade, to becoming the leading golf apparel company in the world and a major player in the equipment and golf ball market. Nike Golf is one of the fastest growing brands in the sport, with an estimated $600 million in sales. Woods has been described as the "ultimate endorser" for Nike Golf, frequently seen wearing Nike gear during tournaments and even in advertisements for other products. Woods receives a cut from the sales of Nike Golf apparel, footwear, golf equipment and golf balls and has a building named after him at Nike’s headquarters campus in Beaverton, Oregon.

In 2002, Woods was involved in every aspect of the launch of Buick's Rendezvous SUV. A company spokesman stated that Buick is happy with the value of Wood's endorsement, pointing out that more than 130,000 Rendezvous vehicles were sold in 2002 and 2003. "That exceeded our forecasts," he was quoted as saying. "It has to be in recognition of Tiger." In February 2004, Buick renewed Woods's endorsement contract for another five years, in a deal reportedly worth $40 million.

Woods collaborated closely with TAG Heuer to develop the world's first professional golf watch, released in April 2005. The lightweight, titanium-construction watch, designed to be worn while playing the game, incorporates numerous innovative design features to accommodate golf play. It is capable of absorbing up to 5,000 Gs of shock, far in excess of the forces generated by a normal golf swing. In 2006, the TAG Heuer Professional Golf Watch won the prestigious iF product design award in the Leisure/Lifestyle category.

Woods also endorses the Tiger Woods PGA Tour series of video games; he has done so from 1999 up to 2007 and it is likely that he will continue to do so.

In February 2007, along with Roger Federer and Thierry Henry, Woods became an ambassador for the "Gillette Champions" marketing campaign. Gillette did not disclose financial terms, though an expert estimated the deal could total between $10 million and $20 million.

In October 2007, Gatorade announced that Woods will have his own brand of sports drink starting in March 2008. "Gatorade Tiger" marks his first U.S. deal with a beverage company and his first licensing agreement. Although no figures were officially disclosed, Golfweek magazine reported that it was for five years and could pay him as much as $100 million.

According to Golf Digest, Woods made $769,440,709 from 1996 to 2007, and the magazine predicts that by 2010, Woods will become the world's first athlete to pass one billion dollars in earnings.

On August 20, 2006, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver announced that Woods would be inducted into the California Hall of Fame. He was inducted December 5, 2007 at The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts in Sacramento.

Although Woods usually avoids politics, in January 2009 he spoke at We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial.

In both Nelson's and Woods's eras, "making the cut" has been defined as receiving a paycheck. However, in Nelson's day, only players who placed in the top 20 in an event won a paycheck whereas in Woods's day only players who reach a low enough score within the first 36 holes win a paycheck. Several golf analysts argue that Woods did not actually surpass Nelson's consecutive cuts mark, reasoning that 31 of the tournaments in which Woods competed were "no-cut" events, meaning all the players in the field were guaranteed to compete throughout the entire event regardless of their scores through 36 holes (and hence all "made the cut," meaning that they all received a paycheck). These analysts argue that this would leave Woods's final consecutive cuts made at 111, and Nelson's at 113.

However, at least ten of the tournaments in which Nelson played did not have modern-day cuts; that is, all of the players in these events were guaranteed to compete past 36 holes. The Masters, for example, did not institute a 36-hole cut until 1957 (which was well after Nelson retired), the PGA Championship was match play until 1958 and it is unclear whether or not three other events in which Nelson competed had 36-hole cuts. Therefore, these analysts remove "no 36-hole cut" events from both cut streak measures, leaving Nelson's consecutive cuts made at 103 (or possibly less) and Woods's at 111.

In the tournaments in which Nelson competed that did not have 36-hole cuts (that is: the Masters, PGA Championship and the possible 3 other tournaments), only the top 20 players received a paycheck even though all players in these events were guaranteed to compete past 36 holes. Hence, in these no-cut events, Nelson still placed in the top 20, so Nelson's 113 cuts made are reflective of his 113 top 20 finishes. Woods achieved a top 20 finish 21 consecutive times (from July 2000 to July 2001) and, in the 31 no-cut events in which he played, he won 10 and finished out of the top 10 only five times. Others, including Woods himself, argue that the two streaks cannot be compared, because the variation of tournament structures in the two eras is too great for any meaningful comparison to be made.

Early in Woods's career, a small number of golf experts expressed concern about his impact on the competitiveness of the game and the public appeal of professional golf. Sportswriter Bill Lyon of Knight-Ridder asked in a column, "Isn't Tiger Woods actually bad for golf?" (though Lyon ultimately concluded that he was not). At first, some pundits feared that Woods would drive the spirit of competition out of the game of golf by making existing courses obsolete and relegating opponents to simply competing for second place each week.

A related effect was measured by economist Jennifer Brown of the University of California, Berkeley who found that other golfers played worse when competing against Woods than when he was not in the tournament. The scores of highly skilled (exempt) golfers are nearly one stroke higher when playing against Woods. This effect was larger when he was on winning streaks and disappeared during his well-publicized slump in 2003–04. Brown explains the results by noting that competitors of similar skill can hope to win by increasing their level of effort, but that, when facing a "superstar" competitor, extra exertion doesn't significantly raise one's level of winning while increasing risk of injury or exhaustion, leading to reduced effort.

Many courses in the PGA Tour rotation (including Major Championship sites like Augusta National) began to add yardage to their tees in an effort to slow down long hitters like Woods, a strategy that became known as "Tiger-Proofing." Woods himself welcomed the change as he believes adding yardage to the course does not affect his ability to win.

Woods has had minimal success in the Ryder Cup. In his first Ryder Cup in 1997, he earned only 1½ points competing in every match and partnering mostly with Mark O'Meara. Costantino Rocca defeated Woods in his singles match. In 1999, he earned 2 points over every match with a variety of partners. In 2002, he lost both Friday matches, but, partnered with Davis Love III for both of Saturday's matches, won two points for the Americans, and was slated to anchor the Americans for the singles matches, both squads going into Sunday with 8 points. However, after the Europeans took an early lead, his match with Jesper Parnevik was rendered unimportant and they halved the match. In 2004, he was paired with Phil Mickelson on Friday but lost both matches, and only earned one point on Saturday. With the Americans facing a 5-11 deficit, he won the first singles match, but the team was not able to rally. In 2006, he was paired with Jim Furyk for all of the pairs matches, but they only won one point. Woods won his singles match, one of only three Americans to do so that day.

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Sergio García

SergioGarciaTPCChampion2008 1.jpg

Sergio García (born 9 January 1980) is a Spanish professional golfer who plays on both the United States PGA Tour and the European Tour. He has spent much of his career in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings (over 250 weeks between 2000 and 2008). He reached a career high ranking of two after winning the HSBC Champions tournament in November 2008.

García began playing golf at the age of three and was taught by his father, Vitor. He was a star player as a junior, winning his club championship at age 12. Four years later, he set a record as the youngest player to make the cut at a European Tour event, the 1995 Turespana Open Mediterranea. This record was broken by amateur Jason Hak in November 2008 at the UBS Hong Kong Open, beating García's record by 107 days. Also in 1995, García became the youngest player to win the European Amateur. In 1998, he won the British Amateur.

García turned professional in 1999 after shooting the lowest amateur score in the 1999 Masters Tournament. His first title on the European Tour came in his sixth start as a professional at the Irish Open. He first achieved worldwide prominence with a duel against Tiger Woods in the 1999 PGA Championship, where he eventually finished second. Late in the final round, García hit his most famed shot: with his ball up against a tree trunk and the green hidden from view, he swung hard with his eyes shut and hit a low curving fade that ran up onto the green. As the shot traveled, he sprinted madly into the fairway and then scissor-kick jumped to see the result. Shortly aferwards he became the youngest player ever to compete in the Ryder Cup.

García won his first PGA Tour tournament at the 2001 MasterCard Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas and then won again at the Buick Classic the same year. In 2002, he won the Mercedes Championships, and in 2004, he won the EDS Byron Nelson Championship and the Buick Classic for the second time. His sixth PGA Tour victory came at the 2005 Booz Allen Classic. He also plays a limited schedule on the European Tour, where he has won nine times.

García was a member of the European Ryder Cup team in 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008 and holds an impressive career record at the Ryder Cup of 14-3-3. As three of his appearances have resulted in overall victories, his input in the team has proved invaluable. He had risen into the top five of the Official World Golf Rankings, but after an inconsistent 2006 season, he dropped out of the top 10.

In the 2006 Ryder Cup, at the K Club in Ireland, García won both his fourball and foursome matches (with José María Olazábal and Luke Donald, respectively) on day one, beating David Toms and Brett Wetterich in the fourballs and Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk in the foursomes. On day two, he paired up with Olazábal again, who won both their matches against Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco in both the foursomes and fourballs. Going into the final day in the singles, García was heavily tipped to be the first person to win all their matches in one Ryder Cup; however, Stewart Cink beat him 4 and 3. Europe won the cup again, with 18½ points to the United States' 9½ points.

After missing the cut of the first two major championships in 2007, García found success at The Open Championship - his favorite of the four majors - at Carnoustie Golf Links. He held the lead after each one of the first three rounds and carried a 3-shot lead over Steve Stricker and a 6-shot lead over the rest of the field into the start of the fourth day. At an early stage of the last round, he had extended the lead to 4 shots, but bogeys at the 5th, the 7th, and the 8th holes brought him back to the field. On the final challenging hole, he needed a par to win, but failed to get up and down from the greenside bunker. The last putt on the 18th hole on Sunday would have given him his first professional major. He missed it by a fraction and faced a playoff with Pádraig Harrington that he eventually lost by one stroke. In his post-round news conference, García seemed to suggest that bad breaks had cost him the championship. During the playoff, on the 16th hole, his tee shot hit the flag stick but then bounced 20 feet from the pin, and García could not convert for birdie. " It's not the first time, unfortunately," he stated. "I don't know... I'm playing against a lot of guys out there, more than the field." In the 2007 PGA Championship, he was disqualified after signing an incorrect scorecard after the third round.

On 11 May 2008, García won The Players Championship on the PGA Tour in a playoff against Paul Goydos. On the first playoff hole, the 17th, Goydos hit a pitching wedge that ballooned and fell inches short of the green and into the water, while García played a sand wedge to within four feet of the hole. Goydos made double bogey while García made par for the win. At the 2008 PGA Championship, he narrowly missed out winning his first professional major championship yet again. Like the 2007 Open Championship, Pádraig Harrington was able to erase a García lead on the back nine for the championship. García would finish two strokes back for his second runner-up finish at the PGA Championship. He did not make many mistakes during his final round, but his second shot on the 16th found the water which cost him sole ownership of the lead. Regarding another near-miss in a major championship, García stated, "I felt like I responded well, and he was obviously very good on the back nine, and things just happened his way." On 26 October 2008, he won his first European Tour title in over three years, at the first playing of the Castelló Masters Costa Azahar at his home course, the Club de Campo del Mediterráneo in Castellón, Spain. With this win, he rose to a career high of third in the Official World Golf Rankings. He dedicated the victory to compatriot Seve Ballesteros, who was recovering from multiple operations on a brain tumor. He won the 2008 HSBC Champions, the opening event on the 2009 European Tour season on 9 November 2008 in a playoff over Oliver Wilson. This win notched him up to a career high second in the Official World Golf Rankings, replacing Phil Mickelson in that spot, who ironically won the HSBC Champions in 2007.

A bachelor, he drives a Ferrari 360 Modena "quickly" and a Jaguar XJR. One of his most notable ex-girlfriends is former world number-one tennis player Martina Hingis, who helped him cope with the emotional side of the game. He has also had an on-and-off relationship with Greg Norman's daughter, Morgan-Leigh Norman, a graduate of Boston College; as of October 2008, the two are dating again.

Additionally, he keeps a close friendship with the Uruguayan football player Diego Forlán. They first met in Castellón when the latter was playing for the nearby La Liga club Villarreal. More recently, he has developed a close rapport with young Colombian star golfer Camilo Villegas, with the two often dining together at night and ribbing one another in both English and Spanish by day while on tour.Also, Garcia has a close friendship with world tennis number 1 Rafael Nadal.

García also plays the new TaylorMade TP Red LDP ball. Under the leadership of Senior Director of R&D Dean Snell, a golf ball scientist whose name is on many of Acushnet's patents relating to the Pro V1, TaylorMade worked closely with tour pros to develop the original TP Red and Black golf balls, and García reported being a big participant in the development process. There is also unofficial video documentation of a press conference where Snell speaks on the new TP balls while García demonstrates some shots.

LA = Low Amateur DNP = did not play CUT = missed the half way cut DQ = disqualified "T" indicates a tie for a place. Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10.

1Cancelled due to 9/11 DNP = Did not play QF, R16, R32, R64 = Round in which player lost in match play "T" = tied NT = No Tournament Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10.

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Source : Wikipedia