Tiger Woods Has a New Girlfriend 0 4

(JUPITER, Fla.) March 22, 2011 — Tiger Woods has a new girlfriend, Alyse Lahti Johnston, stepdaughter of Alastair Johnston, a big shot at IMG, Woods’ management agency, the New York Post reported. Tiger has known Ms. Johnston, now a 22-year-old MBA student,  since she was 7.

Like his super-model ex-wife, Ellen Nordegren, Johnston is blonde. She’s also athletic. She was a volleyball player at University of New Hampshire.

The New York Post also reported that Nordegren recently bought a $12 million home in North Palm Beach, about 10 miles from Woods’ new mansion in Jupiter, Fla.

–Dan Vukelich

Elsewhere …

Tiger will give golf lessons to kids in South Korea when he visits there next month, according to a Malaysian news agency. …

When the ground shakes: In the quake-jittery Philippines, they’ve designated four golf courses as evacuation centers thanks to the open space they provide, a Filipino news agency reported. …

When a lot is not enough: Donald Trump says he wants a helipad at his Trump National Golf Club in Colts Neck, N.J., but he’ll need local zoning approval, says the Asbury ParkPress. …

Santa Ana anniversary: To celebrate its 20th birthday, Santa Ana Golf Club, which opened as Valle Grande Golf Course in spring 1991, is offering a $45 online-only Friday rate through April that includes cart. More.

Golf, Tovarich? If you mention you’ve played PGA National, be prepared to explain whether it’s the one in Florida or Russia. Braemer Golf is getting ready to break ground on PGA National Russia, along the Ivankovskoye reservoir adjoining the Volga River, 54 miles from Moscow. The course opens in summer 2012.

Free fittings and trade-up: PGA and LPGA professionals will offer free club fitting and trade-ups through April, sponsored by Nike. Click here for the list of participating pros near you.

Is it just me? Or did I get confused by the Branch Law Firm’s advertising profile of UNM Lobo golfer Sam Chavez on Page 2 of the sports section of the March 22 Albuquerque Journal. It says Chavez, grandson of organizer Cesar Chavez, played for Arkansas his freshman and sophomore years, came to the Lobos (as a junior), and quotes him as saying he’ll turn pro during his senior year. Putting a stopwatch to that timetable has him in town long enough to gas up at the Love’s Truck Stop on Interstate 40 before he moves on.

… And speaking of UNM … Does anyone see the disconnect in the threat to close the UNM Championship Golf Course because it loses a couple hundred thousand dollars a year while UNM is willing to spend $3 million to $4 million on a new Lobo baseball stadium. Why a new ballpark? Because, they say, so few fans attend Lobo games played at Isotopes Park that the team loses its home-field advantage. As Harry Carey would say, Holy Sacred Cow!

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Ewart Wins Euro Ladies Tour Qualifier 0 6

(MURCIA, SPAIN) Jan. 20, 2011 — Former Lobo golfer Jodi Ewart won the Q School event to gain full status on the 2012 Ladies European Tour. She had already won full status on LPGA Tour.

Ewart claimed first place in the Euro qualifier on Thursday in Murcia, Spain, finishing five rounds on the La Manga North and South courses at 11-under, edging Swiss amateur Anais Maggetti by two shots. Ewart, 24, held the top spot for the final four rounds.

“I mean, fourth on the LPGA and now winning the LET; it’s a pretty good off-season if you ask me,” the Yorkshire, England, native said. “It feels good and I’m really looking forward to this year.”

Ewart heads home to Florida before beginning her inaugural LPGA Tour season Feb. 9, at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in Victoria, Australia.

The interview below was shot by us as she finished her Lobo golf career.

— Dan Vukelich

PING CEO: Change the Golf Ball, Save the Courses 0 4

(PHOENIX) Jan. 3, 2012 –The chairman and CEO of Ping says three different balls should be approved by rule-makers — one longer, one the same as and one shorter than balls currently approved for play.

Shorter balls could then be mandated as a condition of play on classic courses hosting PGA Tour events — keeping them competitive. Longer balls could be allowed for amateur play. Ball distance could even be factored into handicaps — like course slope ratings, says PING head John Solheim.

The proposal is a radical departure from the principle underlying the Rules of Golf that a single ball with a single distance limit be played by players at all levels, even though many golf authorities believe the length of the modern golf ball is the single biggest factor in making some of the great courses of the 19th and 20th centuries obsolete for professional play.

In a letter to the USGA and the R&A, Solheim proposed  a “Ball Distance Rating System” to categorize balls into three distance categories. “This concept addresses the unique talents of the top 0.1 percent of the world’s golfers without hurting the other 99.9 percent,” Solheim said.

A “silver dot” rating could apply to balls that conform to the current distance limits, a “gold dot” rating to balls that are longer (perhaps 30 yards longer), and a “bronze dot” rating for balls that are shorter than today’s ball limit (again, maybe 30 yards shorter),” Solheim said.

“More BDR levels could be added, if needed, to address future increases in driving distance by Tour professionals,” he said.

“Most courses hosting professional tour events were built with, or have added, sufficient length to challenge the world’s best golfers. Perhaps a small number of tournaments, those played at some of the game’s classic courses, would find it exciting to put the original design elements of the layout back in play by requiring shorter rated golf balls,” he said.

Higher handicappers could play a longer ball to make them competitive against longer courses, Solheim said.

Click here for John Solheim’s complete statement.