Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Circumstances Giving Houston Another Problem

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Circumstances Giving Houston Another Problem

Article excerpt

Byline: Garry Smits, Times-Union sports writer

I realize the perspective of words such as "sympathy" has changed in recent days. But as the effects of the terrorists acts committed against the U.S. on Sept. 11 settle on every aspect of our lives, I can't help but feel a little twinge for the Houston Golf Association and golf fans in that city.

Four years ago, the PGA Tour began rotating its season-ending Tour Championship between the Champions Club in Houston and the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. In the first year of that plan, David Duval of Ponte Vedra Beach won his third consecutive event by one shot in a thrilling Sunday afternoon battle against Jim Furyk of Ponte Vedra, Davis Love III of St. Simons Island, Ga., and Mark Calcavecchia.

However, when the Tour Championship returned to Houston in 1999, it was played under the pall of Payne Stewart's death in the crash of a private plane three days before the first round. It was a disjointed week of 27 holes on Thursday, followed by Stewart's memorial in Orlando Friday, 27 holes Saturday and the final round on Sunday. Tiger Woods won with a brilliant week of four consecutive scores in the 60s, but it was as if he and the rest of the field played in a daze.

Now, this.

The Tour Championship, annually reserved for the top 30 money-winners on the PGA Tour that year, returns to Houston and the Champions Club Nov. 1-4. The first round will begin 40 days after terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center, damaged the Pentagon and may have killed more than 6,000 people. Once again, the week may find competitors and fans wandering the expansive, lush Champions Club in even more of a daze -- for those who even come at all.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson, who outdueled Woods last year at East Lake in a thriller that has been commonplace in this event, had already said he may withdraw because of the pending birth of his second child to his wife, Amy. …

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