Houston hosts pro golf
at Cypress Creek
By Patrick Sullivan
The air might be turning cold and the leaves
may be falling from the trees, but the Professional Golf Association Tour
will be in full swing when the best players in the world arrive in Houston
for the final tournament of the season, the Tour Championship presented
The Cypress Creek Course at Champions Golf
Club will play host to the top 30 players on the PGA Tour money list from
Monday to Nov. 4.
A $5 million purse and a $900,000 check
for the winner will be on the line. The money list has been accumulating
since the Mercedes Championships on Jan. 14 in Hawaii.
This year marks the third time in five
years the event has been hosted at Champions. The par-71, 7,220-yard layout,
which was founded in 1958 by Jack Burke Jr. and the late
Jimmy Demaret, has also hosted the 1967
Ryder Cup, the 1969 United States Open, the 1993 U.S. Amateur and the 1998
U.S. Women's mid-amateur.
"Hosting the top 30 golfers in the world
is a great thrill," said Tournament Director Marlene Livaudais. "We've
been planning for this event for two years."
Playing host to golf's season finale is
nothing new for Livaudais. The tournament was held here in 1997 when David
Duval edged Jim Furyk by one shot and in 1999 when Tiger
Woods enjoyed a big payday after beating
Davis Love III by four in a shortened 54-hole event.
"The only change this year will be the
upgraded corporate hospitality," Livaudais said. "We're adding first-class
amenities to the corporate suites. As far as the course goes, we're
not changing anything because it has always
The tournament was shortened to three days
in 1999 because of the tragic death of golfer Payne Stewart the week before
Stewart and five others were flying a Lear
jet from Florida to Texas when the oxygen system failed. The plane drifted
1,400 miles off course and eventually crashed in a field in
South Dakota. Livaudais had to maintain
her composure and try to move on with the tournament.
"It was one of the most difficult things
I've been through," she said. "Even though I was very grief-stricken, I
had to go on. The tournament just wasn't the same at all."
On the final day of play the players wore
the style of knickers Stewart trademarked.
"It was a great tribute to Payne," Livaudais
said. "I'm sure he loved that."
This year's elite field will feature some
new faces that have made their way into the top 30 on the money list, like
No.12-ranked Joe Durant and No. 18-ranked Chris DiMarco.
Some well-known players who will not be
making the trip to the Space City are No. 59-ranked Lee Janzen, No. 60-ranked
John Daly and No. 126-ranked Fred Couples.
Don't feel too bad for Freddy "Boom-Boom"
Couples. He still pocketed over $380,000 during the calendar year -- in
which he worked only 19 weeks.
Obviously Tiger Woods is always a threat
to win, but look for Scott Hoch and Vijay Singh to place their names on
the top of the leader board.
Hoch can hit his long irons as good as
anyone and he is in the top 10 in scoring average and putting. Singh leads
the tour with 13 top-10 finishes and is second in putting
"This event put Houston on the sports map,"
Livaudais said. "It will get 17.5 hours of national coverage on ESPN and
ABC. The city will make anywhere from $25 to $30 million
the week of the tournament."
Those numbers don't include charitable
"The event sponsors over 100 charities
locally. In '97 and '99 we made $2.7 million in charity proceeds," Livaudais
The YMCA, Acres Home, and Make a Wish are
just a few of these many charities.
The weekend of Nov. 3 is close to sold
out for the tournament. However, small corporate packages are still available.
For more information, call (281) 893-4653.