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    Tiger Woods ‘in Decent Spirits,’ His Closest Golf Buddies Say

    Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and other golfers who live near Woods in Jupiter, Fla., have visited regularly as he recovers from his serious car crash.AUGUSTA, Ga. — Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas, two of Tiger Woods’s closest friends on the PGA Tour, said Tuesday that they had recently visited Woods at his Florida home and were encouraged by how he was handling the recovery from his serious car crash in February.“When you hear of these things and you look at the car and you see the crash, you think he’s going to be in a hospital bed for six months,” McIlroy said after practicing for the Masters tournament, which begins Thursday. “But he was actually doing better than that. I spent a couple hours with him, which was nice. It was good to see him in decent spirits.”Woods, 45, sustained severe injuries to his right leg on Feb. 23, requiring at least two operations after the S.U.V. he was driving crashed onto a hillside along a challenging stretch of road in Los Angeles County. The Los Angeles County sheriff said last month that an investigation into the crash was finished but that the results wouldn’t be released without Woods’s permission.McIlroy lives near Woods’s home in Jupiter Island, Fla., as do tour players like Thomas, Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka, who have also gone to see Woods.“I’m sure he appreciates that,” McIlroy said. “We all have a responsibility to try to keep his spirits up and keep him going and try to get him back out here.”“I know he’s at home and he’s fully focused on the recovery process,” McIlroy continued, “and I feel like he’s mentally strong enough to get through that. And once he does, broken bones heal, and he’s just got to take it step by step. I’m sure he’s going to put everything he has into trying to be ready to play here next year.”Thomas has played his Masters practice rounds in recent years with Woods, a five-time winner of the tournament, and Fred Couples, another past Masters champion.“We texted Friday morning, and he said it’s kind of starting to set in — he’s bummed he’s not here playing practice rounds with us,” Thomas said of Woods. “And we hate it, too. I’m very, very lucky that I somehow got thrown into that practice-round group with Tiger and Freddie the last four years or whatever it is. I just follow them around like puppy dogs. Wherever they go, that’s where I go. If they hit chips from somewhere, I go hit chips from there.”Thomas described Woods’s recovery as “good” and said that each week he was home he had tried to stop by Woods’s house a couple of times. “That’s just what I want to do for him, is just be like: ‘Dude, I’ll do anything you want. If you need me to help out with your kids, I can do that. If you’re craving McDonald’s and you want me to bring it over, dude, I don’t care. I’m here for you and I’ll help out however I can.”Thomas said he had spent substantial time watching sports on television with Woods. “We are fortunate with the basketball to just hang out,” he said, “and watch sports like we would any normal time.” More

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    Without Tiger Woods, the 2021 Masters Leaderboard Is Wide Open

    As Augusta National faces life without Woods, possibly even beyond this year, several young golfers look ready to usher in a new era.AUGUSTA, Ga. — The Masters tournament, after an aberrant autumn appearance five months ago, returns this week to its customary place as a ritual of spring, and golf fans will find familiar the sight of vibrant azalea bushes and blooming magnolia trees. But beyond aesthetics at the Augusta National Golf Club, this year’s Masters may be at a crossroads, when golf’s most tradition-bound event turns a new page.Slightly more than a year ago, the energy driving the golf world was a fervent zeal to watch Tiger Woods defend his seismic 2019 Masters victory. Now, the next chapter of the Tiger era at the Masters remains wholly undefined. Because of the serious leg injuries he sustained in a February car crash, Woods will not compete at the Masters, something that has happened three times since 2014.This absence, however, is altogether different.Woods’s future as a competitive golfer is unclear, and the Masters marches on without the person at the cynosure of the tournament’s dominant narrative for nearly 25 years.“You can’t go to Augusta and not think about the guy,” Curtis Strange, a two-time United States Open champion who is now a broadcaster for ESPN, said last week of Woods. “He changed the game as we knew it right in front of our very eyes at Augusta.”But the void that Woods’s absence creates at the Masters could serve to underscore the most dramatic transformation in men’s professional golf: a changing of the guard at the top of the weekly leaderboard. New, younger personalities have stormed into the spotlight vacated by Woods, 45, and some of his contemporaries, like Phil Mickelson, who will turn 51 in June. The game has seen an infusion of not just youth, but players with back stories alluring enough to ease the transition.Bryson DeChambeau has been a dominant force in golf for several years.Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesFor example, a year ago, Bryson DeChambeau was still an eccentric curio on the PGA Tour, known more for his quirks than his accomplishments. In 2020 and continuing into this year, DeChambeau, 29, has been the dominant force in golf even when he is not on the course. With an intense fitness regimen and hard-swinging power game that launched prodigious drives, DeChambeau forced his rivals to reconsider everything, including their course strategies and their diets. Moreover, he captivated golf fans as a new breed of golfer in an age-old sport — daring, showy and charismatic.DeChambeau also backed up his boasts of reinventing golf by bludgeoning the 2020 United States Open field, and a venerable golf course, to claim a runaway victory that verified his status as a phenomenon. DeChambeau has not gone away, with one PGA Tour victory and a tie for third place at the Players Championship last month. It’s true that DeChambeau conspicuously failed to overpower Augusta National in November, but the golf course in the firm conditions of spring — as opposed to the soft fairways that greeted competitors in November — will give him another opportunity to prove that his brawny style can prevail.“He’s certainly got the talent, and maybe learning from the November experience will be very beneficial for him,” Nick Faldo, a three-time Masters champion and now a CBS broadcaster, said of DeChambeau last week.DeChambeau, who has never putted well on Augusta National’s slick greens in four previous Masters appearances, is not backing down.“I’m definitely hitting it a lot further than I was in November of last year,” he said in March, looking ahead to the Masters. “So there are some places that I will look at taking a line that’s going to be a little different than last time.”DeChambeau, the world No. 5, is not the only golfer under 30 years old among the top contenders this week. Thirteen of the top 25 ranked golfers, including four of the top five, are in their 20s. Many come with pedigrees, like world No. 2 Justin Thomas, 27, who last month added a Players Championship victory to go with the P.G.A. Championship he won in 2017. Ranked fourth worldwide, Collin Morikawa, 24, already has a tour victory this season and won last year’s P.G.A. Championship. Jon Rahm, 26, is the world’s third-ranked golfer and has had five top-10 finishes in his seven events this year. Xander Schauffele, 27, is No. 6 in the world rankings and tied for second in the 2019 Masters.There are factors working against a new generation of players leaping to the forefront of golf’s most-watched event this week, notably the accepted canon that a Masters champion must have acquired a wealth of practiced knowledge about the Augusta National layout to win. But the current crop of young players may be fast-tracking the learning curve.Or as Zach Johnson, the 2007 Masters champion, said last month in a telephone interview: “You can have plenty of experience at 27 years old. There could be four Masters champions in a six-year span that are under 30. That would not surprise me in the least.”Jordan Spieth, top left, has his driver worked on during a practice round.Doug Mills/The New York TimesJordan Spieth, who won the 2015 Masters when he was 21, is another young golfer whose recent form makes him a candidate to be slipping on a green jacket after the final round on Sunday. Spieth has won three major golf championships, but had gone nearly four years without a tour victory until he won the Valero Texas Open on Sunday. Spieth’s revival has put him back in the mix, and he insists that his age group is positioned to make a run at several Masters championships. He did not rule out crowning a champion who was playing in his first Masters, something that has not happened since Fuzzy Zoeller won the tournament in 1979.“I wouldn’t be surprised going forward if you end up getting a first-time winner at some point or a number of young guys that are able to do it,” Spieth said last week.Spieth said Augusta National’s extremely hilly terrain, a feature that is hard to grasp from watching the event on television, might especially benefit younger players.“Honestly, it’s a tough walk, it’s one of the toughest walks on tour,” Spieth said of Augusta National. “Physically, it can take a toll. So you would think that guys that are in their mid-20s would be in the best position physically.”Other less-than-household names within golf’s youth movement may have escaped the attention of casual golf fans but are nonetheless worthy contenders this week. Foremost in that group is Sungjae Im, 23, of South Korea, who was the PGA Tour rookie of the year in 2019 and tied for second in his Masters debut last year. No Asian has won the Masters, although that has not stopped Im from dreaming of a Korean-style menu that will be served at the annual champions-only dinner the year after he wins the tournament.“Marinated ribs, of course,” he said in November with a grin.There are few Black players in this year’s Masters field, although Tony Finau, who finished tied for fifth in 2019 and is the world’s 13th ranked golfer, is among the contenders for the title. Vijay Singh, the Masters champion in 2000, is also competing.Change, like the passing of a torch from generation to generation, is in the air at the Masters despite the tournament’s reputation for time-honored traditions. And golf fans may already be warming up to the makeover taking place at the top of the leaderboards.With the television viewership declining for other sports lately, the ratings for PGA Tour events this year have increased by 10 to 20 percent, and some in golf credit the surge to the increasing prominence of what Jim Nantz, the longtime CBS broadcaster, called “the new brigade.”“We’ve arrived at a point now where we don’t have to rely on just Tiger,” Nantz said last week. “We all know how enormous his presence is — maybe he comes back one day, that’s not what we’re addressing here. But how does the sport transition to a time when he is not at the top of the game?”Nantz continued: “There are so many interesting figures now that are competing at the highest level of our sport and them being certified as great players, people are going to watch more often.”Dustin Johnson, left, and Rory McIlroy walk with their caddies during a practice round at Augusta National.Doug Mills/The New York Times More

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    A Rookie Wins the ANA Inspiration Ahead of a Fast-Closing Challenger

    Patty Tavatanakit of Thailand won the first women’s golf major of the year, holding off Lydia Ko, whose final round of 10-under 62 put her two strokes short.RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — Generation Next was in full flower over the weekend. Not at the former nursery in Georgia where youngsters and the top female amateurs convened for separate events at the invitation of the Augusta National Golf Club members who run the Masters Tournament, but across the country where a 21-year-old rookie, Patty Tavatanakit, won the ANA Inspiration on Sunday.The 50th edition of the ANA Inspiration, the first of the five women’s golf majors of the year, will be remembered for Tavatanakit’s mastery of the course at Mission Hills Country Club and of the moment.She led from start to finish to become the first rookie winner since Juli Inkster in 1984 and the first champion from Thailand in tournament history. She closed with a three-under 68 — her fourth consecutive sub-70 round — for a cumulative score of 18-under 270 to hold off a fast-closing Lydia Ko by two strokes. Ko’s 10-under 62 on Sunday was one of the most memorable final rounds in men’s or women’s major history.With no fans on the course because of coronavirus restrictions, there were no roars to make Tavatanakit aware of what was happening in front of her. And she said she never once glanced at a leaderboard. “I didn’t feel the need to,” she said, adding, “I just wanted to play like it was another round of golf.”Tavatanakit, who averaged more than 300 yards off the tee for the week, began the day with a five-stroke lead over the field and an eight-stroke advantage over Ko. For all the talk about Tavatanakit’s length, her touch on and around the greens proved clutch.She chipped in for an eagle at the par-5 second, nearly chipped in two other times on the back nine and made an eight-foot putt to save par at No. 15 to keep Ko, the 2016 ANA Inspiration champion, at a club’s length.Playing two groups ahead of Tavatanakit, Ko, 23, of New Zealand, applied more heat than a desert sun with a front-nine seven-under 29, a tournament record. She was nine under through 11, and climbed within two shots of the lead, but Tavatanakit did not wilt. Under the most intense pressure, Tavatanakit produced her second bogey-free round of the week.“I felt like I gave myself a good run at it,” said Ko, whose last L.P.G.A. victory was in 2018, “but maybe Patty was just a bit too far away.”Roughly 90 minutes before Tavatanakit teed off, Cristie Kerr put the finishing touches on a seven-under 65, her lowest round in 23 starts in the tournament. As Kerr signed her card in the scoring tent, she glanced up at a television tuned to Golf Channel, which was showing a replay of the Drive, Chip and Putt contest that had taken place earlier in the day at Augusta National.Plastered on the glassed back wall, in direct view of the players as they reviewed their scorecards, were posters with sayings from former champions, including the three-time winner Amy Alcott, who said, “This tournament really got women’s sports on the move.”The 43-year-old Kerr, who counts two major championships among her 20 tour titles, made her debut in this event as an amateur in 1996. Seventeen strokes off the pace at the day’s start, Kerr started in the fourth group in the morning and plotted her way around the course unburdened by expectations.“All day I just kind of played with no fear,” Kerr said. “I’m thinking to myself, ‘Why doesn’t that happen every day?’”The boldness of which Kerr spoke is Tavatanakit’s default mentality. Before sleeping on her first 54-hole lead in an L.P.G.A. Tour event, she said her mind-set Sunday would be, “Keep on the pedal.”Tavatanakit took the winner’s traditional dip into Poppie’s Pond, the water hazard that surrounds the 18th hole. Kelvin Kuo/USA Today Sports, via ReutersIn 2019, in her second ANA Inspiration appearance, Tavatanakit earned low amateur honors, closing with a 68 to finish tied for 26th. She was a standout sophomore at U.C.L.A. at the time, but her presence at the event, a launching pad for amateurs long before Michelle Wie tied for ninth in 2003 as a 13-year-old, was not a given.The inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur was being played at the same time. The opportunity it offered to play the final round on one of the world’s most storied courses had to be weighed against the chance to measure one’s game against the world’s most celebrated players.Tavatanakit was one of a handful of eligible players who chose to bypass the amateur event to compete at Mission Hills. The decision, she said, questioned by many at the time, set Tavatanakit on a path that ended Sunday with her taking the winner’s traditional dip in Poppie’s Pond, the water hazard surrounding the 18th island green.Her top 30 showing in 2019, she said, convinced her that she was ready to take a leap of faith. “I kind of had a thought of turning pro, I played well and that just made it more clear,” said Tavatanakit, who gave up her collegiate eligibility in May 2019.By year’s end, Tavatanakit had won three times on the L.P.G.A.’s developmental tour. Her 2020 rookie season, which has been extended through 2021, featured a top five in February at the Gainbridge L.P.G.A., where she gained valuable experience playing in the last group with the eventual winner, Nelly Korda, but also seven missed cuts.Tavatanakit suggested that her commitment to the ANA Inspiration in 2019 helped her immensely this year. The four rounds at Mission Hills in 2019 gave her enough course knowledge to commit to the aggressive lines she took.“Looking back, I think coming here and playing here enough to know how the course is, it was really good,” she said.Tavatanakit’s eyes were wet before she jumped into Poppie’s Pond. She became emotional before hitting her last putt, she said, because she was thinking, “Oh, man, I’m actually going to do this.”She had made history and she had done it by grafting off women’s golf’s roots. More

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    Tsubasa Kajitani Wins Augusta National Women’s Amateur in Playoff

    The 17-year-old from Japan started the day slow on the tough course at Augusta National but rallied for a surprise sudden-death finish.AUGUSTA, Ga. — The first Augusta National Women’s Amateur in 2019 featured a closing charge by the eventual winner, Jennifer Kupcho, who faced down the intimidating back nine by playing her final six holes in five under par.While the tournament was canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s edition proved, like so many of the Masters tournaments, that Augusta National is often the setting for drama and unpredictable outcomes.For most of Saturday’s final round, it appeared that Rose Zhang, a 17-year-old Californian, was going to claim a narrow victory in the 54-hole event with her steady, poised play. Zhang, who began the day tied for the lead after the first two rounds at the nearby Champions Retreat Golf Club, suddenly stumbled on Saturday with a triple bogey on the treacherous 13th hole. But Zhang then rallied to become one of six golfers tied for the lead with only a handful of holes left to play.For the next hour, the players jockeyed for the lead on the famed Augusta National layout in familiar, if fickle, ways — stunning recoveries under pressure, deft short-game play, steely-eyed putts and the occasional flub.In a surprise ending, after a one-hole playoff, it was a different 17-year-old, Tsubasa Kajitani of Japan, who came from behind to win the tournament. No Asian player has won the Masters, which was first contested in 1934. Asked how it felt to be the first player from Japan to win a tournament at Augusta National, Kajitani, who came off the final green with tears running down her cheeks, said through an interpreter that it was “a dream come true.”After 18 holes on Saturday, Kajitani and Emilia Migliaccio, a senior and an all-American golfer at Wake Forest University, were tied at one over par, one stroke ahead of six players from five countries who tied at two over.Both players hit their tee shots into the 18th fairway to start the playoff, but each was slightly out of position after wayward approach shots. Migliaccio had an exceedingly difficult chip over a bunker to a green sloping away from her, and Kajitani had to putt down the same unnerving slope from 45 feet away. Kajitani’s task proved less daunting, although she had to sink a 5-foot par putt to clinch her victory.Kajitani, who is from Okayama, Japan, did not play in the inaugural women’s amateur event in 2019 at Augusta National, although she won the Japan Junior Championship that year. She was second at the 2019 Australian Women’s Amateur and played in three other events on the LPGA of Japan Tour.“I have played in many other tournaments,” Kajitani said. “But you can’t really compare those to this tournament.”Migliaccio played Saturday with her mother, Ulrika, who was a top collegiate golfer at the University of Arizona, acting as her caddie, making the duo the first mother-daughter pair to compete at Augusta National. That partnership made the closing round especially memorable for Migliaccio, who has decided not to pursue a professional golf career.“It was so fun; it was so special,” Migliaccio said Saturday evening. “That’s all I wanted to do. I really wanted to enjoy this moment with my mom, and this is probably one of the last times she’s going to caddie for me, and it was just a joy to be out there.”She added: “I’m not going to turn professional and I’m really happy with my decision. Golf has taken me so far. It’s allowed me to played Augusta National, which I wouldn’t have dreamed of when I started playing.”Kajitani conceded that she had hit two nervous shots at the 17th hole.Doug Mills/The New York TimesAfter starting Saturday’s round two strokes off the lead, Kajitani appeared to have botched her chance at winning when she needed four strokes from the front of the 17th green to get her ball in the hole for a double bogey. Kajitani conceded that she had hit two nervous shots at the 17th hole, but she then turned her focus to the closing hole.Kajitani, who hit 79 percent of her tee shots in the fairway during the tournament, found a bunker on the left side of the fairway on the 18th hole. An attempt to hit a challenging uphill shot to the green came up considerably short. But her pitch from about 50 yards nearly spun back into the hole for birdie. A sturdy par was enough get her into the playoff with Migliaccio.Zhang, who began the final round tied with Ingrid Lindblad of Sweden, was comfortably in the lead at one under until a series of mishaps at the 13th hole, where she had to take two penalty strokes for errant shots. The trouble began when Zhang hooked her tee shot toward the hazard on the left side of the hole. When the ball was not found, Zhang had to hit a second shot from the 13th tee. Her fourth shot on the hole ended up in the water hazard protecting the green. After chipping onto the green, she two-putted for a triple bogey.Zhang recovered with a birdie on the 14th hole to rejoin the gaggle in the lead, although a bogey at the 17th ultimately left her one stroke behind Kajitani and Migliaccio. Still, she was pleased.“To handle the pressure of just being on television and playing at Augusta National, I think says a lot,” Zhang said.Rose Zhang tied for third but enjoyed playing the difficult Augusta National course.Doug Mills/The New York Times More

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    For Korea’s Golfers Eyeing the Olympics, More Than Four Is a Crowd

    Each country can send only four women to Tokyo, and with six Korean golfers in the world’s top 15, just making the team can feel harder than winning gold.RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — So Yeon Ryu is a two-time major winner and a former world No. 1 who entered this week’s ANA Inspiration, the first L.P.G.A. major of the year, as a top 20 player. Ryu’s credentials for the Tokyo Olympics this summer are solid gold.Her passport is her problem.Ryu is from South Korea, where champion women golfers are an abundant natural resource. With three months until the team rosters for the delayed Summer Games in Tokyo are finalized, Ryu is No. 16 in the world but No. 7 in her homeland.The Olympic qualification standards dictate that every player in the top 15 is eligible to compete but that no country can have more than four representatives in the 60-player field. Led by Jin Young Ko, Koreans hold the top three spots.“I don’t know that there’s a harder team in sport to make right now,” said Mike Whan, the departing L.P.G.A. commissioner.In 2016, when golf returned to the Olympics as a medal sport for the first time since 1904, Ryu missed a berth on the South Korean team despite a top-12 world ranking.“It’s tougher to make the team from my country than to win the gold medal,” said Ryu, who opened with an even-par 72 Thursday at Mission Hills. Patty Tavatanakit of Thailand shot a six-under-par 66 to lead the field.South Korean champions have been plentiful over the past decade, capturing 23 of the 47 L.P.G.A. majors contested. They occupy 14 of the top 35 spots in the world rankings. For players desiring to distinguish themselves, making the Olympic team is a priority.“So many players are playing so well from Korea that I want to say people back home are less appreciative to see what we’re doing on the tour,” said Ryu, 30, whose major titles came at the 2011 United States Women’s Open and the 2017 ANA Inspiration, both in playoffs. “They’re more keen to see the Olympics because they know it’s really, really tough to make the team.”Inbee Park, Ryu’s best friend and compatriot, won the women’s competition at the Rio Olympics, by five strokes over New Zealand’s Lydia Ko, then the top-ranked player. With the country’s team members all so highly ranked, Korean officials were confident of at least one medal in the women’s competition. Park overcame a wrist injury that had slowed her progress all year and delivered on the expectations.No stranger to the spotlight, she took the golf world on a thrilling ride in 2013 when she won the first three majors in a bid to become the first professional, male or female, to win four in the same year. But never, Park said, had she felt more pressure. After arriving in Brazil, Park absorbed the sense of urgency radiated by the archers, the swimmers, the taekwondo athletes and the handball players representing Korea who have one chance every four years to craft their legacies.“You get so much attention from the people and the country and from everyone pretty much,” Park, now 32 and a seven-time major champion, said this week. “I think it’s double, triple, probably 10 times more pressure than I ever felt in a major championship.”Whan said the telecast of Park’s final round drew a 27.1 rating in South Korea. To put that in context, he said, Park’s unsuccessful bid for history at the 2013 Women’s British Open — she finished 14 strokes behind the winner, Stacy Lewis — got an 8, which was roughly the same as the rating for Tiger Woods’s victorious final round at the 2019 Masters.“So imagine Tiger at Augusta times three,” Whan said. “She went from being a really noteworthy golfer to being one of the most famous people in Korea in one weekend.”Ryu didn’t plan to watch any of the 2016 Olympics coverage. “I was so close to making the team that it definitely hurt for me,” Ryu said. “I wanted to avoid it as much as I can.”She added, “But when you know your best friend is rocking it in Rio, you have to watch.”Ryu was glad she saw Park clinch the gold. She credits Park’s performance in the Olympics with her own victory at Mission Hills and ascent to No. 1 the following year.“Before Rio I was maybe so afraid, ‘What is going to happen if I miss the Olympics?’” Ryu said. “So I almost just wanted to believe winning a major is better than the Olympics.”She added: “After Inbee won the gold medal, I was definitely jealous — not of her but because I felt she did something that was big for the whole golf industry. Maybe that motivation really helped me to play well in 2017.”Inbee Park, right, with Chun Lee-Kyung, a four-time Olympic champion in short-track speed skating, during the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Olympics. Park saw her stardom explode after she won gold at the Rio Games. Chang W. Lee/The New York TimesIn 2018, South Korea hosted the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. In a nod to her new stature, Park was chosen as one of the final torch bearers. As she ran with the flame into the Olympic Stadium, slowly to avoid tripping in conditions so cold she could hardly feel her feet, her friend Ryu sat awe-struck in the crowd of 35,000.After being so near the top 10 and still so far from qualifying for the 2016 Olympics, Ryu recognized it might be her only chance to experience an Olympics up close. More

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    Tiger Woods Update: Sheriff Says Crash Investigation Is Done

    Alex Villanueva, the sheriff of Los Angeles County, said that the authorities would need Woods’s permission to release the results of the investigation.The investigation into Tiger Woods’s single-vehicle crash in February is finished, but the results cannot be released publicly until Woods gives permission, the Los Angeles County sheriff said in a Facebook Livestream on Wednesday.“A cause has been determined,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva said, adding: “We have all the contents of the black box. We’ve got everything completed, signed, sealed and delivered. However, we can’t release it without the permission of the people involved in the collision.”Woods, 45, sustained severe injuries to his right leg on Feb. 23, requiring at least two operations after the S.U.V. he was driving crashed onto a hillside along a tricky stretch of road in Los Angeles County. No one but Woods, the pre-eminent figure in golf over the past quarter-century, was involved, according to the authorities.The sheriff has maintained that the crash was an accident, saying that he and his deputies did not detect signs of impairment at the scene that day. However, he said about a week later that investigators had gotten a search warrant for the event data recorder, also known as a black box, in Woods’s S.U.V. to help clarify the cause of the crash.“It’s still an accident,” he said Wednesday. “You have an accident, and you have deliberate acts. It’s an accident, OK. We’re reaching out to Tiger Woods to be able to release the report itself, and nothing has changed from what we know and what we learned throughout the course of the investigation. And everything we did turned out to be accurate.”Woods’s longtime agent, Mark Steinberg, did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.Here is what we know as of Wednesday night.When was Woods sent home from the hospital?Woods was released last month from a Los Angeles hospital where he was treated after the crash, according to a post to his Twitter account on March 16 that said he was at home.“I will be recovering at home and working on getting stronger every day,” the Twitter post on Tuesday read.Woods’s only known residence is in Jupiter Island, Fla., where he lives in a mansion — sometimes with his two children, custody of whom he shares with his ex-wife.The post did not contain updates on his condition, and Steinberg, Woods’s agent, said in an email that he could not offer any further information on his client’s location or condition.What injuries was Woods treated for?Woods was taken to Harbor-U.C.L.A. Medical Center in Los Angeles on the day of the crash and underwent emergency surgery to repair serious injuries to his right leg.He was transferred to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on the evening of Feb. 25.The morning after Woods’s arrival at Cedars-Sinai, he received “follow-up procedures on his injuries,” which were deemed successful, according to a statement from Woods’s Twitter account.Dr. Anish Mahajan, the acting chief executive of Harbor-U.C.L.A., said in a statement the night after the crash that both bones in Woods’s lower right leg, the tibia and the fibula, had been broken in multiple places and were “open fractures,” meaning the bones had pierced his skin.Dr. Mahajan said doctors had “stabilized” the breaks by placing a rod in the tibia. He said that additional bones in Woods’s ankle and foot had also been injured and that they had been “stabilized with a combination of screws and pins.”The statement did not describe any injuries to Woods’s left leg, though Daryl L. Osby, the Los Angeles County fire chief, had said earlier that Woods had “serious injuries” to both legs. The chief did not explain further and said he was not sure what other injuries Woods might have sustained.Doctors not involved in Woods’s care have predicted an extremely difficult recovery from his injuries.How did the investigation proceed?The warrant to inspect the black box’s data was executed on March 1 as part of a “routine procedure,” a spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Department said last month.When asked why the department had not sought a warrant for blood samples from the hospital, which would indicate whether Woods had alcohol or drugs in his system, Sheriff Villanueva said in a livestream on March 3 that there was no evidence of impairment.“Absent the evidence of impairment, you know, you’re not going to get a search warrant,” the sheriff said. “Period. It’s not getting assigned by the judge.”Though the investigation continued, Sheriff Villanueva was quite clear at a news conference on Feb. 24 that he believed the crash was accidental. “We don’t contemplate any charges whatsoever in this crash,” he said. “This remains an accident, and an accident is not a crime.”Drug recognition experts — police officers trained to identify people suspected of being impaired — were not dispatched to either the site of the crash or the hospital, Sheriff Villanueva added.Although Woods appeared “lucid and calm” immediately after the accident and was able to answer questions from Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, the first emergency responder to arrive at the scene, he “had no recollection of the crash itself” when asked at the hospital, Villanueva said in a Feb. 24 appearance on CNN.Forensic experts from across the country who are not involved in the investigation told USA Today, for an article published on March 13, that it appeared to be either a case of falling asleep at the wheel or of impaired or distracted driving.The crash occurred on Hawthorne Boulevard near Rancho Palos Verdes, a coastal city of about 42,000 people in Los Angeles County.How dangerous is that stretch of road?According to data collected by the Sheriff’s Department, there were 13 accidents, four with injuries, from Jan. 3, 2020, to Feb. 23 of this year within a 1.35-mile stretch of Hawthorne Boulevard that includes the site where Woods crashed, according to data collected by the Sheriff’s Department.Only one of those accidents was officially determined to have involved a person under the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to the data, and none involved someone using a phone. Two of the 13 accidents were single-vehicle crashes, and the data indicated that neither driver in those cases had been driving under the influence.The speed limit there is 45 miles per hour, but Deputy Gonzalez said he had sometimes seen vehicles going more than 80 miles per hour. Sheriff Villanueva said it appeared that Woods had been driving at a “greater speed than normal” on the day of the accident.Woods’s borrowed S.U.V. landed on a hillside in a suburb of Los Angeles.Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated PressWhat happened during the crash?Officers arrived at the scene six minutes after receiving a 911 call and found Woods trapped in an S.U.V. that had rolled over, Sheriff Villanueva said on the day of the crash.The vehicle Woods was driving hit the median strip, traveled several hundred feet and rolled several times before stopping in the brush on the other side of the road, Sheriff Villanueva said. There were no skid or swerve marks, indicating that Woods had made no attempt to brake, the sheriff said. The bumper and the front end of the car were “destroyed,” but the interior cabin of the vehicle was “more or less intact,” he added.There was no evidence that Woods was being followed or looking at his phone, the sheriff said at the time of the crash. Weather was also not a factor in the crash, he said. Woods was wearing his seatbelt, and airbags in the car deployed, Deputy Gonzalez said.What car was Woods driving? Why was he in the Los Angeles area?Woods was in Southern California to host, but not to compete in, the Genesis Invitational at the Riviera Country Club in the Pacific Palisades section of Los Angeles the weekend before the crash. Genesis Motor is a luxury vehicle division of Hyundai. Woods was in a 2021 Genesis GV80 S.U.V., which was provided to him during the tournament; he is known for always driving himself in a courtesy car at tournaments.Woods stayed after the weekend to do promotional work for Golf Digest and GolfTV, and when the crash happened, according to ESPN, he was on his way to a photo shoot with the N.F.L. quarterbacks Drew Brees and Justin Herbert.How did fellow golfers respond?Rory McIlroy, 31, in an interview on “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon on March 9, said that he had spoken with Woods and that he expected him to be able to recover at home with his family soon.“He’s doing better — and I think all of us are wishing him a speedy recovery at this point,” McIlroy said of himself and unspecified fellow golfers in the interview, which he did from the Players Championship.Several PGA Tour players wore red shirts with black pants, a version of Woods’s signature final-round outfit, on the final day of the Workday Championship on Feb. 28. Some used Bridgestone golf balls imprinted with Woods’s usual marking, “TIGER.” And many spectators wore red shirts, hats and masks.“It is hard to explain how touching today was when I turned on the TV and saw all the red shirts,” a statement on Woods’s Twitter account said on Sunday. “To every golfer and every fan, you are truly helping me get through this tough time.”Annika Sorenstam, 50, wore a red top and a black skirt at an L.P.G.A. Tour event in Orlando, Fla., while the maintenance staff at the Puerto Rican Open wore red in tribute as well.On the day of the crash, celebrities and fans alike offered prayers and words of support on social media.Where did Woods’s career stand before the crash?Even before the wreck, it was not clear when Woods might play again or whether he would be able to pursue a record-tying sixth Masters victory this spring.Woods was trying to recover from his fifth back operation, a microdiscectomy, which he had disclosed in January.When he appeared on CBS on Sunday during the final round of the Genesis tournament, Woods was asked whether he would compete at the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club in April. “God, I hope so,” he said. “I’ve got to get there first.”Although Woods said last month that he expected to miss at least two tournaments, he did not publicly rule out playing in the Masters, which he last won in 2019. On Sunday, he said he was “feeling fine, a little bit stiff,” and was awaiting another magnetic resonance imaging scan to evaluate his progress.In the meantime, he said, he was “still doing the mundane stuff that you have to do for rehab, the little things before you can start gravitating toward something a little more.”Woods tied for 38th place in the 2020 Masters, which was played in November because of the coronavirus pandemic. Although he shot a 10 on the 12th hole during the final round, he birdied five of the final six holes.Reporting was contributed by More

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    No Longer a ‘Tigress,’ Amari Avery Will Try to Make Augusta Roar

    Avery, 17, and her dad once drew attention for their Tiger-and-Earl Woods aspirations. They hope to make a different sort of splash at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.It’s been eight years since Amari Avery made her first “splash” — her word — in golf. A 2013 Netflix documentary on elite grade school golfers introduced an 8-year-old Avery cruising her Riverside, Calif., street on her bike, pink handlebar streamers blowing in the wind, as Notorious B.I.G.’s “Going Back to Cali” blared in the background.What “The Short Game” showed came to define the perception of Avery on the junior golf circuit. Much of the documentary centered on how her dad, Andre, had appointed her “Tigress” after she won a junior world championship at 6 years old and was trying to navigate the expensive territory of junior golf by following Earl Woods’s handling of Tiger. Amari’s story arc in the film ends with both her and her father in tears after a disappointing finish at the United States Kids Golf World Championship.Now 17, Amari Avery will roll down Magnolia Lane with the chance to make a different splash at golf’s most recognizable venue.“It’s definitely going to be slightly overwhelming,” she said of walking out onto the course at Augusta National, where she is one of 85 invitees to the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. “But I think that me just being there could be inspiring for girls like me. I’m going to be out there to play for myself and just show people that people like me can be out there, we can be at that high level and play.”That venue’s history with both African-Americans and women — an African-American man did not play in the Masters Tournament until 1975 and the club did not add its first two female members, the former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and the financier Darla Moore, until 2012 — is not lost on Avery. The daughter of an African-American father and a Filipino mother, she is one of a scant few Black female golfers on either the amateur or professional levels of the sport.“I didn’t think that I would see any woman playing competitive golf at Augusta National,” said Renee Powell, who in 1967 became just the second Black woman to join the L.P.G.A. Tour. “Let alone a Black woman.”Powell never had the opportunity to play Augusta National and emailed its chairman, Fred Ridley, to commend him for hosting the women’s amateur event, first played in 2019. As the captain of the United States team for this year’s Junior Solheim Cup — which pits the 12 top young amateurs in the United States against their European counterpoints — Powell monitors the top junior women’s players and occasionally checks in with Andre to keep tabs on Amari’s development.“She seems to be the real deal,” Powell said.Amari Avery and fellow golfer Bailey Davis posed together during a practice round at the Houston’s Mack Champ Invitational in mid-March. “I’m going to be out there to play for myself and just show people that people like me can be out there, we can be at that high level and play.”Michael Starghill Jr. for The New York TimesThis is just the second edition of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, following the event’s cancellation last April in the earliest months of the coronavirus pandemic. But even Avery’s invite does not guarantee that she will spend much time on the hallowed course. She’ll play a practice round there early in the week but because the tournament’s first two rounds are held at the nearby Champions Retreat, Avery will need to make the cut to play on the course where her idol, Tiger Woods, has made so much history.“I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like getting to play Augusta National,” Avery said in her typically deliberate and measured way. The final round of the amateur tournament will be played in front of a limited number of patrons, just like this year’s Masters, and broadcast by NBC Sports. “Obviously being the only Black person there, hopefully I can do something out there and make some upsets, some roars.”She’s ready to make a mark on golf on her own terms, a far cry from the reputation the Averys earned in the Netflix documentary, that of a helicopter dad and his prodigy, driven by pressure to win rather than fun.“We want to speak it into existence,” Andre cut in. “We’re going to play Augusta in the tourney. That’s going to happen.”As father and daughter grew together, Andre gave up on the “Tigress” nickname, stopped trying to impose elements of Tiger’s swing onto Amari and yielded to a coach’s instruction. Michael Starghill Jr. for The New York TimesTo get to this point, Amari chased Woods’s ghost around California’s junior golf circuit and her own household. Andre tried to follow Earl Woods’s book “Training a Tiger” to the letter, compelled in part because Amari and Tiger share the same birthdays, were born in the same county, have similar mixed-race backgrounds, made holes-in-one on the same course, and both won junior world championships around the same age. Andre even once entered her into a junior tournament as “Tigress Avery.” He says it was a joke after being egged on by a friend and he quickly chided himself when there was confusion in scoring over her name.But Amari has not faded against the comparisons even as a Tiger-inspired wave of young golfers failed to crest. She won the prestigious 2019 California Women’s Amateur Championship. In her debut at the U.S. Women’s Amateur, she made it out of the cutthroat stroke play portion of the week and then advanced to the round of 32 in match play. She has won on the Cactus Tour, a women’s mini circuit with fields full of professionals. Last August, she verbally committed to join the powerhouse women’s golf program at the University of Southern California in 2022.The Averys credit her mother, Maria, as the one who makes the family golf pursuit possible, keeping an eye on the pressures and costs and serving as the final judge of when to pull the plug if either mounts. Andre can remotely work as an information technology consultant while on the road with Amari and Alona, 14, also a highly rated junior golfer. Of her four siblings, Amari is closest to Alona, who was on the bag for Amari’s debut U.S. Women’s Amateur last summer when big sis posted a calamitous 40 on the front-nine of her opening round, but steadied herself to rally for the second-best score of the second round to easily make the match play bracket.Of her four siblings, Amari, right, said she is closest to Alona, 14, who was on the bag for Amari’s debut U.S. Women’s Amateur last summer.Michael Starghill Jr. for The New York TimesTo balance her own drive against the disappointments that can come during a tough round, Amari worked with Jay Brunza, a psychologist whom she credited with steadying her mental approach ahead of last year’s women’s amateur. “He was saying, ‘Stay stable out there. Just try to hit fairways and greens,” Amari recalled. “He tells me a whole bunch of different things that help out. You can go out there and shoot a 40 and the next nine a 33 and you’re not out of it.”It helps that Brunza worked with teenage Tiger Woods, caddying for him during all three of Woods’s men’s amateur titles.Andre will be on the bag for Amari at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, hoping to make a different impression than when he cursed during arguments with Amari when she was 8, and was depicted as the “mean parent,” a portrayal he admits was fair.“It’s not me wanting to caddie because I want the spotlight,” Andre said. “It’s all the stuff we’ve gone through. Now it comes full circle. I think that’s the best way for us, with her going off to school next in a few months for us to play in this thing together.”“Training a Tiger” was published in 1997, well before the full impact and collateral costs of Earl Woods’s approach on his son could have been known. But for a nonwhite parent-prodigy team navigating junior golf, the Woodses’ account was the primary road map available to the Averys.Still, Andre said he’s learned to grow along with Amari. He’s given up on the “Tigress” nickname, stopped trying to impose elements of Tiger’s swing onto Amari and yielded to a coach’s instruction. Before Amari’s 2019 California Women’s Amateur title, the team went through a revolving door of swing coaches, so many that father and daughter lost count.Amari and Andre shared a laugh on the course.Michael Starghill Jr. for The New York Times“We were just kind of bouncing around trying to find that one key thing that will turn things around instead of just trusting a process and letting it handle itself,” she said. “I had just come to the understanding that things aren’t going to come fast all the time.”Amari has learned to push back on her father, too. “When we’re out there on the course and I’m struggling or I’m working on something and he’s trying to constantly tell me to do something, I’m like, ‘Dad, get off. I just want to do it myself.’”Both Averys have confidence that she could be a potential superstar on the L.P.G.A. Tour, and has the Tiger trifecta: entertaining golf, winning golf, and a marketable persona. Andre will still admit to his belief in a bond with the Woodses. “We’re so tied to that Tiger Woods-Earl Woods thing,” he said. “There is a connection, I truly believe. It is divine.”As Amari has grown, she’s improved her approach to golf and managing the relationship with her most ardent fan. Whatever stigma Andre may carry, he is a parent who has committed substantial time and money for instruction and travel to keep Amari progressing in the game.Those required resources are still a massive challenge to diversifying the game. The Averys are often the only Black family at high profile amateur events, just as they were on the junior circuit, just as Earl and Tiger Woods were.“I just don’t feel like there’s much of a push for them to be out here,” Amari said, adding, “that’s kind of what I want to bring into the game a little bit, influence some of these kids that look like me, like ‘Hey you can be out here. You can make a splash out here.’”She has been watching video from the 2019 Augusta National Women’s Amateur and traveled to Augusta for the first time in her life in early March to play the Champions Retreat course. Just days before she left, Andre discovered in conversation with the father of Zoe Campos, who finished in a tie for fifth in 2019, that Champions Retreat was actually a 27-hole facility. He needed to figure out the 18-hole routing on which they would play the event. There was scouting work to do in the final month.Amari Avery won the Mack Champ Invitational in the lead-up to playing the Augusta tournament. She’s committed to join the U.S.C. golf team in 2022.Michael Starghill Jr. for The New York TimesLike all teenage athletes during the coronavirus pandemic, Amari’s schedule and prep work has been abnormal. She said it’s been slow since a quick run of high-profile amateur events last summer. This year she made a few starts on the Cactus Tour, showing well and finishing runner-up in a February field with both pros and amateurs. In late March, she went to Houston and cruised to a win in the inaugural Mack Champ Invitational, an event for junior golfers from diverse backgrounds started by Cameron Champ, one of the few Black players on the PGA Tour.The Averys met Lee Elder, the first Black man to play in the Masters and an honorary starter for this year’s tournament, but they have never met Woods. Amari dreamed of one day meeting — and maybe beating — him, figuring a chance meeting at Augusta would probably be the closest she was going to get.Then when she first learned of his February car accident, she had what she termed a “Kobe moment” and feared the worst. “I don’t even know if I could keep playing golf,” she said, considering the worst case scenario on the day of his accident. “He’s been the main guy that’s driven my entire career,” she added. “I’ve been compared to Tiger and I kind of want him to see my career grow and see it progress.”A visit to Augusta National is a significant milepost in that progression, but the Averys have distinct memories and associations with the course and the Masters, especially when it comes to Woods’s history there. Andre has imparted lots of it via YouTube clips, but Amari’s first real opportunity to closely watch Woods dominate in real time was during his historic 2019 win.The Augusta National Women’s Amateur gives her a chance to make history of her own at the club. More

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    A Black Architect Is Transforming the Landscape of Golf

    Brandon Johnson developed a love of golf and course design at an early age. He has mastered a field that has historically lacked diversity.Brandon Johnson picked up his first golf club at age 12 and knew right away that he was hooked on the sport. By high school, he recalls, he wanted a career as a golf course architect.Today, 35 years later, he is the senior golf course architect and a vice president for Arnold Palmer Design Company after a stint at First Tee, a nonprofit that teaches children life skills through golf.Although golf consumed him at an early age, he grew up in Charlotte, N.C., in a family where music and art were intertwined. He was drawn to the cello, the drums and the piano early in life and was inspired to sketch and draw by his sister, whom he described as the artist in the family. Golf course design captured his attention in part because of a coffee-table book his parents bought him and seeing the work of the golf course designer Pete Dye on PGA Tour telecasts.Brandon Johnson has been involved in the design of 30 courses all over the world, many of which are in developments with golf homes.He was accepted to North Carolina State University, where he majored in landscape architecture — with a minor in music — and later went on to the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where, he said, he “fell in love with large-scale master planning,” which is, after all, what being a golf course architect entails.In a field that has historically lacked diversity, Mr. Johnson stands out. “There have definitely been other Black golf architects who broke down the barriers for me, but I’m still an exception to the norm,” he said.“I was also the only Black player when I played competitively in high school.”Mr. Johnson said that he has been inspired by Black golf course architects such as Leslie “Les” Clayton, whom he worked with when he was at First Tee, and Joseph Bartholomew, who was introduced to golf when he caddied at a segregated private club and subsequently went on to have a successful career as a designer. Mr. Bartholomew was barred from playing on the very courses he designed because of segregation laws.Mr. Johnson has held his current position for almost a decade and has been involved in the design of 30 courses all over the world, many of which are in developments with golf homes.In the earlier years of golf communities, the sport was an amenity to the real estate, Mr. Johnson said, but now, the course matters as much as and even more than the homes. “A great golf course associated with a community increases the value of the properties in that community,” he said.The following interview has been edited and condensed.What does a golf course architect actually do?We prepare the game board for golf. We take a raw piece of land and figure out creative ways that the game can be played out in that topography. Any one course takes between three to five years from the design phase to when it’s actually completed. I’m involved every step of the way and work with a team of engineers; agronomists, who study the soil; landscape architects; golf course builders; and golf course shapers, who are experts at sculpting the land to my design concepts.Practicing golf course architecture is a combination of balancing the technical and artistic sides of the job.Mr. Johnson, center, at work on a site.Do you have a philosophy when designing courses?Yes. My philosophy is to design courses that are fun and engaging and interesting strategically for players.Given that you have a minor in music, do you ever listen to music when you design?Absolutely. It’s jazz when I am trying to solve a really tough problem and Romantic-era classical other times, like Brahms and Beethoven.Why do you think that there so few golf players and architects who are Black? Is that changing at all?In my opinion, it’s a combination of interconnected and sometimes complex issues and circumstances that become one big deterrent for entry and participation into the game and its supporting industry: the country’s segregated racial history and golf’s historical participation in that, awareness, access (equipment, facilities, instruction, peer playing companions), money, education, time, lack of introductions to the game, just to name a few.Change is taking place. There are numerous programs both national and local that are focused on growing participation and access to the game such as First Tee, Bridging the Gap, Black Girls Golf. On the competitive player development level, the United Golfers Association and the Advocates Professional Golf Association are making huge strides in developing the next generation of elite professional golfers. All of these programs are focused on reaching African-Americans, Latino Americans, Native Americans and underrepresented groups in hopes of making the game much more inclusive and diverse.Many of the courses you design are in developments or resorts where people can buy golf homes. How does the design of a course interplay with these residences?In an ideal setting, they coexist seamlessly by having the golf course be spread over the prime pieces of land, whether that’s water features such as streams, ponds or the ocean, or terrain with rolling hills where you get views. The homes are on the periphery of these properties with generous setbacks away from the course.The 11th hole of the Commander Course.Matthew MajkaBut what you don’t want is an 18-hole course with homes jammed on either side of it, which was often the case in the ’80s and ’90s when many communities were being built. Living in a golf community is about having space and breathing room from other homes and the course.In your experience, how have golf course communities changed over the last 10 years?Communities used to be only about the golf. Today, they have a diversity of amenities such as resort-style pools, dog parks, tennis courts, bocce courts, spas, top-of-the-line gyms, great restaurants, horseback riding and more.New communities are more multifaceted, and older ones are renovating.These changes are broadening the demographic of the residents, who used to be mostly retirees. You see nongolfers and a lot more younger people who aren’t just buying second homes but moving in full time with their families. They want to raise their children there.Are golf communities making a shift to be more sustainable?Sustainability matters today more than it did ever before. Golf courses now have features that promote water conservation and design elements that touch the natural land as little as possible. Some communities even create new ecosystems. In Lakewood National Golf Club, in Sarasota, Fla., for example, I designed two golf courses. My team and I started with a cleared and barren flat landscape and transformed it into a setting with lakes and rolling topography. We added tons of vegetation such as pines, oaks, red maples, magnolias and native palms. Today, the property is a wildlife-rich ecosystem with a variety of birds, fish, alligators, and the occasional wild boar and deer.Some golf homeowners want a property right next to the course while others prefer homes that are farther away. In your opinion, what are the drawbacks and benefits of each?Being near a course means you get great views and a backyard that is well maintained with natural landscape. The people watching is also a plus. But you might get the occasional golf ball in your yard from other players. There’s a misperception that you lack privacy if your home is too close to a course, but in a well-planned community that shouldn’t be an issue because there is a vast amount of open space.If your house is further away from a course, you might be more secluded, but, especially in large communities, the course won’t be as accessible.One setting isn’t more prestigious than the other. It boils down to personal preference.In your opinion, what are the next emerging golf destinations?Asia for sure. India, for example, has a long history with the game, but the golf courses there are still developing all over the country. It’s on my wish list to work on a course there.Vietnam and Thailand are also very up and coming with new courses in upscale resorts with real estate.In Africa, Morocco, Kenya and Nigeria have budding golf markets, and our company has seen interest in new courses from these countries. More