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Correction: On The Fringe-100912 story

Correction: On The Fringe-100912 story

In a story Oct. 9 about the World Amateur Team Championship, The Associated Press incorrectly quoted former USGA executive director David Fay as saying Vijay Singh ``couldn't break 90'' when he was 17 years old. Fay said Singh ``couldn't break 80.''

A corrected version of the story is below:

Tourney's wait list points to golf's global growth

Turkish delight: A waiting list at World Amateur indicates worldwide growth in golf

By DOUG FERGUSON

AP Golf Writer

The best measure of how much golf is growing around the world can be found in Turkey, of all places.

And not just because that's where the stars have come to play.

Never mind that Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are among eight elite players in an exhibition called the ``World Golf Finals'' that began Tuesday. It's mostly for show (four players wore shorts during the opening round of medal matches) and plenty of dough ($1.5 million for the winner).

No doubt, this can only help Turkey's bid to land the Olympics in 2020 and present itself as a golfing destination. And having the biggest names in golf, even for a few days, might inspire more interest in the game.

Far more significant, however, was the tournament that left town with little fanfare.

The World Amateur Team Championship wrapped up Sunday, with the United States winning for the first time since 2004. What made this significant was not who posed with the Eisenhower Trophy, rather who didn't get to play. For the first time in the tournament's 54-year history, there was an alternate list.

Television executive Neal Pilson once said the financial health of the PGA Tour was best measured by the waiting list of potential sponsors, and the same can be said of the World Team Amateur. It began in 1958 with 29 teams at St. Andrews. This year, there was a full field of 72 teams - from the U.S. to Ukraine, from Bermuda to Bulgaria - on the Sultan and Faldo courses at Antalya.

Among those on the waiting list, which was determined by when they signed up, were Saudi Arabia, Mauritius, Namibia and Lebanon.

``We had our biennial meeting of all member organizations and the accent and emphasis on the Olympics was very evident,'' said Peter Dawson, chief executive of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club who serves as president of the International Golf Federation. ``The interest is there. It's amazing that in these countries they think of Olympic sports, instead of golf as its own sport. It's certainly starting to serve to grow the game.''

It's too convenient to attribute the growth of the World Amateur Team to golf being approved as an Olympic sport for 2016. Golf was approved for the Olympics only three years ago, not nearly enough time for some countries to develop a reasonable infrastructure - golf courses, practice facilities, instruction, corporate involvement and, perhaps most important, a strong middle class.

The numbers have been trending in this direction for the last decade - 63 teams in 2002 at Malaysia, 70 teams in 2006 in South Africa. And it helps that Turkey is centrally located for some African and Asian nations.

But it illustrates how far golf has come - and how much more room there is to grow.

``I thought this was a good, inevitable outcome,'' said David Fay, the former USGA executive director who spent 30 years working the World Amateur Team. ``It confirms the game is going global, in large part because golf is an Olympic sport. There are more countries playing now, and they look at Olympic sports differently than they look at other sports. There's so much evidence. When tennis became a medal sport (in 1988), that's when they invested more money in tennis, and you saw what the outcome was - all the champions produced by the former Soviet Union.''

The first time Fay worked the World Amateur Team was in 1980 at Pinehurst, where he saw a 17-year-old Fijian named Vijay Singh ``who couldn't break 80.'' Singh now is in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

One of the early concerns was that emerging golf nations might get embarrassed competing against more polished players, and there's still plenty of evidence. Just last week, Azamat Maksytbekov of Kyrgyzstan made only one par in 54 holes. He had rounds of 128-125-125 to finish 163-over par. Only the top two scores from the three-man teams count, so he was bailed out by his teammates - Konstantin Surikov was 95 over and Alexey Konev was 117 over.

Macedonia fielded a team for the first time, and 17-year-old Peter Stojanovski opened with a 71 - the same score (on a different course) as U.S. Amateur champion Steven Fox. Stojanovski followed with two rounds in the 80s. Macedonia wound up in 63rd place.

``The original objective when the Eisenhower Trophy began was friendship through sport, and that thread has stayed,'' Dawson said. ``Teams tend not to stay at the bottom forever. Nobody feels embarrassed. Everyone is very tolerant of the newcomers.''

John Cook played on the 1978 team, when the Americans won just about every year. South Korea finished last among 24 teams, 128 shots behind.

``That tells you the direction of golf and how much it's grown,'' Cook said. ``Korea is one of the top countries now.''

There have been some interesting moments along the way.

Fay recalled India having to pull out in consecutive years, the first time in 1982 in Switzerland when the team reached London and its embassy realized South Africa (during the apartheid era) was in the field. ``They told their team to go home,'' Fay said. Two years later, the India team was practicing in Hong Kong when its prime minister, Indira Gandhi, was assassinated by two Sikh bodyguards. Fay was told to find out if the team still planned to play.

``I thought, `This is going to be interesting,''' Fay said. ``There were three Hindus and a Sikh on that team. And the first question they asked me was, `Who was responsible?' I ducked the question. I said, `I'm not sure.'''

Fay looks back fondly at the World Amateur Team. There were stars from the golf-rich nations such as the U.S. (Woods, Jack Nicklaus) and Britain (Colin Montgomerie). There were promising players from smaller countries like what was then Rhodesia (Nick Price).

``It really was the United Nations of golf,'' Fay said.

And the membership keeps growing.

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Trotz's future in Washington remains unsettled on eve Stanley Cup Final

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USA TODAY Sports

Trotz's future in Washington remains unsettled on eve Stanley Cup Final

Caps Coach Barry Trotz doesn’t have a contract beyond the Stanley Cup Final, and any potential talks about an extension will wait until the trophy is awarded, GM Brian MacLellan said Friday.

“No,” MacLellan said, asked if a decision on Trotz’s future had been made. “We’re going to address everything after the playoffs are over.”

Trotz’s four-year contract expires at season’s end.

It’s rare for a head coach to enter a season while in the final year of his deal. But that’s how the Caps decided to handle Trotz’s situation last offseason after another strong regular season performance ended with yet another second round playoff exit at the hands of the Penguins.

It was a suboptimal situation for Trotz, a 55-year-old who ranks fifth all-time in regular season victories but, until this year, had never led any team beyond the conference semifinals.

Despite his lame duck status, all Trotz did was produce his best coaching performance to date. 

Consider:

  • While visiting his son in Russia last summer, Trotz visited Alex Ovechkin in Moscow to discuss the changes he’d like to see the Caps’ captain make to his training and his game.
  • When the Caps reconvened for training camp in September, it was clear there were still some hurt feelings in the locker room. So Trotz and his assistants backed off, allowing some necessary healing to occur.
  • When the team suffered back-to-back blowout losses in Nashville and Colorado back in November, Trotz initiated a tell-it-like-it-is team meeting that many players have pointed to as the turning point of the regular season, which ended with the team’s third straight Metropolitan title.
  • Trotz also got his highly-skilled lineup to buy into a more structured, detailed style of play late in the campaign, a transformation that prompted MacLellan to call this playoff run the most defensively responsible of Trotz’s tenure.
  • In each of the two previous conference semifinals, Washington was defeated by Pittsburgh and, as a result, the Penguins had become a physical and a mental hurdle for the Caps. Earlier this month, Trotz helped direct Ovechkin and Co. past the two-time Cup champions.

Although MacLellan wouldn’t say much about Trotz’s contract, he did say that he’s noticed a big change in Trotz’s day-to-day approach to his job, a change possibly prompted by the coach’s free agent status.

“I think his demeanor has changed a little bit,” MacLellan said. “He seems a little lighter, a little looser, a little less pressure. Maybe a little more freedom about how he goes about things. He’s more relaxed, I guess would be the way to describe him.”

MacLellan also acknowledged the job Trotz’s has done this season, beginning with his delicate handling of the dressing room to start the year.

“I think he’s done a good job managing it,” MacLellan said. “To come in this year with so many questions—from my point of view, the lineup questions weren’t that big of a deal—but just the emotional state of our coming into to start the year [and] how to handle that. I think he’s done an outstanding job.”

Indeed, Trotz’s situation remains unclear on the eve of the Final. But we do know this much: He’s having one of the best contract years in NHL coaching history.

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Small Virginia town changes name to Capitalsville ahead of Stanley Cup Final

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FB/The Town of Lovettsville

Small Virginia town changes name to Capitalsville ahead of Stanley Cup Final

Welcome to Capitalsville, Va., population: #ALLCAPS

Hoping to become the Washington Capitals' Stanley Cup headquarters, the small Northern Virginia town of Lovettsville has renamed itself to Capitalsville, Va.

Caps superfan and Mayor of Lovettsville, Bob Zoldos, had a lightbulb moment while watching Game 7 in a local bar and restaurant, Velocity Wings. Overcome with emotion from the win, he decided to take his idea to the town council meeting Thursday and Capitalsville was born after a unanimous vote to "unleash the fury."

This is not the first time name changes have occurred ahead of a big game. Ahead of the Caps' first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Blue Jacket Brewery located in downtown D.C. changed its Twitter handle to "Grujacket Brewery" in support of goaltender Philipp Grubauer.

The name change from Lovettsville to Capitalsville is temporary, with the plan to keep the new name through the end of the Stanley Cup Final. However, Zoldos hopes the sign brings in other Caps superfans from across the DMV to take in a piece of history 20 years in the making. 

Here's to hoping Capitalsville brings the city some luck heading into Game 1 on Memorial Day.

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