SKINS GAME LEGEND FRED COUPLES, DEFENDING CHAMPION STEPHEN AMES, MASTERS CHAMPION ZACH JOHNSON, LONG-HITTING BRETT WETTERICH FORM FIELD FOR 2007 LG SKINS GAME
25th anniversary of the LG SKINS GAME to be played
25th anniversary of the LG SKINS GAME to be played
on new Celebrity Course at Indian Wells Golf Resort
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (August 14, 2007) - LG SKINS GAME defending champion Stephen Ames, SKINS GAME legend Fred Couples, Masters champion Zach Johnson and long-hitting Brett Wetterich will form the field for the Silver Anniversary LG SKINS GAME to be played Thanksgiving weekend at the spectacular new Celebrity Course at Indian Wells Golf Resort.
The announcement was made jointly by ESPN Regional Television (ERT), Trans World International (TWI), LG Electronics USA, Inc. and the City of Indian Wells.
The $1 million 2007 LG SKINS GAME will be produced by ESPN and broadcast on ABC in its customary Thanksgiving home: Saturday, Nov. 24 and Sunday, Nov. 25. Nine holes will be aired Saturday from 1 p.m.-3:30 p.m. and on Sunday from 3:30 p.m.-6 p.m. ET (check\ local listings). This is the 17th year ABC has served as the U.S. broadcast home to the SKINS GAME.
"You have one of the hottest up-and-coming golfers in Zach Johnson, who everyone saw hold off Tiger Woods in the Masters, a member of last year's Ryder Cup, Brett Wetterich, whose powerful long drives are fun to watch, our defending champion Stephen Ames and the most successful player in SKINS GAME history - Fred Couples," said Barry Frank, vice chairman of IMG Media. "This field has something to offer both the devoted golf fan and the casual golf fan, and the vistas and challenges of the Celebrity Course simply add to the allure of our 25th LG SKINS GAME."
Title Sponsor LG Electronics applauded the field for the 2007 LG SKINS GAME. "As LG Electronics proudly returns as sponsor of one of professional golf's best-loved televised events, we are enthusiastic about this diverse and talented group of players that promises to deliver an exciting Thanksgiving weekend of world-class golf," said Michael Ahn, President and CEO of LG Electronics North American Headquarters.
"Over the past 25 years, the LG SKINS GAME has become a Thanksgiving weekend institution," said Tony Renaud, vice president of new business for ESPN. "We are thrilled to feature such an accomplished, yet diverse field that will not only celebrate the past 25 years, but add to the rich history of this very special golf event that families and golf fans have enjoyed."
"Our exceptional resort city is delighted to play host to the LG SKINS GAME, and we're very excited to showcase this famed event's silver anniversary on our new Celebrity Course," said City of Indian Wells Mayor Rob Bernheimer. "This promises to be a great year for the LG SKINS GAME and one that fans will not want to miss."
Ames won his LG SKINS GAME debut last year with a 3-foot birdie putt on the third playoff hole. He won his eight skins and $590,000 all on Sunday to snatch the title from opponents Couples, John Daly and 2005 champion Fred Funk.
The first touring professional to come out of Trinidad and Tobago, Ames has won twice on tour - the 2005 PLAYERS Championship, which he won by six shots and earned him a spot in last year's LG SKINS GAME, and the 2004 Cialis Western Open. This year, Ames was a prime player in two of the season's four major championships. In the U.S. Open, he looked he could threaten for the title on the front nine Sunday before falling out of contention and finishing T-10. In last weekend's PGA Championship, he started Sunday in the final group with Tiger, three shots back, but faltered to a 76 and a tie for 12th. Overall, Ames has three top-10s in 18 starts, including a tie for fifth at the WGC-Accenture Match Play. He is currently 54th on the PGA TOUR money list with nearly $1.2 million. A resident of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Ames is no stranger to the skins format, having won the Canadian Skins Game in 2005.
Couples is as much a mainstay to this Thanksgiving tradition as turkey and stuffing. The most prolific player in LG SKINS GAME history, the sweet-swinging Couples enters his 14th year in the event, a feat unmatched by anyone. Last year, Couples won nine skins for $385,000 but fell short, as Ames won the $200,000 18th-hole Super Skin.
With his victory in the 2004 event, Couples earned his fifth title and second consecutive championship. Couples holds the records for Most Career Skins Won (86), Most Career Skins Money ($3.9 million), most money won on Sunday ($3.18 million, more than $2 million ahead of his closest competitor) and most birdies in one year (nine in'99). Besides his 15 PGA TOUR titles, Couples, the'92 Masters champion, owns 34 victories worldwide. In 2006, Couples tied for third at the Masters, fourth at the Nissan Open and earned $780,361 on the PGA TOUR. Couples is a veteran of five Ryder Cups, four President Cups, four Dunhill Cups and four World Cups.
Johnson, making his LG SKINS GAME debut, shocked the golf world as he coolly held off the hard-charging Tiger Woods to win the 2007 Masters. The humble Iowan with the homemade swing rode that confidence to another victory this year at the AT&T Classic, the third victory of his career, the other coming at the 2004 BellSouth Classic. Johnson's currently enjoying his best year ever on Tour, which says a lot for a guy who won once and made the TOUR Championship his rookie year and has finished in the top 40 every year since. In' starts this season, he has two wins, four top 10s and has earned nearly $3.2 million, good for seventh on the PGA TOUR money list. Johnson was a rookie on the PGA TOUR in 2004 after winning the money title on the Nationwide Tour, setting a single-season earnings record of $494,882 that was broken in 2005 by Troy Matteson. He earned the nickname "Back-to-Back-to-Back-Zach" when he won the final three regular-season Hooters Tour events in 2001.
Rounding out the field, Wetterich also makes his LG SKINS GAME debut. The long hitter played his way onto the 2006 Ryder Cup team with his timely victory at the 2006 EDS Byron Nelson Championship, his only PGA TOUR win. So far in 2007, he has three top 10s and five top 25s in 22 starts and has earned $1,458,628, good enough for 37th on the money list. Wetterich also owns the second- and third-longest measured drives this season, at 437 and 435 yards, and is eighth in driving distance, averaging 304 yards. In 2004, after being relegated to the Nationwide Tour after playing on the PGA TOUR in 2000-2002, Wetterich entered the Nationwide Tour Championship at No. 23 on the money list, but his runner-up showing propelled him up 13 spots to No. 10 and a earned him a ticket back to the TOUR.
Many eyes will be on another LG SKINS GAME "rookie" - Clive Clark's much anticipated new Celebrity Course, which opened in November to rave reviews. In addition to spectacular mountain views, the new Par-72 7,088-yard Celebrity Course features undulating fairways and flowing water in the form of streams, brooks and split-level lakes connected by striking waterfalls, with vibrant floral detail. From start to finish, the new Celebrity Course promises an unmatched golf experience that will have players returning again and again.
The LG SKINS GAME's 25-year history began in'83 when the popular two-day event was played at the Desert Highlands in Scottsdale, Ariz. for two years before moving to Bear Creek Golf Club in Murrieta, Calif. in'85. The Coachella Valley became a permanent fixture beginning in'86. The TPC at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif. was home from'86-1991 and then the site shifted to BIGHORN Golf Club in Palm Desert from'92-1995. Rancho La Quinta Country Club in La Quinta, Calif. hosted from'96-1998, followed by Landmark Golf Club in Indio, Calif. from'99-2002. The past four years (2003-2006), the LG SKINS GAME was played at Trilogy Golf Club in La Quinta, Calif. Indian Wells will be its home for the next three years.
Over the past 24 years, the list of participants in the LG SKINS GAME reads like a who's who of the greats in golf - Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Gary Player, Phil Mickelson, Couples, Curtis Strange, Nick Faldo, Raymond Floyd, Tom Kite, Paul Azinger, Vijay Singh, Colin Montgomerie, the late Payne Stewart, Greg Norman, Mark O'Meara, Tom Lehman, Fuzzy Zoeller, Daly,
Sergio Garcia, Corey Pavin, Adam Scott, Peter Jacobsen, Jesper Parnevik, David Duval, Funk, Ames and the only female player, Annika Sorenstam.
Tickets for the 2007 LG SKINS GAME and LG SKINS PRO-AM event may be purchased online at www.indianwells.com beginning Sept. 4, 2007, and in person after Sept. 24 at Indian Wells City Hall, 44-950 Eldorado Drive, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. Tickets also will be available for purchase during LG SKINS GAME weekend. The LG SKINS GAME weekend events - including the star-studded Celebrity Pro-Am - are fun for the whole family.
LG Electronics USA, Inc., based in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., is the North American subsidiary of LG Electronics Inc a $48.5-billion (2006 consolidated worldwide revenues) global force in consumer electronics, home appliances and mobile communications. In the United States, LG Electronics sells a wide range of digital appliances, digital display and digital media products, and mobile phones under LG's "Life's Good" marketing theme. For more information, please visit www.LGusa.com or www.lgskinsgame.com.
The City of Indian Wells was incorporated as California's 400th city on July 14,'67. Today, on the eve of its 40th anniversary, Indian Wells enjoys the benefits of being one of California's wealthiest and financially well managed cities. Located in the heart of the Coachella Valley, Indian Wells has long been recognized as a world-class residential and resort destination. The Indian Wells Golf Resort has been a popular golf travel destination for nearly 20 years offering two golf courses and four hotel/resorts. The City of Indian Wells, owner of the golf resort, decided to reinvest in tourism by embarking on a $61 million project that will ultimately boast The Celebrity Course, Player's Course, lighted natural grass putting course and sprawling practice facility all professionally managed by OB Sports. Unique attractions also include the state-of-the-art Indian Wells Tennis Garden, home of the prestigious Pacific Life Open; and the Living Desert, the only zoo and botanical garden dedicated to preservation of the desert eco-system. Indian Wells is also the home to four luxurious resorts-Hyatt Grand Champions Resort and Spa, Indian Wells Resort Hotel, Miramonte Resort & Spa, and the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa-as well as exceptional spas, restaurants, boutiques and country club communities. The City of Indian Wells serves as a sponsor of many sporting and cultural events including the LG SKINS GAME, Pacific Life Open, Desert Town Hall Indian Wells lecture series, Palm Springs International Art Museum and the Indian Wells Art Festival.
ESPN Regional Television (ERT) is the nation's largest producer and distributor of collegiate sports programming, producing over 900 sporting events per year. In addition to event sponsorship, ERT produces 400 events for national, regional and local networks, serves as the exclusive syndication rights-holder for college conferences (Big 12, BIG EAST and WAC), owners and operators of five collegiate post season Bowl Games (Hawaii, Las Vegas, Armed Forces, New Mexico and Birmingham), the ESPN National Golf Challenge and numerous basketball events nationally.
IMG is the world's premier Sports, Entertainment and Media Company. IMG is a diversified global business with two major business segments: IMG Sports & Entertainment, and IMG Media. IMG employs over 2,300 people in 30 countries. Forstmann Little & Co. purchased IMG in 2004. IMG Sports & Entertainment includes: consulting services; event ownership and management; fashion events and models representation; licensing; golf course design; client representation in golf, tennis, broadcasting, European football, rugby, cricket, motorsports, coaching, Olympic sports and action sports. In addition, IMG Academies are the world's largest and most advanced, state-of-the-art, multi-sport training and educational facility, delivering world-class sports training experiences to over 12,000 junior, collegiate, adult and professional athletes each year. IMG Media, which includes our content production subsidiaries TWI and Darlow Smithson Productions, is recognized as a global leader in the delivery of traditional and new media content and services, with Internet, broadband and mobile expertise, transforming how audiences access and interact with content. IMG Media produces and distributes over 9,000 hours of sports, documentary, docu-drama, entertainment, and popular factual content annually, over multiple platforms across 200 countries, including award-winning television and radio programming. It also represents the broadcast rights to many of the world's premier sporting events and has the world's biggest sports archive with more than 200,000 hours of footage. More information about IMG is available at www.imgworld.com and www.darlowsmithson.com
Steve Brener/Brian Robin/Damian Secore/Matt Paulson/Greg Ball, Brener Zwikel & Associates, Inc., (818) 462-5598/5610/5614/5609/5611
Nate Smeltz, ESPN/ABC, (860) 766-4550
John Taylor, LG Electronics, (847) 941-8181
Nancy Samuelson, City of Indian Wells, (760) 346-2489