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Conover's Ensure Classic likely to move to June slot


After drawing record crowds last weekend, the Ensure Classic at Rock Barn Golf & Spa in Conover is likely to move to June next year. The shift is related to efforts to condense the Champions Tour schedule in 2011, especially near the end of the season.

Tournament director Jim Correll said tour officials initially asked about a May date for the Rock Barn event but that was ruled out. The likely date is June 6-12, which would give the course time to grow in the Bermuda grass that goes dormant in the winter.

Correll said he expects Ensure to return as title sponsor next year after the tournament's success this year. "Having Fred Couples and Bernhard Langer in the last group on Sunday for us is like a regular tour event having Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson," Correll said.

The annual Birdies For The Brave golf tournament will be Nov. 3 at the TPC at Piper Glen, raising money for organizations that support the families of servicemen throughout the country. It's tied into organizations supported by PGA Tour players Phil Mickelson, Rory Sabbatini, Corey Pavin and others.

This year's event will include military-related exhibits, lunch, dinner, a silent auction and guest speakers. Additionally, one golfer in each group will play their tee shot wearing an armored vest and helmet like the those worn by soldiers in combat. The event has raised more than $900,000 through the Heritage Golf Group (which runs the TPC at Piper Glen). For information, contact Piper Glen at 704-846-1212.

The victory by Charlotte native Bill Haas on Sunday in the Viking Classic will pay off in more ways than a big check Haas, who also won the Bob Hope Classic in January, is now fully exempt through 2013. He has also climbed to 26th on the PGA Tour money list. The top 30 money winners automatically qualify for the Masters (Haas was already in) and the U.S. Open next year. ...


Checking out the winners and losers from a spellbinding Ryder Cup:


Luke Donald and Ian Poulter: They thrive in the team competition, posting a combined 6-2-0 record. Whenever the European team needed a boost, one of them provided it.

Graeme McDowell: If you thought his win at the U.S. Open was a fluke, he showed it wasn't.

Rickie Fowler: It's rare that a guy can be winless in the Ryder Cup but come out looking better than when he went in. That's what Fowler did with his four-birdie finish to earn one-half point in Monday's singles. He showed some serious game when it mattered the most.

The 2012 matches at Medinah: Two years away and the anticipation is already building.


Television: It was tough enough with the matches being played five hours ahead of East Coast time in Wales, but the bad weather, the Monday finish and football season made it a challenge just to keep up with what was happening.

Corey Pavin: The American captain said it before the matches started - players win the cup, captains lose it. His low-key style was the opposite of Colin Montgomerie's emotional leadership. Fair or not, he didn't have the same sizzle as Paul Azinger two years ago.

Sun Mountain: That's the company that made the rain suits that leaked so badly that a PGA official bought new suits for the U.S. players in the merchandise tent during play. The leaks were blamed on stitching that included the players' names on the back.

Phil Mickelson: For whatever reason, he doesn't get it done enough in the Ryder Cup, going 1-3 this time. His 17 losses are the most in Cup history.