World Series of Golf grand prize goes to Michigan car salesman AJ Johnson
The second annual World Series of Golf came down to a playoff with $250,000 on the line. And with professional golfers, professional poker players and celebrities vying for the top prize in the unique
tournament that combines Texas Hold 'Em betting and golf skills, a car salesman from Michigan made the biggest shot of the tournament.
Andrew "AJ" Johnson, a car salesman from Davison, Mich., outplayed, outwagered and outlasted a field of 80 golfers - including "Real-TV" and "House Detective" host John Daly, and poker superstars Phil Gordon and Daniel Negreanu - to win the $250,000 prize May 15. Johnson sealed his victory on the first playoff hole at Paiute Golf Resort, sticking his tee shot just short of the pin on a 163-yard par-3. Johnson beat poker professionals Alan Cunningham, Erick Lindgren and Dee Tiller in the playoff.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience," said Johnson, 36, a one-time college baseball player at Michigan State. "I've never played anything like this, and I've already paid my entry fee for next year."
Lindgren ended up second, taking home $60,000 in the unique, patent-pending format. The World Series of Golf combines the most exciting elements of golf and poker, as betting is the name of the game not just on every hole, but literally on every shot. Players ante up on each tee, then can bet, raise, call, check or fold on each subsequent shot. Shooting the lowest score won't get the victory at the WSG, rather, winning the pot at the end of a hole and eventually eliminating opponents by claiming their chips.
In its second year, the World Series of Golf has become a lightning rod for golfers, poker stars and amateurs eager to pay the $10,000 buy in to compete, with such notable players this year as Daly, TV star Ray Romano, former Major League Baseball player Dusty Allen, and Emily Jillette, wife of magician Penn Jillette. Romano played for charity and made it to the final day of the two-day event, eventually being eliminated on the 17th hole of round two.
The closing ceremony was held at the Mirage Hotel & Casino, the host hotel of the event, and featured an exclusive performance by Zowie Bowie. The World Series of Golf is scheduled to be broadcast nationally on CBS Sports, June 28-29.
Terry Leiweke, president of the World Series of Golf, has said he plans on making the World Series of Golf a perennial event, but also plans to give players even more high-stakes opportunities.
"We have found that there are plenty of folks out there that love this way of playing and are itching for high-stakes events," Leiweke said.
Due to that, Leiweke is planning a $200,000-buy-in event that would have a $1.5-million final payout, with the top six of the 30-player event profiting. The 24 players out of the money would earn entry into another World Series of Golf tournament Leiweke has planned. The events are also scheduled to be played in Las Vegas.
"We've looked at other areas to hold these events, but when we hear from players on the East Coast or Europe, their response is virtually unanimous," said Leiweke. "They want to play in Las Vegas."
May 16, 2008