The first batch of Ernie Els's Stellenbosch 2000 wine recently came to market in South Africa, and a dozen bottles found their way to Waialae Country Club, where members snapped them up, in five minutes, at $65 apiece. (Els promised to sign each bottle.) The wine, from a blend of cabernet and merlot grapes, was described by the Honolulu Advertiser as "smooth" with "a strong finish," which pretty well sums up Els's performance at the Sony.
Corey Pavin was married on Jan. 8 in Maui to the former Lisa Nguyen. Pavin, a two-time winner of the Hawaiian Open, finished 15th last week at the Sony Open—as the Hawaiian is now known—during a working honeymoon.
Natalie Gulbis was spotted last week house-hunting in the I, as Vegas area. No word on whether or not her overprotective dad will be moving into a spare bedroom.
Organizers of the Byron Nelson Championship began last Thursday's annual kickoff luncheon with an unusual prayer: "Lord, give us blue skies, calm winds and Tiger Woods." Alas, Woods has let it be known that he will miss the Nelson for the first time in his professional career, opting instead to spend May 15-18 in Germany defending his Deutsche Bank-SAP Open title, for which he'll receive a reported $2 million appearance fee. "I understand how somebody would want to defend their tournament titles. I defended plenty of mine," Byron Nelson tells SI. "I fully expect him to return in 2004 and 2005."
The St Andrews links Trust has approved installation of a memorial bench near the 1st tee of the Old Course in honor of longtime caddie George Stewart, known far and wide as Dod. He was killed on Nov. 24,2002, at the age of 46, when the taxi in which he was riding collided with a bus. Dod had carried on more than 5,000 rounds on the courses around St. Andrews and was frequently requested by repeat visitors who remembered his expressive, weather-beaten face and wicked sense of humor, imparted with an impenetrable Scottish accent.
From the geniuses at the PGA Tour: Despite winning the first two events of the year, including a record 31-under performance at the Mercedes, Els is currently ranked fourth in die adjusted scoring average statistics.