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Information system will keep fans updated

Computer network will provide data on scores, holes and more
by Michael BeDan, Denver Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer

Are you old school? Misty-eyed for the days when getting a glimpse meant chasing Jack and Arnie around the golf course all day?

Get over it. And leave your grainy black-and-white memories at home.

The 1999 Sprint International is Cyber Tiger. It's www.Duval.

"What we are doing this year is just light years ahead of what we've done in the past," said Larry Thiel, the International's executive director. "Quite honestly, it's light years ahead of what is done anywhere on the PGA Tour."

It's SportsCenter, the World Wide Web and Golf Digest in a blender.

"Rather than just making it nice, we wanted to kind of take the space shuttle approach and really make it leading edge," said John Loiacono, vice president of brand marketing at Sun Microsystems Inc. "We wanted to showcase our best stuff."

So, as the best golfers in the world assault the Castle Pines course -- Tiger Woods, David Duval, etc. -- fans will be able to follow along, and then some. Sun will operate 125 networked kiosks scattered around the course, giving fans point-and-click access to statistics, biographies, tournament history, 3-D graphics.

"When you are walking around a golf course, the worst thing that can happen is you don't know what's going on," Loiacono said. "Now you can just pop up to a kiosk and check out the leader board. If you want to find Tiger Woods, you just click 'W.'

"You can figure out how long a hole is and get the stats on it -- who's done well here, what the average score is. You can actually look at a three-dimensional view of the hole. It will show you the hole, including contours and shading, and you can actually have a fly-over view of the hole."

The kiosks will make their debut at the Sprint International, a $1 million-plus project that Sun intends to apply to other sporting events. Each computer is equipped with a 21-inch monitor and user-friendly access that even a computer illiterate can negotiate.

"If you can point a mouse and click on something, you're all set," Loiacono said.

Fans will be able to see complete tournament history, listen to audio, see video, find restrooms and get updates as readily as tournament officials.

"We're tapping into the International scoring system," Loiacono said. "As soon as they get updated, we can update. You want to just walk up to something and say, 'Who is in the lead right now?' (The computers) will be at least within a few seconds and, at worst, a minute or two behind the actual posting."

Tournament officials worked closely with Sun over the past year to prepare the databases, which include a hole-by-hole breakdown of each previous champion's run to the title.

"There is no tournament in the world of golf that will have this level of information and entertainment available to the spectators," Thiel said. "It took hundreds, if not thousands, of hours for technicians to develop this system. It is going to be incredible for the spectators who come to this tournament."

August 17, 1999

Newsbit furnished by:

A: NetShift Software Ltd.
A: Hughenden Yard, Marlborough, Wilts,SN8 1LT, UK
T: +44 (0)1672 511 094
F: +44 (0)1672 511 078
E: [email protected]
W: www.netshift.com

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