ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., Nov. 21, 2001 — Deep inside the halls of the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Paul Willey of Bangor, Maine, defeated Bill Crouch of Thorntown, Ind., in a thrilling final match and took home the championship of the 2001 “Links®
” Virtual Golf Association (VGA) Tour. Willey was presented the $50,000 grand-prize check and winning trophy by Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) superstar Annika Sorenstam. The Links VGA Tour Finals marked the launch of the “Links” Championship Edition, the latest installment of Microsoft Corp.’s best-selling PC golf franchise.
The “Links” VGA Tour gives PC golfers the opportunity to compete in one of the world’s largest sporting events on the Internet. More than 22,000 PC golfers from more than 10 countries, including the United States, Japan, Australia, Sweden and the United Kingdom, played the tour’s three-tournament season at the Microsoft®
online gaming site, http://www.zone.com/ . Modeled after the professional golf tours, the “Links” VGA Tour offers intense competition, ultrarealistic courses, title sponsors and cash prizes.
“Playing the Links Virtual Golf Association Tour, much like the LPGA Tour, requires hard work and dedication,” Sorenstam said. “The intensity of the final round was similar to the real competition of a major golf tournament on a Sunday. I am proud to have had the opportunity to host this tournament and crown the world’s best ‘Links’ PC golfer.”
The final 18 holes of the “Links” VGA Tour were played, virtually speaking, at the Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania. The match was won by a score of 5 and 3, in a grueling final round in match-play format. Highlights, including the winning putt of the 2001 “Links” VGA Tour, will be available for viewing at http://www.linkscountryclub.com/ beginning Tuesday, Nov. 27.
About the Finalists
As a boy, Paul Willey caddied for his father. Although his family, including his sister, a teaching pro, played golf, Willey never took up the game. After learning to play golf on his personal computer, he finally tried “real golf” in 1997. Today he carries a 20 handicap and hits 200-yard drives, although swinging his club often causes him to cry out in pain due to multiple sclerosis. Willey, who plays PC golf in his lucky bathrobe, gets just as much satisfaction out of a half-hour round of cybergolf as he does real golf. Willey is the defending champion of the VGA Tour and is known throughout the PC golf community as the “Tiger Woods of Online Golf.”
A car accident cut short Crouch’s promising baseball career when he was a senior in high school. He quit baseball to start a family in Thorntown. Crouch, a natural athlete, began playing golf when he was 25 years old. The former third baseman picked up a club for the first time and eagled a par five. He picked up his first “Links” game in 1998, and has been steadily improving his game and standing in the Links community, culminating with the trip to the “Links” VGA Tour Finals at the World Golf Hall of Fame. A father of two, Crouch worked at a local printing company for 12 years and recently started his own printing business
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