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Commonwealth Games 2002

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banner Wednesday, 21 November, 2001, 14:23 GMT
BBC Go Digital's Jon Fildes casts a wry eye over developments in the world of technology

When it comes to the world of golf, few would dispute Tiger Woods' supremacy.

But can he swing a mouse with the same power and accuracy as his seven iron? Few would perhaps back Woods to beat the four players flown to Florida this week to find out who is the virtual golf champion of 2001.

The four beat over 22,000 players from 10 countries for the right to play for a $50,000 (30,000) prize.

Organised by Microsoft's Virtual Golf Association, the finale is the culmination of the 2001 online tour that lets budding putters compete in three preliminary tournaments.

The top players advance through to semi-finals and then the finals, and the chance to take home the big cheque and trophy.

Virtual winner, real prizes

The 2001 winner was defending champion Paul Willey of Bangor, Maine, US, who defeated fellow American Bill Crouch in a match that was decided on the final putt.

Paul, Lori-Ann and Josh Willey
VGA champ Paul Willey and family
The final was played out on a virtual version of the Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania. The Links Tour administrator David Cass picked challenging conditions for the golfers by making the course windy and the ground soft.

Mr Willey made it to the final by beating Ricky Morris, Britain's top virtual golfer.

The players had to use the PCs and monitors supplied by Microsoft, but could bring their own keyboards, mice and headphones. Mr Willey also wore his lucky bathrobe.

The final was played out over two days early this week at the World Golf Hall of Fame in St Augustine, Florida. Highlights from the tournament will be available online from 27 November.

Tee and biscuits

The game play in the tournaments is asynchronous - although players compete against each other in real time, can see their opponent's score card and chat to them, their rival is not on screen to disrupt that all important 30 yard putt.

The whole tournament is based around Microsoft's Links 2001 golf game.

All you have to do is pick your club, adjust for the wind, correct your stance, hold down the left button of your mouse to draw back the club and then hope.

Players can pitch and putt on some of the world's most famous courses or even a custom designed course. And at the end of an exhausting round you can even retire to the clubhouse, relax and pick up the latest news from the online golfing community.

If you fancy your chances for next year but don't know your eagle from your bogey, don't worry. When you visit linkstour.zone.com you can attend a virtual training school before you tee off with the world's greatest cyber golfers.


You can hear about new gadgets and games every week on Go Digital, which is webcast on the BBC World Service site and BBC News Online every Monday at 1500 GMT.

See also:

18 Nov 01 | Sci/Tech
Virtual golf games tee off
29 Oct 01 | dot life
Gamers gather global audience
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