Holocaust survivors celebrate end of Allianz golf sponsorship

By Associated PressApril 24, 2017, 8:47 pm

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Holocaust survivors on Monday celebrated the end of German insurance giant Allianz's sponsorship of a Florida pro golf tournament, saying it may boost efforts to collect some $2.5 billion in World War II-era policies issued to Jews that they say have gone unpaid.

Survivors, their heirs and Jewish groups for seven years have protested the company's sponsorship of the PGA senior tour's Allianz Championship in Boca Raton, saying it failed to pay off policies of tens of thousands of Holocaust victims and other Jews who died under Nazi rule.

They say the company has demanded death certificates, which the Nazis didn't issue to concentration camp victims, and copies of policies lost during wartime upheaval.

Monday was Holocaust Remembrance Day.

David Schaecter, president of the Holocaust Survivors Foundation - USA, said Allianz has refused to pay off a policy he is sure his parents bought because he couldn't provide paperwork. His father was arrested by the Nazis in 1940. He, his mother, two younger sisters and older brother were forced from their Slovakian farm in 1941 and taken to Auschwitz, where his mother and sisters were soon executed and tossed into a mass grave.

He and his brother, Jacob, spent nearly two years at Auschwitz and then were sent to Buchenwald, forced at both death camps to clean the railcars that transported other Jews. His brother died in 1944. He later learned his father had spent the war doing forced labor at an Austrian salt mine, dying in 1945 of typhoid soon after being liberated.

''Survivors everywhere are relieved that our voices have been heard and in at least one place Allianz will no longer be able to pretend it has acted honorably,'' said Schaecter, 87.

His group led the tournament protests, which included about 200 people last February.

He said that years ago when an Allianz representative demanded his family's death certificates, he responded, ''Where should I go? Where should I get it?'' Samuel J. Dubbin, the group's attorney, said Allianz has copies of the policies in its archives but has refused to cooperate with survivors.

Allianz said the protests had nothing to do with it no longer sponsoring the tournament. The company has acknowledged collaborating with the Nazi regime in the 1930s and 1940s, but has said it paid off most of the policies through the International Commission on Holocaust Insurance Claims and will pay any other legitimate claims.

''While none of us can undo the past, we must confront it,'' spokesman Christian Kroos said in an email. ''Allianz began its compensation efforts in the 1950s by working in close cooperation with the German government, to try to make certain that restitution was made to those who lost their properties during the Nazi period. Anything else would be enormously disrespectful - especially to those who suffered unspeakable violence at the hands of Nazi Germany.''

Hollis Cavner, CEO of tournament organizer Pro Links Sports, said Allianz told his firm years ago it would not renew its contract when it expired after the 2017 tournament. A new sponsor is expected to be named soon.

Florida's senators, Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio, along with Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami, have unsuccessfully pushed legislation that would allow survivors to sue Allianz in U.S. courts. Survivors are currently blocked by an international agreement limiting claims to the Holocaust insurance commission, an accord upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

''Allianz has a despicable record of its treatment of Holocaust survivors, having sold tens of thousands of insurance policies to Jewish families before WWII only to reject those claims using cruel tactics,'' Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. ''Today will mark the beginning of a renewed effort for all of the next steps the survivors need - we can no longer sit idly by and allow these survivors to continue to be victimized.''

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.