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Trump report: Two Scottish courses losing millions

By Associated PressOctober 9, 2017, 6:30 pm

BALMEDIE, Scotland - David Milne loves the view of the North Sea from his home high above the roiling surf, but he finds his eye often falling onto the golf course next door and, when it does, on the tiny figures below.

He counts the people coming off the buses in the parking lot and the people swinging at the first tee and the 10th tee and he counts the people walking the fairways and after all this counting he's convinced of something that must be satisfying given his tussles with the owner, Donald Trump.

There aren't enough people.

''The carpark is rarely even half full,'' said Milne, 53, looking out again on Friday under clear blue skies. ''For what was supposedly the best golf course in the world, I don't really think this is a resounding success.''

A few hours after Milne spoke, he got some confirmation. A financial report that Trump's company filed with the British government shows he has lost millions of dollars at the resort, called the Trump International Golf Links, as well as at a second one on the other side of Scotland overlooking the Irish Sea.

The report from Britain's Companies House released late Friday showed losses last year more than doubled to 17.6 million pounds ($23 million). It was the third year in a row of losses. Revenue also fell sharply.

Trump's company has faced several setbacks since it ventured into Scotland a dozen years ago.

The company has angered Milne and other neighbors for what they say are its bullying tactics to get them to sell land. A local fisherman became a national hero of sorts when he, like Milne, refused to sell to Trump, despite a $690,000 offer.

Then the company got some unwelcome publicity. Two documentaries about the fights with residents were shot, ''Tripping Up Trump'' and ''You've Been Trumped,'' the latter shown on the BBC despite threats from one of Trump's lawyers to sue the broadcaster.

Troubles have only mounted since then.


Photos: Best of Donald Trump on the golf course


A few months before Trump clinched the Republican nomination last year, he lost a court fight to stop an offshore windmill farm near the North Sea resort. He has been repeatedly stymied in his plans to build a luxury hotel there and a second course because of, among other things, strong objections from environmental regulators that his plans will threaten the sand dunes for which the area is famous. And there also are signs that he is at risk of losing a bid to host the coveted Scottish Open.

Just how much these setbacks have hurt Trump's business is unclear, however. Other factors appear to have played a big role in the latest financial results.

In Friday's report, Trump's company noted it had to shut down its Turnberry resort on the Irish Sea for half the year while building a new course there and fixing up an old one. It also blamed losses on a hit from fluctuations in the value of the British pound.

The report and Milne's math aside, some residents think Trump's resorts are attracting plenty of golfers and doing just fine. In fact, whatever troubles Trump has encountered appear to only have helped business in the North Sea area.

He has only 16 rooms for overnight guests at his resort there, leaving other hotels to pick up the slack.

''I've gone from doing an average of 400 room nights for golfers per year to 1,400 room nights in six months,'' said Stewart Spence, 70, owner of the Marcliffe Hotel and Spa in nearby Aberdeen. ''There can hardly be a golfer in the world who doesn't know about this area because of what Trump has done.''

Rival courses have seen a bump in business, too.

''We've gone from about 4,000 golfers per annum to almost 5,500 a year,'' said Les Durno, 54, general manager at the Cruden Bay Golf Club about 20 miles from Trump's course.

Then there is the sheer spectacle itself, a chance to gawk at a U.S. president's property and maybe spend 19.95 pounds ($26.07) for a cap embroidered with Trump's family crest.

''When we drive past Trump International, I often get people, Americans mostly, asking to stop so they can go into the golf shop and buy something,'' said a bus driver waiting in the parking lot Friday who didn't want to give his name. ''They don't play golf but they want a Trump Scotland souvenir.''

Or as Hector Emslie, 58, the golf project manager for the local tourism organization, VisitAberdeenshire, put it: it's like having the ''Disney World for golfers'' on our doorstep.

Others are less enthusiastic, including the leader of the Scottish government, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Shortly before Trump visited his North Sea resort in June last year, and Milne ran a Mexican flag up a pole in protest against his immigration policies, Sturgeon stripped Trump of his title as business ambassador for Scotland. She cited his comments about Muslims during the campaign.

Aberdeen's Robert Gordon University also revoked Trump of his honorary degree for the same reason.

Trump's incendiary comments while president have only added to his woes.

A corporate watchdog group started an online petition to stop Trump's development plan at his resort. The group, SumOfUs, seized on Trump's reaction to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, arguing that his rhetoric has ''bolstered white supremacists'' across the globe.

''Now we have a chance to reject Trump's hatred,'' it said in its online appeal, ''and protect our environment in one fell swoop.''

As of Sunday, the group had collected 94,888 signatures.

In July, the CEO of a major sponsor of the Scottish Open was quoted in a local newspaper casting doubt on Trump's chances of hosting the event.

''There's no decision made but, look, there are clear issues,'' Aberdeen Asset Management CEO Martin Gilbert was quoted saying. He added, ''Politics aside, Trump would be an ideal venue - but you can't put politics aside.''

Whether any of this will hurt profits at Trump's Scottish business in the long run is another matter.

In Friday's report, Eric Trump, the president's son and a director of the British subsidiary that owns the two resorts, included a letter expressing confidence that the resorts will attract plenty of golfers.

Amanda Miller, a spokeswoman for the Trump Organization, declined to comment. She also said that Eric Trump was not available to talk.

Trump handed over management of his company to Eric and his other adult son, Donald Jr., before becoming president, but he still retains a financial interest in it.

For his part, Milne is convinced the course will continue to suffer. He thinks Trump's election as president has hurt the business.

''It has hindered the success of the club,'' said Milne as his Mexican flag flapped in the wind. ''Some people come because it is the president's golf club, but others avoid it for the same reason.''

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Watch: Daly makes an ace at the Chubb Classic

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 18, 2018, 9:01 pm

John Daly won't walk from the Chubb Classic with the trophy, but he certainly deserves recogition for his Sunday scorecard, which came complete with a hole-in-one.

Daly aced the 154-yard par-3 16th on the Talon Course at TwinEagles, when his ball carried the froont bunker and tracked right to the hole.

Two holes later, Daly signed for a final-round 67 that included four birdies, three bogeys and two eagles, which both in the span of four holes on the back nine.

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Gustafson shares stuttering success video

By Randall MellFebruary 18, 2018, 8:31 pm

Sophie Gustafson shared a breakthrough Sunday morning on YouTube.

Gustafson, a five-time LPGA winner and 16-time Ladies European Tour winner, shared her news in a 4-minute and 15-second video.

She did so without stuttering.

And that’s the nature of her breakthrough, something she is sharing in hopes that it will help others who stutter.

“I’m certainly not perfect, and the next time you see me, I am going to stutter, there is no question about that,” she says in the video. “But I am excited, because I am going in the right direction, and I believe I have found the solution that works for me.”

For someone who has struggled with stuttering all of her life, Gustafson has touched so many with her ability to communicate. She has entertained her legion of Twitter followers with her sense of humor. She also has written articles.

Back in 2011, Gustafson touched Golf Channel viewers when she opened up about her stuttering in an interview that was aired during the Solheim Cup. Her courage in sharing her challenges was recognized the following year, when the Golf Writers Association of American presented her its Ben Hogan Award, an honor bestowed to someone who has persevered through physical ailment. She also won the LPGA’s Heather Farr Perseverance Award that year.

Gustafson, 44, left the game as a player three years ago to become Beth Allen’s full-time caddie on the Ladies European Tour. She explains in the YouTube video that she is making her breakthrough with the help of Steve Gill, a team member with Tony Robbins’ life and business strategy group.

Gustafson said Gill led her to breathing, meditation and incantation exercises that have helped her since they began working together eight months ago.

“If you know anyone who stutters, tell them to breathe in and then speak,” Gustafson said. “I tried it the other way for 44 years, and it's just not working.” 

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J.Y. Ko wins her first start as an official LPGA member

By Randall MellFebruary 18, 2018, 4:09 pm

Make way for Jin Young Ko.

The South Koreans keep delivering one new star after another to the LPGA ranks, and they aren’t going to disappoint this year.

Ko made some history Sunday winning the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, closing with a 3-under-par 69 to claim a wire-to-wire victory. She became the first player in 67 years to win her LPGA debut as a tour member. Beverly Hanson (1951) is the only other player to do so.

Hyejin Choi, an 18-year-old who just turned pro, is yet another emerging South Korean star looking to crack the LPGA ranks. She finished second Sunday, three shots back after closing with a 67. She played on a sponsor exemption. She is already No. 11 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings and likely to move up when the newest rankings are released. Had Choi won Sunday, she could have claimed LPGA membership for the rest of this season.


Full-field scores from the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open


Ko, 22, moved herself into early position to try to follow in Sung Hyun Park’s footsteps. Park won the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards last year. She joined Nancy Lopez as the only players to do so. Lopez did it in 1978. Park shared the Player of the Year honor with So Yeon Ryu.

Ko said winning the Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year Award is a goal, but she didn’t come into the year setting her sights on Player of the Year.

“I haven’t thought about that yet,” she said.

Ko finished at 14 under overall.

It was a good week for rookies. Australia’s Hannah Green (69) finished third.

Ko claimed LPGA membership this year based on her victory as a non-member at the KEB Hana Bank Championship in South Korea last fall. She’s already a star in South Korea, having won 10 times on the Korean LPGA Tour. She is No. 20 in the world and, like Choi, poised to move up when the newest world rankings are released.

Former world No. 1 Lydia Ko closed with an even par 72, finishing tied for 19th in her 2018 debut. She is in next week’s field at the Honda LPGA Thailand.

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Luiten takes title at inaugural Oman Open

By Associated PressFebruary 18, 2018, 3:25 pm

MUSCAT, Oman - Joost Luiten of the Netherlands won the inaugural Oman Open on Sunday to break a title drought of nearly 17 months.

The 32-year-old Dutchman shot a 4-under 68 to finish on 16-under 272, two shots ahead of his friend, England's Chris Wood (69).

It was Luiten's sixth European Tour title and the first since the 2016 KLM Open.

Frenchman Julien Guerrier (71) virtually assured that he would not have to go to qualifying school for the 12th time with a third-place finish after a 13-under 275.

Luiten started with three birdies in his first four holes, but bogeys on the seventh and eighth set him back. On the back nine, he made three birdies, including a key one on the 16th, where he made a 30-foot putt.

''It feels great. I didn't know what to expect when I came here but to play a course like this which is in great condition - it's a great technical golf course as well - it was beyond my expectation and to hold the trophy is even better,'' said Luiten, who is expected to rise to No. 65 in the new rankings on Monday.

''I had a great start, that's what I was hoping for. I hit some nice ones in close and rolled in a couple of nice putts and that gets you in the right position, where you want to be.


Full-field scores from the NBO Oman Golf Classic


''Unfortunately, I had a couple of bogeys as well on the front nine, but I recovered from that with a couple of nice birdies on the back nine and it was a good battle with Woody.''

Playing one group ahead, England's Wood was right in the mix and tied with Luiten at 15-under when their fortunes went in opposite directions almost at the same time. On the 17th hole, Wood drove his tee shot into the hazard left and could do no more than chip his ball out for a bogey. Luiten, meanwhile, drained his 30-footer birdie putt on the 16th for a two-shot swing.

Recovering his form after a series of disappointments, Wood was let down by the loss and said: ''It's golf isn't it? You are never happy.

''I played poorly for six or eight months. Would have never thought I would have put myself into contention. And when you do, you feel gutted when you don't win. I am pretty down really, but in the grand scheme of things, when I reflect after a couple of days, I will think it is a big step in the right direction.''

Luiten's win also got him into the top 10 in the Race to Dubai, securing him a start at the WGC-Mexico Championship in two weeks.

Frenchman Alexander Levy (70), who was hoping to finish in the top five to push into the top 10 in the Race to Dubai and grab the WGC-Mexico spot himself, did manage a joint fourth place at 11 under, but Luiten's victory kept him 11th.

The European Tour next moves to Doha for the Qatar Masters starting on Thursday.