Campbell Blows in Masters Lead

By Associated PressApril 7, 2006, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- There's no mistaking this place for Augusta National.
 
Azaleas are bursting with pink, white and purple blooms. The wind swirls down at Amen Corner, turning good shots into bogeys or worse, and Rae's Creek is as scary as ever.
 
Chad Campbell
Chad Campbell is in search of his first major championship victory.
Everything else about this Masters, however, is starting to resemble the U.S. Open.
 
Chad Campbell kept his mistakes to a minimum in Friday's second round, turning three straight birdies into a 5-under 67 and taking a three-shot lead over Vijay Singh, Fred Couples and Rocco Mediate.
 
'I don't think there's anything to celebrate yet,' said Campbell, who was at 6-under 138. 'I haven't really accomplished much yet. We're only halfway through.'
 
Campbell's birdie run through the back nine was about the only thing resembling a charge that typically defines this major. Everyone else was hanging on, happy with par, trying to survive what is shaping up as the toughest test in golf.
 
Just like so many U.S. Opens, the goal was to keep the ball in play off the tee and go from there.
 
'You play away from flags here like you do at U.S. Opens,' Ernie Els, who has won the Open twice, said after his second straight 71. 'The only difference is the rough is not as high. Give that some time.'
 
And as Els looked ahead to a weekend in which 15 players were within five shots of the lead -- including defending champion Tiger Woods -- he expected something else that reminds him of that other major held in June.
 
'You don't want to get too aggressive here at the moment, the way the golf course is playing,' he said. 'I can see a lot of backtracking over the weekend at some stages in this tournament.'
 
For now, much depends on Campbell.
 
He is a khakis-and-a-white-shirt player in an arena of dogwoods and magnolias, a prototype U.S. Open golfer who digs shots out of the dirt. The firm, crusty conditions over two days has shortened this beefy course and helped medium-length hitters like Campbell, who once described his driving distance in relation to a steak -- medium, left on the grill two extra minutes.
 
Campbell began his surge at Amen Corner, holing a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-3 12th that drew virtually no applause. He laid up on the par-5 13th and made a 10-foot birdie, then hit a 9-iron to a back pin on the 14th that stopped 6 feet away. His final birdie, a 15-foot putt that swirled into the hole, gave him a comfortable margin.
 
But as so many others learned, no lead is safe.
 
Singh birdied two of his first three holes and appeared to be in command until hitting two shots he thought were perfect. A 6-iron went over the fourth green and into the bushes, and a 7-iron went over the fifth green into a bunker. Singh made double bogey on both holes, and the gallery gasped as it watched him tumble down the leaderboard.
 
For good measure, Singh found Rae's Creek on the 13th for another double bogey. He wound up with a 74, bruised but not out of it.
 
'I don't think I've ever had back-to-back doubles for a long, long time,' Singh said. 'I'm happy that I hung in there. I didn't give up. I cannot win the tournament today. I just made sure I wasn't going to lose too many shots.'
 
Fred Couples, who has never missed a cut at the Masters, was poised to join Campbell in the lead until his second shot in the par-5 15th came up short and rolled back into the water. He managed a 70, while Mediate ground out a 73.
 
Mediate has been struggling on the PGA Tour, but got into the Masters because he tied for sixth last year in the U.S. Open. Clearly, he likes this kind of golf.
 
Phil Mickelson
It wasn't all smiles for Phil Mickelson Friday, as he had four bogeys to go along with four birdies.
'I hit a few good-looking shots that turned out horrible,' Mediate said. 'Just to be in this position to have a shot, that's all I can ask for. It's the ultimate examination, this golf course.'
 
It proved plenty tough for Woods again, although he was very much in the picture. He made short work of the par 5s on the back nine, two-putting for birdie on both of them, but was disgusted by missing birdie putts of 8 feet on the 16th and 18th holes that could have brought him closer to the lead.
 
Instead, he was at 1-under 143 and in a group that included two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen (73) and Ben Crenshaw, the two-time Masters champion who shot 72. At age 54, he's wondering when his improbable run is going to end.
 
'I'm in contention, so it's a good spot,' Woods said.
 
The group at 2-under 142 included Els, Darren Clarke (70), Tim Clark of South Africa (72), David Howell of England (71) and former Masters champion Phil Mickelson, who kept his round together with clutch par saves, but failed to shoot up the leaderboard by missing putts after spectacular shots.
 
His best one might have been for bogey.
 
Mickelson posed over a 6-iron into the back right hole location on the 11th, only to feel the wind shift on his face -- switching from left to right -- enough to gently push his ball into the water. From behind the pond, he fired a long chip that stopped 6 feet from the hole and enabled him to escape with only a bogey.
 
He traded birdies and bogeys the rest of the way in his round of 72.
 
'I would not say it resembles the U.S. Open because the rough isn't rough -- it's first cut,' Mickelson said, referring to the grass that grows just under two inches. 'But the penalty for a missed tee shot on a number of holes now is U.S. Open-type penalties.'
 
The leaderboard might be the best indicator.
 
Even with Campbell ahead by three shots, this Masters appears to be wide open with some of the strongest games in golf -- from Singh to Mickelson to Els to Woods to Goosen, all members of the so-called Big Five.
 
The only thing that could transfer Augusta National back to its old self is rain, and there is a chance for that Saturday.
 
'Unless we get rain to soften it up, if it's windy then 2 or 3 under might not win,' Couples said.
 
Perhaps no one is more desperate to wear a green jacket than Els, who has been runner-up twice at Augusta National since 2000, and is still smarting from losing a duel to Mickelson two years ago. He closed with 67 in 2004; he was happy with 71-71 this year.
 
'I've just got to try and sneak something into the 60s over the weekend and see what happens,' Els said. 'At least I know you don't have to try and shoot 65 to win.'
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - 70th Masters Tournament
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    Caddies drop lawsuit; Tour increases healthcare stipend

    By Rex HoggardOctober 18, 2018, 3:33 pm

    After nearly four years of litigation, a group of PGA Tour caddies have dropped their lawsuit against the circuit.

    The lawsuit, which was filed in California in early 2015, centered on the bibs caddies wear during tournaments and ongoing attempts by the caddies to improve their healthcare and retirement options.

    The caddies lost their class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court and an appeal this year.

    Separately, the Association of Professional Tour Caddies, which was not involved in the lawsuit but represents the caddies to the Tour, began negotiating with the circuit last year.

    “I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the APTC.

    In January 2017, Jay Monahan took over as commissioner of the Tour and began working with the APTC to find a solution to the healthcare issue. Sajtinac said the Tour has agreed to increase the stipend it gives caddies for healthcare beginning next year.

    “It took a year and a half, but it turned out to be a good result,” Sajtinac said. “Our goal is to close that window for the guys because healthcare is such a massive chunk of our income.”

    The Tour did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the agreement or the end to the lawsuit.

    Caddies have received a stipend from the Tour for healthcare for some time, and although Sajtinac wouldn’t give the exact increase, he said it was over 300 percent. Along with the APTC’s ability to now negotiate healthcare plans as a group, the new stipend should dramatically reduce healthcare costs for caddies.

    “It’s been really good,” said Sajtinac, who did add that there are currently no talks with the Tour to created a retirement program for caddies. “Everybody is really excited about this.”

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    PGA Tour Latinoamérica moving season finale to Doral

    By Nick MentaOctober 18, 2018, 2:36 pm

    PGA Tour Latinoamérica announced Wednesday that it will play its season finale, the Latinoamérica Tour Championship-Shell Championship, at Trump National Doral from Nov. 29-Dec. 2.

    The limited-field event will feature the top 60 players on the circuit's money list competing on Doral's Golden Palm Course.

    “We are very happy that we will continue playing the Latinoamérica Tour Championship-Shell Championship in South Florida, and Doral is a tremendous community that we know will open its arms to our players and this tournament,” PGA Tour Latinoamérica president Jack Warfield said in a statement.

    The PGA Tour ended its more than 50-year relationship with Doral and the resort's Blue Monster course back in 2016, when Cadillac's title sponsorship of the World Golf Championship lapsed as then-candidate Donald Trump was mounting his bid for the presidency.

    “We continue to stand by our earlier statement, and the statement of other golf organizations, that Mr. Trump's comments are inconsistent with our strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment in the game of golf,” then-PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said in December 2015, referring to Trump's campaign rhetoric concerning Mexicans and Muslims.

    The event was moved to Mexico City in 2017 and renamed the WGC-Mexico Championship.

    The Latinoamérica Tour Championship was staged the last two years at Melreese Country Club in Miami, where David Beckham is currently attempting to build a stadium for his Major League Soccer expansion club, Inter Miami.

    PGA Tour Latinoamérica's release states that the move to Doral "keeps the event in this part of the Sunshine State and allows the tournament to maintain its ties to The First Tee of Miami as a charitable recipient and sponsor." Melreese, the city's only public golf course, is home to the First Tee of Miami, which naturally opposes Beckham's efforts to close the facility and repurpose the land.

    A November referendum will ask voters to decide if the city should negotiate a no-bid lease with Beckham's ownership group, which seeks to create a $1 billion dollar complex comprising of the proposed stadium, youth soccer fields, a park, commercial and retail space, and a hotel.

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    Im wins Web.com Player and Rookie of the Year awards

    By Nick MentaOctober 18, 2018, 1:22 pm

    Sungjae Im on Thursday was named the Web.com Tour's 2018 Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year.

    Im won twice on the Web.com this year, taking the season opener in January, The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, and the season finale in August, the WinCo Foods Portland Open, to become the first player in history lead the circuit's money list wire-to-wire.

    Im is the first Korean-born player to win the Web's POY award and, at 20 years old, its youngest recipient.

    In a player vote, Im bested Anders Albertson, Sam Burns, Kramer Hickok and Martin Trainer, 2018's only other two-time winner, for POY honors, and Burns, Hickock, Trainer and Cameron Champ for ROY honors.

    “My first year on the Web.com Tour was an incredibly happy time for me,” Im said, “and it’s pretty surreal that I was able to win the first and last tournament of the season. I honestly thought I would spend about two to three years on the Web.com Tour before making it to the PGA Tour, so I’m happy to have achieved my goal so soon. I’m grateful to have earned the Player of the Year honors and I hope to finish the remainder of the PGA Tour season on a good note.”

    In his first PGA Tour start, Im tied for fourth at the Safeway Open, earning $241,280, a little less than half of the $534,326 he amassed in 25 starts as the Web's regular-season money winner.

    Playing this week's CJ Cup in his native South Korea, Im opened with a 1-over 73 Thursday.

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    Former DJ advisor found guilty in embezzlement case

    By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 12:38 pm

    A federal jury has found Nathan Hardwick, a former advisor to Dustin Johnson, guilty of embezzling $26 million in funds from his now-bankrupt real estate closing firm, Morris Hardwick Schneider.

    Per Golf.com, citing Law.com, a 12-person jury convicted Hardwick of "one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, 21 counts of wire fraud and one count of making false statements to federally insured banks."

    As for where exactly the money went, The Sun News of Myrtle Beach, once again citing Law.com, has the details:

    "The alleged spending included $18.47 million on gambling, private jet travel and women from 2011 through August 2014. The prosecution submitted two binders of documentation as evidence that Hardwick spent $4.39 million on “female social companions,” including one testifying witness who claimed to have met him through SugarDaddy.com."

    "Other alleged expenditures described in testimony include more than $7 million at casinos, more than $3 million with a bookie, $680,000 for a luxury condo at The St. Regis Atlanta, $273,000 on a diamond ring, $186,000 on a deposit for a party on a private island, and $635,000 on a trip to the 2014 British Open for golfing buddies that included a customized jet and round at St. Andrews."

    Johnson in 2014 sued Morris Hardwick Schneider over a $3 million loan he believed to be an investment. Instead, Johnson argued, the money was going to make up for shortages created by Hardwick's embezzlement. Johnson later amended his suit to argue that Hardwick, who previously served on the board of the Dustin Johnson Foundation, was being used as a "pawn" by the firm's other partners. 

    That suit was settled in 2016 for $2 million.