Clark Clubhouse Leader at East Lake

By Associated PressSeptember 13, 2007, 4:00 pm
2006 The TOUR Championship presented by Coca-ColaATLANTA -- Tim Clark tied the course record at East Lake with an 8-under 62 and hardly anyone was surprised Thursday at the TOUR Championship, the final playoff event that felt more like preseason with such easy conditions.
 
The greens, already soft as officials tried to nurture them back to life from a heat wave, turned into sponges after a three-hour storm delay and the top 30 players in the FedExCup took aim at every flag.
 
No one did it better than Clark, at least among those who finished.
 
Only 10 players completed the first round, and there was no guarantee his 62 would hold up.
 
Tiger Woods, who can win the FedExCup with a victory at the TOUR Championship, birdied his first three holes and was at 4 under with seven holes still remaining and conditions not expected to become any tougher Friday.
 
Clark wouldn't even be at East Lake if not for a 67-67 weekend at the BMW Championship, where he tied for fifth and barely cracked the top 30 to qualify for the TOUR Championship. He kept right on rolling, or at least slogging, through rain-softened conditions.
 
'Having a good Sunday round last week, I had a bit of confidence,' Clark said.
 
His 62 tied the record set by Bart Bryant in the first round of the 2005 Tour Championship.
 
Padraig Harrington, in the first group off when the greens were at their smoothest, birdied his last four holes for a 63, while John Rollins rode a 3-iron into 20 feet for eagle on the 15th hole for a 64.
 
Steve Stricker and Phil Mickelson, who are chasing Woods in the FedExCup, probably need to find another gear. Stricker was at 1 over through 11 holes, one of only five players over par, while Mickelson was 3 over through his first five holes until he birdied the last three holes of the front nine to get back to even, then picked up a birdie at No. 12 to reach 1 under when play was stopped by darkness.
 
The first round will resume at 8 a.m. Friday.
 
Woods managed to get off two shots -- a 3-wood to the fairway and a wedge to 8 feet -- when the sirens sounded to stop play, rain deluged East Lake and play was stopped until 5:20 p.m.
 
He returned to make the birdie putt, made another from about 12 feet on the par-3 second, then knocked it a third straight birdie from 30 feet on the third hole, after barely getting onto the green from the rough.
 
Woods held out both arms when it wobbled into the cup, unsure how it got there.
 
'That putt was bouncing all over the place,' he said. 'It bounced to the right. I thought I missed it. Then it bounced left. I thought I was going to miss it left. And then somehow, it wiggled back to the right up the hill and it went in.'
 
He nearly picked up an ace on the sixth when his tee shot plopped behind the hole and grazed the cup rolling back.
 
The greens were almost dead three weeks ago because of record heat and no rain in the Atlanta area. TOUR officials, with help from superintendents of neighboring golf clubs, did a noble job getting them ready for the FedExCup finale. They sodded some areas of the greens, tried to fill in barren patches with green sand and let the grass grow as much as possible.
 
They were running considerably slower than most PGA TOUR events, and players were predicting low scores even before the rain.
 
It didn't take long for them to be proven right.
 
Clark was 3 under after four holes, made a 20-foot par save on the par-5 ninth, then allowed a 59 to enter his thinking when he holed a chip for eagle on the 15th that put him at 8 under with three holes remaining.
 
'Unfortunately, they're not birdie holes,' Clark said. 'I was certainly trying, but I hit a few loose shots coming in. Overall, I knew if I parred the last few holes I was going to be pretty happy with the round.'
 
Usually, a few shots under par at East Lake is cause for celebration.
 
Not on this course, or on this day.
 
'With these conditions, the greens are like a dart board,' Rollins said.
 
Harrington felt as if he was at home -- Ireland in the spring, when the grass is just starting to grow and the greens are still hairy and slow, when a sledge hammer works as well as a putter.
 
'You've got soft greens, the greens are at a pace that you can really be aggressive on them and run the ball at the hole,' he said. 'So yeah, I would think it's a good week for scoring.'
 
Perhaps it was no surprise that the best two scores came from the first two groups, when there were no footprints on the greens. And that might be an advantage for Woods when he returns Friday morning.
 
Woods is coming off a victory last week at Cog Hill, where he set the tournament record at 22-under 262. He prefers the tougher conditions when par is at a premium, but that doesn't look to be the case at the tour's version of a 'Super Bowl.'
 
A defensive struggle, it's not.
 
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    PGA Tour Latinoamerica moving season finale to Doral

    By Nick MentaOctober 18, 2018, 2:36 pm

    PGA Tour Latinoamerica 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 Latinoamerica 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 and as then-candidate 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 Latinoamerica 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 Latinoamerica'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 $1 billion dollar complex comprising of the proposed stadium, youth soccer fields, a park, commercial and retail space, and a hotel.

    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.

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    Kang 'going with the flow,' one back of A. Jutanugarn

    By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 9:43 am

    SHANGHAI – Ariya Jutanugarn shot a 6-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Buick LPGA Shanghai tournament on Thursday.

    The Thai player had six birdies in a bogey-free round, including three straight on Nos. 4, 5, and 6.

    ''I always have so much fun when I play in Asia,'' said Jutanugarm, who added her key was ''just not to expect anything. Just go out have fun and enjoy everything.''

    Sei Young Kim and Danielle Kang (both 67) were one shot back, with six other players only two shots off the lead.


    Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai


    The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

    Kang credited her improved play to new coach Butch Harmon.

    ''We just kind of simplify the game a lot,'' the American said. ''Just trying to calm it down and get back to how I used to play. Just more feel golf. Thinking less mechanics and going with the flow.''

    Kang tied for third last week at the KEB Hana Bank championship in Incheon, South Korea.

    ''Today's round went very smooth,'' Kang said. ''Coming off very good momentum after last week, and I've been hitting the ball really well, playing great. I've just been trusting my game and just keep giving myself birdie chances. They kept rolling in.''