Mediate Makes Most of Battle with Tiger

By Associated PressJune 26, 2008, 4:00 pm
2006 Buick OpenGRAND BLANC, Mich. -- Rocco Mediate was told a story about how a father and his 3-year-old daughter were riveted to the U.S. Open, walking from Dora the Explorer to watch the 72nd hole when Tiger Woods made a putt to force a playoff.
 
I think thats so cool, Mediate said.
 
Before playing in the first round of the Buick Open on Thursday, Mediate took a look back at his memorable matchup with Woods that attracted millions of viewers from coast to coast.
 
The amazing thing is how many people said, My mother or my father who never watches golf couldnt take his eyes off the television, he said. Obviously wasnt because of me, it was because of Tiger. But it was because of the match it turned into.
 
I heard hundreds of stories like that.
 
As the PGA TOUR embarks on life without Tiger for the rest of 2008, its commissioner and players are hoping new stories will be told about those who take advantage of opportunities without the worlds No. 1 golfer around to physically and mentally dominate.
 
Even though Woods was recovering Wednesday from season-ending knee surgery, his likeness was everywhere to promote the Buick Open and his legacy was a topic of discussion at Warwick Hills.
 
His image is plastered on three sides of Buicks in the parking lot, on pairings sheets and billboards in the Detroit and Flint areas.
 
Buick Open officials expected Woods to be in the field for the ninth time since 1997.
 
But Woods announced last week he would be out until 2009 after competing with a double-stress fracture and a torn knee ligament over 91 holes to win the U.S. Open in a playoff over Mediate.
 
If it was anybody else that I would have lost to, I would have been devastated right now, Mediate said.
 
Instead, Mediate has soaked up the attention generated by playing a part in a sporting event that will always be remembered.
 
Ive actually had a lot of fun with it, he said. Ive always been with the people and talked to people, so I just talk to more people.
 
Across the room at a packed news conference, a Florida Southern College roommate beamed.
 
No one has ever won so much by losing, said Steve Puertas, who hosts Mediate at his home in suburban Detroit during the Buick Open. And it couldnt happened to a better guy.
 
Mediate also can take solace in the fact that he didnt blow the U.S. Open, but rather came up just short of stopping Woods from claiming his 14th major.
 
This guy does things that are just not normal by any stretch of the imagination, Mediate said.
 
Kenny Perry agreed.
 
He beat everybody on one leg, Perry said.
 
PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem also marvels at Woods talent and mental toughness.
 
Finchem, bristles, though at the notion that his absence renders tournaments to being irrelevant.
 
Its just ludicrous, Finchem said after taking part in a ceremony honoring the Buick Opens 50th anniversary. He played 17 events last year and we have 47.
 
Finchem acknowledged TV ratings dip without Woods because casual viewers tune out and that likely will be the case this week.
 
Jim Furyk (No. 12), Justin Leonard (No. 23) and Perry (No. 27) are the only players among the top 30 in the world at the Buick Open and the lackluster field includes nine of the top 50 in the world ranking.
 
If Woods was playing, few would focus on those facts.
 
But because Woods makes the Buick Open a regular stop, his presence or lack of it has an obvious impact on the gallery and buzz 45 miles north of Detroit.
 
I think it will have less impact on tournaments where he didnt play in the past or the British Open or the PGA, Furyk said. Its a definite hit for Warwick Hills and the Buick Open.
 
It will be difficult but theres still going to be a lot of good golf. Weve had a lot of exciting tournaments that he has not teed it up in this year, so hopefully that will continue.
 
Woods has had a sponsorship agreement with Buick since 1999 and agreed to a new contract in 2004 believed to be worth more than $40 million over five years. Buick has said the deal does not require Woods to play in specific PGA TOUR events it sponsors.
 
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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 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 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.