Notes Cold Wet Conditions Could Favor Europe

By Associated PressSeptember 12, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 Solheim CupHALMSTAD, Sweden -- With U.S. Open length and British Open weather, the Solheim Cup could turn into a haven for big hitters.
That's supposed to favor the Europeans.
Or at least that's the way the Europeans see it.
'Well, obviously it's a little strategy,' European captain Helen Alfredsson said of the course setup.
Most players braved only nine holes of practice at wind-swept Halmstad Golf Club on Wednesday. Temperatures were in the low 60s. A steady westerly wind was blowing in from the Kattegat -- the bay that separates Denmark from southern Sweden.
And this could be as nice as it gets. The weather is forecast to deteriorate over the weekend, bringing rain and heavier winds.
The course measures 6,615 yards, which is only 29 yards shorter than Pine Needles was for the U.S. Open earlier this year. That was the longest women's championship course at sea level.
Unlike the Ryder Cup, captains of the home team don't have the final say in course setup. Still, the Europeans picked the venue, and certainly weather and the stout size of the course -- to say nothing of the fact that four of their players are from Sweden -- played a factor in the choice.
Alfredsson, also a Swede, made it sound as though she had a hand in the placement of the tee boxes, at least on the practice day. In practice Wednesday, some groups hit from more than one tee box.
'I made it long because you can't put it longer, but you can always make it shorter,' Alfredsson said. 'My team is pretty comfortable out there. They think the course is playing well, and that's all I really care about, to be honest.'
Europeans Suzann Pettersen, Sophie Gustafson, Laura Davies and Maria Hjorth are all in the top 10 in driving distance on the LPGA Tour. Brittany Lincicome is the only American in the top 10.
American captain Betsy King doesn't look at the length of the course as a total disadvantage. For instance, she says, the No. 1 handicap hole, the par-5 fifth, plays 583 yards -- so long that nobody figures to be able to reach it in two.
'There's two sides to that story,' King said. 'Obviously, there are some longer European players, but then, we may be hitting first into some of the greens. And in match play, if you hit a good shot up there, that kind of puts the pressure back on the other side.'
Becoming a team captain in this prestigious event has not changed Helen Alfredsson.
She still has trouble taking herself too seriously and figures that rubs off on her team.
'It's very hard to say anything to them because they think I'm a total goofball,' she said. 'When I'm trying to be serious, they just go, `Oh yeah, right.' It's been hard with that but overall it's been fun because we've been friends for a long time.'
At 42, Alfredsson is actually younger than Laura Davies and not too much older than Annika Sorenstam. She's still on the LPGA Tour, though she has struggled the last few years and hasn't won there since 2003.
She was named captain of the team two years ago and gets to run the show in her home country.
Not that she's running too tight a ship.
'I would say Helen's different than the other captains we've had,' Sorenstam said, drawing laughs. 'She just has a very different approach. She's very easygoing. She appears to be less organized, but I know she's not. She knows what's going on. She just has more of a laid-back attitude.'
The Europeans wrapped up a 14-10 victory in the Junior Solheim Cup on Wednesday, played south of Halmstad in Bastad. Spain's Carlota Ciganda, Britain's Florentyna Parker and Germany's Nicola Rossler all went 3-0. The United States and Europe have now each won the junior event twice. ... Morgan Pressel just missed out on becoming the youngest woman to play in a Solheim Cup. She'll be 19 years, 3 months, 22 days on Friday. In 2005, Paula Creamer was 19 years, 1 months, 4 days when she made her Solheim debut. ... Creamer's cartwheel in front of the Swilcan Bridge at St. Andrews during British Open practice made for one of the best sports photos of the year. And now, one of her not-so-athletic moments has been documented, too: a picture from Solheim Cup practice of her on her backside after falling when she reached down to brush something off her pants.
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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 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 Player and Rookie of the Year awards

    By Nick MentaOctober 18, 2018, 1:22 pm

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

    Im won twice on the 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 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 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, citing, 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, 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"

    "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.