Notes Sutton Honored DiMarco Surgery

By Associated PressSeptember 12, 2007, 4:00 pm
2006 The TOUR Championship presented by Coca-ColaATLANTA -- Hal Sutton was honored Wednesday with the Payne Stewart Award, and he encouraged every golfer to find the balance in life that Stewart demonstrated before he was killed in plane crash almost eight years ago.
 
Sutton became the 10th player to win the award since it began in 2000, when Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus were the first recipients. It is given annually to a player who reflects Stewart's respect for golf traditions, his charitable work and presentation in dress.
 
His widow, Tracey, and daughter Chelsea, a senior at Clemson, were at the ceremony on the first tee at East Lake Golf Club.
 
Behind the grandstand was the 18th hole, where Sutton in 1998 saved par from a deep bunker to force a playoff with Vijay Singh, then beat him with a birdie on the par-3 closing hole.
 
Sutton, who choked up after talking about Stewart and his family, recalled searching for balance in his golf swing on the eve of the 1998 TOUR Championship, and only later realizing he didn't have balance in his life.
 
They had a young daughter and his wife was pregnant with twins, and Sutton said all he thought about was winning the tournament.
 
'I had to walk away from golf on my terms to figure it all out,' he said.
 
Sutton won 14 times in his career, including the 1983 PGA Championship in a duel against Jack Nicklaus and the 2001 PLAYERS Championship that came down to the wire against Tiger Woods. He was Ryder Cup captain in 2004, when the United States was soundly beaten by Europe and Sutton was criticized for pairing Woods and Phil Mickelson.
 
'To achieve at a high level, you have to lead a self-centered life,' Sutton said.
 
He last played a PGA TOUR event at Riviera in 2006, but has kept plenty busy opening a children's hospital in Shreveport, La., raising money for Hurricane Katrina victims and building a golf course. These last few years have taught Sutton that his identity does not have to come through golf.
 
His message to young players?
 
'Don't be so self-serving,' he said. 'Think of others as you walk through life, because sooner or later you're going to need them.'
 
DIMARCO SURGERY:
Chris DiMarco missed out on the TOUR Championship for the second straight year, but he's making good use of his time off. DiMarco had arthroscopic surgery Wednesday to clean up bone spurs in his left shoulder.
 
'I am glad I was able to take time off to have this surgery so that when I resume playing, I can do so pain-free,' DiMarco said. 'I can't wait to get back out and swing without pain.'
 
DiMarco had only one top-10 this year, at the Bridgestone Invitational, and missed the cut in his last three events.
 
FEDEX PAY:
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have been the most vocal about the $35 million in FedExCup bonus money being paid in cash instead of going into a retirement fund.
 
Some players are still trying to figure out how to pay their caddies from money they might not see for 30 years.
 
PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem said a solution is simple, as long as that's what everyone wants.
 
'If we had that unanimity, it would be an easy solution,' he said Wednesday. 'I do think there is a preponderance of attitude that the balance is not quite right, and we're talking about pretty good numbers here.'
 
Over four weeks of the PGA TOUR Playoffs, $28 million in prize money is paid out immediately, while the $35 million is deposited into a retirement fund.
 
Finchem recalled the early days of the PGA TOUR when the winner was handed a large cardboard check on the 18th green to show how much he had just won. He compared that with players suggesting fans would be more excited to see players dive into a pile of cash after winning $10 million from the FedExCup.
 
'I don't know if we'll go that far,' he said. 'But we'll see what happens.'
 
LEFTY'S DESIGNS:
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson might be rivals in golf course design, too.
 
Mickelson announced Wednesday that the first project of his new design company will be River Rock Golf Club in Cashiers, N.C., about 90 minutes away from where Woods' company is building its first U.S. golf course.
 
Phil Mickelson Design was launched in January. Its first golf course, built along the Blue Ridge Mountains, is scheduled to open in 2010. Among its features are a 305-yard par 3 with a 65-foot drop to the green and a 180-degree view of the mountains; a par 4 at 343 yards that drops 100 feet to the green; and two fairways that cross one another.
 
'My commitment to golf is creating the highest quality golf courses that are challenging, engaging and always provide a truly enjoyable experience each time they are played,' Mickelson said. 'To do that, you need to find the most beautiful landscapes available. We've done that in the mountains of North Carolina.'
 
DALLAS CHARITY:
The Byron Nelson Championship usually leads all PGA TOUR events in charitable giving, but the $6.4 million it raised this year was substantial for other reasons.
 
It didn't finish No. 1 among tour events -- that went to the FBR Open, which raised $7.8 million.
 
But the Byron Nelson Championship went over $100 million in career charity, which was enough of a milestone for tournament officials to show up at East Lake to celebrate the news.
 
'Byron Nelson left a legacy of giving, and it it's wonderful to see this continue,' PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem said.
 
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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 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.