One Day Off Curtis Back to Work

By Associated PressJune 28, 2006, 4:00 pm
2005 Buick ChampionshipCROMWELL, Conn. -- Weary, and a bit bleary-eyed, Ben Curtis has had little time to savor his second career victory. Or dry out for that matter.
 
Hours after Curtis won the soggy, six-day Booz Allen Classic by five strokes, he arrived in Connecticut for the Buick Championship hoping to add onto his $900,000 payday from Tuesday.
 
'I just woke up, really. I was tired,' Curtis said Wednesday afternoon. 'It was four straight days of getting up right around 5 a.m. It was a very long week sleeping on the lead every night, so I think I was more tired mentally than physically.'
 
More rain, actually a few torrential downpours, awaited him Wednesday at the TPC at River Highlands. But by late afternoon, the sky brightened, the sun even peeked through and Curtis and rest of the players were hopeful they'd be able to wrap up all 72 holes by Sunday.
 
'I hope we can get out there and play four straight days, and go home. It could be rain for tomorrow, but it could end up being sunny and warm,' Curtis said. 'Who knows.'
 
The field also features defending champion Brad Faxon, the Rhode Island native who finally won it in his 22nd appearance. Other former champions teeing off Thursday are Stewart Cink, Olin Browne, Paul Azinger, Notah Begay III, David Frost, Woody Austin and Brent Geiberger.
 
Curtis has played well on the 6,820-yard course in his only appearance in 2005, finishing in a tie for fourth and earning $177,773. The winner this weekend gets $792,000. Curtis was scheduled to play the tournament in 2003, the week after he won the British Open. But the whirlwind of media and attention that followed, overwhelmed the then-rookie and opted to pass. He had no intention of skipping it this time, despite the elongated Booz Allen where more than 9 inches of rain fell in 1 1/2 days.
 
'It's ironic, both wins on Tour came before this tournament,' Curtis said. 'Maybe they'll move Hartford every other week and I'll all right.'
 
The tournament nearly got dropped from the heart of the PGA Tour schedule.
 
Buick is ending its sponsorship after this year and the 54-year-old tournament was in danger of being relegated to the fall for second-tier status. But it was brought back to life in April with a new title sponsor -- St. Paul Travelers -- and spot on the summer schedule starting next year. The tournament also will be part of the new FedEx Cup portion of the tour.
 
That will give top players an incentive to show up and earn points toward the Tour Championship. They also will be competing for a $5.5 million purse, up from $4.4 million this year.
 
'I for one am very excited about it,' said Zach Johnson, a third-place finisher here in 2003. 'Its great for us players because of the incentive playing well obviously toward late summer, early fall, is huge financially speaking.'
 
Johnson said the Cup also should bring many of the elite players out more often and that would help showcase those in the tour not of the household-name variety. Johnson is one of four players in the top 20 on the money list and is sixth in Ryder Cup points.
 
J.J. Henry, a member of the Player Advisory Council, acknowledges the race the Cup will likely need some tweaking as members and the fans adjust to it.
 
'We're still kind of in the learning process. Who knows really,' Henry said. 'It's still golf. It's still a golf tournament. It's not like we're playing tennis here. You're still going out trying to win a golf tournament.'
 
Henry, who's had two top 10 finishes this season, is still looking for his first win since turning pro six years ago and this is one he's been itching for a long time. The Fairfield, Conn., native knows the course well and would love get is first win before a home crowd.
 
'I love playing here. I've always said one of these years I will get this tournament,' Henry said. 'When you come close to home or come to place you've watched as a kid and you want it so bad, you sometimes try too hard. If I can go out and have a good time, I will probably play well.'
 
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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.