Pettersen Ochoa Set for Showdown

By Associated PressOctober 6, 2007, 4:00 pm
2006 Longs Drugs ChallengeDANVILLE, California -- Nothing like a perfect chip from 35 yards for a second eagle to provide some momentum heading into the back nine.
 
Suzann Pettersen made the shot of the day on what turned out to be a dramatic ninth hole for a twosome also featuring world No. 1 Lorena Ochoa, finishing with a season-best 8-under 64 Saturday for the lead in the Longs Drugs Challenge.
 
'It's nice,' Pettersen said. 'I finally chipped in. It's been a while. It's about time. ... This is where I want to be. It's what you practice for, what you grind for.'
 
Pettersen, the 26-year-old Norwegian who won the Michelob Ultra Open in May for her first LPGA Tour title and took the McDonald's LPGA Championship in June for her first major victory, had a 12-under 204 total for a one-stroke lead over Canadian Lorie Kane (67). Ochoa (67) was another stroke behind at 10 under.
 
'All the butterflies were flying in sequence,' Kane said.
 
Pettersen matched the tournament record, last set by Jeong Jang in the first round in 2006. After an opening 75, Pettersen had a 65 on Friday and added the 64 Saturday for the lowest two-round stretch in the event's 12-year history (129).
 
'Golf is a weird game,' Pettersen said, grinning.
 
Juli Inkster's 71 got her to 5 under and defending champion Karrie Webb (74) was one stroke behind Inkster to round out the top five on the leaderboard after the late groups were held up about 40 minutes on the 16th tee. The slow play made for 5-hour rounds.
 
'It's hard to keep the flow going,' said Pettersen, who seemed to keep her focus just fine.
 
She's been chasing Ochoa on every major LPGA Tour list: wins, money, player of the year. Not this weekend.
 
'It's been a great year for both of us,' Ochoa said.
 
Ochoa went for it in the third round, just as she planned for what she describes as 'moving day' in the third round. That strategy sure has been working well recently for the 25-year-old star from Mexico, and she is trying for a fourth LPGA Tour victory in her last five events.
 
She played an interesting ninth in which her approach shot hooked left into some flowers just below a member tent along the green. Pettersen's eagle drew roars from the large gallery and she waved and tossed her ball to a young boy before grabbing a snack while she waited on Ochoa. It took Ochoa about 10 minutes, a trip beneath the tent and a call to an official before her drop was determined, with help from the fans sitting only a few feet above.
 
'Andale!' -- the Spanish phrase for hurry up -- hollered one person anxious for play to resume.
 
'That (shot) got me a little upset, and Suzann made that chip -- perfect,' Ochoa said. 'It's much better seeing that on Saturday than Sunday.'
 
She chipped to about 10 feet of the pin only to miss her birdie putt and then save par. Ochoa waved to those same fans in the tent before heading out for the final nine on a spectacular fall day in this upscale gated community in the East Bay suburb of San Francisco.
 
The black cows that graze near some of the final holes were calm, but two deer hung out at the 18th tee late in the day on the hilly Lakeside Course at Blackhawk Country Club.
 
Kane's short putt for birdie and a share of the lead on No. 16 skidded around the edge of the cup, and she had to settle for saving par. Kane and Ochoa each birdied No. 18.
 
Ochoa wasted no time grabbing the day's early lead when she birdied her first three holes and four of the first five, but she had two bogeys on the back nine and looked discouraged at times on a day after she said she had 'nothing going.'
 
'First of all, you don't expect anything less from Lorena,' Pettersen said of her opponent's fast start. 'Today, it felt like she pushed me, which is nice. When you get paired with good friends and good players, you can push each other.'
 
Ochoa committed herself to being more aggressive, and followed through beautifully from her first tee shot that landed in a bunker. She hit her approach shot out of the sand trap and within 10 feet of the hole, examined the green from several angles before calmly sinking the birdie putt.
 
'It was a really good day, especially at the start,' Ochoa said. 'The first three holes, three birdies. I thought it was going to be a really low round. ... I'm feeling good, in a good position and I can't wait to get to tomorrow.'
 
That birdie tied her for the lead, and Ochoa pumped her fist -- with a crowd of supporters from her native Mexico cheering her the whole way for the third straight day.
 
'Lorena!' one man yelled after her successful third hole.
 
'Lorena started really hot,' said Pettersen, only the sixth player this season to make two eagles in a round after also getting one on No. 5. 'This course sets up for eagles.'
 
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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 create a $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.