Singh Back for Title Defense

By Associated PressSeptember 7, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 Bell Canadian OpenVANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Regardless of what happens the rest of the week, Vijay Singh has already given the Canadian Open a huge lift -- just by showing up.
 
With Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and other top players passing up the world's third oldest pro tournament, the presence of the defending champion and second-ranked player in the world is huge.
 
Singh injured his back a couple of weeks ago playing ping pong with his son and withdrew from last week's Deutsche Bank Championship. Singh's decision to defend his title in the Canadian Open was great news for a tournament short on headliners.
 
``The back is fine,'' Singh said Wednesday. ``I could have a slight herniated disc, but at my age, the guy says everybody has that.''
 
Tournament officials insist this year's field is just fine, too.
 
``I'm always disappointed when Tiger doesn't come, but the field is as good as it's ever been,'' said Stephen Ross, executive director of the Royal Canadian Golf Association, which runs the tournament.
 
Maybe so, but Mickelson, Kenny Perry and Davis Love III are among the tour's household names who played the Canadian Open last year at Glen Abbey and aren't here this week. With a few extra spots to work with, 16 Canadian players, including three amateurs, are in the field.
 
Part of the Canadian Open's problem is that the PGA Tour schedule puts it right in the middle of a pair of tournaments on the East Coast -- the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston and next week's 84 Lumber event in Pennsylvania. It also didn't help that the Deutsche Bank's final round wasn't played until Monday.
 
Some players apparently weren't willing to make the long trip west after the extended stay in Boston, then have to travel back across the U.S. to play in Pennsylvania.
 
``It definitely hurt us,'' Ross said of the PGA's scheduling.
 
Even Olin Browne, a journeyman tour player who scored a rare win at the Deutsche Bank, pulled out.
 
Stephen Ames, a native of Trinidad who now is a Canadian citizen, said Wednesday the PGA Tour schedule favors tournaments on U.S. soil.
 
``It feels like we're being kicked back into a secondary category,'' Ames said. ``I wish (PGA Tour commissioner) Tim (Finchem) would look at that. We have so many foreign players now that we should share the wealth rather than just thinking Americans all the time.''
 
The tournament also could use another stirring Sunday finish like last year's at Glen Abbey, where Singh beat Canadian Mike Weir on the third hole of a playoff.
 
Weir took a three-shot lead over Singh with eight holes to play and with 40,000 fans cheering him on and pulling against Singh, Weir appeared ready to become the first Canadian in 50 years to win the national tournament.
 
But Weir's putting abandoned him down the stretch. Three times he stood over a putt to win -- a 10-foot birdie on the 72nd hole, a 25-foot eagle on the 18th hole in the playoff and a 5-footer for par at No. 17 on the second extra hole. He missed them all.
 
Singh said Wednesday he'd welcome a similar scenario this week.
 
``Coming down the stretch, if I'm playing with Mike Weir and I win again, it won't bother me at all,'' Singh said.
 
Singh's game is good enough to get him into the final group every week, but Weir has struggled since finishing fifth at the Masters in April. He came down with a stomach virus that was bad, he fell asleep on his bathroom floor and awoke the next morning with a wrenched back. He tried to come back too quickly and missed the cut in six of his next seven tournaments. Since then, his best finish has been a tie for 15th at The International.
 
He says he's feeling better now and his game is starting to come around.
 
``Physically, I feel 95 percent. Mentally, I feel very confident, more confident right now than I have at any point in the year.''
 
Singh has won four times this year and is second on the year's money list behind Woods with $7.3 million. He plans to play in four more tournaments and still has a shot at being the tour's leading money winner for the third year in a row.
 
Singh has defended two of the nine tournament wins he had a year ago -- at Houston and at the Buick Open -- and a win this week would make him the first back-to-back Canadian Open winner since Jim Ferrier did it 54 years ago.
 
Related links:
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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 Latinoamérica 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.