Sponsorship Still a Problem at Reno-Tahoe Open
The Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority board of directors had intended to cut its contribution for the Aug. 18-21 tournament from $250,000 last year to $125,000 this year.
But last-minute appeals Thursday night from tournament officials and Reno Mayor Bob Cashell helped keep the support intact.
'We will embarrass the region if we are not able to pull this off this year,' Cashell said during the RSCVA board meeting.
The meeting to approve the authority's fiscal 2005-2006 budget highlighted ongoing concerns about the future of the PGA tournament at Montreux Golf and Country Club.
'I propose a meeting in September to make a decision if we are going to keep the RTO or drop it, but dropping it now, 90 days out, will put a stain on this region for bringing in other events,' Cashell said.
Tourney officials said they need to make up about $500,000 from decreased sponsorships this year, and that the RSCVA's contribution is vital.
'If I can't get your hundred and a quarter and I can't get the other people, we'll have to kill it,' Cashell said.
The 7-year-old tournament still has no title sponsor. The RSCVA contributed $500,000 in 1999 and 2000, but cut its annual sponsorship to $250,000 in 2001.
The Reno Gazette-Journal was among those who pulled back the amount of their sponsorship last year.
Tournament Director Jim Kline said after the meeting he will have to find support to make up for the remaining $375,000 shortfall left by sponsors that have pulled back since last year, including Tessco Technologies, AT&T and Saint Marys Health Network.
'I just don't like the fact that anybody thinks this kills the event or something,' Kline told the Gazette-Journal.
Fred Boyd, chairman of the RTO foundation, said during the meeting that he is aware of the 'ups and downs of RSCVA finances' but urged the authority to maintain the current sponsorship level.
Some RSCVA board members said they were frustrated with the continual requests to fund the event, the economic effect of which is hard to gauge.
'Fred, I really want you to know I love your event, although I wish it were done better,' Chairman Dave Miller said. He said the RSCVA already has given the RTO $2 million, more than any other special event.
'I am not really thrilled about us being held hostage with the threat we are going to kill this tournament,' Miller said. 'You are $500,000 short for this event this year. I still think $125,000 is a really good amount by the way.'
Reno Councilman Dwight Dortch proposed approving $250,000 in funding, but taking Mayor Cashell up on his offer to meet in September to determine future funding, to which the board agreed.
'I don't believe the RTO as it currently stands with the level of players is bringing visitors here,' Reno Hilton President Tim Maland said.
The RTO, shown on cable via The Golf Channel, is the same weekend as the World Golf Championships-NEC invitational in Akron, Ohio, which attracts the top-ranked golfers. The television contract is good through next year, and is being negotiated through 2010, Kline said.
Some echoed Miller's offense at being under the gun to keep the event afloat.
'If I get another e-mail like the one I just got, I will not support this again,' Washoe County Commissioner Bob Larkin said.
He said after the meeting that he was not suggesting the event go away, but that he did not like the tone of the e-mail sent by the RTO to the board members stating that the tournament directors would take a negative view of the region if the RSCVA cut funding.
RSCVA President Jeff Beckelman said the authority should have more money in its budget because it will not lose as much as predicted at the remodeled Reno-Sparks Convention Center this year.
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Caddies drop lawsuit; Tour increases healthcare stipend
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.”
PGA Tour Latinoamerica moving season finale to Doral
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.
Im wins Web.com Player and Rookie of the Year awards
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.
Former DJ advisor found guilty in embezzlement case
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.