Trio Tied on Top in Greensboro

By Associated PressAugust 17, 2007, 4:00 pm
Wydham ChampionshipGREENSBORO, N.C. -- For the second straight day, Jeff Overton needed only to make a short putt on his final hole to hold a lead for the first time in his short career.
 
This time, he succeeded.
 
Overton closed his 5-under 67 on Friday with consecutive birdies to move to 12-under 132 and share the lead with Steve Marino (67) and veteran John Huston (66) after the second round of the low-scoring Wyndham Championship.
 
Anders Hansen (64), Tim Petrovic (65), Craig Kanada (65), Carl Pettersson (67) and Greg Kraft (67) were one stroke back. Steve Wheatcroft (66) and Nathan Green (66) were two strokes behind the leaders.
 
Overton's strong finish came a day after his late charge within one stroke of first-round leader Will MacKenzie. Overton then missed the chance to match him when his 4-foot birdie putt on No. 18 was bumped offline by a ball mark.
 
'You hit good putts, and sometimes they just don't go in. You've got to be patient and continue to hit it close,' Overton said. 'I've missed all kinds of putts this week ... (but) you can't make them all.'
 
Marino, who started on the back nine, joined Overton atop the leaderboard with a birdie on the par-4 No. 6, placing his approach shot about 5 feet from the hole to set up his birdie putt and then closing his round with three straight pars.
 
'Going into it, you know it's a golf course where if you're hitting the ball well, you're going to have a lot of looks at birdies,' Marino said.
 
Huston had his second straight 66, opening his round with eight straight pars and finishing it with birdies on four of seven holes from Nos. 12-17, closing that run on the par-3 17th by landing his tee shot 10 feet from the flagstick and holing out.
 
'I'm happy with the way I've driven the ball, hitting a lot of greens and giving myself chances -- that way it doesn't put that much pressure on my putting,' Huston said.
 
It was another hazy, humid, low-scoring day with temperatures in the mid-90s at Forest Oaks Country Club. An early weather delay of 2 hours, 3 minutes had little effect on the scores, which remained low -- as has become customary at this event.
 
Still, the 36-hole cut of 5-under was the lowest on the tour this year and the lowest since the tournament moved to Forest Oaks 30 years ago.
 
'A 62 is definitely out there -- not just for me, but for anybody,' Marino said, referring to the course record. 'The course is lending itself to low scores and a lot of birdies.'
 
Hansen had the best round of the day, offsetting his lone bogey with nine birdies. Kanada had seven birdies in his bogey-free round, Kraft had five birdies to highlight a 67 and Pettersson -- who went to high school in Greensboro and is a member of the tournament's board -- made the cut on his hometown course with ease, one year after missing it by one stroke.
 
'This is a good golf course, and I just haven't played that great on it before,' Pettersson said.
 
Several borderline players came to central North Carolina for one last chance to qualify for the FedEx Cup, the first-year four-week playoff chase that begins next week at The Barclays in Harrison, N.Y., where the top 144 on the points list will be eligible.
 
Among those on the bubble who made it to the weekend were No. 140 Michael Putnam (9 under), No. 141 Bob Tway (8 under) and No. 145 Eric Axley (6 under). Those who didn't include No. 138 Jeff Gove (2 under), No. 143 Glen Day (1 under) and No. 144 Marco Dawson (3 under).
 
No. 146 Steve Lowery (4 under) insisted the pressure to reach the postseason had no effect on his round.
 
'All you can do is go out and play the best you can do and finish good,' Lowery said.
 
If Overton keeps this up, he could wind up playing himself into the playoffs after entering the weekend at No. 165 with 1,111 points.
 
He started the second round on the back nine and offset his lone bogey with birdies on four of his first nine holes. He had seven straight pars before finishing the round with birdies on the par-3 eighth and par-5 ninth.
 
His putt for eagle on No. 9 fell about 14 inches short, and he putted in for birdie to move into first and position himself to make a run at his best finish.
 
'That's my goal for the week -- to be really solid and make putts, and make all those putts inside 10 feet,' Overton said.
 
One day after his opening-round 64, MacKenzie (71) joined 10 other players three strokes behind the leaders.
 
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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 $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.