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Trump report: Two Scottish courses losing millions

By Associated PressOctober 9, 2017, 6:30 pm

BALMEDIE, Scotland - David Milne loves the view of the North Sea from his home high above the roiling surf, but he finds his eye often falling onto the golf course next door and, when it does, on the tiny figures below.

He counts the people coming off the buses in the parking lot and the people swinging at the first tee and the 10th tee and he counts the people walking the fairways and after all this counting he's convinced of something that must be satisfying given his tussles with the owner, Donald Trump.

There aren't enough people.

''The carpark is rarely even half full,'' said Milne, 53, looking out again on Friday under clear blue skies. ''For what was supposedly the best golf course in the world, I don't really think this is a resounding success.''

A few hours after Milne spoke, he got some confirmation. A financial report that Trump's company filed with the British government shows he has lost millions of dollars at the resort, called the Trump International Golf Links, as well as at a second one on the other side of Scotland overlooking the Irish Sea.

The report from Britain's Companies House released late Friday showed losses last year more than doubled to 17.6 million pounds ($23 million). It was the third year in a row of losses. Revenue also fell sharply.

Trump's company has faced several setbacks since it ventured into Scotland a dozen years ago.

The company has angered Milne and other neighbors for what they say are its bullying tactics to get them to sell land. A local fisherman became a national hero of sorts when he, like Milne, refused to sell to Trump, despite a $690,000 offer.

Then the company got some unwelcome publicity. Two documentaries about the fights with residents were shot, ''Tripping Up Trump'' and ''You've Been Trumped,'' the latter shown on the BBC despite threats from one of Trump's lawyers to sue the broadcaster.

Troubles have only mounted since then.


Photos: Best of Donald Trump on the golf course


A few months before Trump clinched the Republican nomination last year, he lost a court fight to stop an offshore windmill farm near the North Sea resort. He has been repeatedly stymied in his plans to build a luxury hotel there and a second course because of, among other things, strong objections from environmental regulators that his plans will threaten the sand dunes for which the area is famous. And there also are signs that he is at risk of losing a bid to host the coveted Scottish Open.

Just how much these setbacks have hurt Trump's business is unclear, however. Other factors appear to have played a big role in the latest financial results.

In Friday's report, Trump's company noted it had to shut down its Turnberry resort on the Irish Sea for half the year while building a new course there and fixing up an old one. It also blamed losses on a hit from fluctuations in the value of the British pound.

The report and Milne's math aside, some residents think Trump's resorts are attracting plenty of golfers and doing just fine. In fact, whatever troubles Trump has encountered appear to only have helped business in the North Sea area.

He has only 16 rooms for overnight guests at his resort there, leaving other hotels to pick up the slack.

''I've gone from doing an average of 400 room nights for golfers per year to 1,400 room nights in six months,'' said Stewart Spence, 70, owner of the Marcliffe Hotel and Spa in nearby Aberdeen. ''There can hardly be a golfer in the world who doesn't know about this area because of what Trump has done.''

Rival courses have seen a bump in business, too.

''We've gone from about 4,000 golfers per annum to almost 5,500 a year,'' said Les Durno, 54, general manager at the Cruden Bay Golf Club about 20 miles from Trump's course.

Then there is the sheer spectacle itself, a chance to gawk at a U.S. president's property and maybe spend 19.95 pounds ($26.07) for a cap embroidered with Trump's family crest.

''When we drive past Trump International, I often get people, Americans mostly, asking to stop so they can go into the golf shop and buy something,'' said a bus driver waiting in the parking lot Friday who didn't want to give his name. ''They don't play golf but they want a Trump Scotland souvenir.''

Or as Hector Emslie, 58, the golf project manager for the local tourism organization, VisitAberdeenshire, put it: it's like having the ''Disney World for golfers'' on our doorstep.

Others are less enthusiastic, including the leader of the Scottish government, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Shortly before Trump visited his North Sea resort in June last year, and Milne ran a Mexican flag up a pole in protest against his immigration policies, Sturgeon stripped Trump of his title as business ambassador for Scotland. She cited his comments about Muslims during the campaign.

Aberdeen's Robert Gordon University also revoked Trump of his honorary degree for the same reason.

Trump's incendiary comments while president have only added to his woes.

A corporate watchdog group started an online petition to stop Trump's development plan at his resort. The group, SumOfUs, seized on Trump's reaction to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, arguing that his rhetoric has ''bolstered white supremacists'' across the globe.

''Now we have a chance to reject Trump's hatred,'' it said in its online appeal, ''and protect our environment in one fell swoop.''

As of Sunday, the group had collected 94,888 signatures.

In July, the CEO of a major sponsor of the Scottish Open was quoted in a local newspaper casting doubt on Trump's chances of hosting the event.

''There's no decision made but, look, there are clear issues,'' Aberdeen Asset Management CEO Martin Gilbert was quoted saying. He added, ''Politics aside, Trump would be an ideal venue - but you can't put politics aside.''

Whether any of this will hurt profits at Trump's Scottish business in the long run is another matter.

In Friday's report, Eric Trump, the president's son and a director of the British subsidiary that owns the two resorts, included a letter expressing confidence that the resorts will attract plenty of golfers.

Amanda Miller, a spokeswoman for the Trump Organization, declined to comment. She also said that Eric Trump was not available to talk.

Trump handed over management of his company to Eric and his other adult son, Donald Jr., before becoming president, but he still retains a financial interest in it.

For his part, Milne is convinced the course will continue to suffer. He thinks Trump's election as president has hurt the business.

''It has hindered the success of the club,'' said Milne as his Mexican flag flapped in the wind. ''Some people come because it is the president's golf club, but others avoid it for the same reason.''

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McCarthy wins Web.com Tour Championship by 4

By Associated PressSeptember 24, 2018, 2:14 am

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Denny McCarthy won the season-ending Web.com Tour Championship on Sunday to earn fully exempt PGA Tour status and a spot in the Players Championship.

McCarthy closed with a 6-under 65 for a four-stroke victory over Lucas Glover at Atlantic Beach Country Club. The 25-year-old former Virginia player earned $180,000 to top the 25 PGA Tour card-earners with $255,793 in the four-event Web.com Tour Finals.

''It's been quite a journey this year,'' McCarthy said. ''The PGA Tour was tough to start out the year. I stuck through it and got my game. I raised my level and have been playing some really good golf. Just feels incredible to finish off these Finals. So much work behind the scenes that nobody really sees.''

McCarthy finished at 23-under 261.


Full-field scores from the Web.com Tour Championship


Glover, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, closed with a 69. He made $108,000 to finish seventh with $125,212 in the series for the top 75 players from the Web.com regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200.

Jim Knous earned the 25th and final card from the four-event money list with $41,931, edging Justin Lower by $500. Knous made a 5-foot par save on the final hole for a 71 that left him tied for 57th. Lower missed an 8-footer for birdie, settling for a 69 and a tie for 21st.

''It was a brutal day emotionally,'' Knous said. ''I wasn't quite sure how much my performance would affect the overall outcome. It kind of just depended on what everybody else did. That's pretty terrifying. So I really just kind of did my best to stay calm and inside I was really freaking out and just super psyched that at the end of the day finished right there on No. 25.''

The top-25 finishers on the Web.com regular-season money list competed against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. Sungjae Im topped the list to earn the No. 1 priority spot of the 50 total cards.

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LaCava pushed Woods to work on bunker game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 24, 2018, 1:52 am

ATLANTA – Last week as Tiger Woods prepared to play the season finale at East Lake he sent a text message to his caddie Joey LaCava that simply asked, what do I need to do to get better?

Although when it comes to Woods his proficiency is always relative, but LaCava didn’t pull any punches, and as the duo completed the final round on Sunday at the Tour Championship with a bunker shot to 7 feet at the last the two traded knowing smiles.

“We had a talk last week about his bunker game and I said, ‘I’m glad you kept that bunker game stuff in mind,’” LaCava said. “I told him he was an average bunker player and he worked at it last week. There were only two bunker shots he didn’t get up-and-down, I don’t count the last one on 18. He recognized that after two days. He was like, ‘What do you know, I’m 100 percent from the bunkers and I’m in the lead after two days.”


Final FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


For the week, Woods got up-and-down from East Lake’s bunkers seven out of nine times and cruised to a two-stroke victory for his first PGA Tour title since 2013. That’s a dramatic improvement over his season average of 49 percent (100th on Tour).

“His bunker game was very average coming into this week,” LaCava said. “I said you’ve got to work on your bunker game. If you had a decent bunker game like the Tiger of old you would have won [the BMW Championship].”

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For Woods, is this only the beginning?

By Damon HackSeptember 24, 2018, 1:42 am

If this is Tiger Woods nine months into a comeback, wait until he actually shakes the rust off.

This was supposed to be the year he kicked the tires, to see how his body held up after all those knives digging into his back.

To see if a short game could truly be rescued from chunks and skulls.

To see if a 42-year-old living legend could outfox the kids.

On the final breath of the PGA Tour season, it was Tiger Woods who took ours away.

Playing alongside Rory McIlroy on Sunday at the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club – and one group behind the current World No. 1 and eventual FedEx Cup champion Justin Rose – Woods bludgeoned the field and kneecapped Father Time. 

It was Dean Smith and the Four Corners offense.  Emmitt Smith moving the chains. Nolan Ryan mowing them down.

And all of a sudden you wonder if Phil Mickelson wishes he’d made alternate Thanksgiving plans.

Even if everybody saw a win coming, it was something else to actually see it happen, to see the man in the red shirt reach another gear just one more time.

Win No. 80 reminded us, as Roger Maltbie once said of Woods when he came back from knee surgery in 2009: “A lot of people can play the fiddle. Only one guy is Itzhak Perlman.”

It wasn’t long ago that Tiger Woods seemed headed toward a disheartening final chapter as a broken man with a broken body.


Final FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


He would host a couple of tournaments, do some great charity work, shout instructions into a walkie talkie at the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, and call it a career.

There would be no Nicklaus 1986 Masters moment, no Hogan Mystique at Merion.

He would leave competitive golf as perhaps both the greatest to ever play the game and its greatest cautionary tale.

Willie Mays with the New York Mets. Muhammad Ali taking punishment from Larry Holmes.

But then Brad Faxon and Rickie Fowler started whispering at the end of 2017 that Tiger was healthy and hitting the ball hard. 

There was that hold-your-breath opening tee shot at the Hero World Challenge, a bullet that flew the left bunker and bounded into the fairway.

Rollercoaster rides at Tampa and Bay Hill, backward steps at Augusta and Shinnecock, forward leaps at The Open and the PGA.

He switched putters and driver shafts (and shirts, oh my!) and seemed at times tantalizingly close and maddeningly far.

That he even decided to try to put his body and game back together was one of the all-time Hail Marys in golf.

Why go through all of that rehab again?

Why go through the scrutiny of having your current game measured against your untouchable prime?

Because you’re Tiger Woods, is why, because you’ve had way more wonderful days on the golf course than poor ones, despite five winless years on the PGA Tour.

Suddenly, Sam Snead’s record of 82 PGA Tour wins is in jeopardy and Jack Nicklaus, holder of a record of 18 major championships, is at the very least paying attention.

Woods has put the golf world on notice.

It won’t be long until everyone starts thinking about the 2019 major schedule (and you’d better believe that Tiger already is).

The Masters, where he has four green jackets and seven other Top 5 finishes. The PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, where he won in 2002 by 3. The United States Open at Pebble Beach, where he won in 2000 by 15.

The Open at Royal Portrush, where his savvy and guile will be a strong 15th club.

But that’s a talk for a later date.

Tiger is clearly still getting his sea legs back.

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Nonfactor McIlroy mum after lackluster 74

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 24, 2018, 1:04 am

ATLANTA – Rory McIlroy didn’t have anything to say to the media after the final round of the Tour Championship, and that’s understandable.

McIlroy began the final round at East Lake three shots behind Tiger Woods. He finished six back.

McIlroy closed in 4-over 74 to tie for seventh place.

In their matchup, Woods birdied the first hole to go four in front, and when McIlroy bogeyed the par-4 fourth, he was five in arrears. McIlroy went on to make three more bogeys, one double bogey and just two birdies.


Final FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


McIlroy was never a factor on Sunday and ultimately finished tied for 13th in the FedExCup standings.

The two rivals, Woods and McIlroy, shared plenty of conversations while walking down the fairways. On the 18th hole, Woods said McIlroy told him the scene was like the 1980 U.S. Open when people were shouting, “Jack’s back!”

“I said, ‘Yeah, I just don’t have the tight pants and the hair,’” Woods joked. “But it was all good.”

It’s now off to Paris for the upcoming Ryder Cup, where Woods and McIlroy will again be foes. It will be McIlroy’s fifth consecutive appearance in the biennial matches, while Woods is making his first since 2012.