Villegas Storms into Lead in Boston

By Associated PressAugust 31, 2007, 4:00 pm
DeutscheBank Logo 2007NORTON, Mass. -- They have combined for 121 victories and 19 majors. But when Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh played together Friday for the first time on the PGA TOUR, the only number that mattered was on their scorecards.
 
The 'Big Three' was a combined 3-over par.
 
On a day when Camilo Villegas shot a career-low 63 at the Deutsche Bank Championship, the biggest buzz outside Beantown was on the three biggest names in golf, who delivered some memorable moments they would rather forget.
 
Mickelson twice went on a search-and-rescue mission in the forest along the ninth hole, trying to find his golf ball and figure out how to hit it. He wound up with a triple bogey that spoiled an otherwise solid round of 70.
 
Woods took three shots to get out of the bunker on the 298-yard fourth hole and made double bogey. He spent the rest of the sunny afternoon on the TPC Boston trying to get back to even par, missing four birdie putts inside 10 feet and settling for a 1-over 72.
 
Singh set the tone for this mighty threesome by four-putting from 15 feet on the opening hole. He shot 74. It was the second straight week in the PGA TOUR Playoffs that Singh had a four-putt double bogey.
 
'I don't normally four-putt from that close,' he said.
 
Woods was asked how he would describe the festivities and summed it beautifully.
 
'Over.'
 
Good thing for them the tournament isn't over.
 
Woods hit his second shot into the water on the par-5 second hole, and combined with his double bogey on No. 4, was at 3 over through four holes and already 10 shots out of the lead.
 
'It's not like I haven't been in this position before,' Woods said. 'I kept saying, 'I basically have 68 holes to make it up.''
 
Villegas was three groups ahead and playing the kind of golf expected out of the glamour boys.
 
'Kept the ball in play and rolled in some beautiful putts,' Villegas said. 'I was happy with my round. It's very early in the week, and it's time to keep it going.'
 
He had a two-shot lead over former Masters champion Mike Weir and Ryan Moore, while Barclays winner Steve Stricker continued his solid play with a 67 that helped his chances of staying atop the playoff standings.
 
The Deutsche Bank is most critical for Weir, who needs to finish at least fifth to have any chance of getting to the BMW Championship next week. Otherwise, it's three weeks off before playing the Presidents Cup at Royal Montreal.
 
Weir started his round by holing a bunker shot for birdie, and he finished it by hitting into the swamp short of the par-5 18th green and getting up-and-down for par and his lowest round of the year.
 
'Today was nice to get a lot out of my round,' Weir said. 'A lot of the rounds I've played this year, I look back and I think, 'I should have been three or four better.' Today, I can't look at really anything that I could have done much better.'
 
The same couldn't be said for Woods, Mickelson and Singh.
 
The only other time they played together was two years ago at the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, an exhibition for the four major champions of the year (Singh got in as an alternate). This was the first time on the PGA TOUR, courtesy of a new playoff system that groups players the first two rounds based on their position in the standings.
 
Some 8,000 fans covered every inch of grass, except when they scattered as an errant shot bounced their way.
 
'It was a fun day,' Mickelson said. 'We just didn't get out of it what we wanted.'
 
Mickelson only had a couple of dodgy holes. He hooked his tee shot into the gallery on the par-5 seventh, hit another hook into the face of a cross bunker, then hit that one into a greenside bunker and escaped with par.
 
His caddie, Jim 'Bones' Mackay, looked ultra serious when he asked at the back of the green, 'Do you know the PGA TOUR record for most square footage of sand raked in a single round?'
 
One rake job was worth the trouble.
 
Mickelson hit 3-wood into the front bunker on the newly designed fourth hole, which tempts players to drive the green on the par 4. With the ball near the back lip, Lefty holed the shot for eagle to go to 3 under for his round.
 
Woods was in the middle of that bunker, but all anyone saw was a blast of sand -- no ball. It came out soft and plugged under the top lip of the bunker, so Woods lashed at it again to jar it loose and send it back to where he started. His third sand shot got to the green, and he missed the putt to take double bogey.
 
'I wasn't even trying to get cute with it,' Woods said. 'It just came out soft and buried under the lip.'
 
Four holes, and Mickelson was already six shots clear of the world's No. 1 player. When they made the turn, Woods had a 3-foot birdie putt to draw even and get back to level par. He missed, of course.
 
Singh, meanwhile, had issues beyond his four-putt at No. 1 and a three-putt at No. 8. He went from bunker to rough to hazard on the sixth hole and did well to escape with double bogey, and he shanked a 4-iron on the 11th hole that caromed out of the trees and into the rough in front of a bunker.
 
'Phil got off to a great start, just had one bad hole,' Woods said. 'I did not get off to a good start, and Vijay basically struggled all day. It was a bit of a grind out there.'
 
There were a few chilly vibes inside the ropes.
 
For the second straight week playing with Mickelson, Singh at times wore dark sunglasses that had ear plugs attached to them. At least the sun was shining outside Boston, unlike last week at The Barclays when he wore them under cloudy skies and a drizzle.
 
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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 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

    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.