Webb a Factor Once Again

By Associated PressApril 19, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 Florida Natural Charity ChampionshipSTOCKBRIDGE, Ga. -- Welcome back, Karrie Webb.
On Wednesday, the Aussie was actually summoned to the interview room BEFORE a tournament, which goes with the territory when you're coming off a major championship but hasn't been a regular part of her routine the past few years.
And get this: the media-shy Webb didn't even seem to mind sitting down with reporters.
'I still don't like how much time it takes up,' she said. 'But I will handle things a lot better if I'm able to put myself in the spotlight again.'
Heading into the Florida's Natural Charity Championship at Eagles Landing Country Club south of Atlanta, Webb is again a player to be reckoned with on the LPGA Tour.
Her unexpected victory three weeks ago at the Kraft Nabisco Championship showed that she has no intention of fading away in her early 30s. If anything, Webb hopes to reclaim the form that once made her the most dominating force in the women's game.
'I want to be in position to win tournaments more often,' said Webb, who just returned from a couple of weeks in Australia and will be playing for the first time since her victory. 'My goal is to get back to at least the standard I was playing a few years ago.'
Webb joined the LPGA Tour in 1996 and immediately shot to the top of the rankings. She was the world's No. 1 player three of her first five years and seemed unbeatable during the 1999 and 2000 seasons, when she won 13 times -- including three majors -- and finished in the top three at 27 of her 47 events.
'If I could go back in time and you asked me whether I took it for granted, the answer would be, 'No,'' Webb said. 'But deep down, I always thought I would play that good my whole career without any road bumps.'
Webb completed a career grand slam in 2001, doing it quicker than anyone -- yep, even Tiger Woods. But she ceded the No. 1 spot to Annika Sorenstam, and fell farther and farther behind in the years that followed.
In 2005, Webb endured her worst season yet. She failed to win a tournament and slumped to 27th in the rankings. Her scoring average jumped nearly a full stroke higher than it had the previous year.
With Sorenstam still dominating and an influx of talented teenagers joining the tour, Webb was on the verge of becoming an afterthought.
Not anymore.
'I'm pretty disappointed in the year I had last year,' Webb said. 'To get back to the winner's circle felt really good.'
Webb and Sorenstam are the only players to be ranked No. 1 over the past 11 years. In fact, it was Webb's emergence that spurred the Swede to take her game to another level a few years ago.
Sorenstam looks forward to a renewed rivalry.
'Karrie has been up there at the top. She knows how to play, and she has bounced back,' Sorenstam said. 'I kind of missed those times when we went back and forth. I'm really happy for her.'
Nineteen-year-old Paula Creamer, who won twice on the tour during her rookie season, believes that all those impatient youngsters are now chasing two players: Sorenstam and Webb.
'It's unbelievable how much talent Karrie has,' Creamer said. 'Along with Annika, those are the women who did it all. Karrie had a little rest period, but now she's back. She wants it bad. You can see it in her eyes. It's great to have two players of that caliber, competing at that level.'
Webb's victory at the first major of the year was as improbable as it was surprising. She knocked in a pitching wedge from 116 yards for eagle on the 72nd hole, then beat Lorena Ochoa in a playoff.
Even so, Webb isn't ready to proclaim that she's all the way back. Her game suffered through a period of swing changes and shaky putting, and she's yet to regain the unwavering confidence that marked her glory years.
'It's just one tournament,' Webb said. 'I must continue to do that for the rest of the year to say I'm back.'
If this isn't just an aberration, Webb plans to relish it a lot more than she did the last time. Every good shot will be savored. Every victory will be appreciated.
'It's good to struggle a little bit,' she said. 'I've never enjoyed winning a golf tournament as much as I did that one a couple of weeks ago.'
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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.

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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.