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TT Postscript: Opens with 62 after switch back to 'Scotty'

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 6, 2018, 9:45 pm

NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. – Tiger Woods made the turn in less than 30, and I managed not to pass out from excitement. Here’s what it was like watching Tiger rip off a first-round 62 and take the co-lead Thursday with Rory McIlroy.

• I kind of can’t believe how calm I feel about this. Tiger Woods had a legitimate chance at 59 on Thursday at Aronimink and not a single part of it felt out of place. Whether Woods is “back” or not has been a running joke for years. But short of a win, what other measuring stick is there? The guy was 8 under and he left shots out there. Yeah, the course is playing short and soft, and plenty of guys – hey, Rory – are having a good go at it, but 62 is 62, and 29 is his lowest nine-hole total in 11 years.

• Two key equipment changes. We’ll start with the putter. Tiger put the Scotty back in the bag, and it paid immediate dividends. He just picked up 2.24 strokes on the field via the greens, taking 27 putts en route to seven birdies, an eagle, and a bogey. I understand that sometimes you have to give a club a break. And sometimes you just lose the feeling in your hands. But for the life of me I will never understand Tiger Woods playing with any other putter. Thirteen majors don’t lie. And neither does this:

• The other change? It was to his driver. Tiger said last week that he has adjusted the loft and switched out the shaft in his driver, going back to a Diamana Whiteboard he seems very happy to be whipping around again. He hit 12 tee balls over 300 yards and found 9 of 14 fairways. And he agrees that the club feels “like a weapon again.”

Current FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from BMW Championship

“Yeah, it does,” he said. “My speed, my rotation, so many different things that have evolved throughout the year and have gotten better, and so we've decided to go with more loft and go back to a shaft that I won with a lot. So, again, the feel in my hands, that's a familiar feel, that's a familiar flex point, that's a familiar vibration of the shaft. Those are all things that I used to feel and but now I think I'm in position I can do it again.”

• The real joy was watching him take dead-aim with short irons and wedges. With Aronimink playing so short, Tiger said after the round he didn’t hit anything more than a 9-iron into a par 4. He found 16 of 18 greens and leads the field in strokes gained: approach at +3.14. Everyone loves a short iron, but no shot was as good as his 3-iron from 240 yards to 5 feet, setting up an eagle at the par-5 16th. “That was a good one,” he said with a big smile after the round.

• He’s still sweating like crazy, by the way. He packed four shirts Thursday and he went through every one of them.

• So where do we go from here? The guy is the greatest front-runner in the history of the game but wire-to-wire ain’t easy. And this field is obviously stacked. Rory, Xander, Rickie, Rahm and Rosie stand out on the early board. If he manages to carry this start into a trophy list on Sunday? Yeah, he’ll be “back.”

• Here's a look at Woods' scorecard from his opening 62 at the BMW Championship that gave him a share of the lead.

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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 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 Player and Rookie of the Year awards

By Nick MentaOctober 18, 2018, 1:22 pm

Sungjae Im on Thursday was named the Tour's 2018 Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year.

Im won twice on the 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 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 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, citing, 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, 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"

"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.