Backspin Things Getting Silly

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 12, 2007, 5:00 pm
Editor's Note: In Backspin, the GOLFCHANNEL.com editorial staff takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf -- with a spin.
 
LEFTY BEING LEFTY: Phil Mickelson finished his two-week stay in Asia with a wild, Mickelson-like final round that resulted in a playoff win in the HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai. It marked just the second win for Mickelson outside the United States.
 
Backspin After finishing 16 shots back of the winner last week, it appeared Lefty had traveled outside the comfy confines of the U.S. solely to accept the huge appearance fees that he commands. But like usual, Mickelson had a few tricks up his sleeve, including blowing a five-stroke lead with nine holes to play. A birdie on the second playoff hole gave Lefty the victory and led him to say, 'It's a funny game, golf.' No, Phil, the game isn't really all that funny; it's you that makes it seem that way.
 
CREAMING THE COMPETITION: Paula Creamer 'held on' to win the Mitchell Company Tournament of Champions in Alabama, edging Birdie Kim by a mere eight strokes. It was the Pink Panther's second win of the season, and her first since the first event of 2007.
 
Backspin After starting the tournament 2 over par following the first nine holes, Creamer put the pedal to the metal and blitzed her fellow competitors. The turning point was a sensational run at the end of her first round where the 21-year-old rang up seven straight birdies to climb into early contention. She then went bogey-free the rest of the way - until the 72nd hole - to capture her fourth career title.
 
PETTERSEN VERSUS TELEVISION: Suzann Pettersen was penalized two strokes following her round Friday at the Tournament of Champions. Her par on the par-5 13th turned out to be a double-bogey 7, dropping her eight off the pace after 36 holes.
 
Backspin In a sport that constantly repeats how players honor the game by calling penalties on themselves, this time it was instead a TV camera calling the shots. The Norwegian attempted to move some branches following a wayward drive, and, somehow unbeknownst to her and her caddie, ended up causing the ball to move ever-so-slightly. She then proceeded to hit from the wrong spot, resulting in a two-shot penalty and in the process putting an end to her recent hot streak.
 
NOT A BAD START: The European Tour got off to pretty good start to its 2008 season with a strong field and a wild finish at the abovementioned HSBC Champions tournament. One event down; 50 to go.
 
Backspin Granted, the tour started their season in China and not in Europe, and the fact that it just finished its 2007 season the week before, and yes, that it's not even close to 2008 yet, but nevertheless it was a fantastic beginning. The Sunday leaderboard was dotted with names like Paul Casey, Henrik Stenson, Vijay Singh and Lee Westwood. Throw in a final round roller-coaster ride by Phil the Thrill and you've got the makings of a beautiful beginning.
 
SILLY, HAPPY TIME: Natalie Gulbis and John Elway teamed to win the Golf Skills Challenge at the Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort and Club last Monday. The event featured the teams of Dan Marino and Bubba Watson; Roger Clemens and Greg Norman; and Jerry Rice and Peter Jacobsen.
 
Backspin The hottie and Hall of Famer made for quite a team ' and picked up quite a paycheck. Gulbis and Elway split $310,000. Silly Season commissioner Gordon Gekko is thrilled with the way his campaign has kicked off.
 
THE LITTLEIST CAPTAIN: Englands Alison Nicholas was named 2009 European Solheim Cup captain. The 1997 U.S. Womens Open champion has competed in six Cup Matches and was twice on the winning team.
 
Backspin Nicholas will be trying to end a two Cup winning streak by the Americans, and will be trying to lead the Euros to their first-ever win in the U.S. Maybe the Yanks will employ Nancy Lopez once again as captain just to give her a chance to extract a little revenge for the 97 Open loss.
 
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Vicky Hurst won the Duramed Futures Tour's qualifying tournament last Friday; Tadd Fujikawa received a sponsor's exemption to play in next year's Sony Open; Greg Norman announced on Tuesday the pairings for this year's Merrill Lynch Shootout to be held at Tiburon Golf Club and The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort.
 
Backspin Hurst, not sure if she will turn pro or elect to go to college, has already been named the AJGA's 2007 Rolex Junior Player of the Year with three tournament wins; The 16-year-old Fujikawa can only hope to have another run like he did at last year's Sony, where he became the youngest player in 50 years to make the cut on the PGA TOUR; Yes it is the Silly Season, but the chance to see Norman - not to mention Couples, Daly, Price, Funk and Woody, amongst others - back out roaming the fairways is a treat in our books.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - HSBC Champions
  • Full Coverage - LPGA Tournament of Champions
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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.