Weekley wrangles snake, calls 'gator, shoots 66

By Randall MellFebruary 28, 2013, 8:44 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Boo Weekley would be just as comfortable in an episode of “Swamp People” as he would on “Inside the PGA Tour.”

He proved that again Thursday at the Honda Classic.

Weekley’s best save in the first round was braver than any other save in any round on the PGA Tour this year.

At the fifth hole, marshals were growing frantic with a snake wriggling near the green.

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“They were calling in on the radio for somebody to bring out a shovel or something so they could remove the snake,” one of the marshals said. “They were thinking about maybe trying to pick it up with one of those ‘Quiet Please’ paddles.”

None of the marshals was especially eager to do that. The snake was a small water moccasin, which are poisonous and capable of delivering a fatal bite.

That’s where Boo came to the rescue.

“Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” star Jim Fowler couldn’t have swooped in more heroically.

Weekley scooped up the snake with the end of his driver and deposited it into a canal, the marshal said.

“Somebody could have stepped right by there and been bit,” Weekley said. “He blended in perfectly with the grass; wasn't but about 18 inches long, but he was big enough that he could have bit you and hurt you pretty bad.”

After opening his round with back-to-back bogeys, Weekley’s rescue act was quickly rewarded. He birdied the next hole and went on to make a run onto the leaderboard.

With a 4-under-par 66, Weekley finished his morning round tied for third, a shot behind Branden Grace and Graham DeLaet.

“I’m up, I’m pumped,” Weekley said.

Weekley’s outdoor adventure continued with a little Dr. Doolittle encounter at the 15th hole. Weekley appeared to try to talk to a small gator there, letting out some kind of gator call as he passed by the reptile.

“I’m not doing it again here,” Weekley said when asked to do the gator call after his round.

The affable Weekley was pleased to get off to a fast start. He is looking to regain the form that helped him win a pair of PGA Tour titles and make the 2008 American Ryder Cup team. He turns 40 in July.

“Boo’s starting to build back the confidence in his game,” said Barry Williams, who started caddying for Weekley this week but has known him for several years.

After losing his fully exempt status in 2011, Weekley started last year undergoing the third shoulder surgery of his career. The year was literally a pain in the butt. Weekley actually had two other surgeries last year to remove a pair of painful cysts from his rectum.

Only the guileless “True Boo” would reveal the nature of those last two surgeries.

Weekley was undaunted, though. Despite a run of missing seven of nine cuts in the second half of last season, he won back his PGA Tour card after entering the season-ending Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic as one of the PGA Tour’s bubble boys on the money list. He did so having to play with the help of a half-dozen sponsor exemptions.

Always one of the PGA Tour’s top ball-strikers, Weekley’s Achilles’ heel, his putting, is beginning to come around after some hard work with his coach, Scott Hamilton.

Weekley, an avid hunter and fisherman, connects his improved putting to other outdoor skills. He says he’s smoothing out the pace of his putting stroke and working on his breathing.

“Kind of like when I'm shooting my guns long range,” Weekley said. “I have to take a deep breath and exhale and blow it out, and then pull the trigger.”

Weekley has some dramatic history at PGA National. Back in ’07, he was one short putt away winning the Honda Classic at the 72nd hole. He missed a 3-footer and ended up losing in a four-man playoff won by Mark Wilson.

“I just choked,” Weekley said in typically unvarnished fashion. “That’s the bottom line of it. I had a 3-footer to win, and I just choked.”

After missing the cut his last three starts at the Honda Classic, Weekley is looking to give himself another chance to make a better memory at the 72nd hole.

“My confidence is getting there,” Weekley said. “My swing is starting to come around. I'm actually healthy right now. I feel good. I'm not eating good, but I feel good. I mean, other than that, everything's going in the right place.”

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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 Latinoamérica 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.