Hooks Cuts on Golfs Winding Trail

By Rich LernerJanuary 22, 2006, 5:00 pm
  • At least golf invented the celebrity play-along concept. Lord knows were inundated with celebrity television vehicles these days -- 'Dancing with the Stars,' 'Skating with the Stars,' 'Celebrity Poker.' Theres no limit to the public's appetite for this kind of fare. I cant wait for Home and Garden Networks new offering, 'Lawn Mowing with the Stars.'
  • I visited Ken Venturi at Rancho Mirage over the weekend. Nearing 75, hes enjoying the desert life with his beautiful wife of three years, Kathleen. His homes a museum of memories, and the takeaway is that from Sinatra to President Reagan to Ben Hogan to Francis Ouimet, Venturi hung out with more legends than Zeus.
  • The PGA Tours bursting at the seams with ball hitting geniuses. But theres really no sign of a modern day Chi Chi Rodriguez or even a Lee Trevino bounding forth from some happy horizon. So twice a year'here and at Pebble Beach'the sport does well to let down its neatly combed hair.
  • Saw Paul Azinger at an early week party packed with A-list luminaries like Matthew McConaughey, Justin Timberlake and Samuel L. Jackson. Zinger reported that he overheard a conversation between two women planning to attend the affair that went like this. Whats the dress code? asked the one woman. Competitive, said her friend.
  • Venturi let me hold the 4-wood that Hogan gave him. Anyone remember playing with a 2-wood, or the brassie as they called it? Kenny pulled that out, too.
  • I asked Anthony Anderson, the bright young star of 'Hustle and Flow,' whats funny about golf. Charles Barkleys swing, he deadpanned.
  • I asked MConaughey if hed rather be Peoples Sexiest Man Alive or a scratch golfer. Not lacking for confidence, the 5-handicap replied, Some days Im both.
  • Why dont we see the likes of Chi Chi or The Merry Mex? The professional grind, for all the riches that lay at the end of the emerald fairways and all the sunshine that greets the players at each dreamy paradise, can be draining. So often a solitary walk, golf breeds more brooders than live wires.
  • Roger Clemens made an ace this week to go with his seven Cy Young Awards.
  • If youre sexiest man alive, theres more pressure to perform than if you had 5 feet to win the Masters.
  • Yogi Berras top salary was $65,000, but claims they still had more fun than the modern millionaires. Now 80 and in the field at the Hope, Yogi says players were close knit in his era because they traveled by train.
  • Mike Weirs healthy and hungry. He played most of 05 in pain with four compressed discs in his neck area.
  • Chris Riley withdrew after a third-round 81. A member of the 04 Ryder Cup team, he plummeted to 184th on the money list last year. He and wife Michelle are expecting their second child, and priorities have changed. Normally quick with a smile and easy going, Rileys body language in round 3 was plainly negative. My attitude hasnt been good, he admitted. No excuses, I just have to work my way out of it. People dont realize how tough it is out here. If youre not sharp, you can get run over.
  • I absolutely love the European Tour. Just as the call for prayer went out across Abu Dhabi in the Middle East, an American dropped in a clinching birdie putt. Chris DiMarco, with wife Amy on the bag, played an 18-hole stretch between Saturday and early Sunday in 14 under par.
  • If Bob Hope were still here, by now hed have visited the men and women serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. Hed have strolled on stage with his golf club, cracked a few well timed zingers and then thanked the soldiers for their sacrifice. Hed have returned to this beloved Palm Springs area, gathered his pals for his tournament, and reminded one and all that golf is just a game, a game for everyone'comedians, actors, athletes and ball hitting geniuses.
  • Finally, President Ford was a fixture at the Hope for so many years. Bob Hope used to joke that the President made golf a contact sport and that he was easy to spot because he was the one riding around in a cart with the Red Cross emblem on it! Now 92, President Fords recovering from pneumonia, and we wish him a speedy recovery.
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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.