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Grow the Game, Join the Olympics

The grand poobahs of the sport of golf believe golf needs to be an Olympic Sport in order to “Grow the Game”. David Fay, executive director of the USGA and chairman of the World Golf Foundation, Tim Finchem PGA Tour commissioner, Carolyn Bivens LPGA commissioner, Joe Steranka PGA of America CEO, Jim Armstrong Augusta National GM, Peter Dawson R&A chief executive, and George O’Grady European Tour CEO have agreed that this is an essential ingredient in achieving that goal.

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The grand poobahs of the sport of golf believe golf needs to be an Olympic Sport in order to "Grow the Game".

David Fay, executive director of the USGA and chairman of the World Golf Foundation, Tim Finchem PGA Tour commissioner, Carolyn Bivens LPGA commissioner, Joe Steranka PGA of America CEO, Jim Armstrong Augusta National GM, Peter Dawson R&A chief executive, and George O’Grady European Tour CEO have agreed that this is an essential ingredient in achieving that goal.  I can’t help but wonder why this particular group has come out from behind the walls of their individual Kingdoms to join a crusade to gain access to a Kingdom as corrupt as the that run by the International Olympic Committee.  Altruism is not something of which these power purveyors could be convicted.   Thus the answer clearly becomes financial gain, both outwardly "for the good of the game" and less visibly for each Kingdom.

How bad is the IOC?  Here’s a recent quote from Jacques Rogge the Poobah’s poobah of the IOC: "For us, freedom of expression is something that is absolute. It’s a human right," said Mr. Rogge.  "There are small restrictions in not making propaganda or demonstrations in Olympic venues, like on the podium. . . . We are a movement of 205 nationalities, and many of these nationalities are in conflict with each other," Rogge said. The IOC will provide athletes with guidance on what constitutes propaganda, he added, "and we’ll do this with a lot of common sense."  In other words freedom of expression is absolute, but we’re going to put a few restrictions on what can be said and done.  Hmmm  I think I’d really be anxious to clasp hands with this guy.

Remember the bribery scandals surrounding the Salt Lake City games  10 IOC members resigned and 10 others were reprimanded.  Congress launched three investigations.  The Justice Department convened a federal grand jury.  What mostly came out of this wailing and gnashing of teeth was that those member forced to resign and those reprimanded where only practicing business as usual, they just happened to get noticed outside of the back alley at a time other than the dead of night.

And the organizations that operate under the umbrella of the IOC are hardly any better, but why would we expect anything better to occur under such stellar leadership.  Remember the stink about Paul Hamm and the all around gold medal in men’s gymnastics?  You remember gymnastics, a sport which would easily survive on it’s own without the mega doses of cash being an "Olympic Sport" provides.  Well Mr. Hamm was asked to return his gold medal after the award ceremony because someone apparently made a mistake in scoring the Bronze medalists final performance.  Good sportsmanship all over the neighborhood that, eh?  Mr. Hamm even had to travel to a court hearing in Switzerland ( I think it was Switzerland) before he could be assured the medal was indeed his to keep.  Weird and weirder.  Remember the Winter Games were the Russian couple a Gold Medal despite an obvious even to the untrained observer second rate performance. The Canadian couple was awarded a second Gold Medal after the French judge admitted she bowed to pressure to vote for the Russian couple. Ice skating, another sport capable of standing on its own without the Olympic dollar supporter. 

These are the playmates the poohbahs of golfdom want to join.  For the good of the game?  Please, spare me.  I may have been born at night but it wasn’t last night so don’t try and get me to accept that we can’t grow the game without getting into the same arena with these schmucks.  I’m not buying it for a minute.  Is the game having trouble growing in South Korean?  What you say there are how many South Korean women members of the LPGA.  My my, and without the Olympics.  How did this happen?  Where exactly are you trying to grow the game?  Russia?  China?  Sudan? Hmmm. 

I have another question for the games anointed leaders;  who exactly benefits from this Olympic connection?  and how will it help my game?

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Morning 9: Solheim Cup finish for the ages | Credit where it’s due | Will Tiger pick Tiger? continued

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com; @benalberstadt on Instagram)

September 16, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. For the ages!
Ron Sirak for LPGA.com says this year’s Solheim Cup was one of the best ever (and he’s not wrong!)…”Rarely in sports does reality match expectation. More often than not, the happening falls short of the hype. But the 14½-13½ Solheim Cup victory by Europe over the United States on Sunday at Gleneagles was better than advertised – almost better than imaginable.”
  • “You’d have to search far and wide to find a more dramatic finish anywhere in the history of sports. With the last shot of the day, Suzann Pettersen – a controversial captain’s pick – rolled in a 7-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to secure the victory. A miss and the U.S. would have won for the third consecutive time.”
  • “Like the Ryder Cup, this has just grown so hugely,” said Catriona Matthew, the Scottish woman who captained Europe to victory in her homeland. “It came down to the last putt on the last hole. You can’t get more exciting than that.”
  • “The victory by Europe denied Juli Inkster a chance to become the only captain with three victories and it stopped the Americans from winning three in a row for the third time in the competition. The Solheim Cup now stand 10-6 in favor of the United States.”

Full piece.

2. Credit where it’s due
Golf Digest’s Keely Levins says that while Pettersen will rightfully get the headlines, don’t forget the work of Celine Boutier and Georgia Hall at Gleneagles.
  • “But while all of this is going on, let’s not forget two other players who deserve a lot of the credit for Europe’s win: Celine Boutier and Georgia Hall. Each posted 4-0-0 records for the week, and together they earned five of Europe’s 14½ points at Gleneagles.”
  • “Like Pettersen, Catriona Matthew took Boutier with one of her captain’s picks. The 25-year-old from France won her first LPGA event in February, the ISPS Handa Vic Open. She then went on to top-10 finish in two major championships, making her a sensible choice.”

Full piece.

3. Bright spots for the U.S. 
Golfweek’s Roxanna Scott on the shining stars for the Stars & Stripes…”Rookie Nelly Korda joined her older sister Jessica as the leading players for the U.S., with both earning 3½ of four points. Friday they played together in morning foursomes, making history as the first sisters to be paired in a Solheim Cup match. It was also the first time their parents, Petr and Regina, watched their daughters play together. The sisters won their opening match 6 and 4, and went on to dominate Carlota Ciganda and Bronte Law 6 and 5 in Saturday’s foursomes.”
  • “Both Kordas were down early in their singles matches Sunday. Nelly Korda was down by three against Caroline Hedwall before the American made consecutive birdies on the 10 and 11th holes. Nelly Korda won the match 2 up.”
  • “Jessica Korda was down by two against Caroline Masson before she pulled it to all square on the 8th. Jessica Korda had three birdies in her last five holes to win 3 up.”

Full piece.

4. A late bid to flip his 2019 script
A year notable more for destroying courses in a literal sense sees Garcia get the better of a track…
SkySports report…”Sergio Garcia has won the KLM Open by one shot from Nicolai Hojgaard after finishing 18 under in Amsterdam to claim his 16th European Tour title.”
  • “Garcia went into the final day as joint-leader with Callum Shinkwin and seemed on course for a routine victory as he led by two shots at the fifth.”
  • “His playing partner Shinkwin then edged ahead by one shot at the seventh following successive bogeys on a mixed front nine at The International from the Spaniard.”
  • “But a double bogey at the 10th by Englishman Shinkwin offered Garcia some hope and the 2017 Masters champion looked to have sealed victory with a stunning approach from the rough at the 16th, despite having his feet in the bunker for the awkward second shot to dial in to five feet.”
5. Niemann breaks through
The first victory by a Chilean on the PGA Tour will no doubt be the first of many for Mr. Niemann.
  • AP report…”The 20-year-old cruised to a dominant six-stroke win on Sunday at A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier in West Virginia, picking up his first career win in the inaugural event of the 2019-20 season.”
  • “My game was feeling great, and mentally (it) was awesome,” Niemann said. “I was just feeling like I was going to win this tournament since the first day. I was in a really good mindset.”
  • “Niemann entered the final round with a comfortable two-shot lead over the field, and started the day steady – firing a 1-under 33 on the front nine.”
  • “That’s when he took off…”

Full piece.

6. 2 months, 2 Champions Tour wins
AP report…”Jerry Kelly played bogey-free Sunday at Warwick Hills and closed with a 4-under 68 for a two-shot victory in the Ally Challenge, his second victory this year on the PGA Tour Champions.”
  • “Kelly also won two months ago in his native Wisconsin at the American Insurance Family Championship.”
  • “He started the final round with a one-shot lead over Charles Schwab Cup leader Scott McCarron and Woody Austin. McCarron fell apart with a 75. Austin remained within one shot until a bogey on the par-4 15th, and Kelly stretched his lead to three with a birdie on the par-3 17th.”

Full piece. 

7. Tour pulls back curtain on POY voting process, says integrity is “not up for debate”
Golf.com’s Josh Berhow got in touch with the PGA Tour to discuss the…much remarked upon…2019 PGA Tour Player of the Year award given to Rory McIlroy…
  • “In a phone interview with GOLF.com, Laura Neal, the Tour’s senior vice president of communications, did not say how many players voted in 2019 but she did say that in any given year 45 to 60 percent of players participate. The Tour also provided GOLF.com with a copy of the ballot” [see in the link to “full piece”]
  • “…Neal said the ballot is delivered electronically to eligible voters – players who have played in at least 15 events. The completed ballots go directly to the Tour’s accounting firm, Grant Thornton. Employees there tabulate the votes without Tour supervision and send the results to the Tour. The process is broadly similar to how Academy Award votes are tabulated.”
  • “Feel free to debate whether the PGA Tour membership should have voted Rory or Brooks as Player of the Year,” Neal wrote in an email Friday. “What’s not up for debate is the Tour’s integrity – in this process or otherwise.”

Full piece.

8. Will Tiger pick Tiger, continued
Woods filed a captain’s blog for PGATour.com as he ponders his captains picks…
  • “While I was disappointed to not earn one of the top 8 spots, I’m hopeful to perform well at my next start in Japan. In the meantime, I’m going to rely on playing with some of the guys in Florida to stay sharp. I’ll practice hard, work on my game, and we’ll have some matches. It’s a lot of work, but it’s also always fun.”
  • “At the end of the day, the decision of who rounds out this team will ultimately be my call, but I’m going to lean heavily on the opinions of my captain’s assistants and the eight guys who have already earned a spot. My plan is to keep an open line of communication to ensure we find the four guys who best fit this team. We will be watching the fall events closely. There are so many guys who are world-class players who aren’t yet on the team like Rickie Fowler, Tony Finau, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Gary Woodland, Jordan Spieth and many more. The Fall events will also allow me to get extended looks at two young rookies, Matthew Wolff and Colin Morikawa, who both played well after turning pro late in the season.”

Full piece.

9. Niemann on Presidents Cup squad? 
From a piece by PGATour.com’s Helen Ross…

Els, who will announce his picks in early November along with U.S. Captain Tiger Woods, was well aware of what Niemann had done. The Chilean finished the automatic qualification period ranked 28th.

  • …”What a fantastic win for Joaquin at The Greenbrier,” Els told PGA TOUR officials via text message. “I’m really proud of him, and it’s a wonderful start to his season. I’m looking forward to more of his great play.”
  • Niemann may be a relative newbie as far as The Presidents Cup is concerned. But he’s clearly focused on playing for Els at Royal Melbourne in December, calling it a “dream” – not unlike his wide-ranging thoughts on Sunday morning.
  • “I know that there is a lot of good players fighting for the first spots,” Niemann said. “I know it’s going to be tough, and this win definitely helps to get a little — probably a little help to get in the first spots. But I don’t know yet.
  • “Just got to be patient and get a couple more tournaments to have good golf and hopefully get in that team.”

Full piece.

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Tour Rundown: Incredible Solheim Cup | Niemann, Garcia, Kelly

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In the northeast USA, where I live, the leaves are poised to change colors. There was a generational change in this week’s Solheim Cup where a young European team showed it could win at singles. There was a generational change in West Virginia, site of the first event of the 2019-20 PGA Tour. It wasn’t quite the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, but the second weekend of September gave us a glimpse of the exciting, young talent that inhabits all the world’s tours. And so, we are more than happy to offer a Tour Rundown for Monday, September 16th, 2019.

Solheim Cup won on home soil by Europe

Last weekend, a young USA team of amateurs left British soil with the Walker Cup, thanks to a singles-day rally. Team Europe made certain that the history did not repeat itself so promptly, albeit with a similar comeback of its own. The young European team was championed by Suzanne Pettersen but made a name for itself, Young promise in the guise of Georgia Hall, Bronte Law, Carlota Ciganda and Celine Boutier earned Sunday wins for the Blue team. Their efforts were supported by stalwarts like Pettersen and Nordqvist. The latter smoked Morgan Pressel in the day’s final match, ending it early at 4 & 3, giving Team Europe a boost in the day’s closing moments.

It was left to Pettersen, on the cusp of retirement, to knock down a 10-feet birdie putt on the final hole, outlasting the USA’s Marina Alex by 1-up and securing a Solheim Cup in her farewell appearance. Team golf isn’t always brilliant, but the Presidents Cup in December, and the Ryders and Curtises of 2020 would do well to emulate the spirit of Solheim Cup Gleneagles.

Niemann fulfills promise with first Tour title

The thing with prodigies is, they feel like they’ve been here forever. The trouble with golf prodigies is, if they don’t win enough, they never win enough as professionals. Joaquin Niemann won the 2018 Latin America Championship. That’s a big event, as it earned him invitations to the Masters, U.S. and Open championships of that year. He was the No. 1-ranked golfer as an amateur, but that was the only big win he ever had. Let’s be honest, it wasn’t an NCAA title, nor a USGA Junior, nor an Amateur championship from the isles nor the USA. Niemann looked good and played well, but he never threatened to win anything else, until Sunday.

Niemann turned pro after that 2018 Masters, giving up the chance to play in the twin Open championships. This week, he worked his way around the Greenbrier Resort’s Old White course like the conductor of a train, or a symphony. The young Chilean held a towo-shot advantage with 18 holes to play, but ceded the top spot to Tom Hoge after front-nine struggles. On the inward half, he was the Niemann of old (or should that be, of young?), posting six birdies for 31 and 64 on the day.

Hoge could not keep pace, and settled for second spot at 15 under, six shots behind the winner. Early in the week, the news belonged to Kevin Chappell, who posted 59 in round two. Curiously, the Californian never visited the 60s all week, with three rounds in the 70s, and a place in the middle of the pack. From on high, looking down, stood a young golfer, beginning to fulfill his promise.

Kelly locks up midwest for locals in Michigan

There have been a few events of note in the upper midwest of the USA on this season’s PGA Tour Champions. Jerry Kelly won the AFI in Wisconsin in June, and was followed by friendly rival Steve Stricker at the Senior Open in Indiana. In sort of a rubber match resolution, Kelly came back this week to claim the Ally Challenge in Michigan, posting a two-stroke victory over Woody Austin. Even if Stricker had entered this week, he would have been pressed to keep up with his fellow cheesehead.

Kelly was that little-bit better than everyone else during every round, this week. Beginning round three a shot off the pace, Scott McCarron inexplicably faded again, adding wood to the suggestion that he will never become the clutch player that his physical talents deserve. His 75 dropped him to a tie for 15th. Kelly never wavered, posting four birdies on the day for 68. His only bogey of the week came on Thursday’s ninth hole, and it was more than offset by a run of five consecutive birdies, mid-day Friday. With the victory, his second of the year, Kelly jumped into second spot on the season-long Schwab Cup list, just behind McCarron.

Garcia rehearses alphabet in march to KLM win

In the late 2000s, the Spanish Royal Academy eliminated the LL from its alphabet. That news was lost on golfers, until this week’s KLM Open in Holland. Sergio Garcia, clearly not worried about a KLLLM disparity, won by one slim stroke over Nicolai Hojgaard.

Absent this week from the Spaniard’s performance were the phlegm-filled, earthworm-seeking histrionics that have spotted an otherwise-memorable career. Garcia’s game was on, with birdies at 15 and 16 affording a cushion for a 17th-hole bogey. In fact, Garcia made seven birdies on the day, most of any, on the week, for the Iberian. The unheralded Hojgaar, hailing from Denmark, was in control most of the day. His late bogey, at the 16th, brought him to 4 over on the week for the antipenultimate hole. If he looks back with any regret on the week, it would certainly focus on the wee par 4.

Fishburn secures elevation at Canada Life Championship

At week’s opening, Patrick Fishburn held a tenuous grasp of the fifth and final hockey sweater, symbolic of a Korn Ferry Tour card for 2020. By Sunday evening, the young man from the USA had secured not only a promotion to the next level of tour success but all the confidence that comes with a clutch victory. On Fishburn’s heels in the Order of Merit, just $1,000 back, was Hayden Buckley. Just outside but with some hope, was David Pastore. Buckley faded this week, finishing mid-pack, but Pastore was electric. He posted constantly-improving scores of 68-66-65-63, concluding the week a solid 18 under par. He beat everyone in the field … everyone but Fishburn.

The young alum from BYU never strayed from the mid-60s, posting a pair of 64 over the weekend to outdistance the field with a 21-under par for a total. The title was Fishburn’s first of the year, and certainly must have provided the sort of assurance that beating the field brings. With the victory, Fishburn, Lorens Chan and Jake Knapp of the USA joined Canada’s Taylor Pendrith and France’s Paul Barjon in the elite group of five to receive life-altering tour sweaters and membership in the penultimate stage of tour success.

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Morning 9: First first-round leader of 2019-20 PGA Tour | Real star of the KLM Open | $30K golf cart theft

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com; @benalberstadt on Instagram)

September 13, 2019

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1. First first-round leader of the 2019-2020 PGA Tour season
AP report…”Shelton made eight starts on tour as a non-member in 2016-17. He has his TOUR card for the first time after winning two Korn Ferry events in May.”
  • “I’m fired up,” Shelton said. “Last night it was tough to sleep. I’ve been waiting for this moment all season.”
  • “Starting on the back nine on the Old White TPC, the 24-year-old Shelton made the turn at 3 under and birdied Nos. 1-3. The 8-under 62 is his lowest score on TOUR.”
  • “Defending champion Kevin Na, Lanto Griffin, Mark Hubbard and Zack Sucher matched Harrington at 64.”

Full piece.

2. Meanwhile…
BBC report…”England’s Callum Shinkwin, 446th in the world rankings, is the surprise leader after the first round of the KLM Open.”
  • “Shinkwin produced an eagle on the 544-yard par five third in his six-under 66 to hold a one-shot lead in Amsterdam.”
  • “The 26-year-old has only made the cut at eight of 17 events on the European Tour this season.”
  • “Seven players are on five under, including England’s Chris Paisley, Matthew Southgate and Sam Horsfield, and Scotland’s Marc Warren.”

Full piece. 

3. Ready for battle
A look at the morning Solheim Cup matches (where soul-taking Danielle Kang will sit)…
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…
Match 1, 3:10AM ET: Morgan Pressel and Marina Alex (USA) vs. Carlota Ciganda and Bronte Law (EUR)
Match 2, 3:22AM ET: Lexi Thompson and Brittany Altomare (USA) vs. Georgia Hall and Celine Boutier (EUR)
Match 3, 3:34AM ET: Jessica Korda and Nelly Korda (USA) vs. Caroline Masson and Jodi Ewart Shadoff (EUR)
Match 4, 3:46AM ET: Megan Khang and Annie Park (USA) vs. Charley Hull and Azahara Munoz (EUR)
4. Stealing the show at the KLM Open 
Todd Kelly at Golfweek…”one golfer in particular stole the show on Thursday.”
  • “Her name? Susan Hosang.”
  • “Her age? 100.”
  • “That’s right, the centenarian, who took up the sport 30 years ago, was a special guest at the tournament and played the 13th hole alongside Reed as well as Matt Wallace and Thomas Pieters in a Beat the Pro challenge, which pits a lucky amateur with the pros.”
  • “According to the Tour, the KLM Open is celebrating its 100th edition of the tournament. KLM, the Dutch airline, has been in business 100 years.”
5. Myrtle Beach rebounds 
The Forecaddie…
  • “While the world continues to focus on Hurricane Dorian’s damage to the Bahamas, Myrtle Beach and other South Carolina destinations already are back to business. Despite up to a foot of rain and several tornadoes that made news on national broadcasts, The Forecaddie hears the region came out of the storm incredibly well.”
  • “We were extremely fortunate to have avoided the worst of hurricane Dorian,” said Golf Tourism Solutions head Bill Golden. The agency overseas marketing for Myrtle Beach and has created a page updating golf course conditions.
  • “Myrtle Beach golf courses were able to escape with no long-term damage, and players can expect to find our courses in typically outstanding condition.”

Full piece.

6. An all-out assault on Leishman’s back
Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski reports on the rough stuff in the dorsal region of Marc Leishman this week…
  • “With four bulging discs in his back, Marc Leishman didn’t need any further injuries to make it uncomfortable to play golf. He got one anyway. The timing couldn’t have been worse.”
  • “Leishman felt his cranky back seizing up on him Wednesday morning before playing in the pro-am for the PGA Tour season opener, A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier. That was bad enough. Then, on the fifth hole of the pro-am, one of his playing partners inadvertently nailed him in the right side of his lower back with an errant approach shot.”
  • “Apparently, the accident was a result of a miscommunication. Leishman thought the player had picked up after several strokes on the short par-4 hole. But he hadn’t. Leishman still wasn’t quite in the line of play when a ball came whizzing at him from about 100 yards away.”

Full piece.

7. JT’s melanoma square 
Golfweek staff…”Justin Thomas revealed Thursday he had a recent scare with melanoma that was discovered when he had a mole on his left leg checked out.”
  • “Thomas, who won the BMW Championship last month, shared a photo on Instagram that showed an incision on his leg with stitches. When a dermatologist checked out a very small mole on his leg, it was caught in the early stages of melanoma, Thomas wrote.”
  • “”Luckily, we found it at a time where there should be no problems going forward,” he wrote. “That being said, EVERYBODY GO GET CHECKED!! No harm can come from it and it’s the best way to catch anything before it becomes a serious issue. Especially for all the junior golfers (and other athletes) spending so much time in the sun.”
  • “It is so important to make sure you’re monitoring your body – no matter how old you are or how much sunscreen you use. It really got my attention, and hoping it does the same to y’all!”

Full piece.

8. $30K golf cart theft
Dennis Hoey at the Portland Press Herald…“York police arrested the director of golf at the Cape Neddick Country Club and charged him with stealing a golf cart designed for golfers with disabilities.”
  • “Dustin Michael Hunter, 35, of West Street in Biddeford was arrested Tuesday morning at the country club and charged with felony theft by unauthorized taking or transfer, Detective Sgt. Thomas Cryan in a news release.”
  • “Hunter was taken to the York County Jail, then released on bail….Hunter allegedly stole a paramobile golf cart valued at $30,000 and a trailer used to haul the cart on April 21. The golf cart and trailer had been stored at the country club, according to York police.”
  • “Cryan said the cart was designed for use by disabled golfers, but can be customized for use in other leisure sports such as fishing or archery.”

Full piece.

9. A perspective on Abaco 
Our Michael Williams reflects on his experience at the resort last year…and the recent devastation.
  • “Abaco exceeded my expectations. The location was as beautiful as any in the world, with white warm tropic breezes and sandy beaches on a secluded bay. The water is a surreal kind of blue; actually, it’s a series of blues that range from turquoise to a deep royal blue.”
  • “The only thing more sparkling that the water and the sunshine were the smiles of the people. From the time that you arrive the warmth and hospitality of the staff at Abaco surrounds you. It’s not the kind of hospitality that you learn from a class or an employee manual. It’s a more honest and genuine variety that comes from a culture of courtesy and welcoming others into your world.”
  • “I made some great friends on and on the golf course in Abaco. David Southworth, who along with business partner Joe Deitch form the ownership group of the Abaco Club, is one of those people who has a kind of easy charm and grace. When he talks about Abaco, he deflects credit from himself and shives the spotlight on his staff and support team. “These are the people that make it possible,” I remember Southworth saying again and again.”
  • “And this on the current effort to rise again…”Both Joe Deitch and David Southworth have pledged that the Abaco Club will host its Korn Ferry Tour event in January 2020 as planned. Aid is beginning to flow and people all over the world are pledging their support in the short term and the long term. More is needed now and will be for.a very long time. Eventually, the spirit of the Bahamian people will prevail, and Abaco will rise again. For now, I will give what I can in time and money as I pray nightly for the living and the dead of Abaco.”

 

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