Truth and Rumors: Harrington loses small fortune, Appleby shoots 59, Turning Stone exec comes to senses

Unlucky Investment Padraig Harrington, winner of three majors and the No. 15 player in the world, made one very unfortunate investment, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

Golf champion Padraig Harrington has lost around €4m in a failed investment in a UK technology firm, according to a recently filed court document seen by the Sunday Independent.

An administrator's progress report, placed before the High Court in Bristol in the UK in June, shows Harrington lost £3,361,716 through his investment in U4EA.

While the popular golfer, who is participating in 3 Irish Open in Killarney this weekend, is expected to earn a multiple of his reported wealth before his playing days are over, the loss of €4m is likely to be painful.

Last year, Harrington quashed rumours he had lost significant sums of money as a result of the economic downturn. "Nasty things have been said about me and I really don't want to lend credence to them by making any comment. For instance, one of the tabloids wanted to know if it was true that I had lost €20m in investments with (Bernie) Madoff, (Allen) Stanford and a few others. They were obviously keen to cover all the bases.

"The answer is that I haven't lost greatly in any ventures. I will not suggest that I was immune from everything, but nothing has happened that has had any material effect on me, financially."

I guess if there's any good news to this story for Harrington it's that things could be much worse. Irish billionaire Dermot Desmond is reported to have lost more than three times as much by investing in the same firm. The bad news? Harrington's brother, Columb, is apparently a director there. Money and family just don't mix. Going Low In a weekend full of great golf stories, the highlight was undoubtedly provided by Stuart Appleby, who won the Greenbrier Classic with a 59 in his final round, becoming just the fifth golfer on the PGA Tour to accomplish the feat. If it seems like it's been a long time since you've heard Appleby's name, it's not your imagination, it's his first win since 2006. According to the Sydney Morning Herald's Martin Blake, it couldn't have come at a better time.
He was walking before the last putt dropped in, a curler from just beyond three metres. It was always going in, it was that kind of day. And with that, Stuart Appleby stepped into the golfing stratosphere.
A final-round 59, making him only the fifth player to have broken 60 on the US PGA Tour, gave Appleby victory in the $US6 million ($6.6m) Greenbier Classic in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, the Australian's first win on tour since 2006.

"We spend so much time trying to have rounds like today," Appleby said. "Forget whether it's a 50-something, you're just trying to have rounds where you're scaring the hole. And when you do and they drop, it's a pleasant feeling. You just never seem to get enough of them."

The irony is that he has been enduring the toughest stretch of his career; indeed his future was being questioned. Appleby failed to secure his tour playing card after finishing 147th on the money list last year, and had to use an exemption for being in the top 15 on the all-time money list to keep his playing rights.

Astonishingly this was his 11th tournament in as many weeks, for until now he has not had the luxury of stopping. In 23 previous tournaments this season - that number is a full season's worth for most players - he had just two top-10 finishes and missed the cut 11 times. His world ranking had slid to 159th against career-highs in the teens, and he needed to keep playing to make some cash since only the top 125 on the money list go through to the next season.

Appleby said the win had "given some real valid weight to the time you spend on the range frustrated, and there's plenty of that."

Popular on Tour and having gone through plenty of hardship (his wife died tragically in 1998) Appleby is also an exceptional player, though one who's struggled the last few years. To win, and to do it so explosively, is even more impressive considering he's been grinding it out 11 weeks in a row, nearly unheard of in this day and age for a player as successful as Appleby has been in his career. The most amazing part of this story is that it took 24 years for Chip Beck to shoot the Tour's second 59 (after Al Geiberger got things started 1977), but it took Appleby only 23 days to become the fifth, after Paul Goydos' equally shocking round to open the John Deere last month. Bowing Out When Nation Enterprises CEO Ray Halbritter announced last week that he was granting himself a sponsor's exemption into the Turning Stone Resort Championship, nobody really knew how to react...which is to say that we didn't know whether to scream at him for denying a real golfer a chance to ply his trade or to simply laugh at him for setting himself up for what was likely to be one of the great attractors of schadenfraude in recent memory. No matter which side you were on, the announcement kicked up a lot of internet dust over the week, and Waggleroom's Ryan Ballengee reports, when it settled, Halbritter had wisely changed his mind.
Ray Halbritter is the CEO of Nation Enterprises and, consequently, the boss of the Turning Stone Resort. By being the big cheese at the title sponsor of next week's Turning Stone Resort Championship, he thought he would insert himself into the field as a sponsor's exemption.

Why not exempt yourself from the tournament your company - and ultimately you - decided to sink millions of dollars into sponsoring?

Well, despite passing the PGA Playing Ability Test to meet minimum requirements for an exemption, Halbritter drew a plethora of criticism from all comers for his decision to take a spot away from a professional seeking a crack at the four million dollar purse. This evening, Halbritter issued a statement announcing his withdrawal from the tournament.

"My intention in qualifying to be eligible to play in our Turning Stone Resort Championship was to participate in a competitive opportunity which any golfer would enjoy. In addition, given the responsibilities of my position as I mentioned in some interviews on the exemption issue, I wanted to use the platform afforded by our event to show the public, particularly American Indian youth, what can be accomplished by someone with a challenging background who puts his mind and heart into it."

I'm actually willing to give Halbritter the benefit of the doubt here; there's a good chance he dreamed up this entire scenario as a way to get more publicity for the Turning Stone Resort tournament, which is (unfairly in my opinion) widely ignored most years. By graciously bowing out (and allowing Kirk Triplett to take his place), Halbritter managed to drum up some press while still saving himself the possible embarrassment of throwing up a three-digit number onto a PGA Tour leaderboard.  Stray Shots: A young black bear took what I can only assume was a half-adorable, half-terrifying nap on the 4th hole of Knickerbocker Country Club in Bergenfield, NJ.
One of Vegas' best known courses is losing money so fast it might become an industrial park. If that falls through they plan to take out a mortgage and put it all on red.

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by Kevin Cunningham