Golf news: South Korean An joins PGA tour; Keegan Bradley caddie change

By Tom LaMarre, The Sports Xchange  |  Updated May 16, 2016 at 8:30 AM
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--The PGA Tour announced that Byeong-Hun An of South Korea has joined the circuit as a special temporary member for the rest of the 2015-16 PGA Tour Season.

An earned 245 non-member points three weeks ago at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, when he lost in a playoff to Brian Stuard, and he surpassed the total number of FedEx Cup points of the player who finished No. 150 (363) on the 2014-15 list.

As a special temporary member, An is eligible for unlimited sponsor exemptions for the rest of the season as he tries to earn his 2016-17 PGA Tour card through the non-member money list or non-member FedEx Cup points list through the Wyndham Championship in August.

An, who was No. 24 in the World Golf Rankings last week, also tied for ninth in the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship and tied for ninth in the WGC-HSBC Champions this season.

--Justice Eileen Bransten sided with Vijay Singh's lawyer Peter Ginsberg on the issue of confidentiality in a pre-trial conference at the New York Supreme Court, a signal that sanctions issued under the PGA Tour's Anti-Doping Program could soon enter the public record.

Bransten indicated that she was comfortable continuing to withhold the names of offending golfers.

However, she said that identifying other instances of the program's application, including the names of the drugs that triggered them, was central to Singh's claim that he was treated differently than other golfers who ran afoul of the program when he was suspended for his admitted use of deer antler spray in 2013.

Bransten weighed in after Ginsberg and PGA Tour counsel Anthony Dreyer haggled over the extent of the confidentiality order governing the release of information related to the case.

"I basically think that everything should be public," Bransten said. "If you're saying that this was a habit on the part of the Tour to do it this way, I have to be able to bring in results."

Branstein suggested that instead of identifying an offender by name, an anonymous golfer could be referred to as "Person A."

Following a terse exchange between Ginsberg and Dreyer in the courtroom, it turned into a profanity-laced confrontation in the hall outside the courtroom after the conference was adjourned.

The lawyers stood toe-to-toe trading barbs for several minutes until Dreyer stalked away.

"I'm all for it," Ginsberg told Golf.com when asked about the new developments. "I'm not comfortable with a confidentiality order except under limited circumstances. It's a public courtroom, it's a public dispute and the public is interested, so I'm hoping that it will be more transparent than it has been to date."

With several more motions to file and Bransten busy throughout much of the summer, the parties aren't scheduled to reappear until September.

--Keegan Bradley ended his working relationship with caddie Steve "Pepsi" Hale, he announced last week at the Players Championship.

Bradley has won three times on the PGA Tour with Hale on the bag, including the 2011 PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club, but he hasn't won since the 2012 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

"It's weird," said Bradley, who once was No. 12 in the World Golf Rankings but was down to No. 114 last week. "I've never changed caddies before. It's kind of sad. It was difficult because Pepsi helped me so dramatically.

"I can't thank Pepsi enough. ... I just think it was time to move on."

According to the Golf Channel, Bradley and Hale split after Bradley's missed cut three weeks ago in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Bradley had Chad Reynolds, who most recently caddied for Nick Watney, on the bag in the Players Championship. Watney underwent season-ending back surgery in March.

--Billy Harmon, the youngest of four brothers who followed in the footsteps of their father and became famous golf instructors, was diagnosed with tongue cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy.

Harmon's father was Claude Harmon, the 1948 Masters champion and a legendary instructor. His brothers Butch, Craig and Dick (who died in 2006) also became instructors.

"Although I have a tough road ahead of me, I am ready and willing to do whatever it takes to get healthy," Billy Harmon, 65, said in a statement. "I am not a 'Why me?' guy or a 'victim.' I am just the opposite. I am a very ordinary man who has been blessed to live an extraordinary life because of a great family, many, many wonderful friends, and the game of golf.

"If this can be beaten, then I will beat it. I have been overwhelmed by the support of so many but most of all humbled by it. I can't put into words what it has meant to me. When I get to the other side of this, I will be a better person."

Harmon is head pro at Toscana Country Club in Indian Wells, Calif., and he recently opened the Bill Harmon Performance Center.

He has overcome difficult times before, as he is an alcoholic who has been sober since 1991.

"It's brutal, just awful," Butch Harmon said at the Players Championship last week. "But I told him, 'You beat drugs and alcohol, you're a tough son of a bitch, and you're not doing this alone.'"

Billy Harmon has worked with several top golfers, including Craig Stadler, Jay Haas, Bill Haas and John Merrick.

--Jon Yarbrough, who caddies for Hunter Mahan, won the annual Bruce Edwards Memorial Caddie Competition before the Players Championship, hitting his tee from 135 yards to within 5 feet, 3 inches on the 17th hole at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.

Yarbrough's prizes include a one-of-a-kind framed piece of 17th hole artwork by PGA Tour scoring official Casey Jones, an engraved money clip, a TPC Sawgrass clubhouse parking pass for the rest of tournament week and an undisclosed amount of money provided by the player field.

The PGA Tour matched the player donation, with proceeds going to the Bruce Edwards Foundation for ALS Research.

Edwards, longtime caddie for eight-time major champion Tom Watson, died in 2004 from the effects of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

--Irish golf icon Christy O'Connor Sr. died in Dublin on May 14 at the age of 91. No cause of death was announced.

O'Connor, who played on 10 European Ryder Cup teams and won 23 times on the British and Irish Tour that was the precursor of the European Tour, became the second Irishman elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2009, joining Joe Carr, who went in two years earlier.

"We have lost not only one of the greatest Ryder Cup players the game has seen, but an incredible man," said Richard Hills, Ryder Cup director for Europe.

"The other thing that sticks out for me is how Seve (Ballesteros) used to watch him. When Seve, who as we all know was a genius of a player, first came out on tour in 1976, he would seek out Christy to watch him practice and watch his hands.

"Christy was built like a bull but he had incredible hands for golf."

O'Connor won 40 other professional events that were not sanctioned by the two major tours, including the European PGA Seniors title six times.

His best result in a major championship was second behind Peter Thomson of Australia at Royal Birkdale in 1965.

O'Connor also played 15 times for Ireland in the World Cup, winning the title with Harry Bradshaw in 1958.

Christy O'Connor Jr., his nephew and also an accomplished golfer, died in January at the age of 67.

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