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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 15 November 2018

Wrong Tommy Fleetwood and a hacking scandal: Bad week for European Tour and PGA of America

Even as the PGA Championship teed off on Thursday, there were much to report off the golf course

The European Tour conceded Tommy Fleetwood did not receive what he was due because of a 'clerical error'. AFP
The European Tour conceded Tommy Fleetwood did not receive what he was due because of a 'clerical error'. AFP

Let's just call it a bad week in the office for two of golf's major organisations. The first story is certainly a light-hearted one, while the second is a lot more serious – even sinister – in nature.

There is no doubt that the European Tour had good intentions when it sent Tommy Fleetwood US$154,500 (Dh567,401.25) for his tied 12th-place finish at the British Open. But as it turns out, the money was sent to the wrong Tommy Fleetwood, the BBC reported on Thursday.

It was put down as a “clerical error”, for which the Tour did apologise.

Curiously, the Tommy Fleetwood who received the payment is also a golf professional, although he goes by his official name, Thomas Fleetwood. The 58-year-old Florida resident, who doubles up as a caddie, told Reuters he had been trying to get in touch with the 27-year-old Englishman about the error.

“It was an honest mistake,” he said. “I tried to get on their senior tour, so they have my [bank] information.”

The English Fleetwood, who was to begin his PGA Championship bid at Bellerive on Thursday, said: “It looks pretty genuine. They [the European Tour] are looking into it and I’m sure they’ll feel pretty bad about it.

"It’s a funny story. It's just something I don't really look at but I'll get on top of that."

The European Tour said: "This was a clerical error which we are resolving and we apologise for the inconvenience caused to both parties."

No error here!

Now for the less funny story ...

Computer hackers struck PGA of America servers at this week’s 100th PGA Championship, demanding a Bitcoin ransom to unlock files without risking data not easily replaced, Golfweek’s website reported.

The files, Golfweek said, contained digital promotional banners and logos used on signs around Bellerive as well as materials for next month’s Ryder Cup in France.

The PGA of America does not intend to meet extortion demands, unnamed sources told the magazine, and the organisation has retained outside information technology experts to ensure the year’s final major tournament remains unaffected, according to the report.

The PGA had no comment on the matter.

PGA play began on Thursday at Bellerive Country Club. The Ryder Cup is set for September 28-30 at Le Golf National in Paris.

Tournament staff discovered on Tuesday their files had been compromised when a message told them their network had been hacked and information files encrypted, with any attempt to unlock the files risking their permanent loss, according to Golfweek.

A Bitcoin wallet number was provided, but no specific ransom amount was requested.

The stolen files, according to the report, also include development work on logos and signs for future PGA Championships, much of it not easily replaced.

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Read more:

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Tiger Woods concedes he will have to familiarise with US PGA Championship venue

Can Justin Thomas emulate Tiger Woods? Five to watch at US PGA Championship

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy pooled in the same group for US PGA Championship

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