Brown reaches settlement with Futures Tour

Sarah Brown at the 2009 Junior Solheim Cup.

Sarah Brown at the 2009 Junior Solheim Cup.

The Duramed Futures Tour and Sarah Brown have reached a settlement in the case of Brown’s improper disqualification from last week’s The International at Concord.

Brown’s father, Keith, said the settlement was reached Thursday afternoon.

“Sarah and I felt it was extremely important to get this issue behind us as soon as possible, and am pleased to inform you that we have reached an agreement,” Keith Brown said in a statement. “One of the conditions of the agreement was absolute confidentiality, therefore I am unable to discuss any details with you now, or in the future.”

Keith Brown was reached by Golfweek on Friday but said he could not comment on the settlement. He is caddying today for his daughter in the first round of the Duramed Futures Tour’s Alliance Bank Golf Classic in Syracuse, N.Y.

The Browns were seeking compensation for the incident because Sarah Brown was removed from the golf course with nine holes remaining in the tournament. She started the final round three shots off the lead.

Brown was pulled from the course after a rules official determined her Ping Tour-W had nonconforming grooves. The Browns contested, claiming that her grooves were conforming. Ultimately, they were proved to be correct.

As of Friday morning, Brown’s standing on the money list had not changed: $2,921, ranking 106th. Any money Brown has received as compensation likely will not appear on the Duramed Futures Tour’s money list, but may be included in internal calculations for the sake of determining exempt status for next year.

The top 90 on the Futures Tour money list earn exempt status for 2011. The top 20 are exempt into Q-School finals, and the top 10 earn status on the LPGA.

It appears Sarah Brown may have at least received entry into Q-School. When Keith Brown made his original compensation demands to the Futures Tour, he said Sarah could not afford entry into Q-School. The event now appears on Brown’s schedule on her Web site.

The Futures Tour originally offered Sarah Brown $2,000 as compensation for what the tour conceded was a bad ruling involving the legality of one of her wedges, Keith Brown said. He said that amount was not adequate compensation and countered by asking for:

• $5,638, the amount Sarah Brown would have earned had she finished The International at Concord at 8-under 208. She was 3 under par for the event when she was removed from the golf course with nine holes remaining.

• A waiver of the entry fee to 2010 LPGA Q-School, a $5,000 value. Brown advanced to the finals last year, finishing 84th.

• An annual seminar for Duramed Futures Tour rules officials outlining how to handle difficult situations, and a rule that would not allow a player to be disqualified midround for a suspected grooves violation.

A player usually is allowed to finish the round when there is a questionable ruling that could result in disqualification. That way, the player’s score can stand should the ruling not be upheld.

photo

Ping Tour-W wedge

Brown’s wedge was stamped with an “XG” on the hosel (“X’’ indicating the Roman numeral 10 to signify 2010 and “G’’ for grooves), and the U.S. Golf Association Web site indeed showed the wedge to be conforming.

“It’s not that (the rules official) made a mistake,” Keith Brown said. “Everyone makes mistakes. It was the arrogance to say, ‘I’m pulling her off the course.’ ”

This settlement puts to rest a growing public-relations fiasco for the Duramed Futures Tour, the LPGA’s developmental circuit, and keeps the dispute from possibly escalating into the courts.

The tour has refused comment on the settlement. “We’ve owned up to our mistake and explained the situation to Sarah, but we do not plan to discuss any internal handling of the situation,” Joely Pique, the tour’s public-relations manager, wrote in an e-mail to Golfweek.

Keith Brown said Wednesday that he wanted to avoid litigation, but “anything is on the table” if the Duramed Futures Tour were not willing to provide what he considered to be adequate compensation.

Brown said he had been contacted by attorneys who read about the incident and were willing to take his case on contingency. Brown said the firms claimed to be able to win a six-figure settlement.

“There are other people who’d go for the jugular,” Keith Brown said. “I don’t want any part of it.”

He got his wish.

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