Casey Martin Matthew Ross and the Future
That was last summer. In a letter to Susan, GTJGA board president Brian Code said that Matthew would not be able to graduate to the 9-to-11 bracket because he was unable to keep his own score. According to Code, Rule of Golf 6-6(d) requires this. (The rule, which can be reviewed at www.usga.org/rules/rule_2000/index.html, actually only says that a player is responsible for the correctness of his score, which presumably means at the end of the round when he signs his card.)
There were also allegations of disruptive behavior on the golf course. Matthew allegedly made noise when other players were hitting, and complained when he wanted to hit first, even though it wasnt his turn. Parents of affected kids complained.
Conversely, Susan Ross said some overzealous parents descended to name-calling on the course, branding her son a moron and other nasty words. She also said a GTJGA official has followed her and her son in a cart during events and glared at them unceasingly.
Since the increase in media attention, the GTJGA has softened its position somewhat. In a July 13 statement on its website (www.gtjga.com), the association said that if Susan Ross actually pays the $30 annual dues for Matthew to join and asks to accompany Matthew as a scorekeeper, it will consider the request, and probably grant it.
But Susan Ross, basing her behavior on experience, says she will believe in the GTJGAs conciliation when she sees it. And GTJGA officials have said privately that they expect Matthew will eventually find a home in non-competitive golf events such as the Special Olympics (indeed, Matthew has already competed as a Special Olympian).
If youre looking for my personal view on whether Ross belongs in competitive golf, you wont find it here. Yes, this is an opinion column, but my job is a reporter is not to pick a sideline to root from. But there is something important to learn from Matthew Ross, whether he takes another swing at tournament golf or not.
Folks, no matter what some golfers may think about the other people playing the game, the post-Casey Martin-Supreme Court world is different. Martins experience energized a lot of people who until lately allowed themselves to be intimidated. Organizations that think Martin was an isolated instance do so at their peril. Legal fees and public relations hang in the balance.
So does the games overall image. One thing we dont need is Little League parents. For me, the most disturbing aspect of covering this story was Susan Ross accounts of what other parents ' adults, mind you ' would do in frustration at Matthews disabilities. No more need be said about the kind of example this sets.
Much more needs to be said about what could amount to a missed chance for golf. Again, opinions on Martin or autistic juniors aside, more and more disabled people will come to the recreational game. Will the grass roots organizations prove golf to be the meritocracy it is supposed to be by finding a way to accept these new golfers ' or will they confirm non-golf Americas worst suspicions about the games elitist past?
I think well find out very soon.
Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.
Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.
Rahm (62) fires career low round
The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:
Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)
What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.
Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.
Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.
Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.
Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.
Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.
Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm
Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder
Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.
"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."
Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.
Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.
"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.
Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.
Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.
Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.
The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.