Whats the Ruling Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Anyone who has ever waited for an answer after a big job interview, or for grades after that nasty organic chemistry exam, knows the feeling. Am I hired or not? Did I pass or not? Better to know, and either be relieved or deal with a definite set of consequences, instead of the discomfort of limbo.
Not that golf is as important as either of these episodes (did any of you actually put organic chemistry to any kind of use?), but some kind of decision would be better than the current rules limbo.
Theres no point placing blame. Golf should be looking for solutions. What we have now is the No. 1 professional tour in the world unsure of what to do about international players who can play one kind of driver and domestic players who must not play that driver, all at a time when said PGA Tour is trying to expand its global reach with world championships.
Meanwhile, Callaway Golf and a number of other companies must compete in foreign markets, so they must satisfy the demand there for drivers that dont conform with the U.S. Golf Associations restrictions on spring-like effect. Callaway vocally supports bifurcated rules so that recreational players, who are clearly not a threat to overwhelm golf courses with the distance of their tee balls, will not have to labor under the strictures that apply to elite players. Anyone who believes in the handicap system and the uniformity of the Rules of Golf as key elements of the game chafes a little at the two-sets-of-rules idea.
Meanwhile, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews refuses to get heated up about distance, and backhandedly insults the USGA by finding no problem with tee shot distance (although the R&A continues to study the matter).
Meanwhile, sources close to the situation say the USGA and R&A are no closer to settling this difference than they were when it first cropped up nearly 18 months ago.
The games elder statesmen, most notably Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, call for limitations on the distance the golf ball can fly. The USGA is preparing a new Overall Distance Standard to replace the one developed in 1975, but its not likely to be ready soon. More important, it is very unlikely the new standard will be less than the 1975 number of 291.2 yards of carry and roll, plus a 2 percent measurement tolerance, when the measured ball is hit by USGA testing equipment.
If it were to drop lower, the manufacturers would sign and date the complaints they have ready and waiting in their top desk drawers and head off the courthouse like an armada of Higgins boats heading to Normandy. Theres no guarantee that drawing a line in the sand ' that is, keeping the standard where it is and making clear it will stay there for another 25 years ' wont draw lawsuits, too.
What does the golf consumer feel? Judging by what I hear, confusion, followed quickly by dismissal. I get e-mails that express a general to-heck-with-the-rulemakers attitude. Its my leisure time, and if my friends and I want to roll em, spring-like em, soft-rubber-core em, or even not count emwell, thats what well do.
Its a bad groundwork to lay when participation in our sport stands at the crossroads between up and down. No sport benefits from even temporary confusion in its rules. Surely PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and Masters chairman Hootie Johnson were thinking this when they lobbed Howitzer shells into the debate by publicly considering special rules for their events. They need to get the organizations with whom they have thus far cooperated off the dime. But both of them are too smart to talk this talk without being prepared to walk the walk.
Just the possibility begs the questions, what is golf? And who should decide?
Either waylets get it decided soon
Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead
New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.
The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.
"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."
Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.
It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.
Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.
Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore
SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.
Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.
He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.
Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.
Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.
The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.
''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''
Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.
He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.
Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.
Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.
''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''
13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest
Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.
Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.
“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”
Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.
Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings.
McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi
It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.
Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.
Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.
“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”
Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.
“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.
This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.