American LPGA Players Cold
Not only have foreign-born players won all six tournaments this year, they have won the last 16 in a row, a record on the LPGA Tour. The last American to win was Meg Mallon at the Canadian Women's Open in August.
''I get a lot of questions every week about the fact that an American hasn't won on the LPGA Tour this year,'' commissioner Ty Votaw said. ''But if you look at the top 50, no country has more people in the top 50 than the U.S. It's not a question of just who is winning, but who is having success.''
The United States did win the Solheim Cup, the only victory it can claim in women's golf over the last nine months.
Still, foreign dominance of the LPGA Tour is becoming more pronounced each year.
It has been almost five years since Americans put together three straight victories on the LPGA Tour -- Sherri Steinhauer at the British Open, Rosie Jones at the Firstar Classic and Dottie Pepper at the Oldsmobile Classic.
Americans won 15 tournaments in 1999. The victory count dipped to 12 the following year, 10 in 2001 and only five last year.
Toms Takes Up Fight for Sutton
Hal Sutton and David Toms have more in common than Louisiana roots and a PGA Championship in their trophy collections.
Both players want more variety in how the PGA Tour sets up its golf courses.
When Sutton decided to resign after five years on the PGA Tour policy board, he knew Toms would replace him. And he knew the board would have another voice to speak out in favor of more balance in course setups.
''I'm passionate about what I believe, and I believe we need to make some changes,'' Sutton said. ''The tour is awesome at 99.9 percent of the things they do. But there's always room for improvement.''
Sutton did not resign out of frustration.
He is trying to build a children's hospital in Shreveport, La., and he spent the last two days at a fund-raising tournament. He wants to spend more time with his three young daughters and work on his game. And he needs to focus on his job as Ryder Cup captain.
''I was burning the candle on both ends,'' he said. ''That was the one spot I thought I could cut out and feel some relief.''
Sutton said knowing that Toms would replace him on the board ''prompted my decision.''
Toms was elected chairman of the Players Advisory Council in February, making him next in line to join the board. He spoke decisively two months ago about too many courses that he felt favored the big hitters.
''That's one thing I'm going to harp on,'' Toms said. ''At least once a month, give everybody a chance. There should be a lot of variety. We should be able to go places where we feel like we can contend.''
Sutton did not feel as if he was talking to a wall at policy board meetings, and he remains optimistic that ''some smart people will see the light one day.''
His biggest concern is that outside business interests are influencing the tour.
''We're trying to protect the game we love, a game that has been so good to us,'' Sutton said. ''What's wrong with the game is there's not enough people in the decision-making process who can touch it, feel it, smell it and sense it.''
Laura Diaz found a unique way to work on her wedge game. She sent her husband, Kevin, out into a field and had him retrieve her shots with a baseball glove.
''I worked a lot this offseason in having my husband out in a field with a glove, and hitting to the glove without knowing how far it was,'' Diaz said. ''I was looking at that glove and hitting the target. That has been pretty effective. I feel like I'm playing a game with him standing still, get it right in the mitt.''
And how did her husband feel about this game?
''Kevin doesn't mind, just as long as it doesn't go on too long,'' she said. ''He played baseball, so he's a pretty good outfielder.''
Zhang Lian-Wei, who beat Ernie Els with a birdie on the final hole to win the Singapore Masters, could be headed to America. He has been offered a sponsor's exemption to the Memorial, which would make him the first player from mainland China to play a PGA Tour event. ... While the PGA Tour already has had four multiple winners this year, Se Ri Pak became the first player on the LPGA Tour to win at least twice this year. ... Prize money at the British Open will increase by $160,000 to $6.24 million (3.9 million pounds) this year, but the winner's check will remain at $1.12 million (700,000 pounds).
Stat of the Week
Scott Hoch (23) and Fred Couples (20) are the only active players who have gone at least 20 years between their first and most recent PGA Tour victories.
''I like to know whether I don't need to do anything stupid, or whether I need to try to do something stupid.''
-- Mark Calcavecchia, on the value of watching scoreboards in the final round.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change
Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.
David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.
“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.
Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.
“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”
Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.
The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.
Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.
Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:
1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.
2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.
While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”
PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes
The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:
The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.
We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.
Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open
JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.
The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.
Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.
''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''
Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 5: Dec. 12
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18