Anti-Doping Policy Announced
Drug testing could begin as early as next spring, although details such as when to test and any penalties are still being worked out.
'But for the problems in other sports, I doubt we would be at this point,' PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem said in a conference call with the leaders of six major golf organizations. 'We are where we are given the way of the world. And I think it's a positive day for golf because we are together (and) we are spending a lot of energy to do it right.'
It was a universal effort from the PGA TOUR, European Tour, LPGA Tour, U.S. Golf Association, Royal & Ancient Golf Club, Augusta National Golf Club and the PGA of America, meaning the policy ultimately would cover golf at the highest level all over the world, including the four major championships.
Drug testing at the Masters likely would not start next year. Augusta National executive director Jim Armstrong said the Masters would watch what the other tours do before deciding how to proceed. Likewise, R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said the British Open would be treated like any other week on the European Tour.
Finchem said the other major golf tours, such as South Africa and Japan, have signed off on the list of banned substances and have agreed to go along with the second phase of the policy, which will include medical waivers, testing, punishment and making sure that any player caught cheating on one tour would face penalties on all of them.
The LPGA Tour was the first to announce a drug policy in professional golf, which begins next year.
In amateur golf, the R&A and USGA did a sample test at the World Amateur Team Championship in South Africa late last year, and all 12 golfers came back clean.
'The R&A has no reason to believe that golf is anything other than a clean sport,' Dawson said. 'But we've been supportive of a coordinated international effort in golf to test for drugs so that we can demonstrate that our sport is clean and we can keep it that way.'
The policy will be coordinated by the World Golf Foundation, comprised of leaders from major golf organizations.
Officials released a list of 10 classes of drugs that will be banned, which range from anabolic steroids to hormones to narcotics to beta blockers. PGA TOUR spokesman Ty Votaw said HGH was on the banned list. He said the entire list of banned drugs would not be released until the tour showed it to the players.
Two substances from the World Anti-Doping Association list, which is used in the Olympics and other sports, was left off golf's banned list because Finchem said it would cause an undue administrative burden and golf executives do not believe those substances -- Glucocorticosteroids and Beta-2-Agonists -- will enhance a golfer's performance.
Finchem has resisted drug testing since the question was first posed at the start of the decade, saying there was no evidence of performance-enhancing drugs for golf or anyone using them. Even if that were the case, he suggested that golf could get by on its centuries-old honor code of players calling penalties on themselves.
But as doping began to surface in baseball and cycling and several other sports, golf came under increasing pressure to develop a policy.
And it made headlines in golf at the British Open this summer when nine-time major champion Gary Player said he knew for a fact that some golfers were using steroids and that one had confessed to him. Player didn't identify the player, saying he had promised not to tell.
'Certainly, the problems in other sports have created a growing perception among fans that athletes ... utilize substances that in other sports are banned,' Finchem said. He also mentioned that the European and LPGA tours hold tournaments in countries where drug testing is required by the government, such as France.
'All of those things argue for moving forward,' he said.
Finchem said proposals for testing and punishment would be reviewed by the PGA TOUR policy board at the Nov. 12 meeting. The next step is to make sure its players know what's on the banned list, how to seek a medical waiver and what the punishment would be if a test came back positive.
He said there would be up to eight meetings over the first three months of 2008, along with a 24-hour consultation line for players, agents and fitness trainers.
'We are not going to just have a player meeting and 30 players come and call it a day,' he said. 'We will be out sitting down with players aggressively, and we will have a lot of people involved in that process. We're just not going to leaving anything to chance.'
Each tour would be responsible for administering its own policy.
Finchem estimated the cost to the PGA TOUR at about $1.5 million a year, but only as it relates to testing.
'No sport has gotten into testing without litigation arising in some fashion or form, and that's a whole other level of cost,' he said. 'But we're not worrying about that right now.'
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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.
It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.
Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.
Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.
“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”
The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.
“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”
Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.
Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder
LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.
Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.
''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''
It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.
''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''
Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.
''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''
After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.
''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''
He's making his first start in the event.
''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.
Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.
''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''
Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.
''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.
The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.
''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''
Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.
''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.
Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.
Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.
Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.
John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.
Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years
Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.
He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.
How rare is his missing the cut there?
The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.
The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.
The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.
Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.
Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.