Au-Gust-a Winds Blow Tiger Near the Top

By Associated PressApril 7, 2007, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Tiger Woods is in the final group at the Masters, courtesy of the toughest Saturday at Augusta National in more than 50 years and a series of collapses after he left the course with one of his own.
 
Stuart Appleby of Australia goes into the books as the 54-hole leader, although he was more of a survivor on a surreal day of frigid temperatures, swirling breezes and a relentless course that yielded only one round below par.
 
Stuart Appleby
Despite a triple-bogey at 17, Stuart Appleby holds the 54-hole lead. (WireImage)
Appleby was the final player to succumb to par, taking triple bogey on the 17th hole when he drove into a bunker on the seventh green, hit another bunker on the hole he was playing and three-putted. He wound up with a 1-over 73.
 
One shot behind was Woods, who has played in the final group four times at the Masters, but never like this. For the first time in his 13 trips to Augusta National, he has failed to break par over any of the first three rounds. Woods had a chance until finishing bogey-bogey for a 72 that put him in the last group with Appleby.
 
Also one shot behind was Justin Rose, who twice missed par putts inside 4 feet over the final three holes for a 75.
 
Appleby was at 2-over 218, the highest score to ever lead the Masters going into the final round. And unless it pours overnight, they cut down the trees and use member tees for the final round, it seems certain this will go down as the highest-scoring Masters in history.
 
Retief Goosen was the only player to break par Saturday -- a 2-under 70 that took him from last place to a tie for eighth.
 
On a day in which the wind chill never got higher than 47 degrees, the average score was 77.35. That's the highest for the third round since 1956, and the highest of any round since the course switched to Bentgrass greens in 1981.
 
'That's golf. That's Augusta,' Appleby said of his triple bogey. 'It was a tough opponent. And it will be a tough opponent tomorrow. It was a real fight out there.'
 
Another battle figures to come from the guy playing alongside him.
 
Woods has never lost a major when playing in the final group, although he has always had at least a share of the lead. History is on his side, too. The winner at the Masters has come out of the final group every year since Nick Faldo won in 1990.
 
Woods was playing one his finest rounds in the toughest conditions until a tee shot into the trees cost him a bogey on the 17th. Then he came up well short of the 18th green when the wind tricked him.
 
'I hung in there as best I could,' Woods said. 'I blew it at the end and made two careless bogeys the last two holes. Overall, I've improved my position. As of right now, I'm only four back, and not a lot of guys between myself and the lead.'
 
His position improved dramatically over the final 90 minutes of a harrowing day at the Masters.
 
Jerry Kelly was at 2 over until he took double bogey from the front of the 14th green, then rinsed one in the pond short of the 15th green for another bogey. Rose got shaky with the short game, lipping out a 3 1/2 -foot par putt on the 16th, hitting a simple chip too hard from behind the 17th green and leaving himself a 4-foot putt that caught the left edge.
 
Vaughn Taylor, who grew up in Augusta, missed a 5-footer for par on the 16th, the start of a bogey-bogey-bogey finish.
 
Each mistake moved Woods closer to the top until there was no one between him and a fifth green jacket except Appleby, who is trying to become the first Australian to win one.
 
'He has more experience than what's left of this field put together,' Appleby said.
 
Indeed, of the half-dozen players behind Appleby, Woods is the only one with a major. But as crazy as the third round was -- and there's no reason to believe Sunday will be any different -- this Masters remains ripe with possibilities.
 
Padraig Harrington of Ireland took double bogey on the 15th and shot 75 and was at 4-over 220, along with Taylor (77) and Zach Johnson (76). Bradley Dredge of Wales was another shot back after a 76.
 
Defending champion Phil Mickelson is only four shots behind and tied for eighth. He finished nearly three hours ahead of the leaders with a 73 that put him at 6-over 222, finally emerged from the scoring hut and sounded like a prophet.
 
'I know over par is going to be the winning score,' Mickelson said.
 
Tied with Mickelson was a collection of major champions -- Goosen, Jim Furyk and David Toms.
 
It's a wonder anyone stuck around to watch the last group of the third round. Tim Clark and Brett Wetterich were forgotten figures by the end of the day with scores of 80 and 83.
 
Woods also finished bogey-bogey on Thursday to waste a good round, and he was even more surly on Saturday when asked on television if he had the same feelings. 'Yeah, and then some,' he replied.
 
But he can't complain about where he is now, with a chance to win his third consecutive major.
 
Springtime in Augusta meant breaking out ski caps and mittens. Then came gusts of nearly 25 mph, swirling around Amen Corner, leaving the 60 players hanging on for dear life.
 
Through it all, Woods played a remarkable round. He kept bogeys off his card through 11 holes that sent him soaring up the leaderboard. But it all went to waste -- or so he thought -- on the last two holes.
 
He drove left into the trees on the 17th and tried to carve an 8-iron around the seventh green, bending it back into play. It caught the bunker, and the best he could do was hit out to 20 feet. Woods was in good shape on the 18th until the wind switched and left him well short of the green, and he missed a 10-footer for par.
 
Then came his best move of the day -- leaving the course, away from any more danger.
 
Appleby opened strong, capping three straight birdies with a tee shot right over the flag to 10 feet on the par-3 fourth. Equally impressive was that he held it together for so long, dropping only one shot over the next 12 holes until the 17th.
 
There was no escape for anyone. Even Goosen's brilliant round ended with a bogey.
 
'We all are struggling in it together,' Woods said. 'You just have to get by.'
 
A dozen players failed to break 80, including U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy. After an eagle on the 13th left him poised to make a move, he put two balls in the water with a wedge in hand and made 9 on the 15th, then closed with three straight bogeys for an 81.
 
And then there was Vijay Singh, who shot 40 on the back nine for a 79. A bogey on the final hole means he will be paired with Jeev Milka Singh, the first Singh-Singh pairing in Masters history.
 
As if Augusta National didn't already feel like a prison.
 
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    Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

    Well, this is a one new one.

    According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

    “No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

    Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

    “If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

    The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

    “I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

    The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

    Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

    Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

    PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

    Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

    The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

    The statement reads:

    The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

    Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

    The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

    The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

    The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.

    Good time to hang up on viewer call-ins

    By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 7:40 pm

    Golf announced the most massive layoff in the industry’s history on Monday morning.

    Armchair referees around the world were given their pink slips.

    It’s a glorious jettisoning of unsolicited help.

    Goodbye and good riddance.

    The USGA and R&A’s announcement of a new set of protocols Monday will end the practice of viewer call-ins and emails in the reporting of rules infractions.

    “What we have heard from players and committees is ‘Let’s leave the rules and administration of the event to the players and those responsible for running the tournament,’” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior director of rules and amateur status.

    Amen.

    The protocols, formed by a working group that included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and the PGA of America, also establish the use of rules officials to monitor the televised broadcasts of events.

    Additionally, the protocols will eliminate the two-shot penalty when a player signs an incorrect scorecard because the player was unaware of a violation.



    Yes, I can hear you folks saying armchair rules officials help make sure every meaningful infraction comes to light. I hear you saying they make the game better, more honest, by helping reduce the possibility somebody violates the rules to win.

    But at what cost?

    The chaos and mayhem armchair referees create can ruin the spirit of fair play every bit as much as an unreported violation. The chaos and mayhem armchair rules officials create can be as much a threat to fair play as the violations themselves.

    The Rules of Golf are devised to protect the integrity of the game, but perfectly good rules can be undermined by the manner and timeliness of their enforcement.

    We have seen the intervention of armchair referees go beyond the ruin of fair play in how a tournament should be conducted. We have seen it threaten the credibility of the game in the eyes of fans who can’t fathom the stupidity of a sport that cannot separate common-sense enforcement from absolute devotion to the letter of the law.

    In other sports, video review’s timely use helps officials get it right. In golf, video review too often makes it feel like the sport is getting it wrong, because timeliness matters in the spirit of fair play, because the retroactive nature of some punishments are as egregious as the violations themselves.  

    We saw that with Lexi Thompson at the ANA Inspiration this year.

    Yes, she deserved a two-shot penalty for improperly marking her ball, but she didn’t deserve the two-shot penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. She had no idea she was signing an incorrect scorecard.

    We nearly saw the ruin of the U.S. Open at Oakmont last year, with Dustin Johnson’s victory clouded by the timing of a video review that left us all uncertain if the tournament was playing out under an incorrect scoreboard.

    “What these protocols are put in place for, really, is to make sure there are measures to identify the facts as soon as possible, in real time, so if there is an issue to be dealt with, that it can be handled quickly and decisively,” Pagel said.

    Amen again.

    We have pounded the USGA for making the game more complicated and less enjoyable than it ought to be, for creating controversy where common sense should prevail, so let’s applaud executive director Mike Davis, as well as the R&A, for putting common sense in play.

    Yes, this isn’t a perfect answer to handling rules violations.

    There are trap doors in the protocols that we are bound to see the game stumble into, because the game is so complex, but this is more than a good faith effort to make the game better.

    This is good governance.

    And compared to the glacial pace of major rules change of the past, this is swift.

    This is the USGA and R&A leading a charge.

    We’re seeing that with the radical modernization of the Rules of Golf scheduled to take effect in 2019. We saw it with the release of Decision 34/3-10 three weeks after Thompson’s loss at the ANA, with the decision limiting video review to “reasonable judgment” and “naked eye” standards. We’re hearing it with Davis’ recent comments about the “horrible” impact distance is having on the game, leading us to wonder if the USGA is in some way gearing up to take on the golf ball.

    Yes, the new video review protocols aren’t a panacea. Rules officials will still miss violations that should have been caught. There will be questions about level playing fields, about the fairness of stars getting more video review scrutiny than the rank and file. There will be questions about whether viewer complaints were relayed to rules officials.

    Golf, they say, isn’t a game of perfect, and neither is rules enforcement, though these protocols make too much sense to be pilloried. They should be applauded. They should solve a lot more problems than they create.

    Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

    By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

    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.”