Azinger mulling over his four captains picks

By Associated PressSeptember 1, 2008, 4:00 pm
Ryder CupNORTON, Mass. ' Scott Verplank was a footnote in 2002 when he became the first American to be a captains pick without any previous experience in the Ryder Cup.
There might be four Ryder Cup rookies who get picked this year.
U.S. captain Paul Azinger announces his four wild-card selections Tuesday morning in New York, having asked for an additional three weeks to find the hottest players but getting a tepid response from his candidates.
The final audition was the Deutsche Bank Championship, where the only American to finish in the top five was Tim Herron, who recorded his first top 10 of the entire season.
The Ryder Cup will be played Sept. 19-21 at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville.
All indications were that Steve Stricker would be one of the picks. Stricker, No. 10 in the world ranking, was bumped out of making the team on his own when Ben Curtis tied for second at the PGA Championship and finished among the top eight qualifiers.
Im glad the playing part is over, said Stricker, 41, who has never played in a Ryder Cup. I havent been able to enjoy these playoffs. Hopefully, I get that call. I feel like Ive played well enough.
Another pick likely will go to J.B. Holmes, who grew up in Kentucky, has played Valhalla more than any other player and has enormous power off the tee. Holmes was the 54-hole leader at the PGA Championship until a wretched start sent him to an 81. He missed the cut at the Deutsche Bank.
If he picks J.B., Id love to play with J.B., said Kenny Perry, a feature player because of his Kentucky roots. Hes a rookie, young kid, he bombs it. Two Kentuckians out there, wed be rock stars. Wed feel like Tiger Woods.
The other two? It might be just as easy to draw names from a hat.
Among the players under consideration, only one has Ryder Cup experience. That would be Verplank, who has made both teams as a captains pick, has a 4-1 record but finished 33rd in the final standings.
I might not be on his list, and I would understand, Verplank said after a tie for 63rd at the TPC Boston. I might be at the top of his list, and I would understand that, too. Theres a thousand ways he can go, and I just hope Im one of those thousands.
Azinger revamped the criteria this year to award points based on earnings, counting only the 2007 majors and 2008 tournaments, with double points for this years majors. Then, he asked for four picks ' double the usual number ' with hopes of finding the hottest players.
The first part of the equation worked beautifully. Of the top eight, only Jim Furyk and Curtis are without a victory this year. The other qualifiers were Perry, Phil Mickelson, Stewart Cink, Anthony Kim, Justin Leonard and Boo Weekley.
As for finding four players in form?
Theres nobody that really showed up, Perry said.
Hunter Mahan opened the PGA TOUR Playoffs with a 62 at The Barclays, and Stricker took the 36-hole lead, but both faded on the weekend. Mahan shot 69 on Monday and tied for 15th, and as he walked out of the scoring trailer and saw a group of reporters, he pre-empted the questions.
I dont know, he said. And I hope so.
Others under consideration include D.J. Trahan, Brandt Snedeker, Sean OHair and perhaps Heath Slocum. Woody Austin and Rocco Mediate finished 10th and 14th, respectively, in the final standings, and could merit a look.
Trahan had a chance to show something in the final round, but opened with a double bogey and the damage didnt stop until he signed for an 80. He walked past reporters without talking.
Austin wore a patriotic shirt Monday, but his putter failed him in a round of 75.
This really isnt about the Ryder Cup, he said of his attire. Its a special weekend.
Asked what was so special, he mentioned that it was Memorial Day. Then he was reminded it was Labor Day.
Im punch drunk, Austin said. This course beat me up.
Austin might have made the U.S. team under the old system of taking the top 10 qualifiers, but he understood Azingers wish to get four picks. Finding those four turned out to be harder than imagined.
Nobody really broke out and had a great performance except the guys who are playing well already, Kim said. Theres a lot of guys who have a chance to make that team. Nobody really won a tournament, like Darren Clarke did on the European side.
Clarke won two tournaments in the past four months, but still was left off the European team in favor of Paul Casey and Ian Poulter, neither of whom has won all year.
Strangely, several U.S. players and caddies believed that Bubba Watson was getting serious consideration because of his length off the tee. But Watson, who has never won on the PGA TOUR or Nationwide Tour, almost certainly wont be picked. Even he doesnt think hell be picked.
I dont think I have a chance, Watson said. Im friends with Zinger, but I havent done anything.
Related Links:
  • European Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • Full Coverage - 37th Ryder Cup
  • Getty Images

    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 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.


    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.”