Chase Your Own Potential

By Associated PressApril 2, 2003, 5:00 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- 'Chase your own potential.'
Davis Love III underlined those four words, even put stars around them, as a reminder that the best way to catch Tiger Woods is to wear blinders.
The strategy came from an offseason session with sports psychologist Bob Rotella. Love jotted down the notes on a yellow legal pad, and he reviewed them the night before the final round of The Players Championship.
He proved to be a quick study.
Love turned in the greatest closing round in the 30-year history of the tournament. In cold, blustery conditions, he shot a bogey-free 64 to make up two strokes on the leaders and eventually win by six.
'We always talk about playing against Tiger down the stretch,' Love said. 'I was chasing my own potential, and I think that's the difference.'
It sounds good on paper, anyway.
The real test comes next week in the Masters -- or any other tournament where Love's pursuit puts him on a collision course with Woods on the back nine Sunday.
That never happened on the TPC at Sawgrass.
Love's stiffest competition came from Jay Haas, who had not won in 10 years, and Padraig Harrington of Ireland, who has never won on the PGA Tour.
It wasn't Love's fault that Woods finished one hour in front of him and 11 strokes behind, Woods' largest deficit since the 2001 PGA Championship.
Love didn't need blinders, he needed binoculars.
Would it have been different if Love played the final round with Woods, instead of good friend Fred Couples?
Probably not.
Couples has been around for 20 years and shot a 64 on the final day in 1996 to storm from behind and win The Players Championship. He called Love's round the best he has ever seen anyone play.
'Not just Davis -- anybody,' Couples said.
Love said he was building to a moment like this and that he felt comfortable enough to compete with anyone, although he eased off when he saw the next question coming.
'I'm not throwing down challenges and saying, 'I'm back,'' he said. 'But it's nice to see the ball going where you're looking.'
Phil Mickelson called out Woods in a magazine interview by saying he used inferior equipment, words that were intended as a compliment but perceived as a challenge. Woods whipped him the first time they played together, in the final round at Torrey Pines.
Ernie Els challenged Woods with his results.
The Big Easy became the first player in 14 years to win the first two PGA Tour events of the season, then won twice more against good fields in Australia.
He and Woods met for the first time this year on Saturday at Bay Hill under unfavorable conditions -- Els had a sore right wrist; Woods had a four-stroke lead.
Woods wound up 10 strokes clear of Els after the third round, and finished 19 shots ahead of him at the end of the tournament.
Love has scars, just like everyone else who has been run over by Woods.
He handed Woods his first PGA Tour victory in 1996 at Las Vegas by missing a 6-foot par putt in a playoff. Woods trounced Love twice during a four-week span in 2000, in the semifinals of Match Play and in the final round at Bay Hill.
'It's going to take somebody to stuff it in his face a couple of times coming down the stretch to knock him off,' Love always used to say.
That was the problem.
Not many can, and even fewer do.
Love acknowledged as much Sunday night, when he talked about the legal pad of notes he carries with him.
Chase your own potential.
'You can add the next four or five words that I didn't write down,' Love said. 'I need to chase myself and not chase anybody. I've got a big enough tail to chase.'
He is going in the right direction, and Love might find some company along the way.
Els also approached this season with a renewed determination to stop worrying about Woods.
'Instead of trying to improve things, doing things out of the ordinary, trying to chase Tiger down, I just thought, 'Play my game' and see where it goes,' Els said.
Els has been runner-up to Woods six times, more than anyone. He played with him when Woods won the 2000 U.S. Open by 15 strokes, the single greatest feat in golf.
Els hit rock bottom a year later and sought help from Belgian psychologist Jos Vanstiphout, whose first piece of advice was to forget about Woods.
'Tiger wasn't the issue,' Vanstiphout said. Els 'was the issue.'
Vanstiphout spoke from the locker room at Bay Hill. Out on the course, Els was falling further and further behind Woods, an ominous sign.
'No man, it's perfect,' he said. 'Whenever Tiger gets into a tournament, pow! There's five times more press, more security, more attention. Ernie has got to learn to live with it, and he will. He's still in the learning process.'
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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 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.”