Chilled-out Brendan Jones enjoying life in Japan

By Associated PressAugust 14, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 PGA ChampionshipCHASKA, Minn. ' Brendan Jones has found the balance he needs.
 
Not necessarily with his swing, though his 70 in the second round of the PGA Championship on Friday left him in a five-way tie for second, but in his personal life.
 
Simply put: He has better perspective, amid the anonymity of playing on the Japanese tour and the opportunity to spend more time with his wife and 2-year-old son and even do some gardening in his native Australia.
 
After joining the PGA Tour in 2005, Jones quickly wore out under the grind, the scrutiny and the pressure. He entered 28 tournaments that year and finished in the top 10 only once, a tie for second place at the now-defunct B.C. Open in upstate New York.
 
When I came over here, for some reason I just found it a very stressful place, Jones said. Youre playing for ridiculous money each week, and everyones looking at the 125 and the top 40s and top 60s and whatever.
 
So Jones went back to Japan, where he happily commutes from Down Under for a dozen or so tournaments annually. This is his third PGA Championship, and the first time hes made the cut. The only other event in the United States he participated in this season was the Accenture Match Play Championship in February, when he lost to none other than Tiger Woods in the commencement of Woodss comeback.
 
Even if hes able to overtake Woods and win at Hazeltine National Golf Club this weekend, Jones ' the 64th-ranked player in the world ' insisted hed still opt for playing in Japan.
 
Im very, very happy and by playing well there I get into these bigger events, he said. My lifes pretty good now.
 
It helps to be out of the spotlight.
 
Ive played great there the last few years, and Im just very, very relaxed, Jones said. I speak a little Japanese, not much, and the cameras arent on you all the time. You just go about your day-to-day life, and just go out and play golf.
 
The 34-year-old has learned not to obsess about his performance.
 
When Im not playing I just get away from golf totally, Jones said. And I think if I was to come back here Id have to work on my game a lot more, and it hasnt worked for me in the past. Im very, very happy with how I live my life, and where I am in the golfing world.
 
This relaxed attitude clearly helped him in the heat and the wind on Friday. Those conditions are nothing new to him, having grown up near the south coast of Australia in New South Wales. He turned in an eagle on the 14th hole.
 
I felt really comfortable out there. I wasnt thinking it was a major championship, Jones said. I just went out and played, and my whole game was pretty solid.
 

 
FISHER'S FADE: With a fifth-place finish at the U.S. Open already on his 2009 record, Ross Fisher isnt a stranger to the top of the scoreboard. He was tied with Tiger Woods briefly in the afternoon before faltering and bogeying his last two holes.
 
Fisher finished in the five-way tie for second place, at 3 under. He didnt hesitate to acknowledge watching the standings as he walked the course on Friday afternoon.
 
It kind of inspires you. I can get a real kick out of it, seeing my name up there, said Fisher, who tied for 13th place in his homeland at the British Open. I want to see it gradually creep up towards the top. I managed to do that, but unfortunately two slip-ups kind of cost me.
 

 
LOVE FOR LEHMAN: Though he now lives in Arizona, Minnesota native Tom Lehman was naturally a crowd favorite.
 
The 50-year-old was so appreciative of all the encouragement he put a little too much pressure on himself while bogeying four of his first six holes on the wind-swept, sun-soaked course on Friday.
 
I think the reason I was pressing so hard early was I wanted to do something to please the fans, to let em know, Hey, I appreciate you and Im going to show you that by playing good golf, said Lehman, who finished at 2-over after shooting even par in the first round. And I was struggling, just trying too hard.
 
Then came the seventh hole. His second shot landed just off the right edge of the green, setting up a 60-foot chip that he sent into the cup ' sending the fans into a frenzy.
 
That really got my round turned around, Lehman said. It couldnt have come at a better time.
 

 
SINGH'S SUCCESS: Vijay Singh has switched to a short putter this week, yet another change to his greens game about which he joked he could write a book. Hes usually not confident enough to bring it on the course, preferring to work with it at home, but he decided to do so this week at Hazeltine.
 
As for the long putter?
 
Its in the locker. Its not too far away, said Singh, who followed a 3-under 69 in the first round with an even-par 72 in the second round to remain in strong position for the weekend.
 
After a couple of successful putts on Thursday, he expressed confidence in that phase of his game. He reiterated that faith in his putting on Friday.
 
Im not thinking about it at all, Singh said. Im stroking well.
 

 
DIVOTS: Five former PGA Championship winners missed the cut: Paul Azinger, Mark Brooks, Steve Elkington, Davis Love III and Shaun Micheel.
 
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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.”