Cleaning up from a mess at Bethpage Black

By Associated PressJune 23, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 U.S. OpenFARMINGDALE, N.Y. ' Lucas Glover finally found dry ground where he could pose with his U.S. Open trophy, taking it to the top of the Empire State Building on Tuesday.
He left behind a U.S. Open that might be remembered mostly as a muddy mess.
None of the four rounds started and ended on the same day.
Glover didnt play a regulation round of golf on any of the five days at this U.S. Open ' none Thursday, 31 holes Friday, five holes Saturday, 19 holes Sunday and 17 holes Monday.
Dan Jenkins wrote from his 200th major championship and was asked if this was the worst major he had ever covered.
So far, he replied.
It was a thing of beauty to Glover, who played the best golf at Bethpage Black. Even in miserable weather in a week when the most important piece of equipment was a squeegee, the U.S. Open still achieved its goal of identifying the best player.
Some random thoughts while cleaning off the mud:
Tiger Woods is halfway home to the Grand Slam Eve.
He won at Bay Hill in his final tournament before the Masters, then shot 280 at Augusta National and tied for sixth, four shots out of the lead. He won at Memorial in his final start before the U.S. Open, shot 280 at Bethpage Black and tied for sixth, four shots behind.
Is it possible he could win all four events he plays before the majors, without winning a major?
Woods is the tournament host next week at Congressional in the AT&T National, his tune-up for the British Open. His final event before the PGA Championship is at Firestone, where he has won six times.
Public perception of his pursuit to 19 majors depends on the last one. But consider this: Woods has finished in the top 10 in nine of his last 10 majors, and he has had 18 consecutive top 10s in stroke-play events.
He keeps giving himself chances, which is what separates him from everyone else.
Bunkers and mud topped the list of complaints at the U.S. Open.
The USGA refuses to allow players to lift, clean and place their golf balls in wet conditions, and more than a few players were hurt by splotches of mud at Bethpage Black. This is nothing new, although it didnt keep players from whining about it. Ian Poulter even posted a picture of a mud ball on Twitter after the third round.
Too much sand in the bunkers? That might be worthy of review.
Like other golf organizations, the USGA is trying to make sand traps the hazard they were meant to be. It added sand to create soft lies, although pushing up the sand toward the lip of the bunker is going too far.
David Duvals shot was buried under the lip, leading to triple bogey in the final round. He wasnt the only victim ' the same thing happened to Glover on the fifth hole, and it took him two shots to get out.
The obvious answer? Dont hit it in the bunker.
But this ran opposite of the USGAs concept of graduated rough. Miss the fairway by a little, and you still have a chance. The greater the miss, the deeper the rough.
In Duvals case, he missed by a fraction of avoiding the bunker and paid dearly. It would have been better for him to come up well short and be in the middle of the trap, at least giving him a chance.
Jack Nicklaus lost a major championship record Monday, courtesy of Phil Mickelson.
Along with his record 18 majors, Nicklaus held the distinction of having the most runner-up finishes in every major championship. Mickelson now tops the list at the U.S. Open with five silver medals, achieved in the last 11 years.
Four of those second-place finishes looked all too familiar. Mickelson missed putts inside 8 feet on the 16th and 17th at Pinehurst No. 2 in 1999; on the 17th at Bethpage in 2002; on the 17th at Shinnecock Hills in 2004; and on the 15th and 17th at Bethpage this year.
Winged Foot is in a league of its own.
Having five runner-up finishes wont be looked upon negatively if Mickelson ever wins the U.S. Open.
David Duval was tied for the lead with two holes to play.
Chew on that.
His last PGA Tour victory was the British Open in 2001. He finished within five shots of the lead only one time over the next eight years and 143 tournaments. Despite four bogeys in a six-hole stretch early in his third round, and that triple bogey from a plugged lie in a bunker in the third round, he had a chance to win.
Duval sat on the patio at Bethpage Black a week ago Sunday and sized up his chances by saying all the right things. He was hitting it great, just not scoring. Told that he had his share of skeptics, Duval understood.
I cant say Ive had good results, he said.
Fans needed to see a week like the U.S. Open to believe he could win again. Duval needed it, too.
Bethpage Black had the U.S. Open twice in eight years, both times in less than ideal conditions.
Sergio Garcia complained about the rain in 2002, and Woods won in the dark because of Sunday afternoon storms. There was so much rain this year that Ricky Barnes set a 36-hole scoring record, and more records might have been shattered without a little wind and a lot of nerves on the final few days.
Should it get another chance? Absolutely. It is a complete test.
The next opening on the U.S. Open schedule is in 2017. The question is whether Bethpage Black dries out by then.
Related Links:
  • Full U.S. Open Scores
  • Full Coverage - The 109th U.S. Open
  • 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.”