Despite loss Couples loves coming home

By Associated PressAugust 2, 2010, 6:16 am

2010 U.S. Senior OpenSAMMAMISH, Wash. – Fred Couples joked that most of his fans probably left after he took a triple-bogey eight on the second hole Sunday.

They stuck around, giving the Seattle native a rousing ovation at every hole during Sunday’s final round of the U.S. Senior Open, even though he finished as a disappointed runner up.

“It was a lot of fun to be here, I can tell you that much. It was great,” Couples said. “I’m kind of an emotional guy. I’m not really an emotional player, I don’t get out there and go crazy. But I can hear them, and it was fun.”

Couples served as the honorary chairman for the event, lending his name to just the second major championship contended in the region in his generation. He thrilled organizers by surging into contention with a 65 on Saturday, entering the final round as the co-leader with eventual champion Bernhard Langer.

But his quest for victory at the U.S. Senior Open came down to a wrong decision at the second hole.

Couples hit a solid drive but it rolled into the first cut of rough on the right side. He had 200 yards to the front of the green and 225 to the pin. He pulled his hybrid to go for the green, then put it back.

“I had never hit it (hybrid) in a spot like that,” Couples said. “I thought if it’s a cut shot, if I don’t cut it, I’m going to rip it over the green. And as it turned out, where the pin was, it might not have been that bad.”

His layup shot was fine, but his third shot was chunked into the greenside pond, leaving everyone in a bit of shock.

“You know I’ve done it,” Langer said. “It happens to most of us. They’re pretty tight fairways out there, certain areas there’s not a whole lot of grass there and it doesn’t take much to when you only have five yards to work with and that’s about what he had, and it’s easily done.”

Couples said it took him a while to get that hole out of his head. He concern was not so much over his chunk but his decision to lay up.

“If I could walk out there tomorrow, I would go for the green, no matter where I hit it,” Couples said. “I think I would beat 8, that’s for sure.”


PERSISTENCE PAYS OFF: Javier Sanchez says he’s just persistent.

Sanchez, who finished in a tie for 32nd at 11 over par in Sunday’s final round of the U.S. Senior Open, is originally from Taistan, Mexico. He lived in a one-room farm house with his parents and nine siblings. There was no electricity and no running water. Whatever critter they could shoot or catch, that was dinner.

He saw the opportunity to leave in the early 1980s when relatives in Redwood City, Calif., told him he could get a job there and send money back to help his parents. He did it, obtaining a fake green card and crossing the border at Tijuana.

“I didn’t speak a word of English. I was illegal,” Sanchez said. “Every time the immigration came, everyone just scattered. I got caught a couple times. Each time I came back and tried again. I am persistent. That’s why I’m here.”

He didn’t take up golf until his mid-20s, while working as a dishwasher on a golf course. The game came naturally to him as he went on win local tournaments, play for a junior college team then on several mini tours. Five times, he qualified to play in the U.S. Open. He made the cut once, in 1996, and finished 90th.

Eventually, he married an American woman. After three years together, he was allowed to take a test to gain his citizenship. The couple moved to Georgia, where there were more golf tour opportunities.

He was never in the mix to win this tournament but he can cash check for $15,892 to continue to live the dream.

“You get this tournament once a year. It’s so hard to qualify,” he said. “Anytime you do something like this, it’s special. It brings chills to your skin.”
QUIET MOVE:
With most of the attention on the final pairing, Olin Browne quietly put together the best round of the day. Browne made five birdies on his front nine and shot 65. The 30 on the front was the best nine-hole score of the week and vaulted Browne into a tie for third. He was one of four golfers to finish under par.

“I wanted to make as many birdies as I could, and when I turned in 30, I thought ‘here we go,”’ Browne said. “And then I just couldn’t get any putts to go in on the last nine. I hit a lot of really good putts, obviously. I made a couple of great saves on 16 and 18. But once I looked up in the middle of the round and saw that Bernhard was at 8-under, there’s no hope.”

If not for his first round, Browne likely would have been contending on Sunday. He put together even-par rounds of 70 on Friday and Saturday, but wasn’t able to overcome a 73 on the first day.

“I’m glad I strung together three nice rounds. I wish I would have played better the first day, so I could have been more relevant today, but it’s definitely positive for me.”
CHIP SHOTS:
Tom Kite had a chance to finish in the top five until the 16th, where he made a quadruple bogey 9. Kite finished at 3 over and in a tie for eighth. … Sunday’s crowd was 31,444, the largest of the week. … Tim Jackson was the low amateur for the second straight year. He finished at 11 over.

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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.”