Drug Testing to Take Place for First Time in Golf

By Associated PressJuly 19, 2006, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship HOYLAKE, England -- Short and plump, Fred Funk chuckled at the prospect of testing golfers for drugs.
 
'I wish they would accuse me of using steroids,' Funk said Wednesday, strolling quickly from the putting green to the locker room on the eve of the British Open. 'I would be honored, flattered.'
 
Of course, performance-enhancing drugs are no laughing matter. Golf, with a code of conduct calling for players to police themselves, lags behind the other major sports when it comes to a formal doping policy. That could change following Wednesday's announcement that testing will be done at the World Amateur Team championship at Stellenbosch, South Africa on Oct. 22-29.
 
'We don't think at the moment that there is much use of performance-enhancing drugs in golf,' said Peter Dawson, the chief executive of Royal & Ancient, which runs the oldest of golf's four major tournaments.
 
'We are, if you like, cutting our teeth on making sure that we can administer that properly,' said Dawson, adding the tests would be a good first step toward developing an effective doping system. 'It's a rehearsal. I don't know when you're going to see drug testing in professional golf around the world, but we would support it.'
 
On the PGA TOUR, there's a definite divide between those who want the top pros tested and those who say it would be a waste of time, money and effort.
 
'We're self-policing out here,' Funk said. 'You're either good enough or you're not good enough. I don't think drugs will help you get better.'
 
But mindful of the scandals that have bedeviled baseball, cycling and track, Tom Pernice Jr. said he believes golf needs to send a clear signal that performance enhancers won't be tolerated. He said a detailed testing program, complete with a list of banned substances, is the only way to deliver that message.
 
'I think so, for the future of the sport more so than what's going on today,' Pernice said. 'We need to do it for the college and high-school kids.'
 
He worries that many up-and-coming players will turn to drugs as a way to compete in a sport increasingly ruled by bigger, longer-hitting players, who often spend as much time in the weight room as on the driving range.
 
'The young people out there can see how important power has become,' Pernice said. 'The top five or 10 players are all long hitters who don't necessarily hit it very straight. Of course, they do other things very well, but the kids see the power.'
 
Pernice conceded there are whispers in the locker room every time a player bulks up during the offseason.
 
'When people get bigger in a short period of time, it makes you wonder,' Pernice said.
 
Several golfers questioned whether there would be any real benefit from using steroids once they stepped on the course. A golf swing relies on timing, speed and flexibility more than pure power. Also, there have been dramatic improvements in technology, leading to longer shots.
 
'Are guys doing it? I don't think so,' J.J. Henry said. 'It would hurt you more than it would help you. You want to stay loose and limber, not get all bulked up. When I'm working out in the fitness trailer, I'm trying to stay as loose and limber as possible.'
 
Dick Pound, leader of the World Anti-Doping Agency, said he has heard it all before.
 
'It sounds like baseball, doesn't it?' he said when reached on his cell phone Wednesday. 'If you look around golf, the shapes are changing from what they used to be. I'm not sure all this stuff is due to technology. Guys are working in gyms, and someone comes along and says, 'You should try this. It will build you up and make you get better faster.''
 
Dawson said the R&A -- which governs golf everywhere in the world except the United States -- supports drug testing to put the sport in line with WADA's code and to keep performance-enhancing substances from creeping into the game.
 
Pound said he has discussed the issue with PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem, who was reticent about a drug-testing program.
 
Since steroids are illegal without a prescription, Finchem doubts few players would take the risks inherent in using them.
 
But, he added, 'I have authority from my board to require a test of any player who I have reason to believe, or our team has reason to believe, is using illegal steroids.'
 
Finchem apparently bases that power on a broadly worded introduction to the players' handbook that governs conduct. It mentions situations from passing bad checks to maintaining a neat appearance -- but nothing about drugs.
 
'In golf, a player is charged with following the rules,' Finchem insisted. 'He can't kick his ball in the rough, and he can't take steroids. We rely on the players to call rules on themselves, and if you look at our tour over the years, many players have, to their significant financial detriment.
 
'That,' he added, 'is the culture of the sport.'
 
Related Links:
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    Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

    By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

    The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

    They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

    Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

    Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

    Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

    ''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

    The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

    In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

    Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

    Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

    By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

    Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

    Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

    Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

    Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

    It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

    The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

    Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

    Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

    ''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

    They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

    ''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

    Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

    ''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

    Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

    Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

    Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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    Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

    Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

    Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

    Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

    Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

    The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.