Funk Eyes a Hawaiian Slam

By Associated PressJanuary 3, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007 Mercedes Benz ChampionshipKAPALUA, Hawaii -- Fred Funk kept pushing back his departure to Hawaii, leaving five days later than originally planned. Although most players can't wait to get to this tropical paradise, Funk was in no hurry.
He won't be leaving anytime soon.
There may be no better way to measure the success of the 51-year-old Funk than his golf schedule for the start of the new season. Barring a recurrence of back problems that hampered him last year, he will be the first player to compete four straight weeks in Hawaii.
The first two are on the PGA TOUR. The next two are on the Champions Tour.
'I'm calling it the Hawaii Slam,' Funk said. 'Not many guys have the opportunity to do this.'
Funk is the oldest player at the Mercedes-Benz Championship, courtesy of his victory last year in the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico, and he will stick around next week for the Sony Open in Honolulu. Then comes the MasterCard Championship, the season-opening Champions Tour event at Hualalai, followed by his title defense in the Turtle Bay Championship on Oahu.
'It would be neat if I could come over and win the Hawaii Slam, but I've got to get past this monster first,' Funk said of Kapalua, a 7,411-yard course that is playing longer because of recent rain.
Funk is not the only player to bounce between the PGA TOUR and the Champions Tour.
Jay Haas was still spending most of his time on the PGA TOUR at age 52 before he began concentrating on the senior circuit and reaped big success. But he never became eligible for the Mercedes as a senior; his last PGA TOUR victory came in Texas at age 39.
Craig Stadler won the B.C. Open at age 50 to qualify for the Mercedes, and he played three straight weeks in Hawaii in 2004. There was no Turtle Bay Championship that year.
That puts Funk in a class by himself, although he wants to do more than show up on the first tee.
When he first played the Champions Tour in 2006, Funk still was trying to make the Ryder Cup team. A year later, it was a long shot to make the Presidents Cup team, and even with winning in Mexico, he didn't get past the second round in the FedExCup playoffs. Playing only 10 times on the Champions Tour, he wound up 16th on the money list.
That left him searching for a different goal, and he came up with a doozy.
Funk plans to play a dozen or so times on the Champions Tour and at least 15 times on the PGA TOUR. His dream season would be to earn $2 million on each tour.
'Because I'm not playing enough to have a high-end goal on either tour -- such as the Ryder Cup, the Schwab Cup, the FedExCup -- I'll try to win $2 million on each tour. Last year, I was $3,000 short of winning $1 million on both. Last year, I had a horrible year as far as my physical being. I'm hoping my health will be OK, and I can do something like that.'
The more he talked about it, the more improbable it seemed. But he wants to give it a shot.
Playing 22 times on the PGA Tour last year, including his victory in Mexico at an opposite-field event, Funk earned just over $1.2 million. He figures if his back holds up throughout the year, he can find an extra $800,000 somewhere, especially if he picks his schedule to play courses suited for his short but accurate game.
The stretch might be $2 million on the Champions Tour.
Haas and Loren Roberts were the only players to surpass $2 million last year, and they combined to play 50 events. Prize money on the Champions Tour ranges from about $1.6 million to $2 million, meaning Funk might have to win seven times to reach $2 million playing such a limited schedule.
'I'd have to be Tiger Woods on the Champions Tour,' he said. 'It will be fun regardless. The biggest goal is to stay healthy and let it ride. I just threw those numbers out there as a fun number to go after. But it would be pretty fun if I could do it.'
Funk said he'll switch to a full Champions Tour schedule one of these years, but for now, he's enjoying the competition on both. He is a peashooter on the PGA TOUR -- Funk ranked 184th in driving distance last year -- and figures only a few dozen guys on the Champions Tour can hit it a mile.
The biggest difference?
'If you're playing well, I shouldn't finish out of the top 10 out there (on the Champions Tour),' he said. 'And I've got to play extremely good to finish top 10 out here, even top 30. But I still feel competitive. And that's the biggest thing.'
Mark Calcavecchia, 47, is the second-oldest player at Kapalua, coming off a year in which he won the PODS Championship and finished 13th on the money list.
He played with Funk the first two rounds in Mexico and said winning at that age anywhere is impressive.
'Winning a tournament on the PGA TOUR is a very hard thing to do for most mortals, and being an older guy ... it's nice to know we can still do it,' Calcavecchia said.
But don't look for Calcavecchia to double dip on the PGA and Champions tours when he comes of age.
'I've seen enough of these kids,' he said. 'I think I'll have a hell of lot more fun out there.'
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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.”