Kaymer reaches the top with wins, not questions

By Associated PressMarch 1, 2011, 10:33 am

MARANA, Arizona (AP)—Four years ago in another desert, caddie Fanny Sunessonwas sitting near the putting green at Bighorn Golf Club waiting for her work dayto start when she mentioned her part-time job with the Germany team.

Bernhard Langer was approaching 50. There was no heir apparent in Germangolf.

Sunesson, filling in for Michelle Wie at the time, mentioned one youngprospect with natural skill and amazing poise who had recently turned pro. Hisname was Martin Kaymer .

“Didn’t I tell you to remember his name?” she asked playfully from behindthe 10th green last Saturday at Dove Mountain, where she watched Kaymer disposeof another opponent in the Match Play Championship on his way to becoming No. 1in the world.

Martin Kamyer of Germany studi…
AP - Feb 27, 5:19 pm EST

Stardom came faster for Kaymer than it has for any player this side of TigerWoods .

And there were early signs of greatness, even if not as many people werepaying attention.

Kaymer shot 59 on a mini-tour in Europe, a magic number at any level. Heearned his European Tour card without going to Q-school, then was rookie of theyear. After winning his first European Tour event in 2008 at Abu Dhabi, he threwdown a birdie-birdie-eagle finish in Dubai to finish one shot behind Woods.

Ernie Els wasn’t kidding three years ago when he said of Kaymer, “He’sgoing to be something, I promise you.”

Kaymer officially took over as No. 1 in the world on Monday. How long hestays at the top remains to be seen, for Lee Westwood will have a chance to takeit back this week at the Honda Classic.

This time, however, this is no debate over No. 1.

Despite critics of the world ranking system—most of them in the UnitedStates—Westwood earned his No. 1 ranking. Although he has not won a major, noone performed better and more consistently in the biggest tournaments over thetwo-year period that the ranking uses to measure players around the world.

So why the debate?

Westwood had only three wins during those years. One was the St. JudeClassic, a middle-tier event on the U.S. PGA Tour, and only because RobertGarrigus made triple bogey on the 18th hole. Adding to the skepticism, Westwoodwas home in England the day he reached No. 1, clinched when Kaymer didn’t finishin the top two that week at the Andalucia Masters.

Kaymer’s rise to the top was far more active.

The 26-year-old German has won seven times over the last two years. He won amajor with the kind of shots that suggest the U.S. PGA Championship won’t be hislast one. Kaymer holed a 15-foot par putt on the last hole that got him into aplayoff. After Bubba Watson birdied the first of a three-hole playoff, Kaymeranswered with a birdie on the toughest par 3 at Whistling Straits.

That was the start of three straight wins.

There already is a mystique about the “Germanator,” who has no glaringweakness and is determined to fix the flaws only he can see. When Europe’s best— not to mention Phil Mickelson —gathered at the Abu Dhabi Championship, Kaymerbeat the strongest field on the European Tour by eight shots.

And when Westwood was bounced out of the second round of the Match PlayChampionship, it opened up an opportunity for Kaymer to reach No. 1 if he couldget to the finalk.

He rallied over the final six holes to beat Hunter Mahan in the third round.He hit hybrid onto the 18th green to secure par and beat Miguel Angel Jimenez inthe quarterfinal, then calmly holed an 8-foot par on the 18th hole to beatWatson in the semifinal.

For sure, Kaymer did not back his way into No. 1.

It would have been even sweeter to win a World Golf Championship on his wayto No. 1.

But that wasn’t necessary.

There should be no argument about it. For now—and perhaps for awhile—Kaymer is the guy to beat, although the ranking is so volatile that a half-dozenplayers could be No. 1 when the Masters rolls around.

Woods has slipped to No. 5, his lowest ranking since the week before he wonthe 1997 Masters. Kaymer might be a solid No. 2 if not for Woods’ free fall,first with his personal life and then with his golf swing. Kaymer’s average inthe world ranking is 8.36. Woods was at 14.67 when the 2009 season ended.

So in that respect, Woods has as much to do with who’s No. 1 as the playerwho gets there.

What’s different this time around is that Kaymer is nearly a decade youngerthan Woods, polished but not quite refined. His best golf could still be aheadof him.

Kaymer might have been here even sooner if not for some emotional andphysical bumps along the way.

His mother died in 2008, just three weeks after Kaymer won the BMWInternational Open in Munich. A year later, he won the French Open and ScottishOpen in consecutive weeks and had a shot at his first Order of Merit beforeinjuring his foot in a go-kart accident and missing six crucial weeks.

Being No. 1 is not likely to alter his ambition.

“I want to go out and win tournaments. I want to compete, get myself in thelast group on Sunday and feel that heat, preferably against the best playersever, so that I can compare myself,” Kaymer said. “And if I compare myself, Ican see my weaknesses or strengths that I have, and I can move on and work onthat.

“But it’s always the vision of getting better and winning moretournaments,” he said. “That’s what keeps me going. And that is what I love todo.”

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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.”