Kuchar shares lead Woods struggles again

By Associated PressSeptember 10, 2010, 10:44 pm
BMW Championship

LEMONT, Ill. – Matt Kuchar was feeling terrible and playing even worse. He managed to hold himself together long enough Friday to salvage a 1-over 72 and share the lead with Charlie Wi in the BMW Championship.

Kuchar made four bogeys through eight holes to tumble down the leaderboard, then rallied with five birdies over his last 10 holes to catch Wi, who played in the morning and shot a 69.

They were at 6-under 136 and had a one-shot lead over Marc Leishman of Australia, whose 65 was the best of the day on a Cog Hill course that was getting a steady stream of criticism.

Tiger Woods, the defending champion and a five-time winner at Cog Hill, was resigned to the fact that the greens were not pure. He didn’t make very many putts, threw in a double bogey for the second straight day and shot a 72, leaving him in a tie for 40th, nine shots behind.

It was the first time Woods opened with consecutive rounds over par at Cog Hill since he was an 18-year-old amateur.

“I made nothing today,” he said. “I hit the ball a hell of a lot better than my score indicates.”

The only score that matters – along with the number on his card – is his rank in the FedEx Cup standings. Woods is No. 51 and needs to finish around fifth at Cog Hill week to qualify for the Tour Championship in two weeks.

Kuchar already has reservations at East Lake. He is No. 1 in the standings having won the playoff opener, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s tied for the lead going into the weekend.

How much longer he lasts remains the question.

Kuchar, who first thought he had laryngitis, isn’t sure whether he has a viral or bacterial infection. All he knows is that he barely had enough strength to stay upright in warm afternoon temperatures, much less concentrate on the shot at hand.

“I was as weak as I could be,” Kuchar said. “I tried for the four or five seconds over the ball to flip the switch on and really give it what I had, and go back to walking around without a whole lot of energy.”

His rally began with a birdie on the ninth hole, and it really took off on the par-3 12th with a 30-foot birdie putt. That was the start of five consecutive one-putt greens – four birdies, and a stout par on the 14th when he got up-and-down from a sidehill lie outside the bunker.

“That kind of made me feet a little better again, seeing the putt go in,” Kuchar said of the birdie on No. 12. “I knew that some good things would happen if I could just kind of hang in there the best I could.”

Wi refused to let one blunder ruin his day. He reached 8 under for the tournament until hooking a 3-wood on the 16th hole into a hazard, failing to reach the green and three-putting for triple bogey when he finally did. He bounced back with a birdie on the next hole.

Wi is No. 37 in the standings and is closer than ever to his first Tour Championship, which comes with a spot in three of the majors.

“For me to play well, I knew that I had to stay in the present and just play one hole at a time,” he said. “Actually, I wrote that down on my pin sheet every day so I look at it if I were to get ahead of myself.”

A trio of Englishmen – Ian Poulter (72), Paul Casey (69) and Luke Donald (70) – were among those at 4-under 138, a group that also included Dustin Johnson (70) and two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen (71).

A year ago, the 36-hole leaders were at 7-under 135, and Woods went on to win by eight shots at 19-under par. A score like that seems unlikely on greens that are inconsistent because of summer heat and recent rain.

But it’s not just the greens.

Phil Mickelson, who shot a 71 and was at 1-over 143, has done little to hide his disdain of the Rees Jones makeover, and at one point Friday suggested that “I’m not good enough to play this course.”

It wasn’t just the players who were struggling. Donald had trouble going at some pins after seeing one make a deep pitch mark and spin back, and another shot bounce and release.

“The only thing I found tricky out there really was the greens,” he said. “They were a little bit inconsistent. with the firmness. Some were soft, some were kind of bouncing on, and it was hard to guess which way it was going to go.”

Woods at the moment is going nowhere.

He started the round in a tie for 45th, shot 72 and moved up five positions. Even so, he’ll need the kind of weekend he had a year ago at Cog Hill – 62-68 – to have much of a chance.

Kuchar, meanwhile, was headed home for bed for an early start. Because NBC Sports has an obligation to Notre Dame football, the leaders will tee off Saturday at 9:15 a.m.

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 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.”