Lefty Leads Tiger Barely Makes Cut

By Associated PressMay 11, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 THE PLAYERSPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Phil Mickelson rarely found the fairway, twice knocked down flags and nearly holed out from the fairway. Despite all those thrills, what kept him in the lead Friday at THE PLAYERS Championship was a couple of pars.
 
Just about every player who had at least a share of the lead stumbled in the end, some worse than others.
 
Mickelson found dry land on the island-green 17th, then saved par from the right rough on the closing hole at TPC Sawgrass for an even-par 72 that gave him a one-shot lead over Nathan Green of Australia.
 
Peter Lonard took two double bogeys on his back nine, Carl Petterson finished bogey-bogey and Sean O'Hair three-putted the 18th to lose costly shots, leaving them two shots behind and chasing Mickelson, who was happy only with his position.
 
'It was a day that if I played well, I could have pulled away,' Mickelson said after finishing at 5-under 139, the first time he has had the lead at THE PLAYERS going into the weekend. 'I'm half disappointed and half OK.'
 
Tiger Woods tried to fight back, but he did a better job with his words than his clubs.
 
Woods finally picked up a birdie on his second hole, but he spent most of the sunny afternoon wondering if he would make the cut. He wasn't in the clear until a two-putt birdie on the 16th hole, dry land on the 17th and another par save for a 73, leaving him at 4-over 148 to make it by one stroke.
 
His best shot was directed at Rory Sabbatini, who said Thursday that the world's No. 1 player looked 'as beatable as ever' and that he likes the 'new Tiger' who struggles with his swing.
 
'If I remember the quote correctly, he said he likes the new Tiger,' Woods said. 'I figure I've won nine of 12 (PGA TOUR events), and I've won three times this year -- the same amount he's won in his career. So, I like the new Tiger, as well.'
 
Sabbatini didn't understand all the fuss.
 
'I never intended it as a dig at Tiger. I basically stated that I want to compete against him,' he said. 'He is the No. 1 player in the world, and I think I have the ability to get to No. 1 in the world, and that's where I want to contend.'
 
Both of them have their work cut out.
 
Sabbatini looked like a day-old Tiger by failing to make a birdie. He still was in the mix until he stepped to the 17th tee and deposited two balls in the water -- one from the drop area -- on his way to a quadruple-bogey 7 and a 79.
 
Green was one of the few players who finished strong, dropping only one shot in swirling wind for a 69 to finish at 140 and get into the final group with Mickelson on Saturday.
 
Lonard (72), O'Hair (69), Petterson (71) and Rod Pampling (71) were at 141.
 
Mickelson has hit only 11 fairways the first two rounds -- only Retief Goosen with eight has hit fewer -- but he is getting by with a solid short game that the Stadium Course allows because of tightly mown collection areas around the green, his specialty.
 
He dropped out of the lead with bogeys on the seventh and eighth hole, then hit the flag with a wedge on the par-5 ninth, getting a break when the ball only caromed 6 feet away to set up birdie. Mickelson also hit the flag on the 14th hole, another good break, as the ball likely was headed through the green.
 
But there was no luck involved on the par-5 16th.
 
After a perfectly played drive, he took 6-iron from 208 yards and caught the slope on the first bounce, which fed the ball to 6 feet for an eagle putt that put him back in the lead.
 
'Just enough draw to catch that swale,' Lefty said.
 
The wind wasn't nearly as strong, but it swirled and teased. Sunshine baked the course, and it figures to get firmer over the weekend. Only 15 players remained under par, and two dozen players were within five shots of the lead on a course where anything can happen at just about any time.
 
The island green didn't claim nearly as many victims in the second round -- only 21 on Friday, making that 71 for the week to break the tournament record with two rounds left. Even so, the penalty was just as stiff.
 
Former Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman holed out for eagle from 163 yards on the 15th hole to get within two shots of the lead. Two holes later, his perfect record on the meanest par 3 at Sawgrass was over. Having never found the water in 55 previous attempts, this one went over the back, down the ramp and into the lake. He played a brilliant pitch up the grassy walkway for bogey.
 
Lehman had a 73 and was in the group at 1-under 143 that included Jim Furyk (72) and Rocco Mediate (71).
 
Furyk also struggled on his closing holes and hit the water, but his was on the front nine. He was one shot out of the lead until pulling his approach so badly on No. 7 that it hit off the bank and into water, leading to a double bogey.
 
'No golf professional should ever hit it in that body of water,' Furyk said.
 
He also took bogey on the par-3 eighth by hitting out to the right, and wound up with a 72, still in the hunt. And that's they way he looked at his position, no matter how his round ended.
 
'I'm disappointed, but I've done a lot right,' Furyk said. 'That's the mental battle. If I would have made a bogey and a double bogey early today and played the rest of the way around and shot even par, everyone would have been congratulating me for playing a good round here. I made those mistakes at the end, and everyone kind of expects me to jump off a bridge.'
 
Woods didn't find much to like about his game. He didn't hit the ball well and still struggled on the greens. His only two birdies of the round came on par 5s.
 
'I just need to shoot some good rounds,' Woods said. 'I just can't afford to make the mistakes I've made. For 36 holes, I've only made two birdies. Not very good.'
 
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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.”