Leonard Wins in Playoff at St Jude Classic

By Associated PressJune 8, 2008, 4:00 pm
Stanford St. Jude ChampionshipMEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Justin Leonard thought he won on the final hole of regulation only to see his ball go left of the cup. Then he was a foot away from victory on the first playoff hole.
 
Luckily, his ball rolled one last turn into the cup on the next hole.
 
Leonard won the Stanford St. Jude Championship in a playoff Sunday, holing a 19-foot birdie putt on the second extra hole to beat Masters champion Trevor Immelman and Robert Allenby.
 
Leonard blew a one-stroke lead with two holes left to drop into the playoff, but won on the 150-yard, par-3 11th when Immelman pushed his birdie attempt past the hole.
 
I dont think that ball wouldve rolled another half-inch, Leonard said. It just barely got there the greens are so dry and fast.
 
Its Leonards 12th PGA TOUR title, his second at TPC Southwind and his first since the 2007 Valero Texas Open'also in a playoff. He closed with a 4-under 68 to match Allenby (65) and Immelman (69) at 4-under 276, the highest 72-hole total since this event moved to the TPC at Southwind course in 1989.
 
Leonard earned $1.08 million and now is fifth in the Ryder Cup standings with five Top 10s this year. He hasnt played in the Ryder Cup since 1999, when his 45-foot putt on the 17th hole at Brookline clinched the largest comeback in history.
 
Strangers still ask him most about that putt, not his 1997 British Open victory, and he even heard about it a couple times Sunday. Its why he is so eager to play his way back onto the Ryder Cup team.
 
I dont know how much of a lock I am, but I feel pretty good about making it. Im looking forward to being on that team, and Im looking forward to us winning again soon, Leonard said.
 
It was almost a perfect day for the Texan who spent last week practicing in the Dallas heat, albeit wearing shorts and riding a cart. He started Sunday tied for seventh and was one of 10 who had a share of the lead at some point in the final round with the temperature feeling hotter than 100 degrees.
 
Leonard was the closest to a birdie on the first hole of the playoff on the par-4 18th only to come up a foot short. All three parred, sending the playoff to the island green at No. 11, where each had good shots.
 
Allenby, who came in undefeated worldwide in 10 playoffs, went first from 20 feet and missed a foot to the right. Leonard stroked in his putt next, the ball slowing near the cup to show off the Nike logo before falling in.
 
Immelman, who birdied the last three holes of regulation to join the playoff, had the shortest putt at 11 feet to push the playoff to a third hole in search of his second win in eight weeks. But he just missed, giving the title to Leonard.
 
I was comfortable with my lie, Immelman said. I felt like it was just left edge. I thought I hit a pretty good putt. It just didnt turn at all, finished right behind the hole unfortunately. But Justin made a great putt. Birdie to win is pretty nice.
 
Allenby said he thought his streak in playoffs had to come to an end sometime.
 
I lost to a good putt. Theres no bad thoughts about that, he said.
 
Sergio Garcia (66), Padraig Harrington (68), Boo Weekley (68) and Alex Cejka (70) tied for fourth at 3 under.
 
Leonards victory kept him from wondering what happened after he had the lead to himself with a birdie on No. 15.
 
He missed a chance to pad that margin on the par-5 16th when his approach went over the green, and he had to salvage par. His tee shot on No. 17 went into the right rough, and Leonard chipped out into the fairway and pushed a par putt from 15 feet 3 feet past the hole.
 
On No. 18, Leonard still had a chance to win without a playoff. He stuck an iron from 176 yards to 13 feet and rolled a nice putt that missed just left of the hole.
 
Gavin Coles, the Australian whose only win this year was on the Nationwide Tour at the Louisiana Open, was the last player with a chance to win in 72 holes if he birdied the 18th. He sent his tee shot into the right rough, his second into a greenside bunker and blasted out over the green into the rough. He couldnt hole his chip to get into the playoff, then double bogeyed for a 71 and a 278 total that left him tied for eighth with Tom Pernice, who carded the tourneys best round at 63, and Scott Verplank (68).
 
It was like a train wreck, Coles said.
 
Allenby walked over to the range to warm up, while Leonard grabbed a cool drink in the shade behind the 18th green before walking over to the range himself while the final two groups finished. Immelman, in the last group, two of the last three holes and had a 23-footer for birdie on No. 18 to make it a three-man playoff. He did, celebrating with a fist pump.
 
Only 12 players finished under par. Tim Clark started with a two-stroke lead before opening with a triple-bogey and finished with a 78 and tied for 18th.
 
Divots
 
Leonard is the fifth multiple winner in Memphis, joining Dave Hill (four), Lee Trevino (three), Nick Price (two) and David Toms (two). Leonard is 2-4 in playoffs, while Immelman is 0-2. Garcia had the only bogey-free round Sunday. Pernices finish kept him waiting around to see if he made a playoff, and he missed seeing his 13-year-old daughter Brooke, who suffers from a rare congenital disease that has left her blind, sing the national anthem before the Cubs-Dodgers game Sunday night.
 
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    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.”

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    PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

    The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

    PGA Tour:

    The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.

    LPGA:

    We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.