Nicklaus wants to challenge not punish players - COPIED

By Associated PressJune 3, 2009, 4:00 pm
DUBLIN, Ohio ' The morning calm at Muirfield Village was shattered by a sound that was sure to be sweet music to players.
 
It came from the engine of a lawn mower.
 
Mowers were thought to be a myth last year at the Memorial. The rough was supposed to be 4 inches, yet it doubled in length by the end of the week, and was particularly punishing around the greens. It felt as though the U.S. Open had arrived two weeks early.
 
Geoff Ogilvy feared some players would stop coming.
 
Phil Mickelson showed his displeasure by praising the course of every tournament he had played that year except for the Memorial. Even before his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, Lefty did not have Muirfield Village on his schedule this year.
 
We were over the top last year, said Slugger White, the PGA Tour official in charge of setting up the course.
 
The fault fell to Jack Nicklaus ' at least thats the perception of most players.
 
After all, this is the course Jack built for a tournament he has hosted since 1976. Nicklaus built his career around the majors, and he wants the Memorial to be the next best thing.
 
But even Nicklaus was troubled by the high grass, not to mention the complaints.
 
The one thing I never liked as a golfer was hack-out rough, Nicklaus said Tuesday. Ive always felt that if you put the ball in the rough, there should be some chance of playing a shot to reach the green, but not be able to control the ball like you would normally. I think recovery is a beautiful part of the game.
 
Muirfield Village is spectacular as ever, but not the same this year. The rough is not as dense, not as high. The wooden rakes that created furrows in the bunkers the last three years have been replaced by standard rakes that leave the sand smooth.
 
This came not from concession, rather discussion.
 
Nicklaus met with PGA Tour officials, as always, after Kenny Perry won last year with the highest winning score (280) in 23 years.
 
I dont think Mr. Nicklaus or the Tour liked what came out of last year, said Steve Rintoul, the Tour official who oversaw the course setup this year. The rules committee, in conjunction with Jack, thought it better to have shorter rough.
 
Ultimately, the Tour has the final word in how the course plays.
 
But if Nicklaus is the one taking the heat whenever someone complains ' a chief hobby for most players on this Tour ' then why not just take full authority of his golf tournament?
 
Nicklaus chuckled at the suggestion.
 
We are part of the Tour, he said. What I want to do is cooperate the best I can, have middle round on what I want to do and what the players like. My feeling is, do I want them to not like it? Of course not. I want everybody to be happy, everybody to enjoy it. But not everyone thinks the way I think. Im 69. Guys are 40 years younger than I am, or more. They havent been brought up the way I was.
 
Its more my job to adjust to them than their job to adjust to me.
 
But there are some areas where Nicklaus will not budge.
 
Bunkers that had furrows now are smooth. High rough is now shorter. The Tour also suggested that Nicklaus slow the speed of the greens, and thats where he drew the line.
 
Ill yield to the other two, but thats our golf course, he said. The golf course has always had fast greens.
 
Neither will Nicklaus budge on his belief that players are to be challenged.
 
There are some who believe golf should be about entertainment, that fans would rather see birdies than players grinding over par.
 
Its not for every tournament. Its not for the Memorial.
 
For Nicklaus, there is a difference between tournament golf and entertaining golf, even if both can provide a similar outcome. Carl Pettersson, who won the Memorial three years ago, understood what Nicklaus was talking about.
 
Tournament golf is hard work, he said. Its like a doctor going into surgery; youre worn out when its over. In tournament golf, you have to be thinking on every shot.
 
Nicklaus recalls one PGA Tour event that kept begging him to play. He finally relented, shot four rounds in the 60s and kept falling farther and farther down the leaderboard.
 
My feeling is when youre setting up a golf tournament, you should try to have the best test you can have that week for the players, Nicklaus said. When I played, I chose my tournaments based on how the golf course would be and how the challenge would be. I knew if I had a good challenge, it would not only help my game, but improve my ability to prepare for when I got to a major. To come in town and collect money and get out and not have a challenge was something I didnt want to do.
 
But maybe Im different.
 
In one aspect, he is no different from any other tournament host. No longer a player, no longer Presidents Cup captain after three straight terms, his primary involvement in the PGA Tour comes through the Memorial. And he still looks at a golf course the way he would want to see it if he were still playing.
 
For the most part, this is most guys favorite tournament, and I want it to stay that way, he said. But I want tournament golf.
 
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  • 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.

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    Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

    By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

    JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

    The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


    Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


    Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

    ''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

    Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm