Notes: Another roller coaster day for Lefty; Presidential update

By Associated PressSeptember 16, 2011, 1:00 am

LEMONT, Ill. – Phil Mickelson had the putter going Thursday. The rest of his game? Well, it was touch and go.

Mickelson managed to get back to even par after a rough start in the BMW Championship, but an errant tee shot on 18 led to a bogey and a 1-over 72 for the breezy first round at Cog Hill.

“Never really had it going great today,” he said.

Mickelson had a double bogey on the par-3 No. 2 and was 4 over through five, one day after he panned the Rees Jones-designed course. At least he had company; playing partners Gary Woodland and Bubba Watson each bogeyed No. 2 and were 3 over when the group reached No. 6.

We got it going there when we started to get some downwind holes like 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, there were some birdie holes there,” Mickelson said.

There were four birdies in there for Lefty, who had a look at a fifth consecutive red number but was just short on a long putt on the par-4 No. 13.

Using a belly putter for the second straight tournament, he had just 24 putts in the first round - the lowest total in the field.

“Fought back to get it to even par and thought I had turned it around, and then made one bad swing off the tee on 18,” said Mickelson, who began the final hole with a drive that went out of bounds on the right side.

Mickelson also got his usual warm greeting from the crowd in his first round since he was one of several top players to offer a harsh critique of Cog Hill on Wednesday. There was the typical array of “Go Phil” shouts from the fans following his group, and he said he didn’t hear any negative words.

Mickelson also said he would talk to Cog Hill owner Frank Jemsek if he called to ask him what he would do to improve the course.

“I feel like the Jemsek family has meant a lot to golf and there’s a lot of families that have meant a lot to the game,” he said, “and I feel like as a player I would owe it to them to at least answer questions that they may have.”

STROUD’S RUN: Chris Stroud was packed and ready for Cog Hill before he nearly shot himself out of the FedEx Cup playoffs. He had to eagle No. 18 in the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday just to make the top-70 cutoff for this week’s tournament.

So naturally he was quite pleased to be at the BMW Championship on Thursday.

“It’s nice to have a tee time in a golf tournament like this,” the 29-year-old Stroud said. “This is my first tournament, there is a few guys I talked to this morning, it’s the first tournament that I’ve played with no cut.”

Stroud started on No. 10 for his first tournament round at Cog Hill. He made the turn in 2 under, then had three bogeys in the first four holes on the front nine. He finished with five consecutive pars for a 72, and was already looking forward to his next tee time.

“I feel like I did a pretty good job just to hang in there for 1 over,” he said. “I got three more rounds. That’s definitely a positive here. I’m just going to try to tighten it up a little bit more for the next three rounds.”

WILSON’S WAY: This 65 was special for Mark Wilson.

Wilson played in front of a large group of family and friends in the first round of the BMW Championship and shot 6 under, good enough for a tie for second.

The 36-year-old Wilson was born in Wisconsin but moved to Chicago in 2004, where owner Frank Jemsek let him practice at Cog Hill. Wilson counts the sprawling suburban track as one of his home courses.

So Wilson was a little stung by some of the criticism of Cog Hill by his fellow pros this week.

“The Jemsek family has done so much for public golf here in Chicago, and all my neighbors come out and play here, all these courses, and Cog Hill is the one that everybody knows around here in Chicago,” Wilson said.

“To have the pros maybe not like it, it doesn’t hurt my feelings really, it’s just that there’s more to Cog Hill than just a one-week golf tournament for the pros.”

PRESIDENTIAL UPDATE: Geoff Ogilvy and Jim Furyk, two players on the bubble for making the Presidents Cup team, at least got off to a good start toward being at Royal Melbourne in November.

Furyk, who is No. 9 in the U.S. standings by only about $44,000 over Brandt Snedeker at No. 11, opened with a 68. The top 10 players after the BMW Championship automatically qualify for the team.

David Toms (No. 10) and Snedeker opened with a 71.

It’s a little more complicated for the international team, which relies on the world ranking. Ogilvy is No. 10 and probably needs only to finish in the top 25 to stay there. He opened with a 69. Robert Allenby is at No. 14 and opened with a 69, while Aaron Baddeley (No. 13) had a 71. Vijay Singh, who has played on every Presidents Cup team, is at No. 12 and shot 76.

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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 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.


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.


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.