Notes Big Perk Going to FedEx Cup Winner

By Associated PressDecember 5, 2006, 5:00 pm
The winner of the FedExCup not only gets $10 million, but a five-year exemption on the PGA TOUR.
 
If that sounds like a nice perk, it really isn't.
 
In a category that gets overlooked because it has never been used, the PGA TOUR has always offered a five-year exemption to the winner of the money title.
 
'We're just mirroring that with an exemption for the FedExCup,' said Andy Pazder, vice president of competition for the PGA TOUR.
 
Pazder could not recall any player needing to lean on his five-year exemption for winning the money title, noting that those who win a money title usually have higher status from winning a major or The Players Championship, which also come with five-year exemptions. That holds true even five years removed from the money title.
 
Hal Sutton won the money title in 1983, but his slump that led him to use a one-time exemption for career money didn't come until 1992. David Duval won the money title in 1999, and he fell out of the top 200 on the money list five years later. But by then, he had won the British Open and earned a five-year exemption that ran out this year.
 
'I've been here 11 years, and no one has ever needed that exemption,' Pazder said. 'Maybe it's because Tiger has won the money list every year but two.'
 
Make that three -- Vijay Singh won in 2003 and 2004, and Duval won in '99.
 
The rest of the money titles have gone to players who have proven to be the best of their generations. In the last 50 years, Frank Beard in 1969 is the only player to capture the money list who never won a major.
 
Starting next year, the PGA TOUR will offer five-year exemptions to the winner of the money list and the FedExCup.
 
As for that $10 million check, senior vice president Ric Clarson disclosed last week that it would be deferred into a retirement plan.
 
LATE ARRIVAL
Ryan Armour will be among 17 rookies on the PGA TOUR next year after making it through Q-school, and his name is sure to conjure up memories from his amateur days.
 
He was 17 when he beat 14-year-old Charles Howell III in the 1993 U.S. Junior Amateur, advancing to the finals to take on two-time defending champion Tiger Woods. The match was all square until Armour made a 40-foot birdie to win the 15th hole, then went 2 up when Woods three-putted the 16th.
 
Woods, however, birdied the last two holes to square the match, then won with a par on the first extra hole to make history as the only player to win three straight U.S. Junior Amateurs. He went on to better things.
 
Armour is just getting started.
 
WOMEN'S WORLD CUP
The World Cup began in 1953 and used to be the premier team event in golf that brought together not only countries, but their superstars.
 
Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer won six times (four as partners), Davis Love III and Fred Couples won a record four straight years, and even Tiger Woods got in on the act until the PGA TOUR changed the rules and no longer let him pick his partner. The last three years, however, some of the biggest names have stayed home.
 
The Women's World Cup has been around two years, and already is losing its top players. It returns to South Africa on Jan. 19-21, but none of the top four players in the world will be there.
 
Sweden won last year behind Annika Sorenstam and Liselotte Neumann, but Sorenstam won't be returning. Mexico will not have a team because LPGA Tour player of the year Lorena Ochoa has decided not to play. Karrie Webb of Australia will pass for the second straight year, meaning Australia will be represented by Nikki Garrett and Lindsey Wright.
 
The top American, Cristie Kerr, is not going. The United States instead will be represented by Juli Inkster and Pat Hurst.
 
Of the 22 teams competing, Inkster is the only player from the top 10 in the women's world ranking, and there will be only eight players from among the top 50.
 
RICHES TO RAGS
Tiger Woods had never heard of Y.E. Yang until the South Korean beat him by two shots in Shanghai last month. His name is sure to come up in early April, particularly by American players who think the world ranking favors international players.
 
Yang had a good year on the Japan PGA Tour, winning the Suntory Open and finishing runner-up in two other events. He also won the Hana Korea Open on the Asian Tour. But by winning the HSBC Champions against a field that included three of the top five players (Woods, Jim Furyk and Retief Goosen), Yang climbed well into the top 50.
 
He was at No. 34 this week, assuring he will stay in the top 50 and get an invitation to the Masters.
 
But while he will play in the Masters, Yang didn't come close to making it through PGA Tour qualifying school.
 
Three weeks after his victory in Shanghai, Yang shot rounds of 72-76-71-73 and was in a tie for 106th -- well out of contention -- when he was disqualified in the fifth round Sunday for signing an incorrect scorecard.
 
DIVOTS
Robert Ames warmed up for the World Cup last month by playing in the Brazil Classic on the Tours de las Americas. The brother (and caddie) of Stephen Ames opened with a 79, then played 3 under the rest of the week to tie for 10th. The Ames will represent Trinidad and Tobago at the World Cup in Barbados this week. ... Michael Allen made it through PGA TOUR Q-school for a record ninth time in 12 trips. ... Ayaka Kaneko, a 16-year-old from Honolulu, says she will try to qualify for the Sony Open. Michelle Wie, 17, already has received a sponsor's exemption to play the PGA TOUR event for the fourth straight year. ... The cutoff for making the U.S. Solheim Cup team will be Aug. 26 after the Safeway Classic in Portland, Ore., two weeks before the tournament is held in Sweden. ... Kathy Whitworth, winner of a record 88 tournaments on the LPGA Tour, will be inducted into the Albuquerque/New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame in February. Whitworth won the New Mexico State Amateur two straight years before turning pro.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Rich Barcelo was the only player in the final stage of PGA TOUR qualifying to break par in all six rounds.
 
FINAL WORD
'I've never made it to Oakmont, but of all the tournaments I've ever played, no golf course was harder than Winged Foot.' -- Tiger Woods.
 
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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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.”