Notes Durant Wins Fall Finish

By Associated PressNovember 5, 2006, 5:00 pm
2006 The TOUR Championship presented by Coca-ColaATLANTA -- Joe Durant walked away from East Lake Golf Club lugging a giant crystal vase and an extra half-million dollars.
 
Quite a change from where he was a few months ago.
 
Once faced with the possibility of losing his PGA TOUR card, Durant closed out a stunning turnaround by finishing third Sunday in the season-ending TOUR Championship.
 
He was no lower than sixth over his last five tournaments, holding off Jim Furyk to win the 11-tourney Fall Finish and its $500,000 bonus. Troy Matteson, who didn't qualify for the elite field in Atlanta, wound up third.
 
'It just kind of came out of the blue, to be honest with you,' Durant said. 'I've just played very well the last month and a half, two months. I made a lot of putts and seemed to not get in my way a lot, which is a pleasant change.'
 
He missed the cut in five of his first 19 tournaments this year, with only one finish higher than 36th. Adding to the misery, a thief snatched his briefcase, laptop and other electronic items from his hotel room in Milwaukee.
 
The following week, Durant got things rolling with a third-place finish in the Buick Open. He won at Disney two weeks ago to crack the top 30 on the money list, and made sure he kept his spot in the TOUR Championship by tying for fourth at Innisbrook last weekend.
 
'I'm pretty tired right now,' Durant said. 'I hate to see it end, but hopefully I can kind of pick up (in 2007) where I'm leaving off.'
 
He closed with a 3-under 67 at East Lake, four strokes behind winner Adam Scott. Durant finished 13th on the money list with more than $2.8 million, the best year of his career. In 2001, Durant was No. 14 with earnings of just under $2.4 million.
 
'I hate to see the year end, but I'm looking forward to next year,' he said. 'I kind of need to stay on top of things a little bit and just keep working.'
 
CRAZY FINISH
Stuart Appleby experienced a wide range of emotions Sunday -- and that was just on the final three holes.
 
Appleby nearly holed out a long birdie at No. 16, which was followed by a drive that came close to providing another item for sale in the merchandise tent along the 17th fairway. Finally, he sank a testy par-saver at the devilish final hole after two poor shots.
 
Whew!
 
Appleby thought he had a birdie at 16, raising his putter in the air as the 45-foot putt approach the cup. But it curled around the right side and spun out, leaving him with a tap-in for par.
 
The Aussie tossed away his putter in disgust and held his hands on his head for several seconds, as if he couldn't believe the ball didn't go in. He was still muttering to his caddie as he walked to the next hole.
 
'It looked perfect,' Appleby said, shaking his head.
 
Maybe that was still on his mind when he pushed his drive far right of the fairway at No. 17. The ball wound up next to a wooden ramp leading to a side-by-side merchandise shop and concession stand, which allowed Appleby to take relief.
 
He tried to drop the ball in a beaten-down spot of grass, but it hopped into the rough. The gallery groaned. After getting some fans to move the table they were sitting at, Appleby launched a shot that cleared a batch of trees and a corporate chalet, landing in a bunker right of the green.
 
He blasted to about 9 feet but failed to make the putt, taking bogey.
 
'I deserved to make a birdie at 16,' Appleby said. 'I guess I didn't deserve to make a par at 17.'
 
Appleby's final tee shot wound up left of the green on the par-3 18th, an uphill, 239-yard hole. His chip came up about 19 feet short, but he rolled in the putt to save par.
 
'That is one tough hole,' he said. 'One of the toughest we play.'
 
WRAPPING UP
Tiger Woods wasn't at East Lake, but he already had more than enough money to wrap up the Arnold Palmer Award as the leading money-winner on the PGA TOUR.
 
Woods finished with $9,941,563 in official earnings, more than $2.7 million ahead of runner-up Jim Furyk. It was the second straight money title for Woods and the seventh of his 11-year pro career.
 
Furyk's second-place showing was the best of his career, and he also claimed the Vardon Trophy for the best adjusted scoring average at 68.86. He edged out Adam Scott (68.95).
 
Woods finished with an average of 68.11, but he didn't play the minimum 60 TOUR rounds that are required to qualify for the Vardon award. He did win the Byron Nelson Award, given by the TOUR for the best adjusted average with a minimum of 50 rounds.
 
Meanwhile, 11 players locked up their exemption into the 2007 British Open by finishing in the top 20 on the money list. They were Trevor Immelman (seventh), Stuart Appleby (eighth), Brett Wetterich (10th), David Toms (11th), Rory Sabbatini (12th), Joe Durant (13th), Chad Campbell (14th), Stewart Cink (15th), Davis Love III (16th), Rod Pampling (17th) and Brett Quigley (20th).
 
DIVOTS
There hasn't been a final-day birdie at East Lake's 18th hole since Shigeki Maruyama in 2002. ... Adam Scott finished a career-best third on the money list with just under $5 million in earnings, bolstered by the $1,170,000 paycheck for winning the TOUR Championship. ... Scott's win was the eighth by an Australian this year. Stuart Appleby and Geoff Ogilivy had two apiece.
 
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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.