Notes The History of Infamous Rule 88

By Associated PressJune 6, 2007, 4:00 pm
HARVE DE GRACE, Md. -- The LPGA Tour probably didn't have Michelle Wie in mind when it created a policy that bans for one year any non-tour member who can't break 88.
Barb Trammell, the longtime chief rules official for the LPGA until leaving last year, traced the policy to 1990 when players from the Teaching & Club Pro division competed in tournaments. Some of them struggled, and it became a problem for regular tour members. She recalled two situations that led to what is now known as the '88 Rule.'
'We had a T&CP player in the field who shot 100-plus, and for the players who were paired with her, it was a distraction, as you can imagine,' Trammell said. 'The second time, it was a tour player paired with a T&CP player, who made the turn in 52 or 53. The tour player said, 'Either you're going to withdraw or I am.' And the tour player withdrew at the turn.'
That's when players went to the LPGA board, and the policy was adopted.
Alice Miller, the tournament director of the LPGA Championship and a former player, was involved in the rule. She played with Lori Garbacz and a teaching pro in Minnesota one year. The teaching pro failed to break 100, returned the next day and was on her way to triple digits again when Miller suggested they all withdraw and have lunch.
'She wanted to keep playing,' Miller said. 'Lori hit one shot and said, 'I can't do this anymore.' So I kept playing. For a while, they were calling it the 'Alice Miller Rule.''
Trammell said the LPGA landscape has changed significantly since then, even when teaching pros play sparingly on the LPGA.
'All their playing abilities are much stronger, much better, than they were 15 or 20 years ago,' Trammell said. 'It was never much of an issue. But I don't think at the time the rule was instituted that anybody contemplated a situation like Michelle Wie.'
Wie flirted with an 88 in her 2007 debut on the LPGA Tour when she abruptly withdrew at the Ginn Tribute with two holes remaining.
The tour waived 'Rule 88' last year for 13-year-old Dakoda Dowd, given an exemption to fulfill a wish for her dying mother. It has been applied twice already this year. Ana Laura Gomez opened with an 88 in the Corona Morelia Championship and did not return, and MacKinzie Kline, the 15-year-old who was allowed to use a cart and oxygen because of a congenital heart defect, had an 89 in the second round of the Ginn Tribute.
Annika Sorenstam is working her way back into shape after missing a month because of back and neck injuries, and that means a slight change in her bag. She has replaced the 4-iron with a 9-wood.
Sorenstam could not remember the last time she used a 9-wood, estimating it was five or six years ago.
'Hopefully, it's just temporary,' she said. 'I hope to have my strength in my 4-iron.'
Laura Davies needs only to win a major championship to be eligible for the World Golf Hall of Fame, and while she hasn't won on the LPGA Tour in six years, she likes the way the summer is shaping up.
Davies thinks Bulle Rock (LPGA Championship), Pine Needles (U.S. Women's Open) and St. Andrews (Women's British Open) suit her game perfectly. At least, she assumes that's the case at St. Andrews.
'I've never been there,' she said. 'Never been to St. Andrews, obviously, never been to the golf course.'
Davies doesn't play golf when she's not at a tournament, and 'I'm not about to get on a plane to Scotland.' But she has watched enough of the British Open on television that she feels as though she knows the Old Course well.
'I think I'm just going to smack it down the other fairway,' she said.
Oddly enough, Davies did television work for the BBC at the British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, Muirfield, Royal St. George's and Royal Troon, but that ended in 2005 when it went to St. Andrews.
Jack Nicklaus doesn't understand why more players do not prepare for a major championship by going to the golf course in the weeks before the tournament, such as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have done at Oakmont.
'Those who want to win do it,' Nicklaus said.
He recalled going to Oakmont twice before the 1962 U.S. Open to study the course. He wound up with only one three-putt, and beat Arnold Palmer in a playoff for his first professional victory, and first of 18 professional majors.
'I went in a couple weeks before to figure out how to play the golf course, and when I came back on Monday (of the U.S. Open) ... I went there to play just to make sure my game was where I wanted it,' Nicklaus said.
His favorite example of preparing was Gary Player, who never used to see a major championship venue until tournament week. That changed in 1965, when Nicklaus convinced his South African friend to take off the week before the U.S. Open.
'Gary was going to play a tournament the week before, and I said, 'Gary, give yourself a chance to win the U.S. Open,'' Nicklaus recalled. 'The week before, we went down to Bellerive and we played three or four practice rounds.'
Player wound up winning the U.S. Open that year to complete the career Grand Slam.
And then there's the LPGA Tour majors.
For the first two majors of the year, the women get only one day of pure practice at Mission Hills (Kraft Nabisco) and Bulle Rock (LPGA Championship). At the Nabisco, the stars have to play two pro-ams, including one round on the adjacent golf course. They only have to play one pro-am round at Bulle Rock, but the course is booked with pro-ams on Monday and Tuesday, leaving Wednesday as the only day the course is open for practice all day.
Aside from the prize money, maybe that's why the U.S. Women's Open is the marquee event on the tour schedule.
Pablo Martin, the Oklahoma State star who won a European tour event this year, turned professional Monday and will make his professional debut this week in Memphis. Martin qualified for the U.S. Open on Monday. ... The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board will feature wines marketed by golf legends Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman, Ernie Els and Nick Faldo at select Wine & Spirits stores during U.S. Open. ... Ernie Els is spending his week before the U.S. Open on Long Island, where he plans to relax and play some golf. 'If they let me on Shinnecock, I'll play,' he said with a laugh. Els was in the final group of the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills and shot 80, and later joined the chorus of complaints about the way it was set up.
Four of the seven players who won a U.S. Open at Oakmont were no more than 26 years old.
'What I've learned the most in the last 10 years, which I never realized, is how lucky I am.' -- Se Ri Pak.
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    Top-ranked amateur Niemann one back at LAAC in Chile

    By Nick MentaJanuary 21, 2018, 8:44 pm

    Argentina’s Jaime Lopez Rivarola leads the Latin America Amateur Championship at 5 under par following a round of 3-under 68 Saturday in Chile.

    The former Georgia Bulldog is now 36 holes from a trip to Augusta.

    He is followed on the leaderboard by the three players who competed in the playoff that decided last year’s LAAC in Panama: Joaquin Niemann (-4), Toto Gana (-4), and Alvaro Ortiz (-3).

    Chile’s Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who currently holds conditional status on the Tour and is poised to begin his career as a professional, unless of course he takes the title this week. After a disappointing 74 in Round 1, Niemann was 10 shots better in Round 2, rocketing up the leaderboard with a 7-under 64.

    Niemann’s fellow Chilean and best friend Gana is the defending champion who missed the cut at the Masters last year and is now a freshman at Lynn University. His second-round 70 was a roller coaster, complete with six birdies, three eagles and a double.

    Mexico’s Ortiz, the brother of three-time Tour winner Carlos, was 6 under for the week before three back-nine bogeys dropped him off the pace.

    Two past champions, Matias Dominguez and Paul Chaplet, sit 5 over and 7 over, respectively.

    The winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship earns an invite to this year’s Masters. He is also exempt into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open sectional qualifying, and Open Championship final qualifying.

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    McIlroy gets back on track

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

    There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

    He is well ahead of schedule.

    Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

    “Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

    To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

    And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

    Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

    “I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

    The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

    The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

    But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

    Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

    Everything in his life is lined up.

    Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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    Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

    Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

    Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

    There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.

    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

    Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

    The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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    Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

    Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

    It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

    While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.