Notes Love takes exception to American whining

By Associated PressJuly 22, 2008, 4:00 pm
Open ChampionshipSOUTHPORT, England -- Kenny Perry was the butt of jokes for playing in Milwaukee instead of a major championship, even though he had already wrapped up a spot on the Ryder Cup team.
 
Its not like he was the first American to skip the British Open.
 
Curtis Strange played only 13 times in his career, missing five starts in the 1980s when he was at the peak of his game. Scott Hoch only played the British Open five times, and never bothered to learn the names of the courses.
 
They are exceptions.
 
Brad Faxon once tried to qualify, then flew home and defended his title when he didnt make it. Bob Estes flew from Texas to St. Andrews as an alternate and never got in.
 
Davis Love III, who considers this one of his favorite tournaments, doesnt hold grudges against those who are eligible and dont come.
 
Kenny is a great guy. Theres nothing bad in his heart, Love said. He wasnt complaining. He just doesnt want to play.
 
What bothers Love more are the players that do fly across the Atlantic and start complaining. He didnt mention names, but Pat Perez would have been a candidate for saying the rain and wind in the first round didnt feel like golf.
 
Just dont come, Love said. If youre going to have a bad attitude on Thursday before you tee off because its raining, then dont come, because youre just wasting your time. Its going to be bad, eventually, one way or another.
 
Love believes the Americans get a bad reputation when one or two players dont come to the British Open -- remember Woody Austin last year, who had played eight of nine weeks? -- but he got a different perspective while qualifying in Detroit earlier this month.
 
There were a lot of Tour players there, and there were a lot of guys grinding it out, trying to make it, he said. There are guys who are desperate to play.
 
His advice is to expect the worse, which is what Health Slocum did when he came over as first alternate and didnt have a spot in the field until Thursday morning. Slocum said wind, cold and rain were part of his British Open memories when he watched on TV as a kid.
 
Youre not going to have an easy round of golf every day, Love said. If its warm, its just as hard in another way. Its firm and fast and you get bad bounces, and theres a lot of luck involved. Then it gets like this, and its incredibly tough to control your ball and you just have to have the patience, no matter which way it goes. Its very rarely nice and comfortable.
 
But worth it? It is for more Americans than people realize.
 
Even after he withdrew after nine holes, Rich Beem said he would continue to attempt qualifying if he wasnt exempt.
 
Its the greatest golf known to man, he said.
 
TIGER WHO?
 
Tiger Woods missing his first major as a pro didnt keep the fans away from Royal Birkdale. More than 200,000 attended the British Open, which Royal & Ancient officials said was among the top six in history.
 
Three of the largest crowds were at St. Andrews, and two others that were larger than last week were at Royal Liverpool in 2006 and Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
 
The Birkdale attendance was particularly impressive because there was a steady rain and 30 mph wind for most of the first round, which officials said probably kept as many as 5,000 people at home that day.
 
When you think of the weather, people talking about a possible economic recession, Tiger Woods not here I think it was a wonderful crowd, R&A chief Peter Dawson said.
 
Perhaps a better measure than attendance was the sale of 280,000 cups of coffee and 30,000 servings of fish and chips.
 
STEADY KARLSSON
 
Robert Karlsson is fourth in the European standings for the Ryder Cup, and its not difficult to see why. The Swede is the only player to finish in the top 10 at all three majors this year.
 
Karlsson tied for eighth in the Masters, closed with an even-par 71 and tied for fourth at the U.S. Open, then had a 69 -- one of only six rounds under par on the last day at Royal Birkdale -- to tie for seventh at the British Open.
 
Thats nearly one-third of his points from three tournaments.
 
LOADED QUESTION
 
The LPGA Tour had a fan poll on its Web site during the second round of the State Farm Classic, asking for predictions on who would win the tournament.
 
Michelle Wie, who is not an LPGA member, was among the names atop the leaderboard, but she was not part of the poll. The choices were LPGA champion Yani Tseng, Angela Park, Angela Stanford, Sherri Steinhauer, Jee Young Lee and Other.
 
Tseng received 12 percent of the votes.
 
Other was the leader at 63 percent.
 
VIEW FROM ABOVE
 
Fans were startled Friday morning at Royal Birkdale when a large corporate jet flew over the golf course early in the second round, banked sharply and continued south down the coast.
 
It was a Gulfstream V bringing a special guest to the British Open -- three-time champion Jack Nicklaus.
 
And the Golden Bear wasnt quite sure where he was.
 
Looking out from his window, Nicklaus told his assistants, Wow, what a beautiful piece of property. Thats when they informed him that links land was Royal Birkdale.
 
Nicklaus best finish on this links was a tie for second -- six shots behind Johnny Miller -- in 1976.
 
HARRINGTON DIVOTS
 
Padraig Harrington opened with a 74, the highest start by a British Open champion since Greg Norman had the same score at Turnberry in 1986. He is the seventh player to win consecutive British Opens since World War II. All but two of them recorded one of those victories at Royal Birkdale. The exceptions were Tiger Woods (St. Andrews, Royal Liverpool) and Bobby Locke (Royal St. Georges, Royal Troon). Only two players from Dublin have won the British Open -- Harrington and Ben Hogan, who was born in Dublin, Texas.
 
DIVOTS
 
Woody Austin received more Ryder Cup points from his tie for 39th at the British Open than Kenny Perry received from his tie for sixth in the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee. Arron Oberholser was to have surgery Tuesday on his left hand to remove a bone spur and was expected to miss two months.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
 
Americans have finished among the top three in 32 of the 35 majors this decade. The exceptions are the British Open in 2002, 2007 and 2008.
 
FINAL WORD
 
It wasnt the disaster it was built up to be. -- R&A chief executive Peter Dawson on criticism of the 17th green at Royal Birkdale, where Padraig Harrington hit 5-wood to 4 feet for eagle that clinched victory in the British Open.
 
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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.”