Notes Players left asking what if Costly missed putt

By Associated PressJune 22, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 U.S. OpenFARMINGDALE, N.Y. ' No golf tournament ends without a number of players able to say What if? over one hole or one swing.
 
Hunter Mahan may have the best reason to ask that question after the U.S. Open.
 
Mahans ball was sitting in the fairway after his tee shot on the par-4 16th at Bethpage Black. He was 2 under par for tournament, just one stroke out of the lead.
 
But a great swing produced a terrible result and effectively ended his chance at his first major championship.
 
We had a good number. I think it was like 172, Mahan said. Had an 8-iron downwind and just flushed it.
 
If Mahans ball had hit any part of the green, he would have been looking at a makable birdie putt, but the ball hit the flag stick ' and hit it squarely.
 
I hit that thing pretty hard and it ricocheted off the green, he said. That happens. Its a U.S. Open. Youre going to get stuff like that. The green is just fast. I thought I hit a pretty good 5-wood runner up there, but the green was pretty fast.
 
Instead of a chance at tying for the lead, Mahan made a bogey. Then he had another on the par-3 17th when his birdie attempt caught a ridge and left him a long par putt.
 
He finished tied for sixth at even par, four strokes behind champion Lucas Glover.
 
At least, Mahan is getting closer.
 
This was the third straight year he finished in the top 20 in the Open. He tied for 10th at the Masters in April.
 
I feel I can win any major, he said. Im a good ball striker, good driver of the ball. When I get my putting up on those kind of standards, I feel I can win any tournament.
 

 
SAME MONEY: The total purse for the tournament was $7.5 million, the first time since 1981 there was not an increase from the previous year. Glover received $1.35 million as the champion and Fred Funk, who finished last among the 60 players making the 36-hole cut, earned $19,921.
 

 
BIG PUTT: Ricky Barnes missed birdie putt on the 18th hole wound up costing him $250,170. Make it and he would have finished second alone at 277 and would have won $810,000. Instead, he finished in a three-way for second with Phil Mickelson and David Duval and won $559,830.
 

 
GRANDPA KNEW: Dick Hendley introduced his grandson Lucas Glover to golf at age 3. Six years later, he brought him to the late Dick Harmon to teach him the game. It all paid off on Monday.
 
Im floating on air, Hendley said from Greer, S.C.
 
He and his 29-year-old grandson talked two weekends ago.
 
I watched him chip and putt and thought he was in a good frame of mind, Hendley said of Glovers Open performance. I felt good about it all week. I didnt say anything to anybody, but I had a feeling hed play well the way he was hitting the ball.
 

 
TRACKING TIGER: Since Curtis Strange repeated as Open champion in 1989, no defending champion had finished in the top 10 until Tiger Woods this year.
 
Woods was seeking his fourth Open title, which would have tied him for the record with Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus.
 
His final-round 69 put him in a tie for sixth at even-par 280. In his other defenses, he tied for 12th at Southern Hills in 2001 and tied for 20th at Olympia Fields in 2003.
 
When Woods won the Open at Bethpage Black in 2002, he was the only player to break par for the tournament with a 277 total. Woods had two rounds in the 60s that year, 67 in the first and 68 in the second. This year, he broke 70 three times with 69s in the second and fourth rounds sandwiching a 68.
 

 
SHORT ENDING: The 18th hole on Bethpage Black was the source of most concern during the weather-plagued tournament since it was the one fairway that did not drain well and faced having quite a bit of casual water on it.
 
For the final round, it played just 364 yards, the shortest closing hole in a major since the 2005 British Open, when the 18th at St. Andrews played seven yards shorter.
 
They had to put a lot of the tees up this week just because its so soft, Tiger Woods said. Im sure they probably did that on 18 because the fairways are basically under water. They had to move it up there so we were actually hitting it on the upslope.
 
For the tournament, the 18th played to an average score of 4.1227, the 11th-toughest hole on the course. In the final round it was the third-easiest with an average score of 3.883.
 

 
LOW AMATEUR: Nick Taylor, a native of Canada and a first-team All-America at the University of Washington last season, finished as the low amateur, closing with a 5-over 75 for a 288 total, one shot better than Drew Weaver of Virginia Tech, who had a final-round 74, and five ahead of Kyle Stanley of Clemson, who closed with a 75.
 
They were the only amateurs of the record 15 in the field to make the cut.
 
I think it will do a lot, Taylor said of his second Open start. He failed to make the cut last year at Torrey Pines. It will give me confidence of being able to play that well the first two rounds and shoot a low number on a U.S. Open course.
 
Taylors 5-under 65 in the second round matched the lowest round ever by an amateur in an Open. It was definitely his highlight in the weather-delayed tournament that finished Monday.
 
About four weeks, Taylor said when asked how long the tournament seemed. It was long and it was grueling, but everybody had it, and it was just tough.
 
Its happened before, and its probably going to happen again. So I just have to get used to it, I guess.
 
Related Links:
  • Full U.S. Open Scores
  • Full Coverage - The 109th U.S. Open
  • Getty Images

    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.”