Notes Taller Teen Sensation No More Shortcut

By Associated PressJune 25, 2008, 4:00 pm
U.S. WomenEDINA, Minn. -- This time, Alexis Thompson is just one of the girls.
 
The youngest player to ever qualify for the U.S. Womens Open at age 12 last year, Thompson has returned with 5 more inches on her now 5-foot-8 frame. She has full-fledged status as a teenager, one of 28 players at Interlachen 19 or younger.
 
Sure, Thompson is still the youngest of them all, but its not as if shes the only one who cant yet vote. She has already played this tournament, an experience that cant be claimed by 40 first-time participants in 2008.
 
It definitely helped me a lot, Thompson said, reflecting on last years 16-over par finish after two rounds at Pine Needles. It just showed me how good I have to be and how I, like, have to present myself out there'with attitude.
 
Argentinas Victoria Tanco is one of two 14-year-old qualifiers. Her bio in the players guide lists attends grade school in the college section. OK, so thats a little lost in translation. Despite her age, though, shes not necessarily lost in this field.
 
Tanco finished first, one spot ahead of Thompson, at the sectional qualifying tournament in Florida earlier this month and boasts a wire-to-wire win in the 2007 junior world championships.
 
Nervous? A bit, she acknowledged Wednesday with a sheepish smile and a laugh.
 
I try to take it like normal, because never in my life are so many people following the tournament. Never I sign so much autographs, Tanco said. Its really nice to play with all the best players in the world, and its really exciting.
 
NO SHORTCUT
The U.S. Womens Open has the potential for excitement on the final hole because the dogleg 18th is a par 5 that measures 530 yards and can be reached in two shots. Lorena Ochoa was among those who cleared the pond easily with a 5-wood.
 
Some players found it to be even shorter. It only took a few practice rounds for players to realize they could blast a drive through a gap of trees down the adjoining 10th fairway, then play away from the pond to the green.
 
I was able to cut off 40 yards, said Karrie Webb, who hit a hybrid equivalent of a 3-iron to the green.
 
Webb and Meg Mallon, who could also reach the green playing the 10th fairway, both figured it wouldnt be so easy when the first round began Thursday. And they were right.
 
One option was to play the hole as members at Interlachen do: The 10th fairway is declared out-of-bounds while playing the 18th. Mike Davis, senior director of rules and competition for the USGA who sets up the golf course, found a more practical solution. He said the tees will be moved forward about 10 yards, eliminating the gap in the trees.
 
Im not going to plant a Hinkle tree. This is a much easier fix, Davis said.
 
The tree reference was to Lon Hinkle, who took a shortcut during the 1979 U.S. Open at Inverness. The next day, a tree was planted to discourage players from going down the wrong fairway.
 
SPEECHLESS
Yani Tseng of Taiwan, the McDonalds LPGA Championship winner this month, was asked how she learned to speak English so well.
 
I talk a lot, she said.
 
Tseng, though, was speechless at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines two weeks ago while she helped out NBC analyst Dottie Pepper. She was in awe of the power Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott, but she really took interest in Scott, a heart throb for so many teenagers. Tseng finally met him after the round.
 
He was a great-looking guy, she said. And when I saw him, I almost pass out. I was so nervous talking to him. I couldnt speak.
 
NOT YET READY TO AGE
The popularity of the womens game is growing, but United States Golf Association executive director David Fay said its still too soon for a U.S. Senior Womens Open to match the men. Finding the right amount of prize money and a willing TV network to broadcast such an event would be the first hurdle to clear, Fay said. The LPGA Tour also would have to be on board.
 
So for now, no plans.
 
Thats been a question thats been asked probably about 10 years, Fay said. And Im sorry it sounds like a Groundhog Day answer, but our position remains the same. Were just not ready to do something like that yet.
 
TO THE ISLAND
The USGA has selected Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., as the site of the 2013 U.S. Womens Open. The course, which opened in 2006 with a design by Jack Nicklaus and Tom Doak, is nestled against Great Peconic Bay on Long Island. It features rolling fairways, big bunkers and dunes, and undulating, challenging greens. Several holes have a striking view of the water, and others are surrounded by inland forest.
 
The U.S. Womens Open hasnt been held in the state of New York since 1973, when it went to The Country Club of Rochester.
 
GOLFING WITH GULBIS
Natalie Gulbis has been long known for good looks and a high off-the-course profile, and she was predictably tabbed in a recent poll at Golf.com asking readers which LPGA Tour player theyd most like to golf with.
 
Well, one lucky guy or girl will get that chance.
 
Gulbis is promoting a contest with accounting firm RSM McGladrey that asks entrants to write an essay describing a person who has influenced their success in life. The winner will join Gulbis in Las Vegas for a morning workout, nine holes in the afternoon and a celebratory dinner.
 
Gulbis named her father, John, as the man behind her success. He worked an overnight shift as a juvenile probation officer in Sacramento, Calif., and used to take his only child to the course for practice as soon as he finished in the morning.
 
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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.”