Rory Tiger in a Duel at Firestone

By Associated PressAugust 4, 2007, 4:00 pm
WGC-Bridgestone - 125wAKRON, Ohio -- Rory Sabbatini met one goal Saturday. He gets another shot at Tiger Woods.
 
Sabbatini got his mistake out of the way early at the Bridgestone Invitational, settling down after a double bogey to salvage a 2-over 72 and build a one-shot lead over Woods, a five-time winner at Firestone.
 
Woods dropped out of a share for the lead with a bogey from the trees on the 18th hole, but he still managed a 69 and left himself a good chance to win this World Golf Championship for the third straight year.
 
'I tried to hang in there and not give any shots back,' Woods said.
 
Sabbatini was at 4-under 206, the highest score for a 54-hole leader at Firestone since it became a WGC event in 1999.
 
Kenny Perry had a 71 and was the only other player under par at 1-under 209. He will be in the final threesome Sunday, presumably playing the part of Switzerland.
 
Sabbatini and Woods verbally sparred this spring starting at the Wachovia Championship, where Woods rallied from one shot behind the spunky South African to win at Quail Hollow. Five days later, Sabbatini said he thought Woods looked 'as beatable as ever.' And while he said Woods can be scary when he's on his game, he liked 'the new Tiger' better.
 
Woods responded the next day by mentioning he had three victories in 2007, as many as Sabbatini had in his career.
 
What kind of fireworks will Sunday bring?
 
'He's trying to obviously think of ways to motivate himself,' Woods said. 'A lot of guys don't really externalize it. We all say things like that inside, and he's just trying to gain any kind of edge mentally when you're out there playing. He just verbalizes them.'
 
Sabbatini didn't back down, on the golf course and when he had finished his round with a 54-hole lead for the sixth time in his career. He mentioned he was 1-1 going against Woods in the final round, the most recent coming at Quail Hollow.
 
And the other time?
 
'NCAAs, final round. I beat him by five,' Sabbatini said proudly.
 
But didn't Woods win the NCAA title that year?
 
'He did, but I beat him in the final round,' Sabbatini said with a grin. 'So if I beat him by five tomorrow, I'm loving my chances.'
 
Whether it becomes a two-man race remains to be seen.
 
Ten players were separated by five shots going into the final round, and Masters champion Zach Johnson was among those who showed how quickly it can turn on a Firestone course that might be tougher than Southern Hills next week for the PGA Championship. He dropped six shots in two holes with a quadruple bogey-double bogey stretch that sent him to a 76.
 
Of the last three groups, Woods was the only player to break par. The other five players were 21 over par.
 
With storms in the forecast Sunday, the starting times have been moved up to the morning in threesomes with hopes of finishing. Rain might be the only thing to spare players from another grueling round.
 
The best anyone could do was a 67, one of those belonging to Aaron Baddeley. That put him in a tie for fourth at 1-over 211, a group that included Justin Leonard and Hunter Mahan, who each had a 71; and Andres Romero, the 26-year-old from Argentina coming off his first European Tour victory last week in Germany.
 
'It so firm right now, you look at some of these pins and you just start to laugh,' Leonard said. 'But it's supposed to rain tomorrow, soften up a little bit. And if that happens, we might see some better scores.'
 
Big numbers figure to stick around regardless. Sabbatini got his early when his shot out of a fairway bunker clipped a tree and dropped into the deep rough, leaving him little chance of reaching the green. Joe Durant got his late.
 
'If you fall asleep for just a minute or two, it can bite you,' Durant said.
 
He fell asleep for two holes at the end of an otherwise solid round, and he had teeth marks. First came a three-putt bogey on the 17th when he missed a par putt from 20 inches, then a double bogey on the 18th during a journey through the trees for a 71.
 
No one suffered quite like Johnson.
 
The Masters champion was tied for the lead at 5 under par when his tee shot on the par-4 ninth went right into deep rough. He tried to hack out to the fairway, but the grass turned his club and the ball shot across into the left rough. From there he went into a bunker, then over the green. His wedge slid under the ball during a flop shot, moving it only a few feet. Another chip didn't reach the green. Johnson had to make a 4-footer to escape with a quadruple-bogey 8.
 
Then he took double bogey on the next hole, and went from leading to five shots behind.
 
'I tried to play safe every shot,' Johnson said. 'I tried to play the percentages on every single shot I hit. And I made a 4-footer for an 8. A good 8.'
 
Of the top five on the leaderboard going into the final round, everyone made double bogey except for Woods. He was more bothered by not making birdie, especially after missing chances inside 15 feet on his first three holes. But he finally made one from 10 feet on the fourth, and we he holed an 8-foot birdie at No. 6, he was tied for the lead.
 
He swapped birdies and bogeys the rest of the way, with one unusual par on the 13th. He hit his drive so far left that it went into the 14th fairway, which led to a blind shot over the trees into a bunker. He blasted out to 5 feet and made the putt.
 
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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.”