Rose takes the lead in Tampa

By Associated PressMarch 20, 2011, 2:06 am

Transistions ChampionshipPALM HARBOR, Fla. – Justin Rose is coming off a year in which he won two PGA Tour events on strong golf courses. He knows what to expect from his emotions in the final round and how to stay patient amid a crowded leaderboard.

The four guys behind him have never won.

And that made Rose’s one-shot lead Saturday in the Transitions Championship seem a little larger.

“It doesn’t mean it’s all going to go smoothly tomorrow,” Rose said. “You have to be ready for whatever happens. But at least I kind of am aware of the ups and downs, and the things I’m going to face. And I think that maybe it’s a lot easier to deal with.”

Rose was patient for long enough for the birdies to fall, and he shot a second straight round of 6-under 65 in more perfect conditions at Innisbrook to build a lead over Brendon de Jonge and Webb Simpson.

A 6-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole put Rose at 13-under 200, one shot off the 54-hole tournament record.

De Jonge and Simpson have never won on the PGA Tour. Neither have the two guys another shot behind – rookie Scott Stalling, who only made his first cut in the big leagues last week in Puerto Rico; and Gary Woodland, who lost in a playoff at the Bob Hope Classic this year.

“You want to give yourself a chance to win, and I have that opportunity now,” de Jonge said.

Simpson, whose wife recently gave birth to their first child, kept pace with Rose for much of the day until dropping shots on two of the tough par 3s on the back nine. He still had a third straight 67 and was trying not to think ahead to Sunday.

“This course is tough enough to where you’ve got to think about the hole you’re on,” Simpson said. “That is what we dream about, and this is what we practice for, to have a chance on Sunday. So I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

De Jonge earned a spot in the final group with a steady round of 66.

Nine players were separated by only three shots going into the final round, and while most of them don’t have Rose’s winning experience, there is a name that is hard to ignore. Nick Watney, coming off a World Golf Championship title last week at Doral, had seven birdies in his round of 65 and was in the group at 10-under 203 with Brandt Snedeker, who shot a 67.

Garrett Willis and Chris Couch, the co-leaders after the second round, each shot 70 to fall back, although they were still in the mix.

Sergio Garcia finally made a bogey in America this year – it’s his first PGA Tour event since last August – and then made four more in a round of 72 that most likely left him too far behind. He was six shots back.

PGA champion Martin Kaymer, the No. 1 player in the world, had a 71 and was nine shots behind.

Rose was closer to the cut line than the top of the leaderboard halfway through his second round until he ran off five birdies on the back nine of Innisbrook and wound up with a 65. He had five birdies on his next nine – the front nine Saturday – to take the lead.

“First 27 holes of the tournament, I had to be really patient,” he said. “I knew I was playing well and wasn’t getting much out of it. Obviously, the next combined 18 went really hot. But this is a golf course that it’s easy to be patient on, really, in terms of you hit in the middle of the green, you two-putt for par, you know you’re not being lapped by the rest of the field.

“It’s not Disney from that type of scoring perspective.”

Watney went from feeling flat on Friday to feeling fresh in the third round, and it showed. He revved up the gallery behind the 17th green with a 10-foot birdie, and made a long two-putt across the 18th for his 65.

“I’ve done all I can do. I’m really excited for tomorrow,” Watney said. “I’m just going to take a lot from last week. I’m definitely riding some momentum. I just feel good with my game and I’m feeling more and more comfortable.”

Woodland is an intriguing contender.

He is the latest pure athlete to join the PGA Tour, cut along the lines of Dustin Johnson, only less polished. He spent his freshman year playing basketball, saw a greater future in golf and transferred to Kansas. That’s when he started facing his first real competition, but after shoulder surgery last year, Woodland is starting to progress quickly.

He lost in the three-man playoff at the Hope, and has been steady on a Copperhead course he has never seen. Woodland, one of the biggest hitters on tour, decided to go conservative and hit mostly 2-iron off the tee. It’s working out for him.

The surprise is Stallings.

He missed every cut on the West Coast Swing and finally earned a paycheck last week – just over $11,000 – when he tied for 42nd in the Puerto Rico Open. His round featured a hole-in-one on No. 8, the third-toughest hole at Innisbrook, and he followed that with five birdies on the back nine.

Stallings received a sponsor’s exemption, mainly because he and Kenny Perry have the same agent, and Perry has an endorsement relationship with the title sponsor. It was a great break for a guy who has low status in his rookie year, and he’s running with it.

“I was surprisingly relaxed,” Stallings said. “I knew that I had nothing to lose. It was basically play well this week, and take advantage of the opportunity or if I didn’t play well, I was going to sit back and wait until I got in toward after the U.S. Open, because that’s when the tournaments would start opening up and the fields would get a little bigger.”

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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.”