Slumping Singh Still Searching for Win

By Associated PressMay 3, 2006, 4:00 pm
Vijay Singh took an exaggerated pause at the top of his swing, the iron set in a good position, then completed the shot and watched it soar against blue skies Wednesday at Quail Hollow.
The club still feels like a wand in the hand of a wizard. His swing is smooth and powerful as ever.
The only thing missing is a trophy.
Singh is the defending champion when the Wachovia Championship starts Thursday, a place that brings back happy thoughts. He closed with a 6-under 66 last year to get into a three-man playoff, then outlasted Jim Furyk on the fourth extra hole. He made winning look easy, even when he was coming from six shots behind on the last day.
Vijay Singh and Jason Gore
Vijay Singh shares a laugh with Jason Gore at the Wachovia Championship.
He won 18 times over a three-year stretch, allowing him to replace Tiger Woods at No. 1 in the world.
Now it's a grind.
Singh shows up at a tournament feeling as though his game is as good as ever until something breaks down - his driving one week, his irons another week, sometimes his putting.
The result is his longest drought in seven years without a victory, and he's running out of answers.
'I thought I was pretty close in Houston,' he said. 'And obviously it wasn't.'
Singh shot 75 in the third round at Houston and wound up in a tie for 36th, his worst finish of the year.
He was poised to capture The Players Championship, one shot out of the lead and playing in the final group. He tumbled to a 77. Perhaps his best chance to win this year was the season-opening Mercedes Championship, but he three-putted for par from 100 feet and lost a playoff to Stuart Appleby.
'I'm coming back with not having won for I don't know how many tournaments,' Singh said, 'but just looking forward to playing here again. I have a lot of good memories over here.'
Singh has gone 18 starts on the PGA TOUR without winning, his longest stretch since he went 18 between winning the Houston Open and the Tour Championship in 2002. His last victory was nine months ago at the Buick Open, and the last time he went that many months without winning was in 1999.
But he hardly looks worried, and there is no reason to panic.
'I worked really hard last week and felt good yesterday,' Singh said. 'For the first time, I felt like I was getting very close to where I want to be.'
Singh has seven top 10s this year, and he is ninth on the money list with $1.8 million. He lost the No. 1 ranking to Woods last year, and now has slipped to No. 4 behind Masters champion Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen.
If his game looks off, it's because there are natural comparisons to where he was.
The 43-year-old Fijian hit full stride and stayed at that pace for the better part of three years. He won four times in 2003 when he challenged Woods for player of the year, won nine times and a record $10.9 million in 2004 when he was unquestionably the best player in golf, then added four more victories last year.
'His level of play has been incredible the last three or four years,' Mickelson said. 'It's hard to have everything clicking all the time, but he's been able to do it for such a sustained period of time that if he goes just a few months without a win, everyone is clamoring, 'What's wrong with Vijay?' But he's playing incredible golf, and he'll get back to that level.'
Mickelson has had moments of brilliance himself, once going 10 consecutive rounds atop the leaderboard. But he could not relate to three years of top-shelf golf.
Ernie Els won four tournaments in the first two months of 2004. But three years?
'What kind of a drought has he got?' Els said. Told it was nine months, the Big Easy added, 'that answers your question.'
'He's been a top player for the last 10 years, and we all work on our swings, we all change things,' Els said. 'We keep working and then we're trying to get better, and sometimes you get worse trying to get better. You've just got to give it some time, be patient for it to turn around, and when it does turn around, you feel like you can start winning again.'
Singh would love nothing better than for that to happen this week.
The Wachovia Championship is in its fourth year, and already is one of the premiere events on the PGA Tour. The purse is $6.3 million, Quail Hollow reminds players of a major championship course, and the field is one of the strongest of the year.
Even without Tiger Woods, whose decision not to play allowed him to be home with his father when Earl Woods died Wednesday, the field features nine of the top 11 players in the world. David Toms, who won at Wachovia in 2003, withdrew earlier in the week.
The rough is thick, the fairways are a little tighter, and the greens already are firm and fast.
'I think it's going to be a very tough test of golf,' said Mickelson, who tied for 15th last week in New Orleans in his first tournament since winning the Masters. 'It's playing very similar to the way a PGA (Championship) is set up. It's a fair golf course, but it's extremely tough.'
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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 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.


    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.”