Surprise Leader at McDonalds

By Associated PressJune 8, 2006, 4:00 pm
McDonaldHAVRE DE GRACE, Md. -- The buzz wasn't quite the same. The gallery was significantly smaller. About the only similarity between Michelle Wie trying to qualify for the U.S. Open and the Hawaii teenager at the LPGA Championship was her putting.
Whether it's Canoe Brook or Bulle Rock, the hole still looks awfully small.
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie finished strong to stay within sight of the lead.
Three days after her putter doomed her hopes of a U.S. Open berth, Wie missed six putts inside 12 feet on the first eight holes Thursday. She was toward the bottom of the pack until birdies on three of the final four holes gave her a 1-under 71, leaving her seven shots behind Nicole Castrale.
'I think my putting is getting better,' she said.
Castrale used a late string of birdies on the closing holes for a different result. It helped her post a career-low 64, giving her a two-shot lead over Cristie Kerr and Pat Hurst.
Only about 750 people trudged over the hilly terrain of Bulle Rock to watch the 16-year-old Wie, much smaller than the estimated 3,500 who showed up at Canoe Brook in northern New Jersey for the U.S. Open sectional qualifier.
'What happened on Monday, you can't really see anywhere else,' Wie said. 'The crowds were very supportive today, even though it was not quite as huge as Monday. But they stayed until the end, so I was very happy.'
About the same amount watched Annika Sorenstam earlier in the day as the three-time defending champion struggled at times off the tee and around the green for a 71 that included four birdies and three bogeys.
'It kind of summarized my year a little bit, so I'm not surprised,' said Sorenstam, who has not won since her 2006 debut.
Sorenstam and Wie were among those tied for 41st on a day when 24 players shot in the 60s.
The group at 67 included South Korean rookie Seon Hwa Lee, coming off her first LPGA Tour victory last week at the ShopRite Classic, and Dorothy Delasin, who played with Wie. Karrie Webb, who won the first major of the year at the Kraft Nabisco, and Juli Inkster opened with 70s.
'It was out there,' Inkster said. 'If you were going to play well, today was the day.'
Indeed, it was Castrale's day.
She was injured in a car accident during her senior year at Southern California, which led to three surgeries on her rotator cuff. She won twice on the Futures Tour to earn a card in the big leagues, worked hard in the offseason then suffered an emotional jolt in February when Dick Harmon died.
Her coach is Bill Harmon, but she got to know his brother and worked with Dick on her short game. The Harmon brothers -- Bill, Butch, Craig and Dick -- got together for a golf school and good times in Palm Desert, Calif., earlier this year, and Castrale recalled playing nine holes on a Thursday afternoon as Dick Harmon and her husband watched.
The next morning, Harmon died of a heart attack.
'That came as such a shock,' Castrale said, her eyes welling with tears as she spoke. 'He has unbelievable touch around the greens, and he really took me in.'
Bill Harmon recalled the dinner he had with his brother before he died in which they talked about the 27-year-old Castrale, and how she had persevered through her injuries.
'He turned to me and said, 'I cannot believe what a good player she's become. She works so hard,'' Harmon said. 'A lesser person would have packed it in by now.'
Dick Harmon would have been proud of her Thursday, an overcast day with soft greens and not much wind, ideal for scoring. She picked up three of her birdies from inside 100 yards, including her string on the back nine. She chipped to 4 feet on the par-5 15th, hit a sand wedge to a foot on the next hole, and choked up on an 8-iron for an approach into 8 feet on the 18th.
Castrale started on No. 10, and she played her second nine solidly to keep bogeys off her card and make her a surprising leader in the second major championship of the year.
'I just had to stay patient, because I know I've been playing well and just not really scoring,' she said.
Wie needed all the patience she had.
Her week began Monday at Canoe Brook, where she missed six birdie putts inside 12 feet in her morning round of 68, then had consecutive three-putt bogeys in the afternoon that eliminated her hopes of becoming the first woman in the U.S. Open.
Three days later, not much changed.
She hit the ball with authority from tee to green, and the hole looked the size of a thimble when she stood over putts. She missed six putts inside 12 feet on the first eight holes, taking double bogey at No. 5 when she had an awkward lie in the rough off the tee, a bad lie in the rough around the green, and then three-putted from about 40 feet on the fringe.
Her three birdies came inside 3 feet, including a two-putt birdie on the 15th.
'The last four holes seemed like I was back to normal,' Wie said. 'So hopefully, tomorrow morning I can keep that going.'
Paula Creamer played with her right wrist bandaged after an MRI showed sprained ligaments. She had consecutive bogeys to start her second nine, but rallied to shoot 71. ... Morgan Pressel, in her second event since graduating from high school, played with Sorenstam and was 1 under for her round until making bogeys on two of her last three holes for a 73. 'It was a mess,' she said. ... Christina Kim, who shot 67, used John Killeen as her caddie. Killeen normally works for two-time U.S. Women's Open champion Meg Mallon, who had to withdraw because of the flu.
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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.”