Tiger Continues to Add Layers to His Legend

By Associated PressMarch 17, 2008, 4:00 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The outcome has never been more inevitable. Tiger Woods has never looked so invincible.
 
The worlds No. 1 golfer faced a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole at Bay Hill, and the moment he settled over the ball and the crowd grew quiet, it no longer mattered that Woods had not made a putt this long all week.
 
This one was for the win.
 
For most players, making such a clutch putt would be a career highlight. For Woods, its more like a summer rerun.
 
You know what hes going to do, right? Arnold Palmer whispered to those around him right before Woods rapped his putt down the slope and watched it turn sharply to the right and tumble into the cup for a one-shot victory.
 
For Woods, it is the ultimate thrill.
 
Its knowing that you have an opportunity to end the tournament, and its in your hands, he said. Whether you do it or not remains to be seen. Its like having the ball with a few seconds to go. Do you want it or not want it? I would much rather have it in my hands.
 
Lately, it has been nothing but net.
 
The Florida Swing long has been known as the road to the Masters, which is three weeks away. Woods already has his game at warp speed, and hes lapping the field. His victory Sunday in the Arnold Palmer Invitational was his fifth in a row on the PGA Tour and his sixth straight worldwide, a streak that spans six months and is the longest overall of his incomparable career. When he won seven straight tour events in 2006-2007, second only to Byron Nelsons 11 in 1945, Woods lost three times overseas.
 
Now, even the purists must wonder if Woods can go an entire season without losing.
 
Its unbelievable, isnt it? Steve Stricker said Monday. You think that one of these times, hes not going to get it done. But he continues to do it. And now you expect it. You just learn with him that nothing is unexpected.
 
Woods latest victim was Bart Bryant, who did everything right and never felt so helpless.
 
Bryant twice made birdie to tie Woods for the lead, shot a 67 in stifling heat and waited in the scoring trailer to see if Woods could beat him. There was no television in the trailer, and Bryant didnt need one.
 
He heard a roar that rattled the trailer, and Bryant forced a smile and slowly shook his head.
 
Thats why hes Tiger Woods, he said.
 
Stricker felt that way outside Chicago the second week in September, when this winning streak started. He had a one-shot lead in the final round when he got to the 12th hole, looked down toward the green and saw Woods make a 50-foot birdie putt to catch him. Woods went on to a two-shot victory.
 
He can sympathize with Bryant.
 
Thats all you can do sometimes is shake your head and laugh, Stricker said. Thats what its getting to be'laughable.
 
Golf is more global than it was a half-century ago, so Woods winning streak is complicated. This is the third time he has won at least five in a row, and he also won on the European Tour last month, shooting a 31 on the back nine to rally from a four-shot deficit.
 
And he won the Target World Challenge in December, although that doesnt count because it was a charity event that Woods hosts for 16 top players from the world ranking. For what its worth, Woods won by seven shots.
 
Woods is so dominant that he has won seven of his last eight times on the PGA Tour, the exception being a runner-up finish to Phil Mickelson at the Deutsche Bank Championship on Labor Day. Hes an incredible 16 for 25 since the 2006 British Open.
 
What hes doing now, you cant even fathom it, Bryant said. You just cant explain it. Its just incredible. Just what he did today is more evidence of this weird zone hes in. And hes been in it his whole life.
 
Woods was just starting college in 1994, a skinny teenager who had fallen behind in the championship match of the U.S. Amateur, when his father whispered in his ear, Let the legend grow. Woods birdied three straight holes to win.
 
Ernie Els added to the hype when Woods went eagle-birdie-birdie to beat him in a playoff in Hawaii to start the 2000 season.
 
I think hes a legend in the making, Els said that day. You guys have helped, but hes backed it up with his golf game. Hes 24. Hes probably going to be bigger than Elvis when he gets into his 40s.
 
He didnt wait that long. Hes only 32 and already is tied with Ben Hogan for third in career victories with 64. The only players ahead of him are Jack Nicklaus (73) and Sam Snead (82).
 
With each victory, Woods adds another layer to the legend.
 
Its not even spring yet, and consider his year so far: He set scoring records at Torrey Pines with an eight-shot victory. He was headed for a first-round defeat in the Accenture Match Play Championship when he made 90 feet worth of putts to win four straight holes for a stunning comeback victory, and he eventually set a record in the final match for largest margin of victory (8 and 7).
 
And then came Palmers tournament, and a putt that everyone knew was going to drop.
 
Can he go undefeated? Even as well as he is playing, the odds are against it. Woods hinted as much when someone asked what could stop this winning streak.
 
All of the players in the event, he said.
 
Even so, consider what lies ahead. He is playing this week at Doral, where he has won the last three years. Next up is the Masters, where Woods is a four-time champion. He is the defending champion at the Wachovia Championship in North Carolina. In fact, he has won every event on his schedule.
 
Hes got a lot of memories, and theyre all positive, Stricker said. Some guys could blow a tournament, and two weeks later theyre in contention and have to think about that. All he has is positives. His whole career is nothing but positive reinforcement.
 

Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - WGC -CA Championship
  • Full Coverage - Arnold Palmer Invitational
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
  • Getty Images

    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.”