Tiger Trails Stricker Badds at BMW

By Associated PressSeptember 8, 2007, 4:00 pm
BMW ChampionshipLEMONT, Ill. -- The roar that shook Cog Hill on Saturday could only mean one thing -- an eagle from the fairway -- and it was loud enough that it could only belong to one player.
 
Even Tiger Woods turned around.
 
Steve Stricker holed out with a wedge for eagle on the eighth hole to keep pace with Woods, then he surged ahead with birdie chances on every hole in a tidy round of 7-under 64 that left him tied with Aaron Baddeley in the BMW Championship.
 
Baddeley birdied his final two holes for a 65 that allowed him to join Stricker at 15-under 198 and play in the final group.
 
The third round of these PGA TOUR Playoffs looks much like the first two events -- terrific golf by the top players, setting the stage for what could be more great theater in the final round.
 
Stricker, who won the first playoff event at The Barclays for his first victory in 6 1/2 years, might be the hottest player in golf and is wildly popular in these parts, having played golf at Illinois and grown up nearby in Wisconsin. Another victory would give him a commanding lead in the chase for the FedExCup, with Woods or the absent Phil Mickelson having to win the Tour Championship to catch him.
 
Baddeley, who won in Phoenix earlier this year, was a forgotten figure on the back nine even though he was always in range. Then came a 30-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole, followed by an approach into 5 feet at the last to get into the final group.
 
Woods never looked more subdued after a 65, but he missed only one fairway and two greens, and figured his putter kept him from one of his best scores of the year. Not that he was complaining after finishing the round a stroke back.
 
'I felt like 6 under was the highest score I could have shot,' Woods said. 'But I'm in a good spot going into tomorrow.'
 
Barring an amazing charge from behind, it appears to be a three-man race at the BMW Championship.
 
Woods will be playing with Justin Rose, who birdied his last two holes to salvage an otherwise ho-hum round of 69, leaving him five shots behind the leaders.
 
Jonathan Byrd, who was tied with Baddeley at the start of the third round, shot an even-par 71 and fell six shots behind.
 
'You make par out here you get run over,' Woods said.
 
Stricker usually had to settle for par. He hit all 18 greens in regulation and has not missed a green since the 13th hole of the second round. Despite making five birdies and his eagle, he missed five birdie putts from inside 12 feet.
 
'I had real good opportunities,' he said. 'But at this point, you can't be greedy. Nobody makes them all. And when you do, you have one of those '60' rounds.'
 
Woods felt like he was going to have one, also missing a number of good chances from short range. A three-time winner at Cog Hill, Woods spent most of the back nine atop the leaderboard, with impressive shots on the par 5s.
 
He wanted to go for the par-5 11th green with a 2-iron, hitting a draw that would bend left with the breeze. But he felt it shift to the right, so chose to hit a slice with his 3-wood that disappeared over the trees and settled onto the green.
 
The birdie on No. 15 was peculiar only until he reached the green.
 
Woods safely found the fairway with a 3-wood, then Camilo Villegas drive landed on Woods' ball and knocked it back. Under the rules, he had to drop it in the vicinity where it had been, and his drop bounced back about a foot into the front of a divot.
 
Needing to carry the bunker at 232 yards, Woods played a 3-iron back in his stance to about 35 feet for a two-putt birdie.
 
Stricker was in the group behind him, and matched him birdie-for-birdie, picking up a shot on the par-4 13th, from a bunker on the 15th and with his approach into 5 feet on the final hole that gave him the lead.
 
The applause was deafening as Stricker walked off the green, something he only hears in Chicago and Milwaukee.
 
'Any other part of the country, they don't even know who I am,' said Stricker, who had to scrounge up 50 tickets for Cog Hill.
 
The guy who lost his PGA TOUR card two years ago now is hard to miss. This has been an amazing rebirth for Stricker, who squandered three good chances to win from May through July, then cashed it at Westchester.
 
And he's not willing to stop until his season is over. He birdied the last three holes at The Barclays by hitting clutch shots and making big putts, 'and it seems to carry on to each and every event.'
 
Baddeley is 11th in the playoff standings, and a victory would give him a chance at the $10 million prize for the FedExCup. It will be his first time in the final pairing since the U.S. Open, where he shot 80 while playing with Woods, but the Australian only wants to keep giving himself chances.
 
That's one thing the top three guys on the leaderboard have in common.
 
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    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.”

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    PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

    The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

    PGA Tour:

    The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.

    LPGA:

    We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.