Tiger Tries to Get Back on Course

By Associated PressJuly 19, 2006, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship HOYLAKE, England -- The lazy atmosphere of late afternoon on the day before the British Open transformed into a minor frenzy in front of the Royal Liverpool clubhouse Wednesday.
 
Photographers scrambled for position in front of the practice green. Fans strolling toward the gates fought for a view behind the ropes. Even some of the players stopped what they were doing to watch.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods has his sights set on his third Open Championship victory.
Getting a glimpse of Tiger Woods has been rare this week.
 
He arrived at Royal Liverpool on the weekend when there were no crowds, playing Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. The next two days, he teed off so early that he was done before most fans arrived at the course. On Wednesday, he didn't even play, showing up in the late afternoon to hit balls on the range and stroke a few putts.
 
It will be more important to be seen on the weekend -- any time this weekend.
 
The defending champion at the British Open, Woods will be trying to bounce back from missing the cut in the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, where consecutive rounds of 76 sent him home early for the first time in a major.
 
'I took a lot of time off prior to the U.S. Open and I wasn't hitting the ball as well as I wanted to in competition,' Woods said. 'But I fixed those mistakes prior to the Western (Open), and I got back into the competitive flow again.'
 
Woods was in jeopardy of another missed cut at the Western Open two weeks ago until shooting 67-66 to work his way up the leaderboard, and he got within one shot of Trevor Immelman until finishing two behind. Still, it was a step in the right direction, especially going to the British Open.
 
'It's nice when you play four rounds,' he said. 'I had two extra days there at the Western to get back into the flow of things, and the weekend I played great. So I feel like I'm back into playing again after taking such a long time off.'
 
The reason for the long layoff -- he has played only six competitive rounds since the Masters -- was the May 3 death of his father.
 
Woods still cannot shake questions about his father, how he is coping and how long it might take him to come to terms. But in this case, some of the questions brought back good memories, and pertinent ones.
 
Earl Woods accompanied his 19-year-old son to Carnoustie in 1995 for the Scottish Open, his first taste of links golf. Woods opened with rounds of 69-71 before the wind picked up, scores shot up and he tied for 29th, 17 shots out of the lead.
 
'He absolutely loved it when I played at Carnoustie, because it was one of the very few times that he thought I was able to use my imagination and create shots,' Woods said. 'It presents so many different options. And he thoroughly enjoyed it, watching me go out there shaping shots and hitting all those weird shots. He always got a big kick out of that.'
 
That's what will be required of Woods at Royal Liverpool.
 
The biggest change is in his bag, where he is bringing the 2-iron out of an eight-month retirement to hit low, penetrating tee shots that run endlessly on baked fairways, some of them so bare they have more turf than grass.
 
Standing behind the 14th green on Tuesday, he tried to bump a pitch up the slope toward the green, and when it rolled back to his feet, he tried again with the putter.
 
'We don't play golf courses like this each and every week. And we certainly don't ever play a golf course this fast,' Woods said. 'And those times, you have to be able to control your golf ball in the air, you have to control your spin. It's not like you can hit a marginal shot and expect it to be OK.'
 
Expectations are different this time.
 
Woods plays the British Open as well as any other major besides the Masters, finishing in the top 10 six out of his nine starts as a pro. He won last year at St. Andrews for the second time, by five shots over Colin Montgomerie. He manufactures shots as well as anyone in the game.
 
But there has not been much of a buzz about him this week.
 
Part of that is because no one has seen much of him. He has not won since Doral, and his nine starts on the PGA TOUR this season are the fewest of anyone in the top 50 on the money list.
 
And the focus on the majors has shifted to Phil Mickelson, who has won three of the last 10. The Masters champion was on the verge of winning three straight majors at the U.S. Open -- a chance to show up at Royal Liverpool with his own Grand Slam on the line -- until taking double bogey on the final hole at Winged Foot to finish one shot behind Geoff Ogilvy.
 
Peter Thomson, who won at Hoylake in 1956 for his third consecutive claret jug, also weighed in on Woods.
 
'If he never wins another tournament, his reputation is made,' Thomson said. 'But he's after higher, more glorious heights than anyone's ever dreamt of, I think. But he's having a bit of a stumble, I think. He'll play well again, I'm sure.'
 
There remain questions about Woods' focus two months after his father died.
 
Ernie Els was going through the list of top players and how well they play in the majors when he got to Woods, whom he still believes is the man to beat when Woods is on his game.
 
'Tiger, if his mind is 100 percent on golf this week, he's probably the guy to beat again,' Ernie Els said. 'That's a talent.'
 
Related Links:
  • Tee Times - 135th Open Championship
  • Course Tour - Royal Liverpool
  • Full Coverage - 135th Open Championship
     
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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.”