Tour Apologizes to Fuzzy
'The commissioner called me and said, `Accept my apology. We screwed up.' That was good enough for me,' Zoeller said Monday at a charity breakfast in South Florida.
Zoeller was disqualified Friday for hitting practice shots on the Crandon Park Golf Course after his first-round 73 at the Royal Caribbean Classic.
Zoeller agreed to give a lesson to a local television reporter, and because the practice range was full, decided to use the vacant sixth tee. Such lessons are part of the tour's new fan-friendly initiatives, and Zoeller figured it was OK.
'Everybody in their right mind who plays competitive golf knows you can't go back out on the golf course,' Zoeller said. 'It was set up through the Champions Tour, not Fuzzy Zoeller. I didn't do this. But one of our rules officials came out and started screaming and yelling and acting like I was a criminal. I thought everybody knew about it because it was our people that lined it up.'
As soon as Zoeller hit his first demonstration shot, officials said he was in violation of Rule 7-1-b, which prohibits practicing on the tournament course between rounds.
Tour spokesman Bob Combs said miscommunication was partly to blame. He said the tournament staff approved of Zoeller going to the sixth tee, but the camera crew suggested without authority that he hit a shot.
The tour plans to send letters to every player in the field this week in Naples to clarify that under no circumstances are they to use the golf course for instructional tips once the tournament has started.
Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open
JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.
The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.
Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.
''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''
Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 5: Dec. 12
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18
Sharma among three Open qualifiers at Joburg Open
Shubhankar Sharma earned his first career European Tour win at the rain-delayed Joburg Open and punched his ticket to The Open in the process.
Sharma returned to Randpark Golf Club Monday morning after storms washed out much of the scheduled final day of play. Beginning the re-start with a four-shot lead, he hung on to win by three over South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen.
Both men can make travel plans for Carnoustie next summer, as this was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series with three spots available for players not otherwise exempt who finished inside the top 10. The final spot went to Shaun Norris, who tied for third with Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen but had a higher world ranking (No. 192) than Pulkkanen (No. 197) entering the week.
The Joburg Open was the final official European Tour event of the year. The next tournament in the Open Qualifying Series will be the SMBC Singapore Open in January, where four spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs.
Rules changes include no more viewer call-ins
Although the Rules of Golf modernization is still a year away, officials continue to refine parts of the rulebook including an overhaul of the video review protocols.
A “working group” led by the USGA and R&A announced on Monday the new protocols, which include assigning a rule official to a tournament broadcast to resolve rules issues.
The group – which includes the PGA Tour, European Tour, LPGA tour and PGA of America – also voted to stop considering viewer call-ins when processing potential rule violations.
In addition, a new local rule was announced that will discontinue the penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard when the player was unaware of the violation.
In April, Lexi Thompson was penalized four strokes during the final round when officials at the ANA Inspiration learned via e-mail from a viewer of an infraction that occurred during the third round. Thompson was penalized two strokes for incorrectly marking her golf ball and two for signing an incorrect scorecard.
“The message is, as a fan, enjoy watching the game and the best players in the world, but also have the confidence that the committee in charge of the competition have the rules handled,” Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior director of the Rules of Golf, said on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" on Monday. “Let’s leave the rules and the administration of the event to the players and to those responsible for running the tournament.”
The working group was created in April to review the use of video in applying the rules and the role of viewer call-ins, and initially issued a decision to limit the use of video through the introduction of the “reasonable judgment” and “naked eye” standard.
According to that decision, which was not a rule, “so long as the player does what can reasonably be expected under the circumstances to make an accurate determination, the player’s reasonable judgment will be accepted, even if later shown to be inaccurate by the use of video evidence.”
The new protocols will be implemented starting on Jan. 1.
A comprehensive overhaul of the Rules of Golf is currently underway by the USGA and R&A that will begin on Jan. 1, 2019.