TOUR Championship May Move for Ryder Cup

By Associated PressOctober 23, 2007, 4:00 pm
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Paul Azinger and Nick Faldo stood on opposite sides of the Ryder Cup, smiling for the cameras as they posed with one of the most revered trophies in golf.
With a quick tug, Azinger playfully pulled the cup away from his former rival and broadcasting partner.
The U.S. captain hopes it's not the last time he gets to pry the cup from Faldo's hands.
Under a revamped qualifying system for Americans, which will be weighted heavily on 2008 results, Azinger is confident he'll have the hottest U.S. players available when the Ryder Cup comes to retooled Valhalla next September, even if he's not sure who they are.
'There's going to be a lot of flipping and flopping next year, a lot of changeover and the list that you see right now, I don't think is necessarily indicative of what we're going to have,' Azinger said.
With good form might come fatigue.
Because of a scheduling conflict with NBC Sports, the Ryder Cup in 2008 is the only year in the PGA TOUR's television contract that there will not be an open week after the FedExCup ends with the TOUR Championship. That means some players could compete four straight weeks in the FedExCup, then head straight for Valhalla for perhaps the most draining week in golf.
The TOUR now is exploring the idea of a break in the FedExCup, and moving the TOUR Championship after the Ryder Cup.
One official involved in the discussions said he was '90 percent certain' it would happen. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because any change likely would have to be approved by the PGA TOUR policy board, which meets Nov. 12.
'We're looking at a lot of different options, all of which are designed to improve upon the successful foundation we laid with the inaugural year of the playoffs,' PGA TOUR spokesman Ty Votaw said Monday.
At the Presidents Cup last month, PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem said there would be 'a lot of retooling' over the next five years of the TOUR's TV contract.
'We've got concerns by the players whether they're fresh for the cups,' Finchem said.
Azinger pointed out there were only a handful of European players in this year's TOUR Championship, while several top Americans were grinding it out for the fourth consecutive week.
'Schedule-wise, it would affect us more, there would be more chance for burnout or whatever,' Azinger said.
'We do have more players that would be asked to play more events in a row.'
The European team will likely be comprised of a mix of PGA and European Tour regulars, many who will have to make the trip across the Atlantic. The travel hasn't hurt the European team recently. The Euros have won two of the last three times the Ryder Cup was held on American soil, dominating in 2004 at Oakland Hills by a record 18 1/2 -9 1/2 margin.
'I'm conscious of that, the guys have come off a long season and we simply are going have to be conscious of that and we'll adapt to it,' Faldo said.
It's a lesson Faldo is quickly learning. He's already lost assistant captain Paul McGinley, who stepped down last month, and has yet to name a replacement.
Faldo offered a curt 'No' when asked if he had offered the job to anybody else.
Azinger chose Dave Stockton, Raymond Floyd and Olin Browne as assistants, saying he was not looking for a 'babysitter' but someone to share ideas and look over his shoulder.
Listening to Faldo cope with questions about whether assistants should be there to make sure Faldo doesn't make any mistakes, Azinger couldn't resist.
'He thought he made a mistake once, but he was mistaken,' Azinger said with a laugh.
So it went for much of the 40-minute press conference on Monday as the two traded barbs, if not insight, into how they'll handle the pressure of coaching in golf's most famous match play event.
They became friends while sharing a booth on ABC's golf telecasts, and Azinger can't help but marvel at the way the notoriously dour Faldo has become a TV darling with his candid nature and razor-sharp lines.
'Things have changed,' Azinger said. 'I never heard the guy complete a sentence in the 20 years I knew the guy. And now his voice activation system has switched on and we can't turn it off.'
Faldo said he doesn't expect to change his viewpoint next year, even if some of the guys he critiques in the booth will have to play for him later.
'I'm a how, what and why man, what's happening right in front of me,' Faldo said. 'We won't have any problems.'
If anything, he won't hesitate to speak his mind. He caused a stir at the Seve Trophy last month when he was critical of frequent Ryder Cup player Colin Montgomerie's absence from three team meetings.
Asked if there was any fallout from the incident, Faldo at first pretended not to hear the question, then quickly brushed it off with a quick 'no fallout.'
Kidding aside, Faldo spoke passionately about the Ryder Cup and the opportunity to provide a final mark in a rivalry he's helped shape.
'The Ryder Cup is the biggest event that we have,' he said. 'If I call a press conference about Nick Faldo Enterprises or whatever, I'd get 'X' number. If I called a press conference for Ryder Cup I'd get this. It just shows the interest we have, especially the last 20 years, it's on the media's mind almost every week.'
At which point Azinger jumped in.
'So the Ryder Cup is bigger than Nick Faldo Enterprises,' Azinger said to raucous laughter. 'That's huge.'
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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 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.”

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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.


    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.