A trip to China reminds Gay how far hes come

By Associated PressOctober 27, 2009, 8:37 pm

Brian Gay was in a faraway land, knowing only where he wanted to go without any assurances he would get there.

It was approaching midnight in India, and the shuttle bus to the hotel was already full. Gay hopped into a cab with his bride of two weeks and two other men he had never seen, then hung on for the ride of his life.

Everything is dark and we're driving through Calcutta with no lights, Gay said Monday evening. Every few minutes, he would flick the lights on and off. I guess it somehow saves the battery. We thought we would never be seen again. You've just got to trust and believe that you'll get to where you're supposed to be going.

They arrived safely at the hotel that night. Gay wound up missing the cut in the 1997 Classic India Open, barely caught the last flight out and headed back to the Philippines for the next adventure in another of golf's outposts.

That's what makes his return to Asia next week so rewarding.

Gay is going to China not because he has to play, but because he can. His two victories this year, by a combined 15 shots, earned him a spot in the HSBC Champions, a World Golf Championship with a 78-man field featuring Tiger Woods , Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington .

The long flight to Shanghai?

That's nothing compared with the journey that brought Gay to this stage of his career.

The 37-year-old had a breakthrough season that doesn't get enough attention. He produced the year's largest margin of victory at Hilton Head (10 shots), then won in Memphis by five. Gay has topped $3 million in earnings and has risen to No. 38 in the world.

Going back to Asia is more about celebration than desperation.

The last time I went, I was pretty fresh out of college, looking for anywhere to play to make some money, Gay said.

Gay won the Southeastern Conference title twice and helped lead Florida to a national title in 1993, a year in which he also played on the Walker Cup team and was medalist in U.S. Amateur qualifying. The next step proved to be the toughest.

After winning nine times on four mini-tours, Gay heard about other Americans going to Asia and thought he would give it a try. His first stop was the Mitsubishi Motors-Southwoods Open in the Philippines, where he tied for fifth and earned $8,667 from a $250,000 purse (next week in Shanghai offers a $7 million purse with $1.2 million to the winner and $25,000 for last place).

His travels took him from the Philippines to Malaysia to Singapore to India to Thailand with one break'he returned to Alabama in the midst of this adventure to get married.

Gay had met Kimberly in an airport. She didn't know much about golf, but love made her learn quickly. No sooner had vows been exchanged, they were on their way to Singapore.

I knew there was no such word as ‘quit.' It was ‘Where are we going and how do we get there?' Kimberly said. It was time to figure out how we would live this dream. We just never thought about not making it.

The honeymoon almost ended before it began.

Gay had his wife caddie for him at the Rolex Masters at Singapore Island, where he opened with a 65. She used a pull cart, and the job was going along fine until Gay hit into a fairway bunker.

He tells me I have to rake the bunker and I said, ‘Oh, no. I'm not raking that bunker.' He said, ‘You have to. Caddies rake the bunker.' The other players are waiting in the fairway, and finally he rakes the bunker, she said. That's how little I knew about golf. We almost have this fight on the golf course and he shoots 65.

They left there for India, then to the Philippines, where Gay recalls watching from his hotel room in the middle of the night as Woods won the 1997 Masters by a record 12 shots.

He couldn't help but wonder if he would ever make it to the PGA Tour, or to Augusta National.

There were good weeks and bad weeks, he said. There were times when you said, ‘I can't believe I'm over here.' I stayed in some rough places. But the experience of playing other places and all the things you have to deal with, you learn a lot of patience in a hurry.

The patience finally was rewarded when Gay made it through Q-school and found some stability, although it took him until last year'293 starts on the PGA'before he won for the first time at the Mayacoba Classic in Mexico.

Kimberly Gay has come to appreciate the coincidences in life.

Cancun was the first vacation they took together, and 10 years later, he won his first PGA Tour event there. She had planned on going to Singapore this week until Gay, worn out from a big year, decided to play only in Shanghai. She will stay home with their two daughters, 10 and 5, although she couldn't help but notice that Gay leaves Saturday, Oct. 31, the day she considers their first date.

And she still treasures those times in Asia.

We were at a crossroads, Kimberly said. Brian was like, ‘What do I have to do to get my game better?' I think he had in his brain that he had to make a certain amount of sacrifice. This might be something he deserves, because he paid the price.

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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.