Tseng Tops Hjorth Wins McDonalds LPGA

By Associated PressJune 8, 2008, 4:00 pm
McDonalds LPGAHAVRE DE GRACE, Md. -- In her rookie year on the LPGA Tour, playing in only her third major championship, 19-year-old Yani Tseng felt lucky to become the youngest winner of the LPGA Championship on Sunday.
 
After the day she had at Bulle Rock, that was hardly the case.
 
First, she went 18 holes with Lorena Ochoa and closed with a 4-under 68 in searing heat, denying the No. 1 player in womens golf a chance to win a third straight major. Then came a sudden-death playoff with Maria Hjorth that lasted four holes.
 
Tseng finished it off by choking down on a 6-iron out of the first cut of rough and hitting the perfect shot, the ball stopping 5 feet behind the hole for a birdie that made her the first rookie to win an LPGA major in 10 years.
 
I cant believe I just won a major, Tseng said. Everything is coming so fast.
 
It felt like slow motion for Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam, both desperate for their own brand of history.
 
Ochoa, who only two days ago appeared to be sailing toward a third straight major, went 14 holes without a birdie. The drought ended on the 16th hole when a 20-yard pitch for eagle banged off the pin, and a birdie on the final hole only made it look close. She closed with a 71 and wound up one shot behind.
 
It wasnt my time, Ochoa said, showing more emotion than she had all week. I am not ashamed. Im proud of my finish. Now I move on and try to win the next few tournaments.
 
Sorenstam, trying to join Mickey Wright as the only four-time winner of the McDonalds LPGA Championship, also closed with a 71 and could count more than a dozen putts on the weekend that she could have made. She twice missed inside 5 feet on par 5s in the final round, and she had a 15-foot birdie putt from the fringe on the 18th to get into the playoff.
 
It was weak and well short.
 
Its a tough time, Sorenstam said. I was determined today, really this whole week. I felt like I could do it.
 
Hjorth appeared to have fate on her side when a fairway metal headed for the hazard instead ricocheted off the rocks in a creek and bounded across the green, turning bogey into birdie. Then she chipped in on the next hole for birdie and the lead.
 
She closed with a 71, and had 18-foot and 12-foot birdie putts to win in the playoff, both narrowly missing.
 
I dont think its really hit me, but Im sure Im going to be very, very tired pretty soon, Hjorth said. But Im very happy with the day. I played solid golf all day, and just very proud of myself for hanging in there.
 
Despite her age and inexperience, Tseng felt right at home in the playoff, which is all about match play. She won 19 times as an amateur, first gaining recognition in 2004 when she rallied to beat Michelle Wie'at a time when Wie was on top of her game'at the U.S. Womens Public Links Amateur. A year later, Tseng beat Morgan Pressel in the North & South Amateur.
 
With power and poise, and a 6-iron she wont soon forget, Tseng became the second-youngest winner of an LPGA major behind Pressel, who was 18 when she won the Kraft Nabisco Championship last year.
 
Tseng became the first rookie to win a major since Se Ri Pak, who won the LPGA Championship 10 years ago at age 20.
 
Playing the 18th hole for the third time in an hour, Tseng took her hand off the driver when it sailed to the right, taking a good hop out of the deep grass and into the first cut. Then came a 6-iron, drawing toward the flag.
 
I wasnt that nervous when I teed off, she said. I just tell myself, Make this putt and win a major.
 
That was something T.C. Chen, her countryman and part-time mentor, failed to do in the 1985 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills, where he became infamous for a double-hit on a chip out of deep rough and wound up one shot behind Andy North.
 
He always teach me something because Im a rookie, Tseng said.
 
Tseng and Hjorth finished at 12-under 276.
 
Laura Diaz (70) was one birdie away from the lead throughout the back nine until a three-putt bogey on the 17th. She finished fifth.
 
The Ochoa-Sorenstam duel on a searing hot day at Bulle Rock never developed. Instead, five players had a share of the lead at some point in the final round, and the back nine was up for grabs to the very end.
 
Ochoa opened with a 10-foot birdie and didnt make another one until the par-4 16th.
 
She had eagle chances on consecutive holes, both times to get within one of the lead. But she three-putted for par from 45 feet on the 15th, and her eagle pitch from 20 yards lipped out on the 16th.
 
I never lost the hope, she said. I though something good was going to happen, that miracles exist. But it wasnt my time.
 
Still, it was her seventh consecutive top 10 in a major.
 
Equally disappointed was Sorenstam, playing the LPGA Championship for the final time and applauding the fans walking up the 18th.
 
I left a lot of shots out there, Sorenstam said. I wish I could have converted one or two; it would have been enough. But I didnt.
 
Both were part of the carnage on the 13th in which the top six on the leaderboard were a combined to play the toughest hole at Bulle Rock in 7-over par.
 
Sorenstam was the only player in the fairway, but she missed the green to the right, her chip ran over the cup and her 4-foot par putt never hit the hole. That ended a streak of 42 consecutive holes at Bulle Rock without a bogey.
 
Worse yet, she never made another birdie the rest of the way.
 

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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.”