Weather Causing Havoc at Pine Needles

By Associated PressJune 29, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. WomenSOUTHERN PINES, N.C. -- Annika Sorenstam stood in the ninth fairway next to her bag, sizing up how far she was from her final hole on a troublesome day at the U.S. Women's Open.
 
Then came a sound that has become all too familiar. And no, it wasn't a big cheer.
 
An air horn, the most annoying sound in golf, resonated across Pine Needles on Friday to signal another delay brought on by lightning. Sorenstam bowed her head and walked toward shelter.
 
No one hit another shot the rest of the day at a tournament that can't seem to get started.
 
'It's brutal,' said Juli Inkster, playing in the group behind Sorenstam. 'Now we have to get up at 5 in the morning to play one hole. It's just been start and stop, start and stop. And tomorrow might be worse. It's a crapshoot.'
 
When play was suspended amid the rumble of thunder, only 25 out of 156 players had finished the second round. It was to resume at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, although USGA official Mike Davis made no guarantees.
 
Strong storms were expected through the night and into the morning.
 
'This area has gone for weeks on end without any kind of weather. And bring the USGA to town, and it's amazing how we can change weather patterns,' Davis said.
 
The plan was for the third round to begin as early as 3:30 p.m. Saturday, after the cut had been made.
 
Not much changed on the leaderboard from Thursday when there was a 3 1/2 -hour delay -- an 18-year-old named Park was the clubhouse leader.
 
It was Angela Park after the first round, although she didn't hit a shot on Friday. Her good friend, In-Bee Park, bogeyed two of the last four holes for a 73 that put her at even-par 142.
 
She was one shot ahead of Kris Tamulis, who shot 71.
 
Angela Park could also claim the clubhouse lead, since she rarely left except to warm up on the range. She remains at 3 under.
 
'I'm just having a good time relaxing at the locker room,' she said. 'I'm very calm and eager to play the next three rounds.'
 
On the course, nerves were frayed.
 
Candie Kung tapped in a putt on the 18th hole a split-second before the horn sounded to stop play, so she became the 25th player to complete the second round. Janice Moodie of Scotland also had a tap-in, but under the rules for dangerous weather, she was not allowed to finish. Moodie will return in the morning to putt out, then wait until about 5 p.m. to hit her next shot.
 
Sorenstam left before speaking to the media, but no doubt she wanted to put this day behind her.
 
One day after Karrie Webb opened with an 83 for the worst score of her career, Sorenstam looked as though she might join her.
 
She finished off a 1-under 70 in the morning, then after a quick turnaround, began her second round with a double bogey when a chip up the slope on the 10th hole came back to her feet. She blew another chip some 18 feet by the hole, found the bunker with a sand wedge on the par-5 15th and went out in 42 to fall off the leaderboard.
 
Sorenstam was 7 over through 10 holes until she steadied herself, and a birdie on No. 8 brought her to 5 over for the tournament.
 
Two players not many people expected to see beyond Friday made it to the weekend under such circumstances.
 
Alexis Thompson, the 12-year-old from south Florida who became the youngest qualifier in history, chipped in for birdie from 40 yards to complete a respectable 76 in the morning, but her round got away from her in the afternoon. She was 12 over with five holes remaining, including some of the toughest at Pine Needles.
 
'It's pretty cool, being here another day,' she said.
 
The other is Michelle Wie, who opened with an 82 and didn't get past the practice range Friday.
 
The biggest spectacle might have been the dozen Japanese photographers scrambling in the parking lot to get pictures of Ai Miyazato, the biggest golf sensation in Japan.
 
On the course, action was limited.
 
In-Bee Park, a former U.S. Junior Girls champion, struggled to keep her tee shots in the fairway, but got enough good bounces to keep her round together and post a two-day score of even par. And she finished, which was enough cause for celebration.
 
'I think it took us like 10 hours to play yesterday, so I think it was a lot shorter day today,' she said.
 
Inkster put together a remarkable turnaround. After a four-putt double bogey on Thursday in the middle of her first round, she dropped six shots in a four-hole span when she returned and completed a 78.
 
The two-time Women's Open champion was 10 over for the tournament through nine holes of the second round when she two-putted from 12 feet for birdie on No. 1, then fired off three straight birdies, finishing with a chip-in on the fifth. She had a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 8 when the horn blew.
 
Lorena Ochoa and Morgan Pressel were among those who did not tee off, still at even par. Pressel was brought into the television booth for an interview and went over highlights from the day before.
 
'It's funny to listen to you talk about my round yesterday because I can't remember it. It was so long ago,' she said. 'It seems like I've just been around here forever and hoping we might hit our first tee shot today. It's going to be a marathon weekend.'
 
And it's going to be an early wake-up for so many players.
 
Paula Creamer was in the 18th fairway, no more than 10 minutes from calling it a day. She was at 4 over.
 
'Obviously, it gets annoying after a while, but it is what it is,' Creamer said. 'We get pulled off for 20 minutes or so, then get back on. It's difficult. But I guess you just have to go with the flow.'
 
Related Links:
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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.”