Woods Mickelson still within reach

By Associated PressJune 21, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 U.S. OpenFARMINGDALE, N.Y. ' The 6:25 p.m. tee time was running late, which wasnt all that surprising since nothing has happened according to plan in this U.S. Open. The thousands who lined the fairway of the dogleg-right first hole didnt seem to mind, though, because Tiger Woods was approaching in Sunday red.
 
Woods promptly hit it way right into the trees, which also wasnt that surprising since nothing has seemed to go according to plan for Woods since he opened his first umbrella at Bethpage Black. No matter, because the screams were always going to be there for Woods as long as they were selling beer along the first fairway.
 
You can do better Tigah, one fan shouted out.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods has never come from behind to win a major championship. (Getty Images)
They certainly thought he would do better. So, too, did Woods, who was still talking between rounds Sunday about how a collapse on the last four holes of his opening round killed his momentum.
 
That finish put me so far back I had to try and make up shots the entire time, he said.
 
That left Woods with a major problem as he began what would be a splintered final round, one that wont be finished until sometime Monday. For much of Sunday he was so far back he seemed almost certainly out of it, no matter what he ' or the well-lubricated fans at Bethpage ' thought about the pedigree of the leaders.
 
But just as all appeared lost came a putt in the gathering darkness. It wasnt much, about eight feet for birdie on the seventh hole, but it sent a message nonetheless.
 
Yes, the pulse is still weak. But somehow Woods is still alive.
 
That alone raised some hope that not all is lost in what so far has been a maddening and joyless Open. It will also raise some ratings for television, which begins broadcasting Monday morning about the same time workers are reaching for that first cup of coffee in offices around the country.
 
Its more than NBC executives could have hoped for after a day in which the best golf they could find to show were highlights of Woods stirring win at Torrey Pines last year.
 
But theres even more.
 
Golfs biggest smile will light up television sets, too. And Phil Mickelson is not only also alive in the Open, but bordering on almost well.
 
Right now its still the Lucas and Ricky show. But it wouldnt take much for it to star Tiger and Phil.
 
I feel like Im only 18 good holes away, Mickelson said before teeing off for his fourth round.
 
Make that 16 good holes, after Mickelson opened with a pair of pars before play was halted because of darkness. He gained one shot on a faltering Ricky Barnes and went home just five off the lead shared by Barnes and Lucas Glover.
 
Better yet, theres no one in between. If the pressure starts taking its toll as it most often does in the final round of the Open, Mickelson should have a straight shot toward the top.
 
Stranger things have happened. And theres been no stranger Open than this one.
 
I feel like if I can get a hot round going, I can make up the difference, Mickelson said.
 
That would have seemed almost laughable for much of Sundays gloomy third round. Mickelson was 10 shots down before closing with two birdies in his last three holes, part of a run in which he halved the lead in just five holes.
 
Woods was even further out of it. Midway through his third round he was 15 shots back, and now hes only seven. True, he has only 11 holes to make that up and there are five players between him and the lead, but, then again, he is Tiger Woods.
 
The thought of Woods on the prowl had to make the leaders even more unsettled than the weather. Thats especially true for Barnes, who just graduated from the Nationwide Tour and went to bed knowing hell return to a ball snarled in deep rough on the second hole and an almost certain bogey or worse.
 
Mickelson should worry them more, if only because he has found so many ways to lose Opens that it may be his turn to find a way to win his first one. Like Woods, hell also have a very vocal backing on Monday from New Yorkers who adopted him as one of their own seven years ago and seem to love him even more now that hes on a mission to bring the trophy home to his ailing wife.
 
If Mickelson somehow succeeds, hell have even more to smile about.
 
And maybe this Open will be one to remember instead of one everyone so far wants just to forget.
 
Related Links:
  • Full U.S. Open Scores
  • Full Coverage - The 109th U.S. Open
  • Getty Images

    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.”