The Cup Runneth Over

By Brian HewittSeptember 19, 2008, 4:00 pm
LOUISVILLE, Ky. ' The Comebacker is all about the Ryder Cup this week. Its his favorite event in golf. The anticipation is killing him. Lets tee it up. Right now.
Without further ado:
Scott writes: Nick Faldo is blessed with a stellar core of seasoned veterans along with the emotional maturing of Sergio Garcia. However, there are four rookies on Faldo's squad. While these men are professionals, there is always room for someone of Darren Clarke's experience. The U.S. needs a victory in the worst way. This is looking like the American Leagues dominance over the National League in the All-Star Game.
The Comebacker Actually 10 of the 24 players are rookies. That adds up to more than 40 percent of those in the event. Six on the American side, four on the Euro team. I call that a wash. And by the way, since not one American on Paul Azingers team has a career winning record in Ryder Cup play, I would hesitate to make comparisons to baseball All-Star games.

Gary writes: I disagree with you comments about crowd noise. Instead of an SEC football game, it will probably be more like the roar at Rupp Area during a Kentucky basketball game. Unbelievable noise.
The Comebacker We can only be hopeful the fans wont stand in the sight line of players and shake pom-poms while they putt. That might be OK in college hoops for free throws. But even in the heat of Ryder Cup, that would be a non-starter.

Mark writes: Regarding J.B. Holmes..I am a Lexington, Ky. native, and although I love J.B. and his game, he was not worthy of a selection. Not even close. One of the worst putters on TOUR and his GIR has been terrible of late, not to mention missing five of eight cuts. This was nothing more than a homer pick by Zinger and were it not being held at Valhalla, he would not be on the team.
The Comebacker
Apparently Mark doesnt love J.B. and his game all THAT much.

Jim writes: I keep saying it and no one listens: 'The USA will win this years Ryder Cup.' Nick Faldo has just confirmed that he has no idea of what makes a team jell. To leave Clarke out is a travesty, but the bigger travesty is not having Montgomerie in the team. In past times Monty has had average years, but always rose to the occasion when the Ryder contest was played. There is too much concentration on statistics by everyone, you included. If you remove three players, Harrington, Westwood, and Garcia the remainder are 7-9-7, that is a losing record. It also does not include four rookies in this years squad of Europeans. Mickelson, Furyk and Cink will have to handle the Euros top three, after that it is a crap shoot and I have to give our lot a better chance as they have fan support and are playing at home. They also have something to prove with Tiger being on the sidelinesOne other item: For years we have dodged a bullet in this contest. That bullet is the fact that no one has been injured in the early part of the contest and has been unable to play. We have had an illness at the end, this was just before the singles match and the other team sat one of their players and a half point was shared. What if that half point was critical? What if the injury happened on the first day? I have always believed that the teams should select an alternate just in case. I can hear the complaints right now, forget them, this is supposed to be about sportsmanship and the enjoyment of moment by the most important people to golf, THE FANS.
The Comebacker We dont usually reprint e-mails this long but Jims thoughts were compelling. Some compellingly wrong and some just plain compelling. An alternate would only be needed for the singles and the envelope policy, I think, adds a bit of intrigue to the event.

D.R. writes: Living in the Florida Panhandle, I have watched Joe, Boo, Heath and Bubba come along. This observation: Anyone who leaves BUBBA WATSON off of this team is insane; he is one of the best match-players that I've ever seen. If you're gong to open up the course down-range (as Azinger has done), then load up with bombers; you only play one-hole-at-a-time in match-play, then you re-begin on the next tee box. Leaving Watson off of the team is a HUGE mistake, regardless of TOUR standing..
The Comebacker
The designated bomber on Azingers team is the local guy, J.B. Holmes. Tough to argue with that.

Michelle writes: Thank you, thank you, thank you for calling out the 'you da man.' I don't know how Tiger can stand it! I sometimes have to mute my television because it drives me crazy!
The Comebacker
You da woman, Michelle.

Time writes: I still think that Faldo had a deal with Poulter beforehand, and I consider the decision to leave Clarke off the team a disaster. Super dumb!!
The Comebacker The opinion hear is that Europes loss ' no Clarke or Montgomerie on the Ryder Cup team ' is the USAs gain.

David writes: I'm looking forward to the first days pairings, especially the Americans. I know Zinger has made comments that sound like he might put Kenny Perry and J B Holmes in the first match out. I'd rather see him put Perry in the first group with a straight hitter (like Furyk) and Holmes in the second group with another straight hitter (like Curtis). I think what's really important is for the Americans to win the first days two sessions or at least have the overall lead after the first day. Anyway, it should be great theater.
The Comebacker The Ryder Cup is great theater even when its bad theater. And people conveniently forget that theres a good argument that to make that the afternoon pairings are more important than the morning pairings.

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Related Links:
  • U.S. Report Cards
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  • U.S. Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • European Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • Full Coverage - 37th Ryder Cup
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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 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.”