SIs Bamberger Did the Right Thing

By Brian HewittOctober 17, 2005, 4:00 pm
One of the first things they teach you as a reporter is to make sure not to become part of the story. One of the first things they teach you in golf is that the rules are sacrosanct.
Over the weekend at the Samsung World Championship, Sports Illustrated Senior Writer Michael Bamberger found himself squarely on the horns of a dilemma. As a writer he was there to report, not create the news. As a former caddie on the European and American PGA Tours, he had seen something that didnt look right.
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie's drop at the 7th hole Saturday led to her eventual disqualification.
Sunday, after consulting with his editor, Bamberger decided to bring the rules infraction he thought he had seen Saturday to the attention of LPGA officials.
Oh and by the way, the infraction just happened to have been committed, unknowingly Bamberger believes, by Michelle Wie in her first tournament as a pro. And oh by the way II, the subsequent investigation resulted in Wies disqualification from the tournament.
For what its worth, Bamberger is one of the smartest and best golf writers in the business. His book, To The Linksland, is, in my opinion, one of the best books relating to golf I have ever read. Bambergers experiences as a caddie have provided him with an inside knowledge of the game rare among journalists.
When I caught up with Bamberger by cell phone Sunday night he was driving from Palm Desert to LAX to catch a red-eye back to his home in Pennsylvania. He told me he had been following Wies group Saturday when he thought he saw something wrong.
It didnt look like a good drop, he said.
It looked, he said, like Wie had inadvertently dropped her golf ball closer to the hole while seeking relief from an unplayable lie on the seventh hole. He waited until Wie and her playing partner, Grace Park, comprising the final pairing of the day, cleared the area. Then he paced it off. It still looked like the drop had been improper.
He asked Wie about it in her Saturday post-round press conference and wasnt convinced by Wies explanation that she and her caddie, Greg Johnston, had taken enough time with the drop procedure.
Sunday morning Bamberger returned to the spot and paced it off again, reaching the same conclusion. This, Bamberger told me, was when he began agonizing over becoming part of the story. He called his editor at Sports Illustrated, Jim Herre, and they talked about it. Herre advised him to contact a rules official. And that is what Bamberger did.
LPGA officials subsequently determined, after consulting Wie and Johnston, that what Bamberger thought he had seen was, in fact, what had happened. Wie was disqualified (more than 24 hours after the infraction). And all hell broke loose in and around the press room.
Eventually the dust settled. And, by the end of the day, Michelle Wie and her family agreed the right decision had been made.
When I caught up with B.J. Wie, Michelles father, by cell phone late Sunday he, too, was driving with his family to Los Angeles. Michelle is getting over it, B.J. Wie told me. A violation is a violation. We accept that. No hard feelings.
The only other question that I had for Bamberger at that point was whether he thought Wies rules impropriety had been, in any way, intentional.
Totally not, he said without hesitation. Michelle Wie is a great kid and a great player. This was not willful cheating.
Wie and her caddie made a mistake. They paid for it. We can now all move on from this.
Meanwhile its my opinion that Michael Bamberger did the correct thing on all counts. Doing the correct thing sometimes means a reporter cant avoid becoming part of the story.
This time the story didnt have a happy ending.
But it had the right ending.
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McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.