Votaw Faces Criticism Head On

By Brian HewittOctober 13, 2003, 4:00 pm
LPGA Commissioner Ty Votaw found himself dead smack in the center of two raging controversies in women's golf last week. That he managed to handle both with uncommon good grace was much more than remarkable.
First there were Jan Stephenson's near-sighted observations that top Asian players on the LPGA were 'killing' the tour by not making themselves more readily available for promotional purposes. Then, late Sunday, Sophie Gustafson won the Samsung World Championship in Texas amid charges that she had committed a rules infraction that went unpunished during the final round.
Votaw and Gustafson have been an 'item' for some time now and share a close personal relationship. Which normally should be nobody's business but their own except for the conspiracy theorists who would posit the notion that Gustafson got a good ruling Sunday because her boyfriend runs women's professional golf.
Dottie Pepper, an LPGA player of no small influence, dismissed those charges against Votaw as rubbish. But Pepper also told The Golf Channel that Stephenson's subsequent apology about her remarks was 'hollow.'
So by the time I reached Votaw in Daytona Beach late Sunday there were fires to put out everywhere he wanted to look. I was fully prepared for a string of 'no comments' from Votaw. Instead, he openly and candidly addressed the issues.
On the subject of the people who wanted to see a conflict of interest inherent in his relationship with Gustafson, Votaw said: 'They see conspiracy theories and shadows. And they don't know our (rules) officials very well. Talk about dancing on the head of a needle. People want to go from Point A to Point Z without stopping at Point B or C.... If I made a ruling that helped Sophie, how long do you think it would have taken for people to come after me?'
The NBC Sports take on the subsequent decision not to penalize Gustafson was highly critical. 'Unfair,' Votaw said. 'But they (NBC Sports) are in the business of calling live TV. They thought she (Gustafson) grounded her club.'
Former Chicago White Sox owner, the late Bill Veeck, used to say any publicity is good publicity. But the Stephenson and Gustafson imbroglios appeared not to be cases in point. 'Life can be a disinfectant,' Votaw countered. 'The Asian hemisphere is a very important business impactor on the LPGA. A growing segment of our on-site attendance is made up of Asians. The statement made by Jan was regrettable. But it provided an opportunity for us to point out just how important Asians are to the LPGA.'
Endearingly, Votaw refused to apologize for his relationship with Gustafson. 'Somebody shot 64 and won an LPGA tournament,' he said. 'That's good. The fact that it was somebody I care about is nice.'
One of the sad aftereffects of the injection of massive amounts of money into the world of professional golf has been a reaction among too many of the sport's leaders that is cold and corporate. When hot button issues arise, they choose to stonewall. Votaw's humanism in responding to last week's brush fires was refreshing. Sure, he spun the interpretations in a way that put the LPGA in a good light. That's part of his job.
What he didn't do is remove himself from public view and go into a private shell. For this, Votaw is to be commended.
'I'm fair game each and every day,' Votaw said.
It goes, he knows, with the territory.
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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.