You Gotta Play Hurt
Jeff Overtons gotta play hurt this week at the Ginn sur Mer Classic because he doesnt have any choice. And, by the way, it has nothing to do with blood alcohol level.
He has to play because he ranks No. 126 on the money list with just one event remaining after this week. Hes hurt because he underwent an emergency appendectomy the Tuesday after the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children Open two Sundays ago.
It is what it is, Overton said Wednesday morning. It stinks.
The operation followed a fifth place finish earlier this month at the Valero Texas Open and Overton was looking forward to playing the Frys.com Open at the Grayhawk Golf Club in Arizona where he has played a lot of golf.
Instead, he found himself on the operating table at the nearby Scottsdale Mayo Clinic where doctors inserted three metal rods through his navel and removed his appendix before it burst.
Doctors have told Overton hes risking a possible hernia if he plays this week. And they didnt allow him to start putting and chipping until Monday of this week.
Overton, 25, says hes hitting his 8-iron about 120 yards at the moment. But he plans to tee it up Thursday. Its pretty much a pain threshold thing, he said. It feels like Ive done about 500 crunches in my stomach.
So these guys are not only good. But these guys are tough. And these guys want their Tour cards.
Overton said if he makes it through this week, he plans to play the season finale next week at Disney.
He had hoped for a medical extension in 2009 but said the early indications from the Tour are the request will not be granted.
In my opinion he should get three events next year to get his card, said Cameron Beckman Wednesday when he learned of Overtons predicament. Beckman was the winner Sunday at the same Frys.com Open Overton had to withdraw from because of the operation.
Overton now figures he needs to make somewhere in the area of $40,000 to $50,000 over the next two events to secure his card.
Last week GolfChannel.com reported that the recuperating Tiger Woods could lose his spot atop the world rankings as early as the middle of next March. Since then the order of players closest to Woods ' the chase pack ' has changed dramatically and could shift significantly again this week.
Sergio Garcia vaulted to No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking last Sunday by winning in Spain and will leapfrog No. 2 Phil Mickelson if he wins the Volvo Masters at Valderrama this week.
Garcia will play one more event in China in 2008, will skip the Merecedes Championships in Hawaii and will open his 2009 season with three consecutive events in the middle East at Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Dubai.
Mickelson will shut his 2008 season down after events in China and Singapore followed by the Skins Game in California. His people are saying we shouldnt expect to see him again in anything official until the end of January.
(By the way, Butch Harmon, Phils swing coach, confirmed to GolfChannel.com that he was not happy that Dave Pelz, Mickelsons short game coach, talked Phil into shelving his driver early on at the U.S. Open last June. Harmon called the decision ridiculous. But he said he and Phil subsequently talked about it and the air is clear.)
World No. 4 Vijay Singh is still recovering from forearm tendinitis, but his agent, Clarke Jones, said Singh plans to play in the Del Webb Father-Son and Tigers tournament in December. Jones confirmed Singh still plans to play Merecedes and the Sony Open in early January.
According to Jones, neither Garcia nor Singh will adjust their schedules in an attempt to rack up more world ranking points while Woods remains idle. Similarly, a spokesman for Mickelson said Phil doesnt understand how the world rankings work and doesnt care how they work.
Almost lost in all the hoopla of Sergio Garcias rise to the No. 3 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking, was the move Yani Tseng made in the womens Rolex Rankings after finishing second in China last week.
Tseng, who earlier this year won the McDonalds LPGA Championship, edged past Annika Sorenstam and into the No. 2 spot behind Lorena Ochoa.
Ochoa is still miles ahead of everybody else with an average points number of 17.96. Tseng checks in at 9.94. Sorenstams number is 9.73.
This is especially interesting in light of Sorenstams prediction, earlier this year, that Tseng would be No. 1 inside of three years.
Dont look back, Lorena.
PLUMBING THE DEPTHS
This last note has nothing to do with golf, but you have to love a great newspaper headline when you see one.
A tip of the baseball cap to the Philadelphia Daily News for coming up with: JOE, THE LUMBER, after Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton homered against the Rays en route to a World Series victory Sunday night in Game 4.
Youve got to think even Joe The Plumber would like this headline.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation
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
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.
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
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.”
PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes
The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:
The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.
We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.