Panic Sets in at Carnoustie

By November 9, 2005, 5:00 pm
Editor's Note: The Big Break IV ' USA vs. Europe, is The Golf Channels fourth installment of its hit television series. As the title suggests however, this seasons format has been tweaked to include a team dynamic. But that in no way means the stakes arent high for each individual, as the contestants will be vying for entry into select European Tour tournaments in 2006.
 
In a first for the Big Break IV, two teams were headed to the Elimination Challenge after both squads failed to match Old Man Par during last weeks Immunity Challenge.
 
All seven remaining players would face elimination from the show and their chance at The Big Break.
 
Big Break IV
U.S. team captain Paul Holtby blasts out of a bunker in an effort to avoid elimination.
The biggest Elimination Challenge that weve been in so far. The most we had had was six, now theres actually seven. So, Ill take those odds any day, said T.J. Valentine on chances of staying alive.
 
We were relieved that the USA were there as well. Not that we wanted to knock them out, its just that it increased our chances of staying in, said Warren Bladon of Team Europe.
 
For the Elimination Challenge, each player would get two shots each from three different short game locations. At the end of each round the player with the shortest total distance away from the hole would be safe from elimination. The four remaining players then would play three holes of stroke play to see who would ultimately be sent packing.
 
Having a 40-yard shot over a couple of mounds in front of the green for their first shot, Guy Woodman set the tone by knocking both his attempts to within a total of 18 feet of the hole. His teammate Bladon ' but rival in this part of the show ' easily topped that mark with a total of just 10 feet.
 
Warren is a solid player ' all-around, said Valentine admiringly of his European counterpart.
 
Bladon, however, had to sweat it out as he watched his score threatened by both Paul Holtby of the U.S. and Thomas Blankvoort of Team Europe, the latter missing the mark by just inches.
 
With Bladon safe from elimination, the group started off to the next location but not before Marty Wilde Jr. collapsed to the ground, an apparent case of anxiety getting the better of him.
 
All this stuff was going through my head, it was horrendous, recalled Wilde Jr. on his mild panic attack. I was beating myself up. I was in the worst frame of mind ever.
 
Wilde Jr. rebounded nicely in the second round, however, as the players faced a long bunker shot with the added difficulty of trying to avoid its steep face.
 
Wilde Jr. almost holed his second shot and watched comfortably as his teammates Blankvoort and Woodman and the USAs Randall Hunt failed to match his prowess out of the sand. With just two players set to go, Wilde Jr. was starting ' albeit a bit to soon - to feel good.
 
The feeling was indeed short lived, as U.S. team captain Holtby stuck both of his attempts close to the flagstick ' for a total of about 6 feet - to win the second round and join Bladon in the next episode.
 
He hits two beautiful shots, the way he wanted to do it, and Im thinking, He deserves to be on the next show, said Hunt out of respect for his team captain Holtby.
 
The final short game shot had the players hitting a mid-ranged wedge from 70-yards over a bunker that fronted the green.
 
Blankvoort was the first to hit and quickly dashed the hopes of the other four as his wedge game was spot on. His total of just over 22 feet was good enough to lock up the final exemption from the short game portion of the Elimination Challenge.
 
Suddenly it was down to the final four and three holes of stroke play awaited. One twist, however, was that if there was an outright leader after two holes, he too, would win an instant exemption into next weeks show.
 
Big Break IV
Randall Hunt takes the long, lonely walk off the course after becoming the sixth eliminated player.
Theres a lot of pressure in this. The nerves start to come out, the pressure starts to show in people, said Valentine on the vibe of the last four contestants. If you dont play well youre going home.
 
Perhaps still battling his inner golf demons, Wilde Jr. again put himself in serious trouble on the first hole as his approach found the bushes, resulting in an unplayable lie. After a drop, he chipped on and then two putted for a double bogey. The silver lining for Wilde Jr. though, was that Hunt had also made a mess of things and he too made double bogey.
 
Woodman, meanwhile, put himself in the drivers seat by making birdie while Valentine knocked in a tough putt for par.
 
At the second hole, Woodman continued his roll with an easy par that was sufficient to claim the fourth exemption of the day. As for the others, things were as shaky as can be expected with the pressure building with each shot.
 
Valentine escaped the second hole with a bogey after hitting his tee shot way left into some scrub and stood at 1-over. Wilde Jr. found the green in regulation and was able to two putt for par and he now rested at 2-over. Unfortunately for Hunt, things were still going south as he once again made a double bogey to fall two back of Wilde Jr.
 
At the final hole, both Wilde Jr. and Valentine really tightened the screws on Hunt, each putting their tee shots on the green of the par-3. Hunt now needed nothing short of a miracle.
 
This is the Big Break IV and we have seen some pretty drastic things happen out here. Im not out of it. I still have an opportunity, said the ever optimistic Hunt on his dire situation to avoid elimination. Ive had hole-in-ones before. I know its possible. And Im thinking what a better time to have a hole-in-one.
 
But there was no miracle for Hunt as his last gasp effort fell just short of the green, affording Valentine and Wilde Jr. a big sigh of relief.
 
He never gets down on himself. He never says a bad word about anyone. He always keeps positive and keeps positive thoughts, said Wilde Jr. about the departing Hunt. Ive got a lot to learn from someone like him thats for sure.
 
This has been one of the most unbelievably things that I have gone through in my life, said Hunt, who bid a tearful goodbye to his newfound golfing friends.

The Big Break IV: USA vs. Europe airs each Tuesday at 9 p.m. (ET), while Big Break IV: All Access airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. (ET), as part of the networks Top Shelf Wednesday lineup of premium programming.
 
Related Links:
  • Big Break IV Home Page
  • Big Break IV Photo Gallery
  • Contestant Bios
  • 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.”