Since Weve Been Gone
Prozac-tly What I Needed
I suffered from T.W.W. (Tiger Woods Withdrawal) much sooner than I had expected -- like, on April 17th at approximately 8:59 a.m. ET, upon arriving to work on that initial post-Masters Thursday. I had no idea my universe would spiral into a such a deep, dark abyss in the absence of Eldrick ' which might also have been why this blog broke down faster than Mark Prior in the springtime. Without the meaning in my life, without my inspiration (cue Peter Cetera), the past eight Tiger-less weeks have been miserable. And by miserable I mean, I was a walking Zoloft commercial: Down-in-the-dumps? Irritable? Shaped like an egg with tiny legs and arms? Yep, this girl *two-thumbs pointing-inward gesture*. I listlessly skulked about my house with the curtains drawn in a Doritos-dusted, chocolate milk-stained bathrobe. On days I actually pried myself out of bed, I spent google-ing random words like Woods and knee and Dena + Tiger on my laptop whilst curled up in a fetal position sunk into the couch, my face nestled safely against my Woodrow headcover, forming stripe-like creases into my tear-tinged cheeks. With my calendars and clocks stuck on the day the music died, I was merely one decrepit old wedding dress away from becoming Miss Havisham. Seemingly, I needed to seek professional help -- or join a traveling Charles Dickens theatre troupe. But really, all I needed was THIS week. I needed the No. 1 golfer in all the land to be written back into the script on a Major stage. With Tiger back in the scene, on the scene and being seen, the music would once again play on, play on, play on (now cue Lionel Richie!) The legendary rock band Cinderella sang it best, You dont know what youve got til its gone. Lord help me the day Tiger hangs up the spikes. Or, gasp, has knee surgery again*.
*Umm. I just found out Tigers having surgery again. Anyone know a good therapist?
Saturday night, and I aint got nobody? Nah, Sam Cooke, I had a few friends ' and gorgeous HD flat-screen television, aaaand a man-not-named-MJ eliciting thrills and chills with one-hop trajectories towards flag-sticks, banking spheres into cups with tongue-wagging gravity-defying shots and those lovable grinning shrugs. It was another magical night of goose-bumps and butterflies and he hadnt even bought me dinner and flowers. From Friday to Monday, the extended weekend of clutch shots and wincing wonders was an intense roller-coaster of emotions not felt since perhaps the fall of 2006 when my beloved Cardinals outlasted the Mets in a tee-biting (right, Rocco?) 7-game 2006 NL Series. I didnt eat for days during that stretch and rode Space Mountain just help take the edge off. So, this past Sunday, even though I knew Tiger would make that birdie putt on the 72nd hole, my stomach still felt like it was auditioning So You Think You Can Dance contestants ' and I loved it. Then there was jubilation and inspiration culminating in a rewarding Monday of Free! Golf! ' and change. And I was left channeling Billy Corgan, singing my most fervent rendition of Today is the Greatest, gleeful over one of the most compelling workdays in sports in which Id not been at all productive (Dont take it personally, March Madness). So, I suppose if we dont get any more Real World: Tiger for the rest of the year, I can handle it. Ill have this memorable week in my mind to keep me going. Also, I DVR-ed it.
Thats the ticket!
Between his various adorning pieces of patriotic flair, his shiny peace-sign belt buckle (Rory Sabbatini was not impressed), and his temerity to wear red in the final bout 'boldly ignoring the color his enemy had trademarked for his very own championships, not only might Rocco have a side-career in mens golf fashion, but why not politics? Shouldnt a certain junior Senator from Illinois be on the horn with this recently-beloved, gritty, determined, son of a barber from the Steel City, already? Dont tell me BaRoccObama 08 doesnt just rock n roll off the tongue and right onto a campaign ticket?
Turning the (Beth)page
God bless Phil Mickelson. On Sunday, our San Diego native son was doing his best to forget his national nightmare on Pines street, by attempting to shift his attention to next years U.S. Open at Bethpage Black in NY, exclaiming that hes chomping at the bit to compete there in, oh, about 361 days or so. Trouble is, he must have gotten knocked in the noggin with his 3-wood, because he might remember that the reigning Bethpage Black Open title-holder will likely be in the field. And all three of Eldricks U.S. Open wins have come at public courses. You might say, its right in his wheelhouse. And for this one, Tiger wont have a bum wheel. *crosses fingers*
Like Rajon Rondo always wearing his headband upside-down or Skip Bayless continued gainful employment, our sports world if full of conundrums which, sadly, may never be deciphered. But will someone please explain to me the Tours terminology for tee-time groupings of three, called pairings. If Im not mistaken, a pair is two. Oh, thats right it was just Tiger and Phil on Thursday and Friday. There was no Adam Scott. At least, according to the hype ' and to how the No. 3 golfer in the world played. While the wide gap from Tiger to Phil is continents apart in rankings, the impossibly dreamy Aussie's position feels more like planets away -- and nowhere in the stratosphere of Major-land. Perhaps, though, with a pair of Tiger-less majors now hovering on the horizon, Scott can finally take his career to the next level and shed the bridesmaid label. But will it be considered legitimate, minus The One to contend with? Sergio, what do you think? (Hey, since Kevin Garnett insists we cant use the phrase Big Three for his band of musketeers, do we call them the Big Pairing?)
Sudden Death Holes:
Reason #253 I love Kevin Garnett
Because even in the utter chaos of the Celtics Championship celebration, thru his unprecedented deliriously incoherent and completely mesmerizing rant, KG was still able to drop some knowledge, as the kids say. Turns out Minnesota has now been shortened to Sota. Thanks to the Big Ticket, I stay fresh and hip with my abbreviation lingo.
Any truth to the rumor that Colin Montgomeries poor play at the U.S. Open was mainly due to his looking ahead to the monumental TELUS Skins tournament on Mon and Tues in British Columbia? Skins = Ryder Cup pts?
We Got To Get Down to Beantown
Gosh, whatever will those poor, long-suffering Boston fans do now that the Pats, Sawks, and Cs have all won titles recently? Looks like the Bruins Got Next! Anythiiiiings possiiiiiiible? Maybe. But Ray Borque is NOT walking thru that door. (And Tiger is not watching hockey?)
Reason #141 Kobe Bryant will never be Michael Jordan
The league's MVP was shut down by James Posey in do-or-die elimination Finals Game 6. Read that again. James Posey. Even Tiger Woods wouldnt let that happen On a gimp knee.
Knowing is Half the Battle
Okay, so heres what we know from this week: Rocco Mediate is the new Paul Goydos. Allisen Corpuz is the next Michelle Wie. Tiger Woods is the Michael Jordan of golf. Paul Pierce (and his knee) was the Tiger Woods of the Finals. Now, whos going to be Tiger Woods of golf for the rest of the year? Paging Anthony Kim, paging Lorena Ochoa?
Is it almost time to commence the Senorita Slam talk again as we get closer to the Womens U.S. Open in Sota next week! Well, no. Or is it? Just a couple of months ago, you couldnt mention Lorena or Tiger without using the words ridiculous dominance and/or grand slams. Now, its just our fair maiden left on the golf landscape to take up the task and shes defending her title at the Wegmans this week. Itll be a nice warm-up to the next major at Interlachen. And for someone whos been on her bandwagon all year, I dont mind admitting I would love to get a chance to ride it to Berkshire, England with the U.S. Open trophy in tow. The great state of Sota boasts thousands of lakes for her to splash victoriously into, Kraft Nabisco-style, you know.
I Can Cry For Miles and Miles
So, Willie Randolph has to travel 3,000 miles to the west coast to get his head handed to him... while the Los Angeles Lakers have to fly clear across country to Boston for their series-ending bloodbath. Moral of the story? PGA Tour players should consider saving their extra baggage fees in crossing the pond to make their tee time at Royal Birkdale when Tiger's posted as a 2:1 favorite there on Tuesday. Wait, what? Tigers really not coming back this year?
Reality starting to set inin 3, 2, 1 I shall now go cry in the shower. Sob, Rinse, Repeat.
Email your thoughts to Dena Davis
Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf
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
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.”