Awards starting to pile up for Tiger Woods

By Doug FergusonOctober 21, 2009, 12:36 am

The awards are starting to pile up for Tiger Woods again.

Woods has won the points-based award as player of the year from the PGA of America, which was virtually a lock when the FedEx Cup ended and became a mathematical fact this week. His six PGA Tour victories (10 points each) were twice as many as anyone else, and Woods already wrapped up the PGA Tour money list (20 points) and lowest adjusted scoring average (20 points).

It was the 10th time Woods has won the PGA award.

He also wins the Vardon Trophy from the PGA of America and the Byron Nelson Award from the PGA Tour for having the lowest adjusted scoring average at 68.05. It’s the eighth time he has won the Vardon.

Woods wins the Arnold Palmer Award on the PGA Tour for winning the money title for the ninth time, earning just more than $10.5 million. Still to be decided is the Jack Nicklaus Trophy for the PGA Tour player of the year, which is a vote of the players. The other candidates likely will be Steve Stricker and Phil Mickelson, with three wins each, or perhaps Y.E. Yang, who won the PGA Championship and Honda Classic. None of the other major champions won more than once.

If Woods were to win PGA Tour player of the year, it would be only the fourth time since it began in 1990 that a player won the award without having won a major. Woods (2003), Greg Norman (1995) and Wayne Levi (1990) were the others.

FRUITLESS FURYK: Jim Furyk ended his 2009 season on the PGA Tour with a 62 in Las Vegas and finished the year with 11 top 10s (second only to Tiger Woods) and nearly $4 million in earnings.

He will start next year with a question that is beginning to bug him.

When is he going to win again?

“I would be lying if I said it didn’t bother me,” Furyk said. “Not that it’s brought up – it’s only my fault. I didn’t get it done.”

Furyk now has gone 54 starts without winning, his longest drought since he went 62 tournaments at the start of his career before winning for the first time in Las Vegas in 1995.

“I’m just not doing enough to keep those rounds going,” he said. “When you win a tournament, you always have that one day where you’re not really clicking on all cylinders. But you’ve got to find a way to scratch it out.”

SIM STAYS PUT: Michael Sim picked a bad time to win earn an instant promotion to the PGA Tour.

Sim won his third Nationwide Tour event on Aug. 23, right before the FedEx Cup playoffs began. That meant no tournaments in the big leagues for five weeks. And now that the Presidents Cup is over, his luck is not improving.

The Australian did not get in the field in Las Vegas, and he didn’t get in the Fry’ Open this week in Arizona. Instead, Sim is playing the Nationwide Tour Championship this week, with nothing to gain except a chance to build on his record earnings.

PGA Tour officials say Sim will get in the Viking Classic next week. That will give him at least two starts as a PGA Tour member, half as many as Nick Flanagan got in 2007 when he earned his instant promotion.

The Fall Series has some of the weakest fields of the year, although the field in Las Vegas was 18 percent stronger than last year. One reason could be so many players having to wait so long without competing during the playoffs. Along with a week off during the playoffs, there was another week break with the Presidents Cup.

Plus, with one fewer tournament in the Fall Series, more players might be competing in every event.

PGA BALLOT: The PGA Tour awards process began last week in Las Vegas with a Players Advisory Council meeting. The 16 members, along with four players on the policy board, can nominate up to five players each for player of the year and rookie of the year, and up to three players for comeback player of the year.

The five players and rookies with the most nominations go on the ballot.

How many for comeback player of the year?

That depends.

After Steve Stricker won the comeback award for the second straight year in 2007, the PAC decided it would be OK to not have an award if there was not a reasonable candidate who came back from injury, off-course issues or a long stretch of poor play.

The question is whether Tiger Woods – a shoo-in for player of the year –is a worthy candidate of comeback player of the year after missing half of last year with reconstructive knee surgery. Then again, Woods won four times in six starts last year, with the other finishes a runner-up and tie for fifth.

That prompted Stricker to dismiss Woods’ comeback candidacy by saying, “Where did he go?”

The ballot, once determined after the final tournament, will be sent out to PGA Tour members, who have 30 days to vote.

ROOKIES: Three tournaments remain to keep alive a streak on the PGA Tour: A rookie has won every season since 1998.

The closest call this year was Ricky Barnes, who was two shots behind Lucas Glover in a tie for second at the U.S. Open. Four months later, Barnes is in jeopardy of losing his card.

Marc Leishman of Australia tied for second in the BMW Championship, seven shots back of Tiger Woods. He is a leading candidate for rookie of the year because he is ranked highest on the money list (No. 44) and is the only rookie to make it to the Tour Championship.

Then again, winning a PGA Tour event doesn’t guarantee the rookie of the year award. Charles Howell III was voted the top rookie in 2001 without a victory, getting the honor ahead of U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, Garrett Willis, David Gossett and Jose Coceres, who won twice that year.

DIVOTS: The Quail Hollow Championship raised $1.6 million for local charity, with half of it going to Teach for America in Charlotte, N.C. The tournament has raised more than $11 million in seven years. … The PGA of America posed 25 questions to caddies of the four major champions in its Grand Slam program. Ruben “Gordito” Yorio, who works for Masters champion Angel Cabrera, was asked to choose between a caddie and a cart. “Caddie. Feet never go flat,” he replied. … Chad Campbell has won only twice when he has at least a share of the 54-hole lead. However, he has never finished worse than runner-up the other five times.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Ernie Els is the only player to win the PGA Grand Slam of Golf when Tiger Woods was in the field.

FINAL WORD: “Winning three majors gives you a right to be heard.”— European Tour chief executive George O’Grady, on Padraig Harrington’s suggestions at a tour meeting on membership requirements.

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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 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.


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.”