Day wins Farmers in four-way playoff

By Doug FergusonFebruary 9, 2015, 12:33 am

SAN DIEGO – Two feet away from chipping into the water, Jason Day turned a good break into a big win Sunday in the Farmers Insurance Open when he won a four-man playoff with a par on the second extra hole at tough Torrey Pines.

Day's gamble in regulation looked as if it might backfire when he went long of the green on the par-5 18th, and his chip out of deep rough raced down the hill, over the front of the green and was headed for the water when it stopped at the hazard line. He got up-and-down for par and a 2-under 70.

Day and J.B. Holmes each made birdie on the 18th in the playoff, while Scott Stallings and Harris English were eliminated with pars. On the second extra hole at the par-3 16th, Holmes went over the green, chipped to 15 feet and missed the par putt. Day hit 5-iron to 15 feet and made par for his third PGA Tour victory.

Day moved to No. 4 in the world, just ahead of Adam Scott, and became the highest-ranked Australian for the first time.

''It's an amazing feeling,'' Day said. ''I've been working so hard for this. I was visualizing myself holding the trophy, just like I did at the Match Play. I'm really proud of myself to hang in there and grind it out.''


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Day's decision on the 18th in regulation wasn't the only choice that was second-guessed. Holmes, needing a birdie to win, laid up from 235 yards in the fairway and narrowly missed a 20-foot birdie attempt. He closed with a 72.

It was only the second stroke-play victory on the PGA Tour for the 27-year-old Day, who is in his eighth year. Loaded with talent, the Aussie has been hampered by more injuries than he cares to remember. Even when he won the Match Play Championship last year in Arizona, he was playing with an injured wrist that kept him out of every tournament but the Masters for the next three months.

His health was a big priority this year, and so was winning.

''It's a good start to the year,'' Day said. ''Hopefully, I can stay healthy.''

English and Stallings were eliminated on the first extra hole. Stallings had to lay up from the left rough, and his 15-foot birdie putt turned away. English drove well to the right, but his short iron back to the fairway was too strong and settled on the border of the first cut and 4-inch grass. He couldn't get any spin on the ball, and was left with a 60-foot birdie putt from the back of the green to stay alive. It stopped a few inches short.

The 16th was pivotal for Day twice on Sunday. In regulation, he holed a 50-foot birdie putt to get back in the game.

Day was among seven players who had at least a share of the lead on a Sunday that was more about survival than a shootout. It was the first time that a single-digit score under par - 9-under 279 - won on the PGA Tour since Justin Rose (4-under 276) at Congressional last summer.

Charles Howell III (68) and Alex Prugh (71) each missed birdie chances on the 18th and finished a shot out of the playoff.

Stallings missed an 18-foot birdie putt on the 18th and closed with a 69. English got up-and-down from a bunker for birdie and a 72 to get into the playoff.

Day and Holmes, meanwhile, had different ideas about how to play the par-5 closing hole.

Day was in the first cut of rough and chose to hit 3-wood to clearly the water, taking his chances with trouble behind the green. It nearly cost him. Holmes, among the longest hitters in golf, was tied for the lead and could have won with a birdie. He laid up with an 8-iron, but his wedge was too deep and left him a downhill birdie putt from 20 feet that grazed the edge of the cup.

Jimmy Walker, in his first start since a nine-shot win at the Sony Open, had a brief share of the lead. He had two bogeys on the back nine for a 73 and finished two shots out of the playoff along with Martin Laird, Shane Lowry and Nick Watney.

DIVOTS: The tournament honored Billy Casper, who died Saturday night, with a picture of him on the first tee and flowers. Casper grew up in San Diego. Tributes continued to pour in, including one from Arnold Palmer, who lost a big lead and the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic Club. ''He was a better player than most people gave him credit for being and is going to be sorely missed in the golf world,'' Palmer said. ... The final-round scoring average was 74.05.

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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.”

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PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

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:

PGA Tour:

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.

LPGA:

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.