Johnson eagles 18, passes Tiger

By Doug FergusonDecember 3, 2011, 11:30 pm

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Tiger Woods lost his three-shot margin with every shot that looked good until the wind decided otherwise. He lost his lead Saturday in the Chevron World Challenge because of something that was really out of his control.

Zach Johnson was 163 yards away in the 18th fairway, one shot behind and hopeful of getting his 7-iron onto the top shelf to make par as easy as possible. Imagine his surprise when it landed near the hole and hopped back into the cup for an eagle that put him atop the leaderboard.

“I would have been happy with a 4, let alone a 3,” Johnson said. “A 2 is a steal.”

That eagle gave him a 4-under 68, allowing him to make up a four-shot deficit on Woods and take a one-shot lead into the final round of the final official event this year in America.

Woods had three bogeys on the par 5s and didn’t feel as though he did much wrong. On two of them, he hit wedges that looked good until the cool, gusting wind shifted directions and sent the ball much farther than he imagined. On the other par 5, his fairway metal hit a gust and dropped into a hazard.

The result was a 1-over 73. The prognosis wasn’t nearly as bad.

“Even though I made three bogeys on par 5s, I had two three-putts, but I played well,” Woods said. “I hit a lot of good shots that ended up in bad spots because I had bad gusts. So be it. That’s the way it goes.

“I’m right there with a chance going into tomorrow.”

Johnson was at 8-under 208 and will be in the final group with Woods, one shot behind. K.J. Choi overcame a double bogey on the par-5 second hole for a 72 and was three shots out of the lead. No one else was closer than five.

Woods had the 36-hole lead for the second straight tournament, and for the second straight time failed to break par in the third round. He felt differently Saturday than he did at the Australian Open in Sydney, where he opened with three straight bogeys and finished the day six shots out of the lead.



“Most of the time today, it wasn’t me,” Woods said. “I hit a lot of good shots today.”

The wind was strong and chilly from the start, and rarely stayed the same direction very long. With a wedge in his hand, Woods went some 40 feet long on the second hole that led to a three-putt bogey. Another wedge on the par-5 13th sailed over the green and left a pitch he had no chance to get close.

Both players ran into trouble on the par-5 16th.

Johnson was playing in the group ahead of Woods, felt the breeze in his face and tried to hammer a driver that went left of the grass and into the gallery. He tried to clear a creek and went into the trees to the right before pitching out and taking a bogey.

Woods was in the fairway, but says a gust took his fairway metal too far right and into a hazard. He thought about trying to hit out behind a pair of rocks before choosing to take a penalty drop, and he also made bogey.

The difference was how they finished.

Johnson three-putted the 17th for another bogey, then drilled his 7-iron at the flag on the 18th for the most unlikely finish to his round. Woods had to settle for pars.

Johnson didn’t realize his eagle on the final hole was for the lead. And even though he has a one-shot advantage, he doesn’t think he’s in contention until the final hour of any tournament.

Being in the last group with Woods, who has gone 26 starts since his last win?

“He’s never going to shock me on the golf course because he’s certainly the best player I’ve ever played with,” Johnson said. “I’m glad I’m playing this week and I have the opportunity to go into Sunday with at least a chance.”

Johnson, a former Masters champion, saw his streak end this year of four straight seasons winning on the PGA Tour. The Chevron World Challenge counts toward the world ranking, but is not official for the tour. He still wouldn’t mind using it as a springboard for the next season, much like Tom Lehman did in the early days of this event, and Jim Furyk did in 2009.

For Woods, going from a three-shot lead to a one-shot deficit was not the end of the world.

He felt as though he played as well as he had the first two days, without having much luck with the wind. And for a guy who has gone two years without winning, the hardest part of hoisting a trophy is getting a chance.

Woods still had his three-shot lead when he chipped in from behind the fourth green for birdie. The wind was at its worst on the sixth hole, gusting hard with leaves scattered about the fairway. Woods felt it at his back and to the right, yet as the ball was in the air, it came against him from the left. He came up well short, chipped 7 feet by the hole and lipped out.

Hunter Mahan was the first player to make a run at Woods, going out in 33 and tying for the lead briefly after Woods had a three-putt bogey on the par-3 eighth.

Woods seemed to steady himself with a beautiful flop shot on the 10th that ran up the bank and trickled back 4 feet from the cup, and a solid approach to 18 feet for a two-putt birdie on the 11th.

But he went long of the 13th, turning a birdie hole into a bogey. He made a mess of the 16th with his penalty shot. And he had nothing to match an eagle from the fairway by Johnson on the final hole.


Follow the Chevron World Challenge on Golf Channel and NBC. Airtimes: Golf Channel, 1-3 PM ET Sunday. NBC, 3-6 PM and 8:30-11:30 PM ET Sunday.

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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.