Snedeker not concerned by 2014 summer schedule

By Doug FergusonJanuary 14, 2014, 6:24 pm

HONOLULU – Brandt Snedeker is a walking billboard for his summer plans.

Proudly displayed on the front of his golf shirt is ''Wyndham,'' which happens to be the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event in Greensboro, N.C., not so conveniently positioned between the PGA Championship and the start of the FedEx Cup playoffs.

On the sleeve of his shirt is ''RBC,'' the title sponsor of the Canadian Open, where Snedeker is the defending champion. Golf's third-oldest national championship also is in a tough spot on the schedule, held the week between the British Open and the Bridgestone Invitational. The latter is a World Golf Championship. And by the way, have you noticed the brand on Snedeker's cap and golf bag? That's right - Bridgestone.

When does he take a week off? Apparently, he doesn't.

''I'm playing the rest of the year, if that's what you mean,'' he said when asked about all the logos. ''It will be a long stretch. It will be nine in a row at the end of the year.''

With the Ryder Cup in Europe this year, the PGA Tour agreed to alter its schedule. The four FedEx Cup playoff events will be played over four straight weeks. That allows for one week off before players travel to Scotland for a week's worth of dinners and three days of golf at the end.

Snedeker has the worst of it, though Zach Johnson is not far behind.

Johnson has no corporate connections with Canada or Greensboro, but his big stretch starts a week before the British Open. The John Deere Classic is like a fifth major to the normal guy from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Johnson can't and won't miss that one. He'd love to play Greensboro, where he tied for fifth last year. But even if he doesn't play Canada or Greensboro, that's eight big events in 10 weeks.

''I hope I can get in a position where I can take one off,'' Johnson said. ''It worked for me last year. I had no choice, but it was fine.''

Johnson's brother got married the week of The Barclays, so he got a late start on the playoffs. No matter. Johnson won the BMW Championship and was among the five players who had a direct shot at the $10 million bonus.

But he made it clear that he would skip one playoff event if he could.

Some guys might not be in a position to take time off. Qualifying for the nine automatic Ryder Cup spots ends at the PGA Championship, and the three captain's picks are a few after that, which is known as ''audition time.'' Others could find themselves in a spot of trying to get to East Lake for the FedEx Cup finale.

''I think guys will skip for sure,'' Snedeker said. ''Everyone is going to take a hard look at the schedule. It will be interesting to see what guys do. I'm taking a little more time off in the middle of the year. We did it last year and it worked well. Just take a couple of three-week breaks.''

That's why no one should be alarmed to see Matt Kuchar taking a month off early in the year, or Adam Scott headed for a six-week hiatus from tournament golf. Tiger Woods has been playing one of the shortest schedules of any top star. He's good enough he can do that.

Graeme McDowell has never been in contention at the Bridgestone Invitational. He has finished out of the top 20 all but one time. He's giving serious thought to taking that week off – depending on his Ryder Cup status – to be fresh for the PGA's Tour grueling finishing kick.

''The key for me next year is to have something in the tank,'' he said. ''That's my goal, to be ready for that stretch.''

The Ryder Cup is the reason for cramming so many big tournaments into such a small space.

The last time the Ryder Cup was in Europe, the PGA Tour held three straight playoff events, took a week off, and then played the Tour Championship and Ryder Cup in successive weeks. The schedule didn't hurt the Americans as much as McDowell did that week in Wales.

The PGA of America is worried that the Americans are out of gas when they get to the Ryder Cup? It should be thankful for the FedEx Cup. It's no coincidence that the matches started getting close again after the FedEx Cup began in 2007. Four big events after the majors have kept these guys sharp more than it has worn them out.

Now, it appears that something will have to give.

If players aren't skipping a playoff event or a World Golf Championship, they'll cut back at some other point in the schedule.

''There's no point in getting to July and feeling you don't want to play golf, because the biggest golf is yet to be played in the two months after that,'' Scott said. ''You've got to be champing at the bit after the PGA. Those are four big weeks, and they're really important. That's why I don't come jumping out of the gate.''

The last time Scott played four weeks in a row?

''November,'' he said with a grin. He won the Australian PGA, the Australian Masters and the World Cup team title, and was runner-up at the Australian Open.

No one will be playing more than Snedeker, and he doesn't sound too worried about it. Nor should he, if recent history means anything.

Remember, it was only two years ago when Snedeker played eight straight weeks from the British Open through the BMW Championship. The tour had an off week, and then he won the Tour Championship (and FedEx Cup) and the Ryder Cup.

''It's not the end of the world,'' Snedeker said.

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.”

Getty Images

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.

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm