Stanley coming to grips with meltdown at Torrey

By Doug FergusonJanuary 31, 2012, 9:32 pm

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - American golfer Robert Garrigus didnt see any reason to stick around for the finish.

He had watched enough of the final round at Torrey Pines to see that Kyle Stanley, whom he described as exploding with talent, had a three-shot lead and headed for a sure win. Garrigus left for the spa to get a massage.

It didnt take long for him to figure out what had happened.

I got back to my car, saw my phone, and it was blowing up, Garrigus said. I had six or seven text messages. I had four or five voicemails. I wasnt talking to anyone on Sunday, so there was no need for anyone to call me.

He didnt have to read a single message. He didnt have to listen to a voicemail.

He knew.

I looked at my phone and thought, Uh-oh. He blew it, Garrigus said Monday evening.

Among his priorities this week at the Phoenix Open was to find Stanley and offer the kind of advice that only comes through experience.

Garrigus has every bit of that.

He had a three-shot lead on the final hole of the 2010 St. Jude Classic when he smothered his tee shot into the water, took a drop, then tried to go at the green not realizing the size of his lead. He went left of the water into the trees and eventually made triple bogey. He lost in a three-man playoff.

Stanley can relate only to the triple bogey, the water and a playoff.

He did everything right on the final hole of the Farmers Insurance Open, even taking a sand wedge instead of a lob wedge for his third shot over the pond to a hole location in a bowl at the front of the green. What happened next surprises him still. His shot landed behind the hole and raced off the front of the green and into the water.

After a drop into the first cut to eliminate even more spin, he landed his shot on the top shelf and three-putted for triple bogey. On the second playoff hole, he missed a five-foot par putt and watched Brandt Snedeker pose with a trophy that should have been his.

Stanley was still in shock when he faced the media. His eyes were glassy with tears. His lip quivered. He answered every question, even if he had to stop at times to compose himself. Looking back, he realizes that was part of the healing.

I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve a little bit, Stanley said Tuesday at the Phoenix Open, where he agreed to another interview to help put his collapse behind him. It was very tough to swallow. But one of the things I learned is I think you need to really be prepared for whatever this game can throw at you.

Its a crazy game, he said. It can love you; it can hate you.

Stanley, like Garrigus, was going for his first PGA Tour victory. Both grew up in the Pacific Northwest. Both are in the top class of power players in golf. The similarities end there.

Stanley, who grew up in the Seattle area, was an All-American at Clemson who played in the Walker Cup. He is in his second full season on the PGA Tour, so naturally skilled and polished that his long-term outlook is better than some of the rookies who won last year.

Garrigus, from Oregon, didnt have the grades to get a serious scholarship offer. He spent two years at junior college before hitting the mini-tours. Then his career was nearly derailed with drug and alcohol addiction that put him in a 30-day clinic. He remains an open book, which reads like a comedy given his self-deprecating sense of humor.

It was a lot easier for me, Garrigus said. I think the personality I had made it easier to deal with. Its just golf. I dont know if he thinks of it that way. I want to reach out and talk to him. I dont know if he wants to hear what I have to say, and I dont care. Hes a good kid, and I dont want him to get shook up over it.

Stanley appears to be well on his way.

His family was with him Sunday night, along with a close friend and his agent. He managed to eat. The sun came up the next day. He just signed up for Twitter a few months ago and picked up about 4,000 followers in 24 hours, those who felt badly for him or were impressed how he handled himself in defeat.

He received text messages from Steve Stricker, who beat Stanley with a birdie-birdie finish at the John Deere Classic last summer, and from Gonzaga basketball coach Mark Few, whom he doesnt even know personally.

Thats why I thought that was so cool, Stanley said. Ive been watching Gonzaga play basketball since I was 3 feet tall. I live and die with every game they play. I try not to miss any of them. So that was real special to hear from him.

The other messages, including a phone conversation with Zach Johnson, were equally meaningful.

Eventually, anyway.

I know I may not have believed it on Sunday night, or even Monday morning, but everybody just kept telling me Ill be a lot stronger for it, and I agree with that. I will.

Garrigus bounced back from that Memphis meltdown by winning the final PGA Tour event of the year at Disney. Stanley recalls watching Rory McIlroys collapse at the Masters last year'and how graciously he faced the press after an 80'and quickly pointed out that McIlroy was a U.S. Open champion two months later.

He believes something good is coming his way, and although the support has been overwhelming at times, Stanley is not interested in dwelling on Sunday at Torrey Pines.

After taking the 36-hole lead at Torrey Pines, Stanley was asked what appealed to him about golf when he first got hooked. It was the independence of the game, that he alone determined his success, and he alone had to cope with his failures.

That figures to serve him well.

Theres not much anyone can say at the time to make you feel better, he said. Its just kind of a gut check. Ive got to dig deep. And out of this whole process, Im going to figure out a lot about myself.

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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 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.”