Tiger Woods has leading role in golfs soap opera

By Doug FergusonAugust 12, 2010, 3:04 am

2010 PGA ChampionshipSHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Along the humps and hollows of Whistling Straits, against the magnificent backdrop of Lake Michigan, the stage is set for golf’s final major championship of the year, the PGA.

This year, that could stand for Players Gone Amok.

Tiger Woods is getting grilled like never before, but not about his marriage, his personal life or that fire hydrant his car ran over last Thanksgiving. It’s about his golf, of all things, and it’s not pretty.

Phil Mickelson revealed he’s recovering from a painful bout of arthritis and has become a vegetarian. Lefty is now eating greens in regulation, along with hitting them.

Meanwhile, U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin and Golf Channel reporter Jim Gray nearly hit each other.

Woods, the No. 1 player for a record 270 weeks in a row, hasn’t come close to winning a tournament this year and reached a new low last week at Firestone when he posted the worst score of his career (18-over 298) and finished 30 shots behind the winner.

For a guy who has won 14 majors – that’s one more than his next four rivals combined – the drama at the PGA Championship is not whether Woods can win, but whether he can make the cut. And if he doesn’t, whether he will be picked for the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

“Life in general the last nine months has been very difficult,” Woods said. “But just like my dad always said, ‘Just keep living.’ That’s something I’ve taken to heart quite a bit. And there were quite a few times that I’ve definitely said that to myself.”

Then came the shockers from Mickelson.

Before taking questions Tuesday, he revealed that he has been battling a form of arthritis since the week before the U.S. Open in June and made a special trip to the Mayo Clinic but now is taking medication and headed for a recovery.

The other surprise is his diet.

Mickelson, an investor in the popular restaurant chain “Five Guys, Burgers and Fries,” has become a vegetarian. Make that “Five Guys, Bulgar and Fennel.”

“Can you believe that?” he said. “It’s not really me, but it has been.”

Then there’s Sergio Garcia, the talented young Spaniard who was 19 when he nearly beat Woods in the 1999 PGA Championship.

He had his heart broken by Greg Norman’s daughter last year and has been in a funk ever since. It reached a point last week that he said he was taking a two-month break after the final major, even though that means skipping a chance to play in the Ryder Cup.

With all this commotion going on, clouds gathered over the PGA Championship on Wednesday, the final day of practice, and pounded Whistling Straits with rain so hard that Anthony Kim went barefoot on some holes.

And then another black cloud arrived – or maybe it was Gray.

The Golf Channel’s Jim Gray reported Tuesday evening that Pavin told him he was picking Woods for the Ryder Cup if he didn’t make the team on his own. Pavin saw this Wednesday morning while playing a practice round before the rain arrived, and he put on Twitter that he never said that.

Minutes after Pavin’s news conference, Gray walked into the interview room for a heated exchange with Pavin, and pointed a finger at his chest. According to Pavin – his wife taped the argument on her cell phone – Gray called him a liar and said, “You’re going down.”

In the entry way to the media center, reporters were buzzing over the spat. Pavin was in the back of the room with Colin Montgomerie to sign the Ryder Cup captain’s agreement.

In walked Woods’ chief spokesman, Glenn Greenspan, and hardly anyone noticed.

And it was Woods himself who had sparked the Ryder Cup debate.

Even in such strange times, Woods drives just about every topic of discussion. And to think that just one year ago, at the PGA Championship in Hazeltine, the biggest shock was that Woods finished in second place.

The focus should shift to golf when the tournament gets under way Thursday. What’s missing is a clear favorite, and that can be attributed to Woods, too.

Graeme McDowell won his first major in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, even though the Sunday contenders included Woods, Mickelson and Ernie Els. Louis Oosthuizen won the British Open at St. Andrews with a performance reminiscent of Woods, even though not many knew the 27-year-old South African, and even fewer could pronounce his name.

In some respects, Mickelson was a surprise at the Masters. He had not won a tournament all year, and has not won since. But his wife, Amy, made her first trip to a tournament since being diagnosed with breast cancer a year earlier, and their embrace behind the 18th green at Augusta National remains among the most poignant moments of the year.

What will Whistling Straits deliver? Just about anything.

“The major championship have got a lot more wide open, it seems, in the past couple of years,” said 21-year-old Rory McIlroy, who has as good of a chance as anyone this week.

He mentioned the problems Woods is having on the golf course – Woods has broken par in only four of his last 20 rounds – along with the 78 that Mickelson shot on Sunday when he had a chance to go to No. 1 in the world. The No. 3 player is Lee Westwood, who pulled out of the PGA with a calf injury.

“So there’s going to be a lot of guys here thinking that it’s the right time for them to break though,” McIlroy said. “And I’m definitely one of those guys. You can never write off the likes of Tiger and Phil.”

So who’s the winner?

“Anyone in the field,” Carl Pettersson said. “It’s not like it used to be.”

In many ways.

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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.”