Westwood McIlroy get an extra US event

By Doug FergusonNovember 24, 2010, 2:38 am
PGA Tour

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy are among five international players who can play one additional PGA Tour event next year if they are eligible for The Players Championship.

The policy board adopted the change at its quarterly meeting last week. It allows a player like Westwood, who ordinarily could have played no more than three regular PGA Tour events, from having to choose between The Players Championship and another tournament.

Westwood said the tour informed him of the change last week.

Players who resign their membership or fail to play the minimum 15 events face a five-year period of playing only 10 tour events. Westwood gave up his U.S. membership in 2008 when he played only 10 times, while McIlroy decided this year to resign his membership.

Westwood prefers to play the Honda Classic (situated between two World Golf Championships), the Houston Open (the week before the Masters), and the St. Jude Classic, where he is the defending champion. Throw in The Players Championship, which has the deepest field and offers the highest purse in golf, and he would have to decide.

“That adds up to 11,” Westwood said Tuesday in Dubai, according to the London-based Guardian newspaper. “I would then have to pick between the Players and Memphis, and I don’t think anyone would have wanted that – not the PGA Tour or the sponsors.”

PGA champion Martin Kaymer said Tuesday he would not take up PGA Tour membership, but since he has never been a member, he can play 12 tournaments and the new policy would not effect him.

Along with Westwood and McIlroy, the policy could also help David Howell, Darren Clarke and Patrick Sheehan of Australia. That would depend if they are in the top 50 in the world and eligible for the four majors, three WGCs and Players Championship.

McIlroy is the defending champion at Quail Hollow. The new policy will enable him to play in the Honda Classic and the Memorial, along with The Players Championship.


TOUR BALLOTS: One way players could decide on their vote for player of the year would be to ask themselves this question: “Who’s season would I trade for mine?” That yielded this answer from Tiger Woods.

“Just about anyone else’s,” he said with a self-deprecating laugh.

The ballots have been mailed to PGA Tour members, who have until next Tuesday to submit their votes.

According to one player studying the ballot, the tour has offered up five candidates for player of the year – Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Phil Mickelson.

Mickelson is the only major champion (Masters). Furyk figures to be the favorite with three victories, including the Tour Championship and Transitions Championship against a strong field, and the FedEx Cup. Johnson and Els won twice, with Johnson twice playing in the final group of a major; while Kuchar captured only one tournament, but led the money list and won the Vardon Trophy.

Four players are on the ballot for rookie of the year, and while it would seem to be an easy choice – Rory McIlroy winning at Quail Hollow and finishing in the top three of two majors – it will be interesting to see how the membership regards his status as a rookie, and his decision not to join the tour next year.

The other candidates are Rickie Fowler (No. 22 on money list, Ryder Cup team), Puerto Rico winner Derek Lamely and Alex Prugh.

As for comeback player of the year, the popular choice is likely Rocco Mediate, who won the Fry’s.com Open after starting the year with only past champion’s status. He’s on the ballot with Greensboro winner Arjun Atwal and Stuart Appleby.


PRICE IS RIGHT: Among those who have decided to take one-time exemptions on the PGA Tour for being in the top 50 in career money was a former No. 1 player in the world – Nick Price.

Price, who turns 54 in January, is not expected to play much on the PGA Tour. There are enough gaps in the Champions Tour schedule that he wants to have the opportunity to play regular tour events to stay sharp, likely on courses where he feels he can still compete.

Three other players taking one-time exemptions from the top 50 are Tim Herron, Chris DiMarco and Steve Flesch.

Herron thought about taking his exemption last year, but decided to try to earn his card back through sponsor exemptions and his status as a past champion. He started the year at No. 42 in career earnings and slipped to only No. 44.


BIG WEEK OF GOLF: The strongest week in golf after the majors might be the week right after Thanksgiving, with two tournaments halfway around the world.

Phil Mickelson will be the only player from the top 10 in the world not playing. The two fields have combined to produce 25 of the top 30 in the world, with the others on the sidelines being Francesco Molinari, Adam Scott, Rickie Fowler and K.T. Kim.

Most of them will be at the Chevron World Challenge, hosted by Tiger Woods. The field at Sherwood Country Club features 13 of the top 20 in the world. Over in South Africa is the Nedbank Challenge, which has new No. 1 Lee Westwood. All but two players in its 12-man field – Tim Clark and Anders Hansen – are among the top 30.


MAJOR ENCORE: It’s been a tough year for the most recent batch of major champions.

Angel Cabrera (Masters), Lucas Glover (U.S. Open) and Stewart Cink (British Open) have failed to win a tournament since capturing their majors in 2009. Y.E. Yang (PGA Championship) went 17 events without a trophy until he won the Volvo China Open a week after the Masters, and he recently added the Korea Open for his second win this year.

Even so, none of the major winners from last year is among the top 35 in the world ranking. Yang is the highest at No. 40, followed by Cink (46), Glover (52) and Cabrera (53). They have combined to earn 343.11 world ranking points in 2010, which is 2.7 points more than Martin Kaymer has earned by himself.


DIVOTS: British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell and Charl Schwartzel have taken up PGA Tour membership for 2011. … John Merrick, Joe Ogilvie, James Nitties and Ted Purdy were among those who finished out of the top 125 on the PGA Tour money list to play in at least 30 tournaments. … Ron Balicki, with Golfweek magazine since 1983, will be the first noncoach inducted into the Golf Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame. Balicki was selected for his contributions to college golf. … Four players who won PGA Tour events in 2008 and earned two-year exemptions failed to get past the second stage of Q-School – Daniel Chopra (Kapalua), Parker McLachlin (Reno-Tahoe), Chez Reavie (Canadian Open) and Greg Kraft (Puerto Rico Open).


STAT OF THE WEEK: Of the top 10 players on the PGA Tour money list this year, Matt Kuchar was the only one to play in more than 25 tournaments. He played in 26.


FINAL WORD: “All he has to do is play like he did before and he’s going to be tough to beat.” – Phil Mickelson, on whether Tiger Woods can get back his aura.

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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.”