Woods stares down reporter over Haney's book

By Doug FergusonFebruary 29, 2012, 8:32 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Tiger Woods had a terse exchange with a magazine reporter Wednesday over excerpts from his former swing coach’s new book, and ended the conversation with a long stare and a sarcastic, “Have a good day.”

If that wasn’t enough, he fielded 10 questions about his putting.

And so began a bumpy road to the Masters for Woods, who has gone more than two years without winning on the PGA Tour, and is approaching the four-year anniversary of his last major championship.

Woods, who last year moved to Palm Beach County, is playing the Honda Classic for the first time since 1993, when he was a 17-year-old with no big concerns except to finish high school.

Hank Haney’s book, “The Big Miss,” is scheduled for release March 27, the week before the Masters. The book is about Haney’s six years as Woods’ swing coach, and Golf Digest on Tuesday began to release excerpts through its tablet applications.

In the excerpt, Haney details Woods’ fascination with the military, particularly the Navy SEALs.

“I was beginning to realize that his sentiment ran deep, and that as incredible as it seemed, Tiger was seriously considering becoming a Navy SEAL,” Haney wrote, referring to the summer of 2007. “I didn’t know how he’d go about it, but when he talked about, it was clear that he had a plan. After finding out that the Navy SEAL age limit is 28, I asked Tiger about his being too old to join. `It’s not a problem,’ he said. `They’re making a special age exemption for me.”’

When asked about the book, Woods said his disappointment with Haney hasn’t changed. When asked his reaction to the excerpt, Woods replied, “Well, I’ve already talked about it.”

His agent, Mark Steinberg, said in a statement Tuesday afternoon that Haney engaged in “armchair psychology” that was “ridiculous.”

“Because of his father, it’s no secret that Tiger has always had high respect for the military, so for Haney to twist that admiration into something negative is disrespectful,” Steinberg said.

Woods’ father, Earl, was part of the U.S. Army’s special forces.

The press conference at PGA National turned awkward when Alex Miceli, a Golfweek senior writer and contributor to Golf Channel, asked Woods if he considered being a Navy SEAL at the height of his career.

“I’ve already talked about everything in the book. I’ve already commented on everything, Alex,” Woods said.

“Then I must have missed you answering that question,” Miceli replied.

“Well, I’ve already commented on the book. Is that in the book? Is it in the book?” Woods said.

Miceli replied he had not seen the book.

“You’re a beauty, you know that?” Woods said, trying to smile.

Miceli said Steinberg’s statement suggested something was wrong with the excerpt and he wanted to know if it was true. Woods paused for a moment, said with indifference, “I don’t know,” then stared at him and said, “Have a good day.”

It was a change from the way he handled a press conference in December 2010. Tom Callahan had written in “His Father’s Son” that he would not have been surprised if Woods had followed his father into the military. Woods was asked that day where Callahan came up with that notion.

“Well, I’ve always wanted to become a SEAL,” Woods said back then. “That’s something that I told my dad from the very get-go - either I’m going to become a professional golfer or I’m going to go become a Navy SEAL.”

On Wednesday, Woods worked hard to contain his anger.

The Haney book figures to be the latest distraction for Woods, whose life has been loaded with them since his downfall caused by extramarital affairs. Since he returned from the scandal at the 2010 Masters, Woods has gone through a divorce and went more than a year before adding corporate sponsors. He changed coaches and caddies, and missed four months with leg injuries.

His new swing - the fourth overhaul he has made since turning pro in 1996 - is coming together nicely. Woods has shown greater command of his golf ball in the last four months, giving himself a chance to win four times. He won his Chevron World Challenge at the end of last year with birdies on the last two holes.

But the putter, the one club in his bag no one could ever question, has become a talking point.

Woods lost in the second round of the Match Play Championship last week when he badly missed a 5-foot par on the 18th hole. He left Arizona by saying it would take him one day to fix it.

“I had to go back to putting in the reps, and I did,” he said. “I spent almost four hours the other day putting, which was good - two different sessions … with a meal in between,” he said. “I just worked on just going back to my old basics with my dad, and some of the things that he taught me. When I looked at the tape, I got away from some of those things.”

This week presents a different test.

Woods has not played PGA National - a typical Florida course with water hazards on just about every hole - since he was 14 and lost on the final day of the PGA Junior Championship to Chris Couch.

Jack Nicklaus has revamped the course significantly since then. It plays to a par 70 with a brutal stretch of closing holes.

And while Woods looks capable of winning any time he plays - depending on the putter - he no longer is considered the favorite. That role belongs to 22-year-old Rory McIlroy, who broke several of Woods’ records in winning the U.S. Open last summer and who could go to No. 1 in the world if he were to win.

Also in the field is Lee Westwood, No. 3 in the world, coming off a semifinal loss to McIlroy last week in the Match Play.

Woods also was asked why he has never hired a coach to help with his short game and putting.

“Haven’t needed one,” he said. “I think I’ve had a pretty good career.”

Greg Norman said he watched Woods at the Match Play and thought his putting stroke was different one day from the next.

“Is that a technique? Or is that tension or … is that a mental block?” he said. “We all hate being in that position. When you see the best struggling, you feel for them because you know what it’s doing to them inside. And every 5-foot putt he misses, you feel like another nail might be going in that gets a little bit deeper and a little bit harder.”

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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.”