YE Yang victory redefines global golf

By Doug FergusonAugust 17, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 PGA ChampionshipCHASKA, Minn. ' For years, Asian countries could only boast about growth and potential in mens golf. Success was measured by a half-dozen players who had cracked the top 50 in the world rankings over the last decade.
It took Y.E. Yang and his stunning victory over Tiger Woods to make them a major part of the conversation.
Weve been waiting for quite a number of years for this, said Peter Dawson, chief executive of the hallowed Royal & Ancient Golf Club in Scotland. Perhaps the PGA Championship was not the one we were expecting. But its great for golf. Its great for Korea. Its great for Asia. And its very timely for getting back into the Olympics.
Its a fantastic day for golf.
Until the 2009 PGA Championship, players from every continent except Asia and Antarctica had captured a major championship over the last three years as global golf became a buzz term.
That changed Sunday at Hazeltine when Yang, a 37-year-old South Korean, delivered a shot felt across oceans. Leading by one shot against the worlds No. 1 player on the 18th hole, he struck a 3-iron hybrid from 210 yards around a tree, barely over a bunker and onto the green about 12 feet from the cup.
In the immediate aftermath, the magnitude of his victory was slow to sink in.
You never know in life, Yang said. This might be my last win as a golfer. But it sure is a great day.
The ramifications for South Korea, not to mention all of Asia, may take years to unfold. When Woods won the 1997 Masters by a record 12 shots, many believed it would be a watershed moment for minorities on the PGA Tour. A dozen years later, he remains the tours only player of black heritage.
The Asian community was desperate for its own champion.
Growth happens two ways ' either stars at the top pulling it up, or grass-roots programs pushing it up, Dawson said. What Asian countries lacked is enough stars on the international stages. Lets hope its the first of many, and not a one-off. Its not just Korea, but Japan, India, China, Thailand. They will remember Yang. Hell be a household name in Asia.
Top golf executives have had their eyes on Asia the past several years.
The R&A and Augusta National earlier this year created the Asia Amateur tournament, to be played this fall in China and limited to Asian players, with the winner getting a ticket to the Masters. And the PGA Tour recently joined other tours to turn the HSBC Champions in China ' where Yang defeated Woods three years ago ' into a World Golf Championship.
Along the way, Asian-born golfers have made inroads.
Jeev Milkha Singh became the first player from India to win on the European Tour and compete in the Masters. Ryo Ishikawa of Japan was 15 when he became the youngest winner on a recognized tour. Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand, who built his first golf club from a bamboo stick and scraps of bicycle tire, contended early at two World Golf Championships this year.
K.J. Choi of South Korea has seven PGA Tour victories, the most of any Asian, and last year climbed as high as No. 5 in the world.
Even so, Asian success in the majors had been relegated to close calls.
There was Liang-Huan Lu of Taiwan finishing one shot behind Lee Trevino at Royal Birkdale in the 1971 British Open, and Isao Aoki of Japan pushing Jack Nicklaus at Baltusrol in the 1980 U.S. Open until he had to settle for second place.
It was going to happen one day, said Woods, whose heritage is half-Asian through his Thai-born mother. If anyone would have thought it would have been a Korean player, people probably would have suspected it be K.J., because obviously hes played well for such a long period of time. Y.E. has won now a couple of big events. Hes getting better.
But it was just a matter of time.
The first breakthrough for Japan came in 1957 and what is now the World Cup, won by Torakichi Nakamura and Koichi Ono. For South Korea, major success had been limited to the women, starting with Se Ri Paks victory in the 1998 U.S. Womens Open. Perhaps no other player from any country has been a greater pioneer: Six other South Korean women have won LPGA majors since then.
Whether Yangs victory has a similar effect will take years to find out.
Wally Uihlein, CEO of the company that owns the Titleist and FootJoy brands, who helped match the China Golf Association and the Australian PGA to develop a teacher certification program in China, says growth depends on many factors.
Among them are a strong middle class, a golf teaching program, ample places to play'driving ranges are as important as golf courses ' and the presence of the professional game. If Yangs victory has a ripple effect, he believes the biggest waves will be in Korea.
Korea is in a league of its own, and no one should be surprised with their success in mens and womens golf, Uihlein said in an e-mail Monday morning. It has been taking shape for the past 10 years.
Yangs victory at the PGA Championship comes nearly one year after 18-year-old Danny Lee, who was born in South Korea and raised in New Zealand, won the U.S. Amateur to replace Woods in the record book as the youngest champion.
Two years ago, Seung Yul Noh had the lowest qualifying score in the U.S. Junior Amateur.
As to its impact on some of the other countries in the Pacific Basin, that remains to be seen, Uihlein wrote. One could argue as competitive as the region is, if Korea steps on the pedal, then the other countries will too, so as not to be left too far behind.
At the moment, Yang stands alone ' the first Asian-born man to win a major, the first player anywhere to beat Woods after he led going into the last round of a major.
This is heartening, Dawson said. This is long overdue.
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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 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.


    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.”