Augusta Enjoys Futures Lead

By Futures Tour MediaJuly 30, 2004, 4:00 pm
Futures TourBELTSVILLE, Md. -- In a week that began with 5 1/4 inches of rain within a 24-hour period, the opening round of the Children's Hospital Futures Golf Classic looked certain to be soggy.
 
But the inaugural event at Cross Creek Golf Club was blessed with warm and sunny conditions for Thursday's pro-am, and with dramatically improved conditions by today's opening round. In a herculean effort by the club's grounds crew, the flooded greens, fairways and bunkers were pumped and groomed, allowing veteran Kim Augusta to fire a 5-under-par 66 for the first-round lead.
 
It was an impressive start for more than one reason, said player Kris Tamulis of Naples, Fla. 'I walked the course on Wednesday and it took two days for my shoes to dry out,' she said. 'I'm amazed they got it to this condition. There's plenty of soft ground and it's wet, but all the casual water is gone.'
 
So were Augusta's worries with her flat stick. The non-exempt LPGA Tour member rolled in 26 putts with one three-putt green and moved closer to the elusive win she has sought for nine professional seasons.
 
'It has been my putting that's held me back,' said Augusta, 32, a native of Rumford, R.I. 'If you don't put yourself in that position every week, it's hard to get your momentum going. But I've remained the optimist. I've seen improvement every year. And I don't see the age thing.'
 
That's probably good since Augusta, who recorded eight birdies and three bogeys, is being chased by a group of young pros fresh out of college.
 
Meaghan Francella, 22, who just completed her final season at the University of North Carolina, carded her season-low round of 67 to take the first-round lead for most of the morning, but she was joined in the afternoon by recent Vanderbilt University grad Courtney Wood, who matched her 67 for a share of second place.
 
Hot on their heels was recent Ohio State University grad Allison Hanna, with a 3-under-par first-round score of 68, alongside second-year pro Heidi Chua of Manila, The Philippines.
 
'Sometimes you play your best golf on courses like this when you haven't seen it,' said Wood, 22, of Brentwood, Tenn. 'Because of the rain on Wednesday, I only played the front nine.'
 
But Wood hit 15 greens, 12 fairways, made no bogeys, sunk 29 putts and made a tough course look easy on a day when 22 players of the 144-player field scored in the 80s. The field just beat sunset to complete the late-finishing first round. For the day, 22 players scored at par or better and only six players ventured into the 60s. The course became increasingly punitive in the afternoon as winds kicked up and the greens quickened.
 
Putting, however, was the safest part of the game for many players in the first round of the inaugural $70,000 event. While the par-71 course measures 6,100 yards -- shorter than most Futures Tour venues -- the tight layout with numerous Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs) kept rules officials hopping with more than 100 rulings for the day and players scowling over irretrievable miscues from tees and fairways. One player, Jessica Lewis of nearby Bethesda, Md., had a sizable 150-yard marker boulder rolled out of the way by four men on the 11th hole, only to ultimately lose her ball.
 
It was a day that required immeasurable patience, but rookie Francella played older than her years. She took last week off, returned to her college stomping grounds in Chapel Hill, N.C., and spent the week puzzling over mental strategies with her sports psychologist and putting mysteries with her swing coach. By the time she pointed her car toward the Washington, D.C. area for this week's tournament, her most pressing golf woes were sorted.
 
'I needed to get my head in the right place,' said Francella, playing in only her fourth Futures Golf Tour tournament as a professional. 'It all just clicked today and everything went in.'
 
Francella coaxed in 27 putts for a round that included five birdies and a single bogey. Hanna, who finished second last week in Syracuse, N.Y., hit 16 greens and each of the 13 fairways.
 
'We play all of these different kinds of courses out here and every week, I try to come up with a game plan and stick to it,' said Hanna, who joined the Tour in late May after the NCAA Women's Championship. 'On a course like this, you have to put yourself in the fairway. I didn't hit my driver super long, but I hit it straight.'
 
Lori Atsedes of Ithaca, N.Y., posted a 2-under-par round of 69 on a day that included four birdies and two 3-putt-bogeys.
 
'You have to play a little on the defensive here with a very controlled game,' said the veteran. 'I hit a lot of knock-down shots in the wind today. And I made some good saves and some good birdies.'
 
But keeping the ball in play is the name of the game at Cross Creek. And in the words of Atsedes, there's only one truth as certain as the summer rain.
 
'In golf, the player who rolls it well, wins,' said Atsedes.
 
Saturdays second round of the 54-hole tournament will begin at 8 a.m., off the first and 10th tees. The leaders will tee off at 1:51 p.m.
 
Related Links:
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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.”