Gleason Claims Back-to-Back Win on Futures Tour
'The little kid strikes again,' laughed the pint-sized Gleason of Clearwater, Fla., who carded a 6-under-par 66 to force a playoff at 207 (-9) against Dana Lacey of North Beach , W. Australia , who carded a 2-under-par 70 in the final round.
Lacey appeared poised to earn her first professional win, playing strong down the stretch with birdies on holes 14 and 15. But then along came Gleason, who birdied five straight holes on the back nine. Gleason's putter was so hot, she coaxed in eight one-putts and carded one two-putt green for a total of 10 putts on her back nine. When she drained a 5-foot birdie on the 18th hole to tie Lacey for the lead, the second-year pro promptly went to the practice green and waited for Lacey to finish.
But playing three groups behind Gleason, the Aussie, also in her second Futures Tour season, was unable to convert her 20-footer for birdie. Her putt fell a foot short and a stroke shy of finishing off the tournament in regulation. Returning to the 18th tee to start the playoff, both found the fairway easily. Lacey's approach landed on the front of the green, leaving a 35-foot uphill tester. Gleason hit her approach to 12 feet below the hole on nearly the same line she'd had in regulation. The Floridian ended it there when her birdie putt found the heart of the cup. Lacey took par and settled for runner-up honors.
And while Gleason's win was worth a $9,800 payday, both players walked away with more than just a jingle in their pocket. Lacey fought back tears of satisfaction in spite of coming up short in the playoff.
'I'm ecstatic at the moment because this has been a long time coming,' said Lacey, 22, one of Australia's top amateurs two years ago before turning pro. 'This feels like a turning point for me.'
The turning point was about more than just making it to a playoff. Lacey got her feelings hurt during the previous week's tournament when her mother, visiting from Australia, told the pro that her 'attitude stunk' on the golf course. Lacey missed the 36-hole cut at that event in Lima, Ohio. The words stung the pro for several days. But the more she thought about it, the more she was forced to look at herself and see how her negative approach fed her poor performance on the course. She could see how her final rounds were her worst rounds. And she could see the parallel between her attitude and missing tournament cuts.
So Lacey tried a new approach this week. She listened to the rock band, Coldplay, on her earphones while she practiced and tried to put a smile on her face while she played. She e-mailed happy golf stories to her boyfriend in West Virginia. The result was that she turned around her attitude and turned in her career-best Futures Tour performance.
'She's been freaking headless about her final-round finishes, so today is really important,' said Melanie Holmes-Smith of Melbourne, Australia, Lacey's travel partner on the Futures Tour. 'Dana was unbeatable on the amateur ranks. She won just about everything she could win, so when she turned pro, she was ready for it to happen on this level. Of course, this is a game of patience.'
It also was a game of patience for Gleason, 24, who described her front nine on the 6,456-yard Hickory Point Golf Course as 'nothing special' with only one bogey and one birdie. Her back nine, however, was the epitome of why Gleason -- all 5-foot-4, 112 pounds of her -- has become so feared on Sunday afternoons.
'She can get up and down from the trash can,' said Futures Tour member Janell Howland of Boise, Idaho, who missed the cut and caddied for Gleason in the final round. 'Four of six birdies were inside four feet.'
'If you watch her play, it's nothing fancy, but when she starts making 20 and 30-footers four or five times a round, watch out,' said Kristy McPherson of Conway, S.C., who played in Gleason's final-round pairing and tied for eighth. 'Her putter is just ridiculously hot and she has confidence. That's what it takes -- the confidence to get the ball in the hole.'
And now that she has cracked the top-five on the Futures Tour's money list, moving to No. 4, Gleason admits that the agonizing decision she made last Monday to pull out of an LPGA Tour event was the best choice she could have made. A non-exempt member of the LPGA Tour, Gleason was second alternate at the Wegman's Rochester LPGA tournament last week in Rochester, N.Y., but she had to make a decision.
She had driven all the way up to Rochester from Ohio for the U.S. Women's Open qualifying tournament, but when she missed making the Open field, Gleason wrestled with the decision to withdraw her name from the LPGA event and hustle back down to Illinois. Gleason finally withdrew her name and drove 750 miles to Decatur in an attempt to improve her No. 8 ranking. How could she have known that she would win again and rocket to No. 4 on the money list?
'I really believe whatever happens, happens for a reason,' said Gleason, who played golf collegiately at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. 'If I would have qualified for the Open, I would have stayed in Rochester for the LPGA tournament. If I had done that, this wouldn't have happened here this week.'
And Gleason wouldn't be poised to earn her full LPGA Tour status at the end of the year by finishing in the top five on the money list. Certainly, she'll have more decisions to make about her tournament schedules on the two tours in the coming weeks, but one thing is obvious about her performance today: when her putter is hot, there's no messing around.
Oh sure, Gleason might be the mischievous 'little kid' who keeps a rubber snake in her golf bag for practice range gags. And she's the player who sometimes rolls those trick wobbly balls onto the practice green to make her peers think they've been in the sun too long.
But make no mistake about that twinkle in her eye. It's just the sign of a winner who's enjoying the ride.
PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation
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
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.
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
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.”
PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes
The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:
The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.
We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.