Does Golf Make Too Much of Politeness
Davis Love the Nerd - mocking his name, Davis Love III - was his frequent moniker for Love as he railed about the incident in which Love had the Tiger Woods fan ejected on the afternoon of the championship match at the Accenture.
To begin with, the columnist wasnt there when the nastiness was going on. I wasnt either, by the way ' I had been at LaCosta earlier in the week but had left by the time the Love-Woods match was played Sunday. So we both are in the same boat, reacting solely to what was told us.
I will quote Love himself and PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem. Loves version pinpoints the heckling at the first hole of the afternoon, the 19th overall. First, only his caddie heard it. On the second hole, Love himself heard it. The fan kept saying No Love! repeatedly, and when Love had heard it enough, he stepped up to the ropes, identified the young man, and had him ejected.
Was Love right or wrong? There are a thousand different ways to argue this one. No, the young man apparently didnt curse. He didnt show visual signs of being inebriated. He was a rabid Tiger fan with TW on the cap he was wearing. He rooted loud and long when Woods did something positive ' a fact duly noted, and applauded, by Love. But then he took his zeal one step further and began verbally attacking Love.
I know, I know ' such an outburst at a Duke basketball game would be laughable. There ' in any basketball game, as a matter of fact ' the idea isnt just to root on your own team. The idea is to jeer an opposing player until he eventually breaks down, missing a free throw or somesuch, or actually acknowledging the heckling with some sort of a gesture.
Thats OK, believes the columnist, who obviously has been to a multitude of sports events. His informer didnt believe the heckling was too bad. Shoot, a little friendly jibing, nothing too extreme, just a fella who wanted his man to win and Love to lose. After all, we assume, the kid paid for his ticket.
OK ' the problem is this: how close is he allowed to come to the player at a Duke basketball game? And how close is he allowed to come at a golf tournament?
In our sport, said Finchem, we give the fan an unusual amount of access and proximity to the athlete ' something you dont see in any other sport.
But, we expect ' and really must demand ' that if youre going to have that access, you have to conduct yourself in a way that is not interfering with the flow of competition.
Fans, you see, come so close to players on the tee that they could spit on them. Many times, a player walks through the crowd going from the green to the next tee. A player must walk about 200 yards through the crowds at Doral to get from the practice range to the putting green. If a fan so desires, he could walk step-by-step with the player of his choice.
And if the PGA Tour so desired, it could move the ropes far back from the action ' as far back as one would be at a football game, for example. They could move the player from driving range to putting green in an enclosed vehicle. No one would be allowed to ask a player for his autograph at the 18th green. The over-exuberant fan would be shuttled far to the back, as well as the guy who just wants to get close to his hero.
Does it bother the player to hear a loud yelp when he is making his backswing? Some, it does. Tigers dad used to rattle change while Tiger was making his swing, just to make him mentally tough. Most professional golfers, though, didnt have that kind of training. Most kids practicing field goals or free throws dont, either.
So is yelling wrong on the golf course? It all depends, I guess, on youre interpretation of wrong. I definitely have a personal viewpoint ' of course its wrong! But I have that view of loudmouth hecklers at a football game, a basketball game or a hockey game. Those sports tolerate the garbage that spews from the ticket buyers, so it must be OK in those arenas.
Golf, though, hasnt tolerated it very well. The reason, says Finchem, is that it affords fans a very up-close-and-personal look at the athletes. To some of you, golf should grow up and come kicking into the 21st century, where a fan pays for his ticket and is afforded the right to mentally break down athletes.
In so doing, though, something is lost. A very human quality called respect goes out the window. And at the golf tournament, officials have shown time and again they are not going to put up with it. If they ever do, the heckling fan is going to be a long, long way from his athlete-victim.
Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.
Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.
“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”
The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.
“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”
Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.
Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder
LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.
Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.
''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''
It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.
''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''
Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.
''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''
After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.
''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''
He's making his first start in the event.
''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.
Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.
''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''
Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.
''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.
The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.
''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''
Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.
''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.
Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.
Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.
Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.
John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.
Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years
Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.
He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.
How rare is his missing the cut there?
The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.
The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.
The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.
Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.
Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.
Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur
Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.
The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.
They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.
It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.
“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”
The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.
The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.