Monty Relaxed At Home in the States

By George WhiteMarch 22, 2001, 5:00 pm
Colin Montgomerie was quite the comedian. Sitting at the dais at the Players Championship, he got off so many one-liners that people forgot for a moment this was the guy they were supposed to dislike. Colin Montgomerie or John Candy?
 
Q: If you could pick whom you would play with in the final pairing, who would it be?
 
Colin Montgomerie: Me and the fellow that's three behind me. (Laughter.)
 
Colin has been over here in the States for over a week now. He played at Bay Hill - not well, but he played. He brought from England the same bugaboo that plagued him last year - his putting. 'I played particularly badly the last day and shot 1-under,' he said. 'So at least I putted well the last day.'
 

For seven years, Montgomerie was untouchable when it came to European golf. From 1993 through 1999, he was No. 1 in the Order of Merit, which is what Euros call their money standings. Last year, he played 23 times, which was the most ever since 1994. And he finished sixth. That is the price you must pay when you don't get the ball in the hole - which Monty didn't do nearly enough last year.
 
For several years, of course, Montgomerie was a feared man in the U.S. championships. It started in 1991 when he was a nameless Ryder Cup rookie and played Mark Calcavecchia in singles at Kiawah Island. Calcavecchia was 5-up at the turn. With four holes left, Calc was still 4-up. But Monty, of course, did the unbelievable. He won all four of the final holes and came back to tie the match.
 
The U.S. Open of '92 really brought his name to the public. Fighting terrible conditions at Pebble Beach, he finished a couple of hours ahead of the finishers on Sunday. An even-par finish after 72 holes convinced Jack Nicklaus to crown him the winner. But Tom Kite rallied on the back nine to beat him, as did Jeff Sluman with a birdie at the 18th.
 
In '94, he lost a playoff for the Open to Ernie Els. In '95, he lost a playoff for the PGA to Steve Elkington. In 1996 he finished tied for second in this Players Championship to Fred Couples. And in '97, he was second in the Open again to Els.
 
That, though, was his last time to compete for a major. After that, he had to be content to be Europe's best in the Ryder Cup in '97 and '99. The putter had killed him time and time again. He wasn't particularly horrible. He just didn't putt to major championship standards.
 
He says he has put in many long hours putting with his coach, Paul Marchand of Houston. He was starting his stroke by getting the blade back first. Now he is working on getting the entire club and his hands to make a simultaneous motion, getting the handle to rock backwards in time with the blade. 'But you've got to get back with it to get through, and it has not been going back to get through,' he explained. 'There's no point in not having a backswing to have a follow-through.'
 
Of course, there are the whispers. Montgomerie is 37 years old now, an age some fear is too old to think about that first major victory. He must show he can handle the putter again in a reliable manner. Some point to the problems he had in his home life last year, though Montgomerie says everything is rosy now. But he is nowhere the favorite that he once was.
 
Monty concedes all that. 'Yes,' he says, 'I would like to win here. But it will not change me nor my life in any way, shape or form if I don't.'
 
There was a time a couple of years back when Montgomerie considered establishing a base in the United States and playing a full-time schedule. One reason he didn't do it was that his string of money titles in Europe was still intact. Another was the hostile reaction he had received here recently in his Open and Ryder Cup appearances. Still another was that his children were growing up, needing desperately to be in their home country, and their father needed to be where he was most comfortable, too.
 
'Yes, I did consider it,' Monty said. 'And I considered it a great deal a couple of years ago, about three years ago, I believe. And it was just not right for me at that time.
 
'With the events on the schedule at that time, I felt like I was coming over here more anyway, so there was no need for me to play full-time over here. And that will remain. As I say, I play about eight or nine tournaments over here now every year, and I play about 15 at home and five other tournaments around the world, and that's my 30.'
 
Of course, Nick Faldo, Jose Maria Olazabal, Jesper Parnevik, and Miguel Angel Jimenez, to name a few, feel that they had achieved all they could in Europe and had to move here to get better. Should Montgomerie, now that he is already is his late 30s? The feeling is that his best golf days are already behind him and he would be wise to stay where he is with his wife and children. Apparently he feels the same way, too.
 
Montgomerie, by the way, feels The Players is a major already. It just hasn't been classified as such.
 
'This is a major championship,' he said with emphasis. 'You'd be doing well to say that you are not a major champion if you win this event. This is a major. I don't know who makes the rules or who decides the four or five or six or how many majors we have in this world, but this is a major championship of all proportion.'
 
He didn't seem at all the ogre that he sometimes appears on the golf course. Hey, maybe we were wrong. On the other hand, maybe we were right but he has changed.
 
At any rate, this is Colin, and he has made an enormous impact on golf in the States in the '90s, even though he hasn't lived here since he was a collegian back in the mid-'80s at tiny Houston Baptist. Stay in England but come here to play your eight times, Monty. The sport dearly needs you.
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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.”

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PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

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:

PGA Tour:

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.

LPGA:

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.