The Penalties in Golf are Serious Indeed
Or a basketball player shamefacedly approaching a referee and admitting, Hey, I got him. He missed the shot that would have won the game, and I certainly didnt mean to, but I got him on the arm. Ill take the foul and watch him go to the free-throw line.
A baseball player rounds third and scores on a single to right, but as he crosses home plate with the winning run, he confesses. Oh lordy lordy, I didnt touch third base. I know that means that we lose the game, but I have to be honest. Call me 'out.
Its good for a belly laugh, I guess. If hes a golfer, though, those little scenarios arent funny at all. A golfer is expected to fess up, regardless of the consequence. Thats if he realizes he made a mistake and speaks up immediately. If he unknowingly commits an infraction, the penalty is severe indeed. Disqualification, perhaps?
Just this year, for instance, Greg Norman has faced disqualification twice for violating the same rule. Seems that, after all those years as a professional, he still occasionally misinterprets the rule for dropping a ball after it goes in the water. It happened first at the Honda Classic, which was bad enough. That was close to home in Palm Beach, Fla. The second time it happened, it was really a doozy ' the BMW Asian Open. That was in Shanghai, China, a good 10,000 miles from where he regularly beds down for the night.
Sometimes the penalty is for something you have no idea you are even violating. David Frost was DQd for missing a starting time for a pro-am, for goodness sakes! It was at the Byron Nelson, and Frost swears he didnt even know he was supposed to participate. Oh, well
Last week at the Buick Championship in Hartford, another one was called which tipped the scales of incredulity. This time the guilty party was Dudley Hart. He got the boot in the middle of the second round when his 3-iron turned up with a badly bent shaft. He swears he doesnt remember kicking it, throwing it or tampering with it in any way to cause the kink.
That, of course, is a violation of ol rule 411, the one that states if you start the round with a non-conforming club, youre outta here.
Jon Brendle was the tour official who had the unpleasant lot of informing Hart of the consequences.
Somebody could have kicked the bag in the locker room or something like that, but the USGA takes it that you're responsible for checking your clubs before you play. They take that stand on it, Brendle said.
Brendle, being the gentlemen that he is, gave Hart the chance to come up with a plausible story. Just about anything that Hart said would have been plausible enough. But Hart was stumped. So, Brendle had no choice but administer the old heave-ho.
Had he been able to say he did it in the first four holes - he just can't play with it and there's no disqualification, Brendle said. But in this case, since he couldn't tell us and he was honest enough not to make up a story about it, he got the bad end of that.
Of course, Hart probably has made up excuses a thousand times to tell his wife why he didnt stop at the store on the way home for a quart of milk. But he had to tell one about why the club was bent. And he froze.
The weird thing about it is, said Brendle, if you were out practicing and you went and got a drink and I fell over your bag and didn't say anything to you and you went over to the tee and then you started your round and pulled out a club that was bent, you'd get disqualified for it because at the first tee you're responsible for checking your equipment.
Had he been able to tell us that he tripped over it after play was started or something, then he can't play that club.
Brendle even would have helped him think of an excuse, it seems. If his caddie said after we pulled it out, I threw something over there or I kicked the bag or something like that on the second hole, if he could have come up with any kind of story like that - but nothing like that was there. He couldn't come up with a story.
Hart, incidentally, never saw the 3-iron during the day. He said he hadnt used it during the round, nor had he hit it during his warm-up. His caddy pulled it when he was about to play it on of his fourth hole - the 13th. Hmmm, something doesnt look right, the caddy said. The club was bent like a hockey stick.
Brendle, who hates these disqualification situations, tried everything he knows to keep it from happening this time. He urged Hart to think ' now, what really happened? Think about it, now
But Hart, who is nothing if not brutally honest, couldnt come up with an explanation. Brendle, as befits the rules of golf, had to do his duty. Hart was ejected.
Now, if only Brendle were a line judge and Hart were a lineman. Can you imagine that scenario? Not on your life!
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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59
Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.
While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.
He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.
"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."
Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.
"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."
Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot
When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.
Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.
"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"
The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.
Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.
"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."
DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.
Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.
"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."
Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.
Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.
"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."
Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.
"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."
LPGA lists April date for new LA event
The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.
When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.
The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.
The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.