Plenty of Wrongs in Michelle Matter

By George WhiteOctober 22, 2005, 4:00 pm
This one will never die, no matter how much information you have to determine the rights or wrongs of the argument. There is far too much involved in the Great Wie Caper to dismiss it with a quick wave of the hand.
 
I wasnt at the site of the incident, and neither were 99.9 percent of the people who have reacted so violently about it, so I have to be extremely careful what I say. But this was such a complex issue, one whereby several factors were involved. And there was blame enough to go all around the room, beginning with the main character, Michelle Wie.
 
Michelle Wie
Opinions about Michelle Wie's controversial 'drop' at the Samsung World Championship will probably go on forever.
* Wie was wrong in not calling for an official in the first place. She may have been exactly right in taking the drop where she did, but it was far too close to not have another pair of eyes ' an officials eyes ' to make certain it was a correct drop.
 
But Michelle and her playing partner, Grace Park, were playing in the last group and were getting further and further behind the field. If Wie thought of calling for a referee, she probably didnt for fear of falling further behind. She dropped once and, believing her ball had rolled closer to the hole, picked it up and dropped again. She seemed certain that she had proceeded correctly this time, so getting an official to ascertain the distance must have seemed like a moot point.
 
* Secondly, the LPGA officials were wrong in deciding to assess the penalty ' not because they had the incorrect information in making the decision, but because they could not make a precise determination without having been personally at the scene. They determined Wies drop was wrong by 12, 15, 18 inches. That is far too close to make such an imperial judgment, one which would disqualify Wie from the tournament.
 
There was no way to precisely determine where Wies ball was found in the bush. And there was no way to determine precisely where she dropped it, especially after 30 hours had gone by. I am assuming here that they could tell the exact pin location from the previous day, but could they?
 
Officials relied on Wies word ' Here is where the ball was found, and here is where I dropped it. But even that isnt infallible, not when you are discussing 12 inches difference in a measure of approximately 90 feet.
 
Im not saying that in every such instance there is no way an official can make a ruling. But when the determination is declared to be of such a narrow margin, you cant possibly declare the ball was unequivocally closer to the hole after the drop.
 
* The LPGA was wrong in not having enough officials to go 18 holes with each group. There were 10 pairings among the small field of 20 players ' only 10 officials were needed - and the LPGA has decided that this is a marquee event. Because there were only two officials present, this black eye had to happen.
 
* Grace Park was wrong in not carefully scrutinizing Wies drop. She was Wies playing partner, but instead of carefully watching the drop and then reporting that she felt the drop was improper (if it was), Park stayed on the green 20 yards away.
 
* The reporter who brought up the incident, Michael Bamberger, was wrong for a couple of reasons. He should never have waited until the next day if he thought a violation had occurred ' the player would thus be forced to pay the ultimate penalty, disqualification, for something that could have been prevented if he had notified an official that day. Approximately 2 1/2 hours remained before Wie would sign her card, and there simply is no excuse for delaying the announcement until Sunday.
 
Now, that having been said, a strong argument can be made that Bamberger shouldnt have said anything anyway. He was at the tournament strictly as a reporter. He didnt have to pay to get in, he wasnt an opponent or an opponents caddy trying to protect the field. His decision to interject himself into the play of the tournament, instead of merely reporting on the events as they transpired, certainly will be debated for a long time.
 
Let me say, though, that I can find no hidden agenda in Bambergers act. He certainly didnt do it to sell magazines, as so many e-mailers have charged. There wont be 50 more Sports Illustrateds sold this week because of his revelations, and if every one of you who reported that you would never read SI again ' if you have stuck to your statements, SI lost big-time on the deal.
 
* And finally, all of professional golf was wrong for allowing this third party to decide the fate of a tournament participant a day after the incident took place. I am truly wary of an organization which allows such shenanigans ' and I call them shenanigans because they undoubtedly will cause many more call-ins to take place in the future ' to occur. The tours have a little validity in that they claim because the sport takes place over 200 acres, it would be impossible for them to police activity over such a wide area, that it is necessary to have Mr. or Mrs. Spectator tell them if they think they see a violation.
 
That occurs in no other sport ' it doesnt happen in football, and there is no way the referees can see the entire field at all times. And it shouldnt be allowed to happen in golf. But ' it REALLY should not be allowed to happen 30 hours after the fact.
 
Incidentally, much has been made of pictures showing Wie taking her drop with her arm below shoulder lever. This, the pundits say, would make it irrelevant where the drop was, since it is illegal anyway.
 
To this I say, photos taken immediately before the drop do seem to indicate her arm in an illegal position. However, photos taken from a different angle immediately as the ball is dropped indicate the arm was raised to a proper height. I cant tell that a violation has occurred.
 
At any rate, this will probably set off yet another avalanche of e-mails. But it is my final say on the matter. The matter became dead the moment the disqualification was announced, and now its left to the Monday Morning Quarterbacks to rehash the issues. And I, matter of fact, have just become one.
 
Email your thoughts to George White
Getty Images

Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

Getty Images

Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

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.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


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.

Getty Images

Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

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.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


''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.

Getty Images

Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

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.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


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.