They All Bow Down to Praise Plucky Meg

By George WhiteJuly 6, 2004, 4:00 pm
That wise old sage Annika Sorenstam summed up the talented youngsters at the U.S. Womens Open in one tidy phrase. These amateurs are here to learn and see what it's all about, she said. And one of these days they will be Meg.
 
Meg is Meg Mallon, of course ' the champion of the Womens Open. Meg is 41 years old. She doesnt win nearly as often as Annika Sorenstam, doesnt usually win as spectacularly as Se Ri Pak or Karrie Webb. But shes a plugger, a real grinder, and when she wins one, its usually a biggie.
 
Mallon has 16 victories over-all. But she has now won the Open twice, the LPGA Championship once, and before its demise, the du Maurier. Thats four majors, or a one-in-four ratio.
 
The Womens Open has had a rather wacky series of winners the last couple of decades. In 1985 Kathy Baker Guadignano won it for her first career victory ' one of only two in her career. In 87 a young English woman, Laura Davies, won for the first time in America, and in 88 a Swede, Liselotte Neumann, won for the first time in the U.S. Even Sorenstam was a first-time winner when she prevailed in the 95 Open. She since has gone on to win 51 more times, of course.
 
Remember when Lauri Merten won in 93? That was one of only three career victories. Alison Nicholas out-dueling Nanny Lopez in 97? One of only four career wins. And Hilary Lunke last year ' that was one of the most improbable Open wins. It is the only top-10 finish of her three-year career.
 
Then again, the last two decades have provided six two-time winners. Betsy King won it in 89, then came right back for another victory in 90. Patty Sheehan won twice, Sorenstam twice, Juli Inkster twice and Karrie Webb won back-to-back.
 
Always, though, there was Mallon. She won the Open in 1991 at Colonial, then had a couple of runners-up - in 95 to Sorenstam and to Webb in 2000. But finally, Mallon has joined the others with her second Open success.
 
When you have history, you just know all the things can go wrong, said Mallon. I've had two second place finishes in the U.S. Opens, and to me they were disasters.
 
I kick-started Annika's career in '95 - she was five shots behind me and came back and won her first win. In 2000 I made - had four 3-putts on the back side to lose to Karrie Webb. So there's a lot of history back there, a lot of things you have to fight off. ... It's, by far, all a mental challenge, more so than anything else.
 
If its a mental challenge, of course, Mallon has an advantage going in. Shes loosey-goosey, an easy-going lady that is not going to feel an overwhelming amount of pressure, regardless of the event. And, it doesnt hurt that the Womens Open is her favorite tournament each year.
 
I like the difficult conditions and I like how you have to work the ball around the golf course and use your short game and use all facets of your game, said Mallon. That's why the U.S. Open is my favorite event.
 
Sunday she shot 65, one of the great come-from-behind rounds of all-time. Some say its the greatest round ever in Womens Open competition. One thing is certain ' its the greatest round of Mallons long career.
 
This is, agreed Mallon Sunday. You know, I said the Open I won in '91 - I shot 67 the last day to come from behind, and felt like that was a pretty darn good round, too. Today I just - I mean it was the same thing, I don't think I made a bogey in that round, either. And today I didn't, and it was incredible. Everything went right.
 
One thing is for certain ' it had to be one of the most popular wins ever in Open history. Mallon is very popular with her fellow competitors, and even while Mallon was beating them, there was open-mouthed appreciation for what she was doing. Listen to what her opponents said after she won:
 
SORENSTAM: Meg just played extraordinary today. To shoot 6-under on Sunday at the U.S. Open, that's as good as it gets, really She's as steady as it gets. I think this golf course really fit her and she did a good job I don't know how many of you thought there would be a 65 in the last few groups, but Meg proved us all wrong today.
 
JENNIFER ROSALES: She played unbelievable golf today. She deserves to win she just made everything that she looked at. I couldn't believe it, she just made everything that she looked at. You know, you just have those days I always love playing with her, she's an awesome playing partner - her swing, her rhythm, everything.
 
KELLY ROBBINS: Fabulous. What great golf. Meg is such a good player when she's good. So solid, straight, and hits a lot of greens. She can putt with the best of them when she's putting well. Very impressive today.
 
MICHELLE WIE: It's awesome. What did I say yesterday - if someone shoots 65 and wins, I'm happy with that. But it's awesome.
 
And Sorenstam the Sage? Again, a summation that says it all. Mallon is in her 40s, but that doesnt matter at all, said Annika.
 
It shows that age doesn't really matter. But it does show that you need experience, and especially in a championship like this. Meg is the perfect major winner.
 
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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.