Tigers Troubles - Number 4765

By George WhiteAugust 5, 2004, 4:00 pm
That word alone is enough to bring in a hundred irate e-mails from those who think ANY mention of him is just too much. Im so sick of you sportswriters writing about Woods, they always begin. Isnt there anyone else you can write about?
A hundred more will be violently opposed to anything that is considered the least bit negative. Why do you guys always feel you have to criticize everything Tiger does? they ask. Hes the greatest player ever, and all you writers do is cut him down!
So, now that Ive riled up 100 percent of you, Ill continue with todays sermon. And it is ' I dont really know what has caused the hiccup in Tiger Woods' performance the last couple of years.
Five wins a year is quite a dropoff from the 17 he posted in the combined years of 1999 and 2000. He won five in each of the last three years. But he wont reach five this year ' at the moment he has won just once, and no stroke play tournaments.
Its been two years since he last won a major, straddling the past nine events. Coincidentally, that is when he and his coach, Butch Harmon, parted company. Isnt that the reason he has slipped?
Well, maybe yes, maybe no. Woods vehemently denies any correlation, and I certainly give some credence to his opinion. Hes a smart guy, and I just cant believe that, if Harmons absence was the true reason for his backslide, that Woods would continue to stay away just to be spiteful. Obviously two years is long enough to see a disturbing trend developing, and Tiger is bright enough to see the writing on the wall.
On the other hand, would it be a problem to try Harmon again, just in case? The two worked together so brilliantly for so long, and youve just got to wonder But Woods says no, that wont happen. He says he knows enough now that he should be able to correct anything amiss. And he obviously believes it.
Lets just suppose that Woods is right. And if we presume so, then we have to find another critical juncture where his career took a downturn. That would be when Tiger had the knee injury. He experienced continual pain throughout the 2002 season, finally having arthroscopic surgery in December of that year.
As he continually favored the knee, his swing got more and more out of kilter. Then after the operation, he couldnt practice for a couple of months. And theres reason to believe that this is when his fall really began. After favoring the knee through the whole 2002 season, then being forced off it into 2003, he lost the beautiful, rhythmic motion. What youve seen is what happened last year and into 2004.
One possible flaw in the knee theory is that he played so well immediately upon returning. He won three tournaments in his first three months back ' his debut at the Buick Invitational, the WGC-Accenture Match Play and Bay Hill. If you dont like the injury excuse, heres where you can opt out.
By the way, forget the Elin Theory. Some people have tried to make a case that his involvement and cohabitation with Elin Nordegren is somehow the cause of his problems. It isnt, of course. Yes, she became a housemate in 2002, but that has meant nothing as far as his golf swing is concerned. It certainly didnt hinder Jack Nicklaus when Jack was married before he turned professional. It might have some effect when Tiger decides to have children. But now ' youve got to be kidding.
A lot of people have pointed to Nicklaus downturn from the ages of 27 to 29 as a mirror image of Tiger. Jack didnt win a major for those three years, and some theorize that it is just a natural progression that Tiger has reached an age when he is somewhat burned out.
Nicklaus lost a father who was ill during this time, however, a father to whom he was extremely close. He said himself that the tragedy took away much of his desire to practice, until he finally rededicated himself and once again began practicing with the zeal of old. So dont put much credence in this comparison with Tiger. There hasnt been a burnout or anything similar.
Woods, it must be noted, has performed his worst this year at the biggest tournaments. At two of the majors ' the Masters and the U.S. Open ' he finished tied for 22nd and tied for 17th, respectively. At the Players Championship, he slipped back to a tie for 16th. The other place where he didnt finish top 10 or better was at Bay Hill, where he was trying to win for the fifth straight time. He finished T46 in that one.
Of course, he has again made every single cut and finished 22nd or better except for Bay Hill. Hes already had a good season by normal standards. Its just that, by Tiger Woods standards, it has not been good.
One thing that has always been admirable about Tiger, though, is his refusal to make excuses. When he doesnt win ' which he hasnt done nearly as regularly these days ' he says it is merely because he didnt hit enough good shots. None of this luck factor or the dog ate my homework. He looks you squarely in the eye and tells you why he didnt finish in first place - that he didnt hit as many good shots as the winner.
He does, however, come to compete every single time he shows up. The proof is in the number of consecutive cuts that he has made.
It (the cut streak) is important to me because there's a lot of pride involved, Woods said. There's a lot of times when I hit it just God-awful and somehow got it around and made the cut. Other times, I've gotten very lucky and made the cut, too. The scores have come back.
So I think it goes to show you that I always try as hard as I can. I never give up. I never bag it. I play hard from the first time I put the peg in the ground to the last putt.
So the reason that he has not played as well certainly cant be attributed to lack of effort. But Butch? The knee? Some other factor? God only knows.
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

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.


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.”