After Further Review: McIlroy rounding into form

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 20, 2017, 2:48 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Rory somehow flying under the Masters radar ...

If it’s possible for a player of his stature, Rory McIlroy will fly a bit under the radar at this year’s Masters. Dustin Johnson has the top ranking. Jordan Spieth has the redemption angle. And McIlroy, well, he’s looking to capture the final leg of the career Grand Slam, but he doesn’t have a win in three starts this year to ratchet up the hype.

The good news for him is that he’s come awfully close in all three, including Sunday at Bay Hill, where he came to the 18th tee with a share of the lead but finished two shots back. Rory is driving the ball longer than ever, his iron game appears sharp, and he’s putting more consistently than last year. The only thing he hasn’t been able to do is string four solid rounds together. What better time than Augusta? – Ryan Lavner


On the success of the LPGA's Founders Cup ...

The Bank of Hope Founders Cup is just that. It’s a Bank of Hope invested in the future of women’s golf. There’s a brilliant twist in how LPGA commissioner Mike Whan pulls this off every year, the way his creation honors the game’s past, the LPGA’s founders and pioneers, while funding LPGA-USGA Girls Golf.

Give Whan credit. The importance of this tournament shouldn’t be underestimated. It may not be a major in official designation, but it’s major in what it means to the past and future of women’s golf. It’s a wonderful bit of magic in how time intertwines in this event. – Randall Mell


On Tiger's chances to play the Masters ...

We're two weeks away from the Masters and there are no reports of Tiger Woods playing a full round of golf anywhere since he withdrew from the Dubai Desert Classic in early February.

NBC's Mike Tirico spoke to Woods this week, and the 14-time major champion said he'd returned to "some limited golf activity," and he remained optimistic he could still play in the year's first major. If he somehow manages to tee it up at Augusta, it's hard to imagine any kind of good form from the four-time Masters champion. – Ryan Reiterman

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.

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm