After Further Review: USGA may have lost the players

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 20, 2016, 1:20 pm

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

On player reaction to USGA's handling of Dustin Johnson's penalty ...

By so badly botching the Dustin Johnson ruling in a critical moment Sunday, the USGA has lost the respect of the players, perhaps for good.

A rough few years for the organization – the anchoring ban, an unnecessarily compromised Merion, a bumpy Chambers Bay – has now gotten even worse.

This wasn’t a few grumpy players sounding off on the USGA’s handling and enforcement of Rule 18-2/0.5; it seemed like the entire PGA Tour emphatically disagreed with how it all went down. Here were a few of the words the stars used to describe the USGA’s absurd ruling: farce, ridiculous, embarrassing.

It has never sat well with the players that an organization of amateurs is policing the professionals, but this may prove to be the final straw. They’ve largely held their tongue over the past few years. Don’t expect them to stay silent any longer. – Ryan Lavner

On DJ's major potential ...

Following his victory this year at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, Adam Scott completed an interview with Claude Harmon III, who was moonlighting as a television announcer.  The conversation turned to Dustin Johnson, who Harmon coaches with his father, Butch. “He said, ‘Once he gets it figured out, we’re all playing for second,’” Harmon recently recalled.

On Sunday at Oakmont Johnson figured it out, overcoming a surreal episode that included a penalty that might not have been a penalty, an increasingly difficult golf course and the demons born from so many major losses.

Three days shy of his 32nd birthday, the man some thought couldn’t win a major suddenly looks like he could win any of them.  Rex Hoggard

On the DJ penalty controversy ...

I tweeted this shortly after the U.S. Open ended and it was retweeted and favorited quite a bit, and it’s something I truly believe. No one watching the U.S. Open rule debacle will say: “Hey, that looked cool. I want to wake up tomorrow, buy clubs and take up the game.”

I’m not a rules expert, never have been and never have professed to be. Let’s say the USGA got this one exactly right. Then why was there no one, and I mean no one, who agreed with anything they did in the waning hours of the Open? A group of the game’s biggest names – including Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Tiger Woods, among other – vented openly on social media about the USGA’s ineptness. They don’t agree on much of anything but were unanimous on this issue.

The rules forever have been too difficult and too vague. When an explanation comes that a ruling is made because “it’s more likely than not” that it happened, I get infuriated.

People may think golf’s cool because DJ is cool. But will never think it’s cool because of anything that has to do with arcane rules.  Jay Coffin

On two big USGA mistakes ...

The USGA’s first big mistake in the Dustin Johnson rules fiasco Sunday at the U.S. Open was reviewing the video and failing to immediately clear him of any rules violation after his ball moved once he stepped over it to putt at the fifth hole. Rule 18-2 as revised doesn’t require the rules committee to be 100 percent certain a player caused a ball to move to assess a one-stroke penalty.

Instead, the committee merely needs “the weight of evidence” to indicate the player caused the ball to move. With Lee Westwood and a referee at the hole failing to see cause to assess a penalty, it ought to take indisputable video evidence to conclude a penalty incurred, not “weighted evidence.”

The USGA’s second big mistake was going to Johnson at the 12th tee to inform him there was a potential violation and that they would further review it after the round. If Johnson was going to be assessed a penalty – and he was at the end of the round – it should have been decided right there.

By waiting, the USGA unnecessarily brought down a fog of confusion and angst  over the entire finish.  Randall Mell

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Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 9:06 pm

SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.

After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.

With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

“Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.

“I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. 

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Rahm: Playoff wasn't friendly, just 'nervous'

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:53 pm

SAN DIEGO – Too chummy? Jon Rahm says he and Andrew Landry were just expending some nervous energy on the walk up to the fairway during the first playoff hole of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

“I wouldn’t have been that nervous if it was friendly,” Rahm said with a smile Tuesday. “I think it was something he said because we were talking going out of the first tee.

“I didn’t know Andrew – I think it was a pretty good time to get to know him. We had at least 10 minutes to ourselves. It’s not like we were supporting each other, right? We were both in it together, we were both nervous together, and I felt like talking about it might have eased the tension out of both of us.”

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

On Sunday, two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange saw the exchange on TV and tweeted: “Walking off the tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me? Talking at all?”

Strange followed up by saying that, in a head-to-head situation, the last thing he’d want to do was make his opponent comfortable. When his comments went viral, Strange tweeted at Rahm, who won after four holes: “Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific. I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made an adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff. Not for me. A fan.”

Not surprisingly, the gregarious Rahm saw things differently.

“We only talked going out of the first tee up until the fairway,” he said. “Besides that, all we said was, ‘Good shot, good putt, see you on the next tee.’ That’s what it was reduced to. We didn’t say much.” 

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Tiger grouped with Reed, Hoffman at Torrey Pines

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:35 pm

SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods will make his 2018 debut alongside Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman.

The threesome will go off Torrey Pines’ South Course at 1:40 p.m. ET Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open. They begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday on the North Course.

Woods is an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, but he hasn’t broken 70 in his last seven rounds on either course. Last year, he shot rounds of 76-72 to miss the cut.

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

Reed, who has grown close to Woods after being in his pod during the past two international team competitions, is coming off a missed cut last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Hoffman, a San Diego native, has only two top-10s in 20 career starts at Torrey.

Other featured groups for the first two rounds include:

• Jon Rahm, Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker: 1:30 p.m. Thursday off South 1, 12:20 p.m. Friday off North 10

• Rickie Fowler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele: 12:30 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:30 p.m. Friday off South 1

• Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama: 12:40 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:40 p.m. Friday off South 1

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Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”