Davis shares setup plans for Pinehurst Opens

By Will GrayFebruary 8, 2014, 6:38 pm

With four months still to go before the USGA hosts the U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open in back-to-back weeks at Pinehurst No. 2, executive director Mike Davis spoke Friday about some of the organization's goals for course setup, as well as its plans to address logistical concerns that could arise as they transition between events.

While the men will play the par-70 layout at 7,500 yards this summer, the length for the women will be approximately 6,700 yards the following week. Davis explained that the goal will be to make the course play similarly for all competitors.

"The idea was on a given hole, if the men are hitting drivers, we want to see the women hit drivers," said Davis. "If the men are hitting, say, 6 to 8-irons for their approach shots, that's what we want women to do."

He added that the key factor in deciding to play the men's event prior to the women's was the putting surfaces, which Davis indicated will roll to 11.5 on the Stimpmeter for both events.

"It really gets down to the putting greens," he noted. "They're going to be the same green speed for both weeks, but the first week, and if Mother Nature is cooperative, they're going to be slightly firmer."

Davis also explained that while the landing area for the women will be slightly ahead of that of the men on most holes, there will be a handful of par-4 holes where the women could be hitting tee shots into areas littered by sand-filled divots left by the men.

"I think you will see both groups laying up to the same area, and certainly on the par 5s you may see (similar) lay-up areas. But I think our view with divots is it's just part of the game," said Davis. "We've played U.S. Opens before - I can think of Pebble Beach, we've had Opens there where the public is playing up till right at the end, and there are divots all over the place, and the reality is that's just part of the game.

"When you hit it in the fairway," he added, "sometimes you're not going to get a perfect lie."

While questions surrounding course setup will continue to circle as the events approach, Davis also addressed some of the logistical issues that come with immediately moving from one event to the next.

According to Davis, the women "are going to be welcome that week beforehand just like the men," and the short-game practice area will be open to the women during the weekend rounds of the men's event.

"I think that's just going to add intrigue to the U.S. Open week," he noted. "In terms of actually hitting balls on the range after the men are through on Sunday, we're going to open it up to the women."

Davis also addressed what likely looms as a worst-case scenario for the USGA: an 18-hole playoff for the men on Monday, which would otherwise be the first day of event week for the women.

"Should we have a playoff on Monday, you know what, we're going to figure out a way to get the women out practicing here," he added. "And if you're a spectator coming to it, it's wonderful. You not only get to come and watch the two or three players playing in the U.S. Open playoff, but you get to watch the women practice."

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