Horschel on Augusta change: 'Dumbest thing in the world'

By Will GrayFebruary 27, 2016, 6:21 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – A report that Augusta National Golf Club may look into lengthening one of its most iconic holes did not sit well with at least one player who will be in the field at the Masters.

According to Golfweek, Augusta National officials are in negotiations to buy a parcel of land from neighboring Augusta Country Club. The move would free the club up to add a service road and create more room around the par-5 13th hole, but it would reportedly also allow them to lengthen the 510-yard hole by as much as 50 yards.

After completing his third round at the Honda Classic, Billy Horschel offered a candid dissent to potential changes.

“If they move that tee back any more, if they buy land and move the tee back and move it back by 40 yards – I may get kicked out of there, but it’s the dumbest thing in the world,” Horschel said. “I mean, I’m being nice about it. I think it’s a great hole already. Golf is going in the wrong direction by adding length to the golf course.”

Augusta National has added length on multiple occasions over the years, notably after Tiger Woods won his second green jacket in 2001. The hole is currently reachable for many in the field with a properly-placed tee shot, but in recent years some of the Tour’s longest hitters have begun taking their shots over the stand of trees that guard the left side of the fairway.

Notably, Bubba Watson hit a 360-yard tee shot during the final round of the 2014 Masters en route to winning his second green jacket, a shot that allowed him to hit a sand wedge from 140 yards for his approach.

“Wow, I thought it made a big impact when they moved it back already,” said three-time Masters champ Phil Mickelson when told of the possible changes. “But there are still guys that can take it over the corner and take it over the trees. I mean, there’s only like five of them, but there’s still some. So I guess I understand it, they’re trying probably to eliminate that for the entire field.”

According to Horschel, the aggressive tee shot those changes might eliminate is just an example of the risk-reward nature that makes No. 13 one of the best holes in its current form.

“Yeah they bomb it over the trees, but if they hit it just a little bit left they’re catching the trees and going into the hazard. I mean, reward the guy for sacking up and hitting a great tee shot,” Horschel said. “What’s wrong with someone sacking up and hitting a great tee shot and having a short-iron in? Reward the guy for it, don’t punish him by (saying), ‘Oh, now we have to add 50 yards to the hole because I don’t want anyone hitting it over the trees.’”

Horschel added that any changes certainly won’t affect his attendance at the season’s first major, but he believes they may not benefit the tournament as a whole.

“It doesn’t shock me, I just think it’s a great hole,” he said. “If they want excitement on the final nine, making birdies, lengthening the hole is not going to help that at all.”

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