Match-by-match results: WGC-Dell Day 1

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 24, 2016, 12:02 am

Play is officially underway at the WGC-Dell Match Play, as 64 players take on Austin Country Club with hopes of advancing out of pool play. Follow along here to see how the first matches played out, and who is in line to advance to the Round of 16:

Group 1: (1) Jordan Spieth def. (51) Jamie Donaldson, 3 and 2: The top seed cruised rather easily, winning five of the first seven holes against the former Ryder Cup hero. Spieth held a 3-up lead at the turn and barely received a challenge from Donaldson on the inward half.

Group 1: (39) Victor Dubuisson def. (31) Justin Thomas, 3 and 2: Dubuisson was a runner-up at this event two years ago, and he dispatched of Thomas on a day when the American struggled to score. Dubuisson won seven holes during the match, but three of those holes were won with par while a bogey on No. 14 was good enough to take a 3-up lead.

Group 2: (2) Jason Day def. (62) Graeme McDowell, 3 and 2: McDowell got off to an early lead before Day came roaring back, winning four holes from Nos. 8-12. The match took on the feel of a Pyrrhic victory, though, as Day appeared to injure his back late in the round and was barely able to stand by the match's final hole.

Group 2: (36) Thongchai Jaidee def. (26) Paul Casey, 2 and 1: Jaidee scored the day's first upset, defeating Casey who made a run to the quarterfinals at this event last year. Casey won the fifth hole to take an early lead, but Jaidee won the very next hole and never trailed the rest of the way, seizing control with three wins in five holes from Nos. 10-14.

Group 3: (3) Rory McIlroy def. (64) Thorbjorn Olesen, 1 up: The defending champ escaped - barely. McIlroy put forth a sloppy effort and was 2-down with five holes to play, but he turned things around in the nick of time. Wins on Nos. 14 and 15 squared the match, and a par on the home hole was good enough to edge the Dane.

Group 3: (26) Kevin Na def. (46) Smylie Kaufman, 2 and 1: Kaufman held a 1-up lead through 11 holes, but he played the subsequent four holes in 2 over. That allowed Na to turn a slim deficit into a 3-up advantage, and the veteran held on from there for the win.

Group 4: (33) Emiliano Grillo def. (21) J.B. Holmes, 3 and 2: Grillo took care of business quickly, winning five of the match's first seven holes. While Holmes battled back, he never got closer than 3-down during the back nine as the Argentine cruised to a full point.

Group 4: (4) Bubba Watson vs. (63) Patton Kizzire, halved: This was a close contest, as neither player held more than a 1-up lead at any point in the match. Watson appeared to take control when Kizzire bogeyed the par-3 17th, but the rookie turned around and birdied the final hole to scratch out a tie.

Group 5: (58) Jason Dufner def. (5) Rickie Fowler, 2 and 1: Fowler was a popular pick to win this week, but he faces an early deficit after Dufner blew past him in the opening match. Dufner held a 3-up lead through 11 holes, but Fowler won three of the next four holes to square the match. Dufner regained the lead with a birdie on No. 16, then closed out Fowler on the next hole.

Group 5: (27) Byeong-Hun An vs. (47) Scott Piercy, halved: Unlike last year, pool-play matches that are tied after regulation do not go to extra holes. That means An and Piercy both start the week with a half-point, as An held a 3-up lead through 13 but watched as Piercy won three of the final five holes for the draw.

Group 6: (30) Bill Haas def. (41) Chris Wood, 2 and 1: Wood got off to a quick start and held a 2-up lead through eight holes, but Haas battled back and took a lead for the first time in the match on No. 13. Wood failed to win a single hole on the back nine, allowing Haas to draw first blood.

Group 6: (6) Adam Scott vs. (55) Thomas Pieters, halved: Scott appeared to be in control of this match down the stretch, holding a 2-up lead for much of the back nine. But Pieters won Nos. 16 and 17 to square the match, then rolled in a 5-foot par putt on No. 18 to steal a tie from the Aussie.

Group 7: (28) Matt Kuchar def. (48) Anirban Lahiri, 6 and 5: The biggest margin of victory on the opening day belonged to Kuchar, who dominated from the start. He won four of the first eight holes and went eagle-birdie on Nos. 12 and 13 to close out Lahiri, who didn't win a single hole.

Group 7: (7) Justin Rose def. (57) Fabian Gomez, 2 up: Rose made the turn with a 2-up lead and appeared to be on cruise control when he extended the advantage to 4-up through 12. But Gomez won three of the next four holes to give himself a glimmer of hope before running into trouble on No. 18.

Group 8: (49) Robert Streb def. (8) Dustin Johnson, 3 and 2: Johnson didn't win a hole until No. 10, allowing Streb to build a 3-up lead at the turn. Johnson made up a little ground on the back nine, but he never got closer than 2-down allowing Streb to record a relatively stress-free upset win.

Group 8: (37) Kiradech Aphibarnrat def. (22) Jimmy Walker, 2 and 1: Walker has plenty of experience with Texas golf and built an early lead, but Aphibarnrat battled back and notched an impressive win. The Thai won five holes in a six-hole stretch from Nos. 7-12 and Walker suffered an ill-timed double bogey on No. 16.

Group 9: (17) Phil Mickelson def. (42) Matthew Fitzpatrick, 5 and 4: One of the few early blowouts went the way of Mickelson, as the veteran schooled the youngest player in this week's field. Mickelson took control with four straight wins on Nos. 6-9, and Fitzpatrick never even won a single hole during the match.

Group 9: (9) Patrick Reed def. (53) Daniel Berger, 1 up: Reed never trailed after a hot start that included wins on four of the first five holes, but Berger battled back to make things interesting. Berger was 2-down with two holes to go, but extended the match with a birdie on No. 17 before Reed closed him out with a birdie on the final hole.

Group 10: (18) Brooks Koepka def. (40) Billy Horschel, 3 and 2: Horschel got off to a hot start and led 3-up after just six holes, but Koepka launched an impressive rally. A win on No. 7 was followed by four straight on Nos. 9-12, as Koepka won seven of the match's final 10 holes.

Group 10: (10) Danny Willett vs. Jaco Van Zyl, halved: This was another closely-contested match, as each player won three holes while the remaining 12 were halved. Van Zyl led at the turn, but it was Willett who led through 15 holes. Van Zyl squared the match on No. 16, and the final two holes were halved.

Group 11: (54) Chris Kirk def. (11) Branden Grace, 3 and 1: Grace starred at the Presidents Cup in Korea, but he ran into a buzzsaw in Kirk in his opening match. The American won each of the first three holes and played his first six holes in 5 under, buildling a 3-up advantage at the turn. From there, Grace only won a single hole.

Group 11: (32) Russell Knox vs. (38) David Lingmerth, halved: Knox and Lingmerth are friends and live near each other in Northeast Florida, and they played to a draw on Wednesday. Neither player held more than a 1-up lead at any time, and Knox's birdie on the par-3 17th drew him even and ultimately earned him a half-point.

Group 12: (20) Kevin Kisner def. (43) Soren Kjeldsen, 2 and 1: Kisner won the first two holes of the match and never looked back. The American built a 3-up lead through five holes, and appeared in total control with a 4-up advantage through 13 holes. While Kjeldsen battled back to cut his deficit in half, Kisner eventually closed him out for a decisive win.

Group 12: (52) Rafael Cabrera-Bello def. (12) Hideki Matsuyama, 1 up: Cabrera-Bello won two of the first four holes and never trailed against Matsuyama, taking a decisive lead with a birdie on No. 17. It's a big win for the Spaniard, who is one of seven players in the field not yet qualified for the Masters but would make the field should he advance to the quarterfinals.

Group 13: (13) Sergio Garcia def. (59) Lee Westwood, 1 up: This was a back-and-forth contest, as Garcia held a 2-up lead through three holes before Westwood won four in a row. Garcia then won four straight holes on Nos. 9-12 and never trailed again, ultimately closing out Westwood with an eventful par on No. 18.

Group 13: (25) Marc Leishman vs. (45) Ryan Moore, halved: Leishman never trailed in the match and appeared on his way to victory, but he only left with a half-point. Moore won the 12th hole to trim his deficit to 1-down, then escaped with a draw after Leishman made a sloppy bogey on No. 18.

Group 14: (14) Zach Johnson def. (60) Marcus Fraser, 4 and 3: This was an easy win for the reigning Open champ, who birdied three of his first four holes to build an early advantage. Johnson held a 1-up lead at the turn and then took control with three wins in a four-hole stretch from Nos. 11-14.

Group 14: (44) Martin Kaymer def. (24) Shane Lowry, 1 up: Kaymer won a closely contested match that saw neither player hold more than a 1-up lead. Lowry held a lead on three separate occasions, but he conceded on No. 16 to level the match and then Kaymer took his final lead of the day with a par on No. 17.

Group 15: (15) Brandt Snedeker def. (56) Charley Hoffman, 2 and 1: Snedeker was the first player to get a point on the board, turning a close match into a victory with a decisive closing stretch. Hoffman actually held a 1-up lead through 13 holes, but Snedeker won each of the next three holes before closing out the match with a par on No. 17.

Group 15: (19) Charl Schwartzel def. (34) Danny Lee, 1 up: The South African is making his first start since winning in Tampa, and he continued that momentum by eking out a win against the Kiwi. Schwartzel never trailed, but he also never held more than a 2-up lead. Lee leveled the match with a par on No. 16, but Schwartzel birdied the next hole to take the lead for good.

Group 16: (16) Louis Oosthuizen def. (61) Matt Jones, 2 and 1: Jones held his own and actually led 1-up through 11 holes, but Oosthuizen emerged on the back nine. The South African rolled in three birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16, and closed out the match with a par on No. 17.

Group 16: (29) Andy Sullivan def. (35) Bernd Wiesberger, 3 and 2: Sullivan won three of the first five holes, led 4-up at the turn and never trailed in the match. While Wiesberger won three straight holes from Nos. 11-13, it was too little, too late.

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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 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.”