Punch Shot: Pick for PGA Tour Rookie of the Year

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2016, 1:00 pm

Emiliano Grillo last week became the third player in four years from the famed high school class of 2011 to win the PGA Tour's Rookie of the Year Award, following Jordan Spieth (2013) and Daniel Berger (2015). Could another one of their classmate's follow up in 2016? Who will take home this season's ROY honors? Our writers weigh in:

By RYAN LAVNER

Ollie Schniederjans.

Another member of the heralded high school class of 2011, Schniederjans still boasts tons of potential – as much as Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas – even if it has taken him until now to reach the PGA Tour. The former No. 1-ranked amateur in the world spent all four years in school and, at times, took his lumps. But it proved good preparation for a professional career that will be filled with adversity.

The 22-year-old apprenticed for a year on the Web.com Tour, winning once, and impressed observers with his firepower off the tee and relentless approach. He might endure a few lulls – after all, he missed eight cuts in 20 Web.com starts last season – but he has shown an uncanny ability to make the most of his opportunities when in contention. 


By REX HOGGARD

The race for this season’s PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award will likely come down to which University of Alabama product makes the smoothest transition to the big leagues.

Both Trey Mullinax and Bobby Wyatt are a year removed from Tuscaloosa and have the potential to be impact players in 2016-17 from what many believe to be a deep rookie class, but Mullinax has the edge among the year’s first-timers.

The 24-year-old had a consistent, if not flashy, season on the Web.com Tour to earn his Tour card, winning the Rex Hospital Open in May and finishing in the top 25 in six of 22 starts.

He also has all the tools to be a contender on Tour - ranking last season seventh in driving distance (318 yard average), third in putting average, and 25th in scoring average (69.71) - and he's already off to a solid start, finishing tied for 22nd at the season-opening Safeway Open.

As Grillo proved last year, an early victory can go a long way in the ROY race and Mullinax will be among the favorites later this fall at the RSM Classic, where he tied for 26th last season in just his third Tour start.


By WILL GRAY

He may not have won last year on the Web.com Tour, but C.T. Pan had a remarkably solid season that sets him up well to make a big splash as a rookie.

Pan had a standout amateur career, both at the University of Washington and in elite amateur events. He turned pro last year and promptly ascended through the Web.com ranks, finishing 11th on the season-long money list. What’s more, his finishing kick was strong: six results of T-11 or better over his final 10 starts.

Pan turns 24 next month, and his game has few flaws. He finished second in the all-around ranking last season on the Web.com Tour, ninth in putting, and 12th in ball-striking.

He may not have had as flashy of an amateur career as peers like Bryson DeChambeau or Jon Rahm, but Pan’s talent didn’t leave him far behind. Expect him use the next 10 months or so to ensure his name joins theirs in any discussion of the PGA Tour’s latest crop of young talent.

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