In His Own Words - Mark OMeara 1998 Masters Part 2
THE FINAL 9 HOLES WERE UNDERWAY AND NOW DUVAL HAD MOVED AHEAD OF O'MEARA AND JUST ONE BACK OF THE LEADER. AFTER ROUTINE PARS AT 11, COUPLES AND O'MEARA MARCHED ACROSS HOGAN'S BRIDGE TO THE 12TH
WHERE BOTH WOULD MAKE PAR.
AHEAD DUVAL REACHED THE 13TH IN TWO, NARROWLY MISSED EAGLE, A BIRDIE OF TYING HIM FOR THE LEAD FOR THE FIRST TIME THAT DAY, AND THEN THE REAL DRAMA AT THE PAR 5 THIRTEENTH WAS ABOUT TO UNFOLD.
THIRTEENTH TEE, FRED GOT UP WITH A THREE WOOD, I THINK FRED FEELS PROBABLY A LITTLE BIT MORE COMFORTABLE WORKING THE BALL LEFT TO RIGHT THAN RIGHT TO LEFT AND IT, IT WAS SHOCKING BECAUSE HE, HE, HE REALLY HIT A POOR TEE SHOT FOR FRED AND HE'LL ADMIT THAT.
I MEAN IT STARTED WELL LEFT AND, AND WENT WELL INTO THE TREES, ROWELD AROUND. AS WE WALKED DOWN, WE SAW SOME PEOPLE RUSTLING AROUND UP IN THE AZALEAS WAY BACK INTO THE TREES AND SURE ENOUGH THEY LOCATED FRED'S BALL AND IT WAS BACK UP ON THE, THE SERVICE ROAD AND FOR A LONG TIME HE HAD A DIFFICULT TIME DECIDING ON WHAT HE COULD DO BECAUSE THERE WASN'T A LOT OF OPTIONS.
UH HE WAS PRETTY MUCH DEAD AND HE HIT AN INCREDIBLE WEDGE SHOT THROUGH THE TREES. IT RATTLED AROUND A LITTLE BIT, GOT OUT INTO THE FAIRWAY TO WHERE AT LEAST HE COULD MAYBE COME BACK AND RECOVER AND GET A FIVE.
YOU KNOW I HIT IT LEFT TO THE GREEN AND IT WASN'T THE BEST SHOT BUT I PUT IT AT LEAST IN THE POSITION TO WHERE I'D HAVE A BIRDIE AND YOU KNOW FRED, I THINK, WAS BETWEEN A 7 AND A 6 IRON.
I THINK JOE AND FRED TALKED ABOUT IT INSTEAD OF MAYBE JUST GOING WITH THE SEVEN. YOU KNOW HITTING IT A GOOD AGGRESSIVE SHOT JUST LEFT THE HOLE, HE, HE TRIED TO PROBABLY COZY A 6 AND HE DIDN'T QUITE GET IT. HUNG IT TO THE RIGHT AND IT WENT INTO THE CREEK.
NOW HE, HE COULD HAVE PUT HIS HEAD BETWEEN HIS TAIL AND KIND OF SAGGED AND SLINKED HIS WAY HOME, BUT, YOU KNOW, FREDDIE BOUNCED BACK ALL WEEK LONG.
HE ELECTRIFIED THE CROWD, AND, AND MYSELF FROM THE STAND POINT THAT WE HAD KNOWN AT WALKING OFF THE 13TH GREEN EXACTLY WHAT DAVID DUVAL HAD NOW DONE.
HE HAD PULLED 2 SHOTS AHEAD AND HE WAS GOING TO OBVIOUSLY BIRDIE THE 15TH HOLE, NEXT THING YOU KNOW, NOW HE'S GOT A 3 SHOT LEAD AND FRED AND I HAVE FOUR, FIVE HOLES LEFT TO PLAY UM WE'RE STANDING THERE ON THE 15TH TEE AND HE HAD A GOOD DRIVE.
I HIT A PRETTY GOOD DRIVE AND I'M BACK THERE HITTING A THREE IRON. FRED'S HITTING A SIX IRON. UM I HIT MINE JUST A LITTLE BIT ON THE BOTTOM OF THE CLUB I WAS A LITTLE WORRIED, I THINK, WHEN I LOOKED AT THE TAPE I YELLED FOR THE BALL TO GET UP. I WAS HOPING IT WOULD BE OVER THE WATER.
GO! IT LANDED JUST SHORT OF THE GREEN, SKIPPED UP, ROLLED FORWARD ONTO THE GREEN. FRED HIT IT TO 3 FEET. THAT WAS AN INCREDIBLE SHOT.
AND ELECTRIFIED THE CROWD. IT LET EVERYBODY KNOW THAT, YOU KNOW, WE'RE NOT GOING TO LET DAVID JUST WALK AWAY FROM THIS. IT'S GOING TO BE A, A GOOD CONTEST FOR ALL OF US COMING DOWN THE STRETCH.
AMAZING WHEN THE FINAL TWOSOME HAD TEED OFF ON THAT 15TH THEY WERE 3 BACK OF THE LEADER DAVID DUVAL, WHO HAD PREVIOUSLY BIRDIED THE PAR 5.
AS THEY WALKED OFF 11 MINUTES LATER THE SITUATION HAD TAKEN A DRASTIC TURN DUVAL HAD A DIFFICULT TWO PUTT AT THE TRICKY PAR 3 16TH. HIS BIRDIE TRY WENT WELL PAST AND THEN MISFIRED FOR PAR, DROPPING HIM BACK TO 8 UNDER ALONG WITH FRED COUPLES.
NOW WE HAVE A TIE GAME AND AGAIN WE GO BACK TO THE STEAM. MARK O'MEARA BIRDIES 15 BUT IS STILL ON THE PERIPHERY. FRED COUPLES IS NOW THE CENTER OF THE STORM, CREATING THE BUZZ. FREDDIE'S TIED NOW. HE JUST MADE EAGLE AFTER THE DOUBLE AT 13.
THERE'S MARK QUIETLY IN THE BACKGROUND HE MADE BIRDIE, TWO MARKS, ONLY ONE BACK. BUT THE SENSE WAS, STILL EVEN AT THAT POINT, DUVAL AND FREDDIE, FREDDIE AND DUVAL. ONE OF THOSE TWO GUYS IS GOING TO WIN. YOU'RE THINKING WHAT AT THAT POINT?
WELL MY THOUGHT PATTERN ON 16 WAS... NERVOUS, STILL IN CONTENTION, STILL COULD REASONABLE, IF I DO THE RIGHT THINGS AT THE RIGHT TIME, COULD STILL WIN THE GOLF TOURNAMENT, AND I GOT UP ON 16 AND, FRED HIT FIRST AND HIT IT LONG OVER THE BACK EDGE OF THE GREEN.
NOT A GREAT SHOT FOR FRED BUT IT WAS OK AND I HIT A SUPER SIX IRON SHOT THAT, I WAS VERY PROUD OF BECAUSE THERE IS A LOT OF PRESSURE AND YOU ALWAYS WANT TO KNOW WHAT CAN I DO WHEN THE HEATS ON LIKE THAT.
HOW AM I GOING TO REACT? AND I HIT A WONDERFUL SHOT FOR ME. HAD A, MAYBE AN 18 FOOTER FOR BIRDIE. HIT A SUPER PUTT, RICH, THAT LOOKED LIKE IT WAS GOING IN AND IT JUST BROKE OFF ON THE LOW SIDE AND CAUGHT THE BOTTOM OF THE HOLE. I, I TAPPED IN, FRED MADE PAR.
I GAVE MY BALL AND MY PUTTER TO, TO MY CADDIE JERRY
AND I SAID, YOU KNOW, HEY I CAN, I'M GOING TO BIRDIE THE LAST TWO HOLES. I CAN WIN THIS GOLF TOURNAMENT.
AND I WAS VERY, VERY QUIET. I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW IF HE HEARD ME BECAUSE THAT'S NOT USUALLY MY STYLE AND HE DIDN'T SAY, HE, HE JUST, I DON'T REMEMBER HIM REALLY EVEN SAYING ANYTHING AND I THINK HE JUST KIND OF HEARD IT AND THEN JUST WALKED UP TO THE TEE.
BUT THERE YOU ARE AT 17 UH AGAIN I DON'T THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE THINK YOU HAVE A GREAT SHOT TO PULL THIS THING OFF BUT GOT A 9 IRON IN.
WELL I GOT A 9 IRON IN. IT WAS NICE BECAUSE I KNEW I NEEDED TO HIT A FULL SHOT AND I HAD A LITTLE BIT OF AN UPHILL LIE AND I, I HIT A VERY GOOD SHOT. SURE ENOUGH THE BALL LANDED CLOSE TO THE FLAG, SKIPPED ABOUT 8 FEET BEHIND THE HOLE, HANDED MY 9 IRON.
PEOPLE APPLAUDED. I WALKED OVER TO THE SIDE. FRED GLANCED OVER AND AT THAT MOMENT, RICH, I, I STOOD THERE, KIND OF BY MYSELF AND I LOOKED AROUND AND I SAW THE... THE INCREDIBLE GALLERY. THE, THE INCREDIBLE BEAUTIFUL HILLS AND THE MOUNDS AND THE, AND THE SHADOWS FROM THE SUN SETTING.
THEY WERE CASTING ACROSS THE FAIRWAY. THE GREEN UP THERE WITH THE BIG WHITE SAND BUNKER AND ALL THE NATURAL BEAUTY THAT ALL OF A SUDDEN I WAS LOOKING AT AND IT GAVE ME AN INCREDIBLE CALMING EFFECT. I WAS LIKE BOY ISN'T THIS NEAT. ISN'T THIS SO COOL. IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL OUT HERE RIGHT NOW.
YOU FIND THAT AMAZING THAT YOU, YOU GET TO, TO THE ULTIMATE MOMENT. THE CHANCE TO WIN THAT LONG COVETED MAJOR AND YOU'RE STANDING THERE AND LOOKING AT THE SUNSET.
I, YOU KNOW, I, NORMALLY SOMETIMES ALL OF US WHEN WE GO PLAY GOLF ARE SO HIGHLY CRITICAL OF OURSELVES. WHETHER YOU'RE A PROFESSIONAL, AMATEUR, WHO EVER. YOU KNOW I GOT TO HIT THAT PERFECT 5 IRON IF I DON'T HIT A GOOD 5 IRON I'M NOT A GOOD PERSON. WELL THAT'S, THAT'S NOT THE WAY IT SHOULD BE AND, AND, AND A LOT OF TIMES.
I'M NOT A GOOD GOLFER BUT I'M NOT A GOOD PERSON.
YEAH I'M NOT A GOOD PERSON, YOU KNOW, LIKE GOD WHO CARES, YOU HIT A BAD 5 IRON. IT'S A HARD GAME. WE ALL HIT BAD SHOTS.
I, I JUST, I FOUND IT INTERESTING AT THAT MOMENT THAT I DID... I'VE HAD THOUGHTS LIKE THAT BEFORE BUT IN THAT SITUATION, IN SUCH A CRITICAL MOMENT IN A VERY CRITICAL TIME IN MY CAREER AND AT THE MASTERS
TO HAVE THAT COME OVER ME, I THINK WAS, AS I LOOK BACK IN HINDSIGHT THAT WAS PROBABLY THE MOMENT THAT GAVE ME THE COURAGE AND OR THE COMFORT TO STAND UP ON 17 AND MAKE THAT 8 FOOTER COMING DOWN THE HILL AND FEEL RELAXED WHILE I WAS OVER IT.
18... WALK US THROUGH. STRIDE FOR STRIDE. THOUGHT FOR THOUGHT.
WELL NOW I'M, I'M TIED FOR THE LEAD AND I HIT A NICE DRIVE. I DIDN'T BOMB IT BUT IT WAS A LITTLE CUT OFF THE BUNKER IN IDEAL POSITION. FRED HAD PULLED HIS DRIVE INTO THE, THE FAIRWAY BUNKEROVER TO THE LEFT.
NOW I'M STANDING ON THE FAIRWAY. I THINK IT WAS 154 YARDS, BUT IT IS UPHILL SO IT'S PLAYS ABOUT 10 YARDS FURTHER AND THAT WOULD BE A MAX 7 IRON FOR ME. I HIT A FULL SHOT. I HIT IT IN THE CORRECT POSITION BUT IT, ONCE AGAIN.
IT LANDED, YOU KNOW, A FOOT SHORT OF WHERE IT LANDED IT MIGHT HAVE COME BACK OFF THE FRONT OF THE GREEN. IT LANDED IN THE PERFECT SPOT, SKIPPED FORWARD A LITTLE BIT TO WHERE I WAS ROUGHLY ABOUT PIN HIGH RIGHT OF THE HOLE ABOUT 18 FEET.
WALKING UP TO 18 GREEN. THIS IS IT.
YOU KNOW YOU WISH EVERYBODY COULD EXPERIENCE THAT FEELING. I MEAN TO, TO COME UP THE 18TH GREEN UH THE FANS STANDING, APPLAUDING FRED AND MYSELF AS WE APPROACH THE GREEN. NEEDLES TO SAY YOUR HEART IS PUMPING YOU, YOUR BREATH IS, IS GETTING A LITTLE QUICKER.
YOU, YOU FEEL UH ALL THE EMOTION THAT COMES ACROSS TO A PERSON AND, AND YOU HAVE TO SAY TO YOURSELF 'LOOK. I UNDERSTAND WHAT'S GOING ON HERE. I HAVE TO TRY TO CALM MYSELF A LITTLE BIT.'
SO AS I WALK ON THE GREEN I MARK MY BALL. I TOOK A COUPLE OF DEEP BREATHS. I TOOK A COUPLE OF DEEP BREATHS WITHOUT PEOPLE REALLY SEEING THAT TO TRY TO SLOW MY HEART RATE DOWN.
TO TRY TO RELAX MYSELF A LITTLE BIT AND AT THAT TIME IT, IT HELPED A LOT AND I ALSO THOUGHT HEY FRED COULD VERY WELL STILL HOLE HIS BUNKER SHOT.
TO GO 9 UNDER AND I'M GOING TO HAVE TO MAKE MY BIRDIE PUTT TO TIE HIM. SO I THINK YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO BE A LITTLE BIT THINKING AHEAD IN THE STANDPOINT YOU'VE GOT TO PLAY WELL AND YOU'VE GOT TO, NEVER UNDER ESTIMATE WHAT CAN HAPPEN IN THE GAME OF GOLF.
AT THIS POINT AS JOHN FEINSTEIN WOULD, WOULD TELL IT, JACK STEVENS, IN THE BUTLER CABIN WITH DAVID DUVAL, WHOSE AT 8 UNDER AND STARING AT A PLAYOFF, SAYS TO DAVID 'NOBODY READS THIS PUTT THE RIGHT WAY.
NOBODY MAKES THIS PUTT'. AND WE SAW FURIK WHO MADE A GREAT LATE RUN JUST MISSED ON THAT LOW SIDE.
SIMILAR ANGLE AS YOURS AND DAVID AS WELL MISSED JUST ON THAT LOW SIDE. WHAT DID YOU SEE IN THE READ THERE THAT MAYBE THOSE OTHER GUYS DIDN'T?
WHAT I NOTICED WAS AS I WAS LINING IT UP THAT BECAUSE THE PIN WAS SET A LITTLE, ABOUT MAYBE 3 FEET MORE OFF THE FRONT OF THE GREEN THAT THE BALL SOMETIMES IT GOES RIGHT TO LEFT AND IT WOULD STRAIGHTEN OUT A LITTLE BIT BUT THIS YEAR, BECAUSE THE PIN WAS BACK A LITTLE BIT MORE.
IT LOOKED LIKE IT WOULD GO RIGHT TO LEFT AND KEEP ON BREAKING AND NOT REALLY COME BACK TO THE RIGHT
SO MY GAME PLAN WAS AS I WAS LINING IT UP, WALKING AROUND UH LOOK IT, THIS IS WHAT YOU PLAY FOR. THIS IS KIND OF THE EXCITEMENT, BUT ONCE AGAIN, YOU KNOW, IT'S NOT GOING TO GET ANY EASIER.
YOU KNOW I WANT TO MAKE THIS PUTT I KNOW THAT IF I PLAY IT A CUP AND A HALF TO TWO CUPS OUT THE RIGHT SIDE AND I HIT A GOOD SOLID PUTT, I MIGHT HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE IT BUT I'M NOT THINKING AS I'M STANDING THERE 'I'VE GOT TO MAKE THIS PUTT TO WIN THE MASTERS' BECAUSE I THINK IF YOU GET THAT MUCH THOUGHT AND THAT MUCH PRESSURE ON YOURSELF THEN YOU'RE NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO GET A, PUT A GOOD STROKE ON IT AND MY WHOLE THOUGHT WAS LET'S WORK ON THE THINGS THAT WE'VE BEEN WORKING ON AND TRY TO PUT A GOOD STROKE ON IT.
AS SOON AS I HIT MY PUTT, AND IT WAS TWO FEET OFF THE PUTTER, I HAD... KNEW IN MY HEART THAT HEY I'D HIT A GOOD PUTT (CROWD CHEERING). THANK GOD
I'VE HIT A PURE PUTT. I REALLY HIT A NICE PUTT AND AS IT WAS ROLLING DOWN THERE I WAS THINKING BOY THIS REALLY LOOKS GOOD.
TWO FEET FROM THE HOLE I'M THINKING HEY THIS IS GOING TO GO IN! NOW MY NEXT THOUGHT WAS PLEASE DON'T LIP OUT. YOU KNOW, LIKE ANYBODY WOULD THINK, AND FORTUNATELY IT CAUGHT THE LEFT SIDE OF THE HOLE AND IT MUST HAVE BEEN BECAUSE I HIT SUCH A GOOD PUTT.
IT DOVE RIGHT IN THE CUP. MY ARMS WENT UP IN THE AIR AND IT WAS MORE OF A MAYBE A LITTLE BIT OF A DIFFERENT TYPE OF EMOTION. IT WAS A LITTLE SHOCK, IT WAS A LITTLE DISBELIEF, IT WAS A LITTLE BIT OF A JOYOUS MOMENT THAT I'VE JUST WON THE MASTERS AND AT NO TIME DID I ACTUALLY HOLD THE OUTRIGHT LEAD BY MYSELF.
I MEAN AT ANY GIVEN TIME, AND ALL OF A SUDDEN NOW, I'VE JUST BIRDIED THE 18TH HOLE, IN DRAMATIC FASHION AND I'M NOW THE MATERS CHAMPION SO ALL THOSE EMOTIONS WERE KIND OF GOING THROUGH MY BODY AND THROUGH MY NOGGIN UPSTAIRS AT THAT TIME.
DID YOU WIN AUGUSTA MAYBE BECAUSE YOU, YOU DIDN'T NEED IT?
I THINK THAT THAT HAS VERY STRONG POSSIBILITIES RICH. I THINK MY FEELING IS IS THAT IF MY CAREER WOULD HAVE COME TO AN END WITHOUT A PROFESSIONAL MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP, THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN A LITTLE BIT OF A LET DOWN, A LITTLE BIT OF YOU KNOW I... GOD I, I SHOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO THAT. WHY COULDN'T I HAVE FINISHED THAT OFF? WHY COULDN'T I HAVE ADDED THAT TO MY CAREER?
SO I WOULD THINK THAT FINALLY WHEN I MAYBE STEPPED OUTSIDE MYSELF AND SAID YOU KNOW MAYBE IT'S NOT POSSIBLE.
MAYBE I HAVE HAD A GREAT CAREER AND MAYBE A MASTERS OR A BRITISH OPEN OR A U.S. OPEN OR PGA IS JUST NOT PART OF EVERYTHING ELSE THAT'S BEEN SO POSITIVE IN MY LIFE BUT I WAS, I WAS REALLY DETERMINED NOT TO BRING DOWN EVERYTHING THAT HAD HAPPENED IN MY LIFE JUST BECAUSE I HADN'T REACHED THAT, THAT PINNACLE.
DO YOU THINK MAYBE THAT YOU NEEDED TO BE 41 AND NOT 31?
I THINK THAT'S WHERE WISDOM AND EXPERIENCE COMES INTO PLAY AND THOSE ARE THE THINGS THAT YOU DEVELOP OVER A LONG PERIOD OF TIME.
I MEAN ALL YOU CAN DO IS ASK FOR AN OPPORTUNITY
AND THAT'S REALLY WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR. I HAD MY OPPORTUNITIES AT AUGUSTA AND I HAD MY OPPORTUNITIES AT THE BRITISH OPEN AND FORTUNATELY I CAME THROUGH.
MARK O'MEARA, ALWAYS A GENTLEMAN, ALWAYS A FINE PLAYER. NOW A MAJOR CHAMPION. TWICE OVER IN FACT AS MARK WOULD WIN THE BRITISH OPEN TITLE LATER IN 1998 CAPPING A TRULY REMARKABLE SEASON WOULD ALL THAT SUCCESS CHANGE MARK O'MEARA?
WELL HE'S BUSIER THESE DAYS BUT MARK IS STILL THE SAME GOOD FATHER, HUSBAND AND COMPETITOR HE WAS BEFORE HE TOOK US ALONG ON ONE OF THE MOST EXCITING MASTERS RIDES IN YEARS. THANKS FOR JOINING US.
Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf
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
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 Web.com 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
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.
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
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.”