A Little Late-Season Magic

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 17, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 Funai Classic at the Walt Disney World ResortVijay Singh was like a dominant college football program a year ago. He was the hot knife. His fall schedule was butter.
From August to November, the Buick Open to the season-ending Tour Championship, Singh competed in nine tournaments. He won six of them.
Vijay Singh
Vijay Singh has won 19 PGA Tour events over the last four seasons.
One of those three tournaments in which he did not prevail was the Funai Classic at the Walt Disney World Resort. He tied for second, finishing three shots back of Ryan Palmer, who closed in 10-under 62 for his first tour title.
When Singh made his way to the Magic Kingdom last season, he had eight wins to his credit, including a major championship, and was officially ' and undisputedly ' the No. 1-ranked player in the world.
Fast-forward a year, and Singh is a four-time winner ' with no majors, and is much, much closer to the third position on the Official World Golf Ranking than the first.
Its not that Singh has had a terrible campaign. Hes second to Tiger Woods in both victories (4) and earnings ($7,733,503).
The difference between 04 and 05, however, has been The Close.
Singh repeated his victory at the Buick Open, but unlike last year, it didnt catapult him to greater heights. Though he has four top-10s in his five starts since leaving Grand Blanc, he doesnt have another win.
He looks to reapply the glass slipper this week in the shadows of Cinderellas Castle.
The event takes place on two courses: the Palm (par 72, 7,015 yards) and the host Magnolia (par 72, 7,516 yards). The 'Mag' is played exclusively over the weekend. It has been lengthen by over 300 yards.
Singh won this event in 2003. But its a fellow past winner ' a two-time champ ' who will likely be his chief opponent.
Five for the Title:
Tiger Woods
Woods has once again distanced himself from the rest of the golf world. He captured his sixth event of the season in his last start, a playoff victory over John Daly in the WGC-American Express Championship. In eight fewer starts this year, he leads Singh by over $2 million on the money list. Woods has had 42 opportunities to play on tour this season, but, including the Presidents Cup, has teed it up only 20 times. He certainly loves his time off. But he loves returning to competition even more. He is most dangerous when taking off just one week. He has played in 10 events this season after taking a one-week hiatus, and has returned and won four of those tournaments and finished runner-up in three of them. Thats again the scenario this week. Woods, who is still nursing some sore ribs he injured at the Presidents Cup, won this event in 1996 and 99, and was runner-up to Singh in 03.
Vijay Singh
Singh has again been impressive ' just not quite as impressive as a year ago. While the most glaring numerical difference between this season and its predecessor is in the win tally, a closer look shows why there is such a discrepancy between the two. Singhs statistical numbers are just a little bit worse this year in just about every major category: greens hit in regulation; putting average; birdie average; scoring average; scoring average before cut; third-round scoring average; final-round scoring average. It might sound bad, but he still ranks in the top 10 on tour in six of these seven categories. It just goes to show you how incredibly he played a year ago ' and how hes not too far removed from that form.
Retief Goosen
Retief Goosen is playing for the first time since the Presidents Cup.
Retief Goosen
Goosen is ready to return to action after being forced to pull out of the AmEx due to a groin injury. With his win in this years International, he continued a streak of five consecutive seasons with at least one tour title. Now hes in search of his second straight multiple-win season. He has played this event once before, tying for 18th in 2003.
Jason Gore
This would be the perfect place for Gore to win, as his year seems like it was scripted by Walt Disney himself. Gore has already had a dream season, but he would love to cap it by qualifying for the Tour Championship. He is currently 88th on the money list, almost $1 million behind No. 30. He has two more opportunities ' this week and next weeks Chrysler Championship ' to punch his ticket to Atlanta.
Chris DiMarco
DiMarcos search for that elusive fourth tour title continues this week, right down the interstate from his Orlando home. DiMarco has had some success in this event. He looked like a runaway victor in 2002. But after opening in 64-63, he closed in 69-68 and finished one shot higher than Bob Burns. He tied for 16th last year.
Playing Out the Front Nine
Four more to keep an eye on
*Fred Couples, who is trying to qualify for the Tour Championship for the first time since 1998. Couples is currently 32nd on the money list.
*Charles Howell III, who is also trying to earn a trip to compete at East Lake. The Orlando resident, whose only tour title came in 2002, has four top-5s this season and is 30th in earnings after his fifth place finish in Vegas.
*Briny Baird, who finished tied for second here a year ago. Baird was in danger of losing his card until a strong performance in last weeks Michelin Championship at Las Vegas. He may be able to ride the momentum of his eighth-place showing to his first tour win.
*Ryan Palmer, who is the defending champion. Palmer has amassed over $1 million for the second straight year. He tied for 12th last week in Vegas. He is trying to become the first repeat winner of this event since Tim Simpson in 1990.
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    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 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

    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.”

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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.


    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.