Woods a Western Gunslinger

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 27, 2005, 4:00 pm
Cialis Western OpenThe putts just wouldnt drop for Tiger Woods. They went every which way to circumvent the holes at Pinehurst No. 2. And when he finally got one to fall on the final hole on Sunday, it just wasnt enough.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is in search of his fourth Western Open title in his last eight starts.
With his dreams of a Grand Slam deferred to another year, Woods returns to action at Cog Hill Golf and Country Club for the Cialis Western Open.
 
Two weeks removed from his runner-up finish to Michael Campbell in the U.S. Open, Woods will try and gear up his game for another major run, as he is just two weeks away from the Open Championship at St. Andrews.
 
This will mark the only competitive event for Woods in between the seasons second and third major championships.
 
And while Cog Hills Dubsdread Course in no way resembles the Old Course at St. Andrews, this could be the tune-up Tiger needs as he vies for his second Open Championship victory.
 
Woods has won this tournament three times. Yet hes not the defending champion.
 
That distinction goes to Stephen Ames. Ames kept Woods from repeating a year ago, eventually winning by two strokes over Steve Lowery.
 
It was Ames first PGA Tour victory, and his only one to date. In 25 starts since winning the Western, he has recorded only three top-10s. His lone top-10 finish this season came at the MCI Heritage.
 
Ames recent performance, combined with the fact that Woods and Jerry Kelly are the only players in the last 10 years to finish inside the top 25 the year after they won the Western, dont put him on the short list of favorites.
 
On the other hand, Woods is at the top of that list.
 
Five for the Title:
 
Tiger Woods
Just because Woods has had past success at a course doesnt mean hes going to factor into the final outcome (see this years Byron Nelson). But considering he has won this tournament three times (1997, 99, 03) in his last seven tries, its a good bet that hell somehow be among the final groups on Sunday. But where he finishes will likely depend on how he starts. Woods has played this tournament nine times, including twice as an amateur. Three times he shot in the 60s in the first round; and all three times he has won.
 
Luke Donald
Luke Donald
Luke Donald is in search of his first PGA Tour win since the 2003 Southern Farm Bureau Classic.
Accuracy used to be the key on Dubsdread. Thats why players like Nick Price (1993, '94), Joe Durant (1998) and Scott Hoch (2001) were able to win. But that was before the course was lengthened a few hundred yards prior to the 2002 tournament and reduced to a par-71 in 2004. Now it takes an all-around game ' like the one Donald possesses. Donald, a Chicago resident who was an All-American at Northwestern, is in the top 50 statistically on tour in driving accuracy, greens hit in regulation and putting; however, hes outside the top 100 in driving distance. That shouldnt hurt him, though, as two of the three winners since Dubsdreads lengthening have been average hitters (Ames and Kelly).
 
Vijay Singh
Singh may be spoiling us. It seems like forever since he last won a tournament, even though it was less than two months ago. Maybe it feels that way because he hasnt really been in the mix coming down the stretch since winning the Wachovia Championship. He was third at the Byron Nelson, but finished four back. He tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, but a balky putter really kept him from applying any pressure on Michael Campbell. In between those two events, he missed the cut at the Memorial and tied for 29th at the Booz Allen. Last week, he was tied for the lead during the third round, but dropped three shots coming home and shot 73 Sunday to tie for seventh. Perhaps he's due for a win. Singh has a good track record here, with seven top-20s in 10 career starts. He was the runner-up in 1998.
 
Jim Furyk
Yeah, yeah, we pick Jim Furyk every week. And we almost got it right last week at the Barclays Classic. Once again, Furyk has to be considered one of the favorites, just based on his track record at Cog Hill. He has finished inside the top 10 in five of his last six starts here. The only negative might be that this will be his eighth event in the last nine weeks, and his fifth in a row. He may be worn out, particularly considering how much effort he had to give in trying to win wire-to-wire at Westchester, where he finished runner-up.
 
Stuart Appleby
Appleby, like Donald, can do everything well; though, he has struggled with his putter this year. Appleby won the season-opening Mercedes Championships for the second straight year, but since has only one top-10. This could be where he turns it around. Appleby has a pair of top-5s in his last three starts here.
 
Playing Out the Front Nine
 
Four more players to keep an eye on
 
*Robert Allenby, who won this tournament in 2000. Like his countryman Appleby, Allenby hasnt been playing up to his standards. Hes currently outside the top 60 on the money list, with only a pair of top-10s in 18 starts. But he loves this venue. In addition to his victory, he has only finished outside the top 11 only once in the last five years.
 
*Jerry Kelly, who won this tournament in 2002. Kelly has only one top-10 this season, but he has three top-5s in his last four starts here.
 
*Mark Hensby, who will defend his title next week at the John Deere Classic. Hensby tied for third in his U.S. Open debut. He also tied for third at this event a year ago. Hensby, who turns 34 Wednesday, once slept in his car in the parking lot at Cog Hill. He won the Illinois Amateur in 1994 and the Illinois Open in 1996.
 
*Chris Couch, who has won twice this year on the Nationwide Tour. One of those victories was at the LaSalle Bank Open in nearby Glenview, which earned him an invitation into this event. Hes never had much success on the PGA Tour, but he is in the top 50 this season in every major statistical category on the developmental circuit.
 
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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.

    Amen.

    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.

    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.