Funk Near Certainity to Make Ryder Cup

By Golf Channel NewsroomAugust 10, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 PGA ChampionshipFred Funk is thankful that his ribs have healed enough that he can play in the PGA Championship. Better yet, he might not have to be on top of his game to achieve his primary goal of making the Ryder Cup team.
 
'That's all I've been thinking about all year,' Funk said Monday.
 
The PGA Championship is the final tournament for Americans to earn points toward making the team. The top 10 in the standings qualify, and captain Hal Sutton will have two wild-card selections.
 
Funk tied for second in the U.S. Bank Championship down the road in Milwaukee last month, moving him to No. 8 in the standings. He's still not a lock, but three guys have to pass him, and that includes Jerry Kelly at No. 11 finishing at least third.
 
'Without those points, I would be even more on the bubble than I am now,' he said. 'I could definitely be passed. It takes three guys to pass me. Mathematically, it could happen. But without Milwaukee. ...'
 
It's not Milwaukee that brings Funk praise for his late move up the standings.
 
It's the B.C. Open that brings him scorn, even though Funk tied for 40th and didn't earn any points. No other Ryder Cup candidates played in the B.C. Open because they were all playing another tournament that week - the British Open.
 
Funk was criticized for ducking a major for the sole purpose of earning Ryder Cup points.
 
Even no, Funk defends his decision.
 
'Everybody is making a big deal,' he said. 'I don't know what's so wrong with me not going to the British Open and going to the B.C. Open. It was within the rules. It was what's best for me. I don't enjoy going over there. I never have. And I've got my best chance ever to make a Ryder Cup team.
 
'But because everybody thinks it was the right decision to go to the British Open, that was the only decision.'
 
Ultimately, he believes it paid off.
 
Funk said his swing gets altered when he plays a wind-blown links, and often takes him weeks to recover. Time was not on his side trying to make the Ryder Cup. He also had played eight consecutive tournaments, missing the cut in five of them in a desperate move to get on the team. He wanted to be rested for the PGA.
 
It worked out for him, especially with the way he closed at Milwaukee with two birdies on the final three holes.
 
And he got some help in recent weeks when a few players in contention for Ryder Cup points stumbled down the stretch, most noticeably Chris DiMarco with a sloppy weekend at the International.
 
Now comes the final major of the year, two tournaments wrapped into one - the PGA Championship with all its history, and the pressure of a half-dozen guys trying to play in the Ryder Cup.
 
How different is this week?
 
Funk will check his score, who's leading, and also how the other guys in Ryder Cup contention are faring.
 
'You can't help but see what they're doing,' he said. 'I was watching The International and trying to figure. I want the guys to be on the team. I want them to play well, but I don't want them to pass me.'
 
The simple solution for Funk and the guys chasing him is to play well.
 
And that won't be easy.
 
At 7,514 yards, Whistling Straits is the longest course in major championship history. The previous record was Columbine Country Club in Colorado, which was 7,436 yards - although that was in mile-high air.
 
And get this: the PGA of America isn't even using all the length available.
 
'I've been told that there were 10 really difficult holes, and eight impossible ones,' Lee Westwood said. 'I'm just trying to sort out which are the 10 difficult holes here.'
 
Who does it favor?
 
'Probably a long, straight hitter with a good iron game and a great short game and a wonderful putter,' he said.
 
There was a time that used to define Tiger Woods, although he only has a couple of those categories working in his favor at any one time, and that has kept him from dominating the game like he once did.
 
Woods comes into the PGA Championship having been shut out of the last nine majors, and in jeopardy of losing his No. 1 ranking to Ernie Els (possible) or Vijay Singh (long shot).
 
Phil Mickelson, whose 1-2-3 run through the majors started with his breakthrough victory in the Masters, played three days last week to learn the nuances of Whistling Straits and to figure out where he can't afford to miss.
 
That's no small task. Trouble lurks everywhere on the course, although most of the 1,400 bunkers are more of an eyesore than a legitimate threat. That water hazard east of the course - Lake Michigan - makes for a stunning view, but it makes some of the greens look as though they're about to topple into the water.
 
It reminds several players of an Irish links, and who better than Darren Clarke to weigh in on that.
 
'If you try and remember all of the most difficult holes of all the courses at home, put them all together and I think you'll have this one here,' Clarke said.
 
This is the 15th time Funk has played in the PGA Championship, and he has never seen anything like Whistling Straits. He had to tap his memory to think of another major anywhere near comparable.
 
'It's somewhat similar to ... you could say a little similar to Shinnecock,' he said.
 
Most guys say it reminds them of a links used in the British Open. For some reason, Funk couldn't make that connection.
 
Related Links:
  • Photo Gallery - Whistling Straits
  • Tee Times
  • Full Coverage - PGA Championship
  • Course Tour - Whistling Straits
     
    Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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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 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.”