Backspin Classic Beatdown Historic Win

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 6, 2007, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: In Backspin, the GOLFCHANNEL.com editorial staff takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf -- with a spin.
 
ANY MORE QUESTIONS?: Tiger Woods was a shot out of the lead heading into the final round at Firestone, but by the seventh hole Sunday, Tiger had built a comfortable four-stroke advantage. He went on to easily win his third straight WGC-Bridgestone Invitational title -- and his sixth overall -- by a mind-numbing eight strokes.
 
BackspinIn the process of his runaway victory, Tiger became the first player to ever win the same tournament three consecutive times on two different ocassions. Meanwhile, the United States Secretary of Defense has accordingly issued a DEFCON-1 warning to Tiger's peers for this week's PGA Championship at Southern Hills.
 
ANY MORE QUESTIONS? PART II: Lorena Ochoa cruised to a four-shot win at the Women's British Open to finally secure her first career major victory, at historic St. Andrews no less. After she wrestled away the No.1 world ranking from Annika Sorenstam, many felt she would need a major championship to validate such a ranking.
 
BackspinMission accomplished. Her win on Sunday not only answered the critics but will now create an almost Tiger-like gap in the rankings between her and the second-ranked player in the world. And the cherry on top? Ochoa will feel delighted that her name can now be mention with the likes of Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Woods as players to win a major championship at the home of golf.
 
LONG TIME COMING: There was technically only one winner at St. Andrews, but many of those in the field will tell you that they felt victorious just playing the historic venue. This was the first time St. Andrews held a professional women's event and, despite the Scottish weather, the majority of the ladies will tell you that they could not have enjoyed the experience more.
 
BackspinThe St. Andrews clubhouse, which was opened to women for the first time, is famous for its sign that said, 'No Women or Dogs Allowed.' Perhaps this will be the first of many major championships for the women at St. Andrews. And maybe some other famous courses will soon open their doors to the ladies as well.
 
CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR: Once again, Rory Sabbatini got his wish. Just as he had at the Wachovia Championship, Sabbatini entered the final round at Firestone with a one-shot lead over Tiger. And just like at Wachovia, Woods let Rory talk -- and then walked all over him. Sabbatini shot 4-over 74 to ultimately finish nine back of Woods.
 
BackspinSabbatini has now officially become the Joker to Tiger's Batman. Maybe he can join up with Tiger's other arch nemeses -- Phil, Vijay, Ames, Michael Campbell, and anyone else who has dared to speak out against him -- and they can form a Tiger Hater's Club. But give Sabbatini some credit. His bravado is in stark contrast to most players who sheepishly bow down to Tiger. Of course, after this latest beat down, we might not hear a negative word about Tiger come out of Rory's -- or anyone else's -- mouth for a while.
 
IN THE FLES(C)H: Steve Flesch had been struggling all year just to make cuts on the PGA TOUR. But at the Reno-Tahoe Open, Flesch not only made it to the weekend, but became the first wire-to-wire winner on TOUR this season.
 
BackspinFlesch's five-stroke victory was the third of his career and gained him entry into this week's PGA Championship. Floundering all the way down at 132nd on the PGA TOUR money list, the $540,000 winner's check - along with a two-year TOUR exemption - gives the high-strung Flesch a chance to breathe easy and relax.
 
STYLE POINTS: D.A. Weibring fired a 5-under 67 on Sunday to overcome a flawless final-round 9-under 63 by Jay Haas to grab the trophy at the 3M Championship at the TPC of the Twin Cities. It was Weibring's fourth career Champions Tour victory.
 
BackspinTalk about winning in style: Weibring trailed Haas, the Champions Tour's premiere player, by two shots with three holes to play. And then? Birdie at 16. Another birdie at 17. And yes, a birdie at 18 to win by a single stroke. After the win, Weibring announced he was donating a portion of his winnings to the relief efforts of the bridge collapse in the Twin Cities. Stylish and classy.
 
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Tadd Fujikawa made his professional debut at the Reno-Tahoe Open but missed the cut by six shots; Annika Sorenstam borrowed her pal Tiger's St. Andrews yardage book for the Women's British Open; Jim Furyk withdrew from the Bridgestone Invitational after his back started tightening up early in the week; Chris DiMarco had a solid tie for fourth at Firestone, moving him closer to the top-10 in the Presidents Cup points race.
 
BackspinAfter a opening-round 78 and a poor start on Friday, the 16-year-old Fujikawa could have packed it in - but he didn't. Five birdies on his final 10 holes put a big smile on his face and garnered a lot of respect from his playing partners; Tiger's yardage book is one thing, but that book means nothing if Tiger is not the one hitting the shots; Furyk was coming off a win at the Canadian Open and was in the midst of playing seven events in an eight week stretch - injury or not, rest was needed for the world's No. 2 player; DiMarco has no doubt caught the attention of U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus with his recent form, regardless of where he finishes on the points list.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Bridgestone Invitational
  • Full Coverage - Women's British Open
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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.