Backspin Good for Daly Woe is Wie

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 2, 2007, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: In our new feature, Backspin, the GOLFCHANNEL.com editorial staff takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf -- with a spin.
 
MAJOR RELIEF: Cristie Kerr played bogey-free golf over the final nine holes Sunday at Pine Needles, and made one clutch birdie to win her first major championship. Kerr's birdie on the par-4 14th gave her a one-shot lead, which she turned into a two-stroke victory at the U.S. Women's Open.
 
BackspinWith all of the talk surrounding Lorena Ochoa, Annika Sorenstam, Michelle Wie and so many more on the LPGA Tour, Kerr has been overlooked over the last couple of years. That should change, as Kerr will most certainly enjoy reminding everyone - should they forget - that she is now a major champion.
 
MAJOR HEADACHE: Ochoa was just one shot back with two holes to play, but a bogey at the par-4 17th dropped her out of contention for her first major title. She finished tied for second with 18-year-old rookie Angela Park.
 
BackspinOchoa may be No. 1 in the world, but she is now 0-for-22 in majors played. The worst part about her play on Sunday was not that she didn't win, but that she didn't look very steady coming down the stretch.
 
WOE IS WIE: For the second time in three tournaments, Michelle Wie withdrew, citing an injury to her left wrist. Wie dropped out after nine holes of her second round in the U.S. Women's Open. She was 17 over for the tournament at the time of her withdrawal, having opened in 11-over 82.
 
BackspinAfter walking off the course, a teary-eyed Wie said she was uncertain about her future. She might as well have been speaking for everyone else. It could be a while before we see her again, and it could be even longer before she plays like her old self again.
 
JOURNEYMAN FINDS HIS WAY: Brian Bateman made a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation to secure a one-stroke victory at the Buick Open, his first PGA TOUR win. The $882,000 he earned moved him from 204th on the money list to 68th.
 
BackspinAround the time the leaders made the turn on Sunday, there were no fewer than 25 players tied or within three strokes of the lead. And who should emerge but a 34-year-old Q-school regular. Goes to show the depth of talent on TOUR.
 
FINALLY, SOME GOOD NEWS: Fifteen players managed to finish inside the top 10 at the Buick. Just on the outskirts was John Daly. Daly shot four rounds under par at Warwick Hills to tie for 16th, his first top-20 finish of the year.
 
BackspinFor once, Daly gets a Backspin mention based on his play. Prior to the Buick, Daly had played 12 events with no top-20s, five missed cuts and three withdrawals. Other players, like Jason Gore (T2), Justin Leonard (T2), Marco Dawson (T5) and Steve Elkington (T5) also enoyed their best finishes of the season. And that Bateman guy, too.
 
UNHAPPY RETURN: Karrie Webb won the U.S.Women's Open at Pine Needles in 2001. Six years later, upon her return, she missed the cut. Webb shot 12-over 83 in the first round, the highest score in her career. She followed with a 71 and missed the cut by six strokes.
 
BackspinWhile Webb was the biggest surprise to miss the cut, she wasn't the only big name on that list. Two-time Open champion Juli Inkster and LPGA Championship winner Suzann Pettersen were also notable absentees over the final two rounds.
 
WEATHER WORRIES: Most of the first two rounds of the Women's Open was plagued by inclement weather. The first round carried over into Friday, which pushed Round 2 into Saturday and Round 3 into Sunday. The rain and lightning subsided over the weekend, however, to allow the tournament to finish on schedule
 
BackspinThis year's Open had a Wimbledon-like feel -- with all of the weather delays, you never really knew who was in what round on what day. Perhaps the worst part of it was that fans were relegated to watching tape-delayed action or no action at all on Saturday, as NBC ended its coverage at 6:00 p.m.
 
ACTING LIKE A 12-YEAR-OLD: Alexis Thompson, 12, was the youngest player ever to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open. She wasn't able to make the cut, however, shooting 76-82 to miss the mark by 11 strokes.
 
BackspinThompson may not have played the final two rounds, but she did make it to the weekend as her second round was postponed into Saturday. While she would have liked to have played better, Thompson was thrilled with the experience, providing the perfect example of someone who plays for the love of the game.
 
TIGER AND PHIL: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson both announced last Wednesday that they will be competing in this week's AT&T National, which is hosted by Woods. Neither man has competed since the U.S. Open. Woods has been busy being a father, while Mickelson has been nursing an injured left wrist.
 
BackspinThe last two weeks on TOUR might have been competitive, but there is nothing like the excitement and anticipation produced when the top 2 players in the world are in the same field. Tiger's pre-tournament press conference might be the most compelling this week, but Phil will have the most questions to answer on the course.
 
NEARLY GATOR BAIT: A Tennessee man who lost his ball in a golf course pond nearly lost a limb when an 11-foot alligator latched onto his arm and pulled him in, authorities said. Bruce Burger, 50, was trying to retrieve his ball from a pond on the sixth hole at the Lake Venice Golf Club in Venice, Fla., when the gator attacked. Burger managed to beat off the reptile and escape without being seriously injured.
 
BackspinIf you see a sign ... near a pond ... warning about alligators ... stay away. Leave the Pro-V1 behind. Really. Seriously.
 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Colin Montgomerie coughed up the final-round lead coming down the stretch in Paris; Bruce Vaughan, a Champions Tour rookie, made two aces in two days before the start of the Commerece Bank Championship; Lonnie Nielsen won the Commerce Bank for his first Champions win; Ochoa finally signed an endorsement deal with Ping; the USGA announced that the U.S. Women's Open is headed to Pebble Beach in 2014; a beachside guest house owned by Tiger Woods on his recently purchased compound in Jupiter, Fla., was destroyed by fire on Friday.
 
BackspinMontys stumble was complete with, you guessed it, problems with the gallery; Unfortunately for Vaughan, the aces came during practice rounds; An endorsement deal for the worlds top-ranked player? You think?; Not only are the women finally getting to play legendary Pebble Beach, but also are heading to storied St. Andrews for this year's Womens British Open; Luckily for Tiger, he still lives in Orlando.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Women's Open
  • Full Coverage - Buick Open
  • Getty Images

    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.”