A Big Win A Bigger Loss

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 2, 2008, 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.
BE LIKE TIGER...: Kenny Perry fired a solid 3-under 69 in Sunday's final round to overcome a three-stroke deficit to win the Memorial Tournament. In the process, he joined Tiger Woods as the only three-time winner of Jack's event.
Backspin Its an absolutely huge win for the 47-year-old Perry for several reasons: A) this victory goes a long way for him reaching his stated, beginning-of-the-year goal of making the 2008 Ryder Cup team that will be played in his home state of Kentucky; B) it quells the demons in his head after two near misses in his last two events - THE PLAYERS and the AT&T Classic - were he played in the final round and couldn't close the deal; and C) turning 48 in August, he now is exempt on TOUR up until he is eligible for the Champions Tour. This, of course, is not to mention the other 1,080,000 reasons this was a big win for Perry.

...OR NOT: Tiger Woods didnt play the Memorial Tournament for the second time in three years, but he was in the news this past week, giving a pre-tournament press conference for his AT&T National.
Backspin Woods said his game wasnt up to snuff for competition, but he expects it to be for next weeks U.S. Open. He added that his knee is still a bit of a bother, but he didnt expect it to keep him out of the winners circle at Torrey Pines. His coach, Hank Haney, told GolfChannel.com Insider Brian Hewitt: 'Tiger (recently) hit the ball as good as I have ever seen him hit it with all his clubs. Tiger is an amazing individual and he feels good about his chances at Torrey Pines.' Now it's just a wait-and-see situation.

'LET' HER PLAY: Michelle Wie made just her third start in 2008, competing in the Ladies German Open on the Ladies European Tour (LET). Wie opened in 4-under 68 and closed with a 5-under 67 to finish sixth.
Backspin Wie, who ranked second just two years ago, has plummeted in the world rankings, and this could turn out be the perfect spark for the 18-year-old to rebuild some much needed confidence. A year ago at this time Wie was all the (negative) talk in golf after bowing out of the Ginn Tribute through 16 holes of the first round while on the verge of shooting the dreaded 88. Now she barely makes a blip on the radar screen when she plays. And thats probably a good thing. Then again, this solid showing in Germany quickly raises the bar.

WHERE'S THE LIFE PRESERVER?: Seon Hwa Lee may have won the Ginn Tribute Hosted by ANNIKA in a playoff over Karrie Webb, but the big story was the fact that Sophie Gustafson held a six-shot lead with 18 to play and didn't even make it into the playoff.
Backspin Gustafson, who hasn't won on the LPGA Tour win since 2003, looked to be in total control after shooting 66, 65, 67 in her first three rounds to reach 18 under. She even started Sunday's final round with birdies on two of the first three holes to reach 20 under par. What should have been smooth sailing from there on, quickly turned into a boat taking on water and eventually capsizing. She played the final 15 holes in 9 over par and missed the playoff by three shots. The good news is that she finished seven strokes better than fellow Swede and tournament host Annika. Thats good, right?

HANDLE WITH CARE: Ernie Els flip-flopped and decided to play at Jack's tournament, the Memorial. The Big Easy surprised everyone - though only momentarily - when his Web site reported that he would not play again until this week in the Stanford St. Jude Classic in Memphis, Tenn.
BackspinWe don't know the exact reasons for Els' change in heart, although we find it a little strange that the South African decided to play in the event after a certain someone withdrew. Coincidence? Yes. Smart move? No. Ernie went on to miss the cut in his second straight event and is seemingly limping toward Torrey Pines.

USA! USA! USA!: The American squad rolled to a 13-7 victory in the biennial Curtis Cup, which matches top female amateurs from the U.S. against those from Great Britain and Ireland. The United States now leads the series, 26-6-3.
Backspin This was the U.S. team's sixth straight win in the event and with it brought up suggestions that the event begin including all of continental Europe - as opposed to just GB&I - as the Ryder Cup did back in 1979. Countered legendary U.S captain Carole Semple-Thompson, I can understand Great Britain and Ireland would be a little frustrated at this point since weve won six in a row, but I think that the level of their play is fantastic.' Sounds like she is well aware of what has happened to the U.S. since the Ryder Cup changed its format.

SAD DEPARTURE: Lorena Ochoa withdrew prior to the start of the Ginn Tribute to be with her ailing uncle in Mexico. Two days after her withdrawal, her uncle, Pedro Ochoa, died after a long illness at age 73
BackspinFamily is first and foremost to Ochoa and it showed when she left Annikas event, a tournament which she lost in a playoff last year, to be by the bedside of her dying uncle. Ochoas Web site said she would return to competition this week for the seasons second major, the McDonalds LPGA Championship, where she will go for her third straight major victory. Expect Ochoa to be focused and inspired at Bulle Rock.

DOUBLE REPEAT:Jay Haas won for the second straight week and the second straight year at the Principal Charity Classic, shooting 6-under 65 Sunday for a one-shot triumph over Andy Bean.
Backspin Haas now leads the senior circuit in money and on the Charles Schwab Cup points list. Hes also 1-for-1 in the majors this year. Chalk up another P.O.Y. campaign for Mr. Haas.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Colin Montgomerie wants to change the Ryder Cup format to extend it to four days of action; Scott Strange won The Celtic Manor Wales Open in wire-to-wire fashion, his maiden European Tour victory; Kris Blanks won his maiden Nationwide Tour event at the Bank of America Open.
Backspin Usually we feel if it ain't broke, don't fix it. However, an extra day of Ryder Cup excitement? Sign us up!; Strange admitted afterwards, 'I felt numb on the last tee. I had a vacant brain.; Blanks moves from 31st to fifth on the Nationwide money list.

Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Memorial Tournament
  • Full Coverage - The Celtic Manor Wales Open
  • Full Coverage - Principal Charity Classic
  • Full Coverage - Ginn Tribute Hosted by ANNIKA
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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.


    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.”