Reasons to Shout and Cry

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 28, 2008, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: In Backspin, the editorial staff takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf -- with a spin.
ADAM HADEM: Adam Scott made a 48-foot birdie putt on the third hole of sudden death to capture the EDS Byron Nelson Championship over Ryan Moore. The win was Scotts sixth on the PGA TOUR and his first since last years Shell Houston Open.
Backspin Tough luck for Moore. After closing in 2-under 68, and making a lengthy birdie putt of his own on the 17th in regulation, Moore watched with one eye open as Scott birdied the 18th to force the extra session. Moore then squeaked by the first two playoff holes as Scott missed very makeable winning putts. But just when it seemed advantage Moore, Scott put a dagger in his heart with a near 50-foot bomb. Moore remains winless as a professional.

SERGI-OHH: Sergio Garcia started the final round in Irving, Texas four off the lead of his good friend Scott. He then went bogey-par-double bogey-double bogey-bogey on his way to a 5-over 75 and a tie for 19th.
Backspin Is there any player less intimidating on Sunday than Garcia? Fortunately for Scott he bounced back from being 3 over through 5 holes in the final round to win; otherwise, he might be challenging Garcia for this dubious dishonor. Garcia remains winless on the PGA TOUR ' or European Tour, for that matter ' since 2005. Maybe its time to stop wondering when hes going to win a major and wonder when hes going to win any kind of tournament.

TAKING ADVANTAGE: Annika Sorenstam defeated Paula Creamer on the first hole of sudden death to capture the inaugural Stanford International Pro-Am in southern Florida. Sorenstam narrowly missed winning putts on the final hole of regulation and the first playoff hole, but won her 71st career LPGA title when Creamer left a 6-foot par putt short.
Backspin This was a classic battle for Whos No. 2 on the LPGA Tour. With Lorena Ochoa sitting out, the games best players outside of the worlds No. 1 took advantage. Sorenstam, Creamer, Cristie Kerr and Karrie Webb were all on the final leaderboard. It was Annika who emerged from this impressive pack. But while she might be a clear No. 2 now, shes still far, far away from No. 1. After a winless 2007, Sorenstam has two wins this season ' both coming without Ochoa in the field.

WELCOME BACK: Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke grabbed victory at the Asian Open defeating Robert Jan Derksen by one stroke at the in Shanghai, China. Clarke clinched the win in dramatic fashion with some 72nd-hole heroics, sinking a 30-foot birdie putt to seal the victory.
Backspin This was Clarke's first victory since 2003, but perhaps more notably his first since the death of his wife Heather in 2006. A moment that was not lost on 39-year-old saying, It was always going to be a difficult hurdle for me to get back into the winners enclosure after Heather passed away. But to turn around and make a brilliant last and win the cup feels pretty good. Cheers, Darren.

CUP HALF FULL: The FedExCup season crossed over the half-way point at the EDS Byron Nelson, leaving 16 weeks for players to qualify for the season-ending PGA TOUR Playoffs.
Backspin Two things we know at this point in the second year of the FedExCup: 1) Even with knee surgery during the season Tiger Woods will still lead come Playoff time. 2) A year-and-a-half into this thing and no one still knows exactly how it works. We are pretty sure that 125 players qualify for the first event, The Barclays, which currently leaves Davis Love III, David Toms, Tom Lehman, Brett Wetterich, Chris DiMarco, and ' believe it or not! ' John Daly on the outside looking in.

NEEDING REST FROM HIS VACATION: Trevor Immelman made his first start since winning the Masters Tournament, shooting 78-75 to miss the cut at the EDS Byron Nelson. Immelman, admittedly worn out by an exhaustive PR run since his major victory, had four birdies, 12 bogeys and two doubles.
Backspin Only one of the last 21 Masters champions has won in his next start out, that being Tiger Woods when he won the Nelson after his historic 1997 Augusta triumph. Immelman didnt join Tiger on that list, but he did become the first player since Jose Maria Olazabal in 1994 to miss the cut in his next start after winning the Masters. Somehow we dont think thats going to earn him another spot on Letterman.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: EDS announced a four-year extension of its sponsorship of the Byron Nelson through 2014; Five-time Open Championship winner Tom Watson will compete in this years edition at Royal Birkdale; Teenager Vicky Hurst set a Duramed FUTURES Tour 54-hole record, winning the Jalapeno Golf Classic; Watson and Andy North won the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf; Adam Scott's caddie, Tony Navaro, received a Cadillac for his employer's win.
Backspin The renewal of a sponsor might be boring news to most, but in todays market its incredibly good news for the TOUR and the long-standing Byron Nelson tournament; the last of the 58-year-old Watsons five Open titles came at Royal Birkdale in 1983; Hurst finished at 18-under 198, breaking the record of Grace Park at 16 under; The legends reverted back to a team event, which was a good change-up for the tour; A Caddy for a caddie. One more incentive to draw top-level players to their event.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - EDS Byron Nelson Championship
  • Full Coverage - Stanford International
  • Full Coverage - Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf
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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 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.”