Watson Yellow Submarined

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2009, 4:00 pm

 
PRAYER ANSWERED: Stewart Cink claimed his first major title, defeating Tom Watson in a four-hole aggregate playoff to win the 138th Open Championship. Both men finished regulation at 2-under 278. Cink beat Watson in the extra session, 14 (2 under) to 20 (4 over).
 
Backspin Up until the 72nd hole, it was questionable as to whether Cink really had it in him to win a major championship. But he proved his mettle by making birdie on 18 when no one else who mattered could even save par. More than eight years after his U.S. Open meltdown at Southern Hills, Cink finally has his major. And it is well deserved. Unfortunatley, this win only adds life to the Twitter craze.
 

 
NOT OLD TOM, VINTAGE TOM: Tom Watson missed an 8-foot par putt on the final hole of regulation which would have won him a record-tying sixth Open Championship. Instead, he lost in a playoff to Stewart Cink, running out of gas in the four-hole extra frame.
 
Backspin Cink got his named etched on the Claret Jug, but this will forever be remembered as Watson's Open. The 59-year-old defied all odds ' literally, since he was a 1,000-to-1 longshot at the start of the tournament ' and nearly became the protagonist of golf's greatest major championship victory. It might take Watson a while to get over his finish, but this is one story whose ending won't define the overall composition.
 

 
HOW THE WEST WAS LOST: Lee Westwood bogeyed his final hole to miss the Open Championship playoff by one shot. The Englishman led by two strokes after an eagle at the par-5 seventh, but couldn't maintain his advantage. Trailing Watson by one on the par-4 18th, and thinking he needed a 3 to stay alive, Westwood ran his lengthy birdie effort 10 feet past the hole. He then missed the comebacker.
 
Backspin Westwood can ask Cink for advice in how to deal with this defeat. Similarly, Cink believed he needed to make a long birdie putt on the 72nd hole of the 2001 U.S. Open to have any chance of winning. He ended up three-putting, pushing a 2-foot par effort after a lapse in concentration, and missing the playoff by that single stroke. It took Cink years to recover mentally. Westwood should bounce back faster, as he's already visited golf's doldrums.
 

 
SWING AND A MISS: Lee Westwood may leave Turnberry the most chagrined, but there are several others who, too, will hang there heads for not taking advantage of a winning opportunity. From players like Ross Fisher (above), who actually led by two at one point early in his final round, to those who floudered from the start Sunday ' like Jim Furyk ' this will be a major that got away.
 
Backspin Seventy-three players made the cut and all were either tied for the 36-hole lead or within nine shots, which meant everyone who survived the first two rounds had a realistic shot to win. We don't have room to list everyone who deserves to be punished by driving Scottish roadways for the next month, so we'll just call out two notable offenders: Furyk and Retief Goosen. Goosen was 2 under to start the final round, but even with an eagle at 17 shot 2-over 72 to finish two removed from the playoff. Furyk was at 1 under after three rounds, but closed in 76 to tie for 34th. The Claret Jug was on a tee, and both of these major champs ' and plenty of others ' whiffed.
 

 
GIVE ME SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN: Tiger Woods missed the cut in a major for just the second time in his professional career. Woods shot 71-74 at Turnberry for a 5-over total to miss weekend play by one stroke.
 
Backspin Tiger Woods didn't look like Tiger Woods. He looked shaky. He looked unnerved. He looked like the Friedrich Nietzsche of golf ' a man with no faith in his swing. So what are we supposed to believe in? The man who wins ever major tune-up? Or the man who can't beat Mark O'Meara at the British Open? All seems wrong with the golf world.
 

 
EVERYTHING COMES TO AN END: Padraig Harrington's two-year Open Championship reign came to a conclusion Sunday when he shot 73 to tie for 65th at 12 over par. The Irishman still has one more major title to defend this year in the PGA Championship at Hazeltine.
 
Backspin Unless Harrington is actually a warlock and can cast a magic spell that will give him back his swing and confidence from a year ago, he can kiss the Wanamaker Trophy goodbye as well. Harrington is a great guy and a future Hall of Fame player. Let's just hope this is a small stumble and not an Ian-Baker-Finch-like decent into golfing Hades.
 

 
YOU SILLY BOYS: Colin Montgomerie and Sandy Lyle gave the British tabloids plenty of fodder for the back pages. Lyle started the tiff by bringing up a 4-year-old incident in which Monty was accused of cheating in Indonesia. He then fueled the fire by calling Monty a 'drama queen' later in the week. Montgomerie waited until after he completed his second round to fully respond, admitting the drama distracted him. Both men missed the cut.
 
Backspin Lyle said he hopes all this silliness doesn't affect his chance to be Monty's vice captain at the 2010 Ryder Cup. Unless Monty turns Amish, he's probably not going to forgive his countryman anytime soon. There's nothing worse in golf than being called a cheater. Two other things you don't want to be labeled: a quitter and a whiner. Lyle is doing his best to be remembered more for these two characteristics (he dropped out midway through a brutal first round at the '08 British) than for his two major titles.
 

 
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Bo Van Pelt defeated John Mallinger in a playoff to earn his first PGA Tour win at the U.S. Bank Championship. ... Inspired by Tom Watson's run at Turnberry, three-time Open champion Seve Ballesteros hopes to return to competition at St. Andrews in 2010. ... Rick Rhoden edged Tony Romo to win the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship. ... Brad Benjamin won the U.S. Public Links.
 
Backspin The win gets Van Pelt into the PGA Championship which is good, because there is no opposite-field event that week. ... Just seeing Ballesteros on a golf course would be a victory. ... Rhoden has now won eight of these championships. ... Benjamin will get a ticket to next year's Masters, which is more than Van Pelt can say.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage ' 138th Open Championship
  • Full Coverage ' U.S. Bank Championship
  • Complete News Headlines
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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.”