The Thrills of No-Frills

By Ian HutchinsonApril 16, 2008, 4:00 pm
Thousands of miles separate Modesto, Calif., and Augusta, Ga., but the distance is even more expansive in terms of stature in the golf world, especially in early April.
 
While the rest of the world was tuned into Tiger and Amen Corner on the weekend, the Canadian Tour was kicking off its 2008 season in relative anonymity, as it usually does, at the Spring International Presented by Foster Farms Dairy, a charming name that evokes images of simpler times.
 
Weve got a very, very strong field. Weve got a number of Nationwide (Tour) players here. The Nationwide Tour last week was just down the road in Livermore, said tour commissioner Rick Janes, explaining that the run-in with the Masters is the result of tight schedule this year.
 
The fact of the matter is that we have an agreement for next week in Stockton and thats a permanent, fixed date, so we always want to have at least two events in a row (in the same area) and, as a result, we dont really have any choice, he added.
 
We go up against the British Open when were in Winnipeg. Obviously, wed rather not, but its just a matter of efficiency for the players, said Janes.
 
In that respect, the Canadian Tours mandate is as simple as the name of the tournament at Modestos Del Rio Country Club on the weekend. It is a players tour and not because of the courtesy cars and other perks normally enjoyed by the guys at Augusta on the weekend.
 
Instead, this tour is designed to provide a competitive environment and as many tournaments as possible for players to develop the way Mike Weir, Chris DiMarco and Steve Stricker, among other tour graduates, did in the past.
 
For that reason, there was no apology when the tour began playing events in warm weather American locations a few years back to the chagrin of some who took the Canadian in the tours name too seriously, even if homebrew players were getting more opportunities to play.
 
In 2005, the tour had 11 tournaments on the schedule. This year, there are 16, with 11 of them in Canada, including the International Team Matches, which will be played in late July at Torontos Scarborough Golf and Country Club.
 
The schedule could soar as high as 20 events as 2008 progresses, with the tour looking at possible tournaments in Western Canada, Thunder Bay, Ottawa and Atlantic Canada. Any concern in the past appears to be unfounded the way Canadian content is being emphasized these days.
 
Thats not to say that there wont be more events outside of our borders. The tour is also looking at a fall series with possible stops in Florida, Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala to prepare its players for PGA TOUR qualifying school and Janes says he would like to see bigger galleries.
 
The real thrust of our efforts now is increasing the profile of the tour to the average golfer, helping them to understand what its about, why it exists, said Janes, was overwhelmed with the response of people in Southwestern Ontario to a new tournament that will be played in Seaforth, Ont., in late August.
 
Janes says he was shocked when he was told 30,000 tickets had been printed. When I heard them say that, I thought, I hope I havent misled you. We dont typically get 30,000 people at our events, but the fact of the matter is people are buying the tickets because theyre going to support the local hospitals.
 
It really is a great case study. Its like the Green Bay Packers in the NFL, where the community has rallied behind this, said Janes, hoping the thrills of no-frills catches on in other locations and fans see the benefits of catching a player, Canadian or otherwise, on his way up the chain to the PGA TOUR.
 
Certainly, there are additional efforts being made to lure players at that level to the Canadian Tour. Prize money now is our next priority, he said. Theres a lot to be said for the size of prize purses and people start to take it seriously when they see the purses at the higher levels.
 
We will see some of that this year. Well see the Canadian Tour Championship increase. We havent announced it yet, but it will certainly be over $200,000 and theres another (existing) event in Canada that will be announced shortly that its going over $200,000, he said.
 
Janes adds that there are also negotiations going on that could see Canadian Tour players get increased World Golf Ranking points, so while the gap between Modesto and Augusta seemed so expansive on the weekend, players may look back from the Masters one day and realize the jump is entirely possible.
 
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Toronto Sun Editor's Note: Ian Hutchinson is golf columnist for the Toronto Sun. He is also a frequent contributor to Golf Scene and Golf Canada Magazine, the official magazine of the Royal Canadian Golf Association.

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.

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm