Singh's status remains a mystery

By Jason SobelMarch 14, 2013, 7:44 pm

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – On a chilly, blustery day that made for difficult scoring conditions, Vijay Singh walked off the Innisbrook Copperhead course with a 2-under 69, his name firmly entrenched on the leaderboard.

He had to have felt pretty good about the result, but that notion couldn’t be confirmed.

After the round, Singh was approached by a PGA Tour media official who asked if he would speak to an awaiting contingent of reporters.

“I have no comment,” he responded.

When the media official asked if he alone could have a few comments only about the round and nothing else, Singh still didn’t acquiesce.

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“Sorry,” he said. “I have no comment.”

It should be noted that Singh was polite and cordial in his response. He apparently didn’t mind being asked a question about whether he could be asked questions, but he also made it clear that he didn’t want to answer any.

All of which only adds to the awkwardness of his current situation – whatever that situation may be.

On Jan. 29, news broke that Singh had revealed to Sports Illustrated that he had been using deer-antler spray, which reportedly contains IGF-1, a chemical banned under the PGA Tour’s Anti-Doping Policy.

“When I first received the product, I reviewed the list of ingredients and did not see any prohibited substances,” he said via statement that day. “I am absolutely shocked that deer-antler spray may contain a banned substance and am angry that I have put myself in this position.”

Since then, Singh hasn’t spoken publicly about deer antler spray, a possible suspension, his game or anything else. He finished T-50 at Pebble Beach on Feb. 10. No comment. He turned 50 on Feb. 24. No comment. And yes, he shot an opening-round 69 on Thursday. Once again, no comment.

The result is reigning confusion about his situation, which may or may not have already been settled. Compounding the mystery is the fact that PGA Tour executives won’t speak about the matter, either. Not until the case is closed and then only if he is deemed guilty.

“There's no time urgency here,” commissioner Tim Finchem explained last month. “If action is taken, it'll be reported. If no action is taken, it won't be reported, and that'll be the end of that. I'm not concerned about that.”

Which means that if Singh isn’t suspended – or even if he is appealing a suspension – and neither he nor anyone from the PGA Tour will address it, then the rest of us are left guessing about any progress or possible conclusion to the situation.

As if that isn’t complicated enough, there’s this: According to the Anti-Doping Policy, “Sanctions on players may include disqualification, including loss of results, points and prize money from the date the antidoping rule violation was found to occur forward.”

Translated into layman’s terms, that means there’s a possibility Singh could parlay his strong opening-round performance here at the Tampa Bay Championship into a victory on Sunday, only to later be punished by suspension that would wipe out the result.

Of course, there’s that little word in the policy’s language – “may” – which renders it all completely nebulous.

To summarize, Singh used a substance which is believed to contain a chemical banned by the PGA Tour. We know he hasn’t been suspended, because he’s still competing and because the Tour hasn’t made any formal announcement. But we don’t know that he has been cleared, because the Tour won’t say if that is the case.

Meanwhile, Singh won’t comment about anything, from deer-antler spray to a potential suspension to his opening round this week.

It was probably a good one, probably one in which the 50-year-old was pleased with his own performance. We can only guess, though, as the situation becomes more awkward every time he tees it up.

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.