Coceres Wins Cat-and-Mouse Game
Those cats never caught this mouse, as Coceres held on to better Davis Love III by a single shot at the National Car Rental Classic at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
It was very important for me to demonstrate that [winning] one tournament [was not] by accident, but now I demonstrated that I could win two and maybe why not three? said Coceres, who also won this years WorldCom Classic in a playoff over Billy Mayfair.
Coceres shot 4-under 68 to finish the tournament at 23-under 265.
Jerry Smith fired a career best 9-under 63 to tie David Peoples (66) for third place at 20-under; and, in the process, secure his 2002 PGA Tour card.
Scott McCarron, who played alongside Love and Coceres on Sunday, tied six others for sixth place at 18-under. McCarron shot 69.
Tiger Woods shot a Sunday 69 to tie for 16th at 16-under. Woods was making his first start after a five-week layoff.
I played halfway decent this week, said Woods, who won this event in 1996 and 99. Im very satisfied about 16-under-par after taking such a long time off. I just got lapped.
Tee times were pushed up Sunday, with the first threesome going out at 8:10 a.m. ET, due to the threat of inclement weather.
As it turned out, the final round should have started about 20 minutes earlier, as the threat of bad weather evolved into a reality.
The heavens opened wide at 2:32 p.m., with the last group standing in the middle of the fairway on the 72nd hole.
A 48-minute delay ensued. After hitting a few balls on the range, the threesome of Coceres, Love and McCarron returned to the final hole.
Coceres hit first, leaving his approach shot 20 feet short of the hole, while Love put his second shot to 12 feet.
Concerned more with two-putting than making the first one, Coceres left his birdie effort knee-knockingly short of the cup. Love then added to the pressure by sinking his birdie putt.
'It was exciting for just a minute,' Love said.
Needing to save par from six feet to capture the title, Coceres did just that. Afterwards, he hoisted a white towel wishing all the mothers in Argentina a Happy Mother's Day, particularly his own. Sunday was Mother's Day in his homeland.
'This was the best gift I could have given her,' he said. 'If this isn't the best, she'll have to pick another one.'
For Love, it proved to be a bittersweet finish. Battling a sore neck, Love earned his second top-5 finish in as many weeks; though, hes still seeking his first victory since the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in February.
Im happy to have had a chance, Love said. The plan was to come out and play four (straight) weeks and give myself a chance to win, and Im headed in the right direction.
Coceres took a three-shot lead into the final round, but let the field get back into contention by posting a 1-under 35 on the front nine.
As the final threesome made the turn, eight players were within two shots of Coceres 20-under-par lead.
Thats when the rains came and seemingly doused the red-hot scoring many had experienced on the front side.
Coceres, on the other hand, followed a birdie at the 9th with two more on Nos. 10 and 11.
He moved to 22-under, two shots clear of Smith, who was already in the clubhouse, and Love, who had tied Coceres for the lead at 19-under by birdieing the 8th hole, but bogeyed the 9th when he snapped his tee shot into the left trees.
Love did manage to keep pace with his playing companion early on the back by birdieing the 11th and 13th holes, but after placing his second shot ' a 3-wood from 262 yards ' into the front bunker on the par-5 14th, Love barely got his third shot out of the sand. He made a disappointing par, and fell three off the pace as Coceres made birdie.
Love cut the lead to two after hitting his tee shot on the par-3 15th to five feet. That difference remained until home hole.
Though it's Coceres' second victory of the season, its also just his second top-10 finish; therefore, Coceres is still outside the top-30 on the money list with one event remaining until the Tour Championship.
He is scheduled to play in the upcoming Buick Challenge.
Coceres moves from 56th in earnings to 33rd with the $612,000 paycheck. Hes collected $1,496,122 this season, not bad for someone who grew up with 10 siblings in a two-bedroom home in Chaco, Argentina.
Coceres almost skipped this weeks tournament. Had it not been for the cancellation of the Estoril Open, Coceres would have been playing a string of events on the European Tour.
Instead, the 38-year-old PGA Tour rookie stayed in the States, and it paid off.
Coceres has transformed from a kid who learned how to play the game by hitting rocks with sticks to a multiple winner on golfs biggest stage.
News, Notes and Numbers
*Coceres become the 52nd player to earn over $1 million on the PGA Tour this season.
*Coceres is the ninth player to win multiple times this year on tour. He is also the first International (non-European, non-American) player to win this tournament in its 31-year history.
*Jerry Smith collected $197,200 for his tie for third. He moves from 120th on the money list into 82nd place.
*Danny Ellis, who lives in nearby Longwood, aced the 183-yard, par-3 14th, using a 6-iron.
Full-field scores from the NCR Golf Classic
Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf
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
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
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.
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
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.”