Cup Up for Grabs

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 28, 2002, 4:00 pm
SUTTON COLDFIELD, England ' Tiger Woods and Davis Love III shouldnt have won theirs. Scott Hoch and Jim Furyk shouldnt have lost theirs.
As it was, it all evened out Saturday afternoon. And its all even heading to Sunday.
For the first time since the 1991 Matches at Kiawah Island the United States and Europeans are tied through two days of competition. The two squads are deadlocked at 8 points apiece in the 34th Ryder Cup.
'I think we're all pleased, not tickeled to death or happy, but pleased that we're 8-8 this week,' said U.S. captain Curtis Strange.
Woods and Love defeated Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood, 1-up, when the European tandem both bogeyed the last.
The reverse happened to Hoch and Furyk, as they led Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley, 1-up, but also made a pair of bogeys at 18 to hand Europe a half.
The defending champions entered four-balls trailing the home team by a point, but won the afternoon session, 2 - 1.
With the victory, momentum has shifted the Americans' side as they have a history of manhandling their foreign counterparts in the one-on-one format.
What history? asked Thomas Bjorn. We won the singles, 7-5, at Oak Hill. It can be done. If we can win 7-5 in Americawe can win the singles here.
True they triumphed in 1995, but it is one of only two occasions when they have out-dueled the Americans head-to-head since the continent of Europe joined the competition in 1979. The other time came in 1985, here at The Belfry.
But there is some history on the Europeans side as well. The last time the U.S. won a four-ball session, and led after two days was 95 ' the year Europe won the singles and the Cup.
This European team ' with four rookies ' has a combined 7-10-6 singles record. The Americans ' with three first-timers ' has a record of 13-4-4.
I think our singles line-up is a lot stronger than people seem to realize, said Phillip Price. I think even the players who appear to not have been in form are playing a lot better than they were, like the likes of Lee (Westwood). Im playing better; Pierre Fulke is playing well. Niclas Fasth is magnificent.
'We have world-class players at the top end there, a strong line-up on the singles.'
After splitting the Saturday morning foursomes, 2-2, European captain Sam Torrance shuffled his line-up in the afternoon. The one team he kept the same was that of Garcia and Westwood, who had combined for three victories in three matches.
They faced Woods and Love, who teamed together for the first time in the morning, defeating Clarke and Thomas Bjorn, 4-and-3.
The two teams were all square entering the 277-yard, par-4 10th.
Garcia was the only player to go for the green off the tee on Day 1, and took the same route on Day 2 ' this time with a different result. His drive clipped the top of the trees that protect the green, but came to rest safely on the apron of the putting surface. Friday, his ball landed in the hazard.
With his partner dry, Westwood launched his drive over the trees and onto the green, some 18 feet from the hole. He was the first player of the week to officially reach the green off the tee.
Hitting second, both Woods and Love laid up. Neither made birdie, while Westwood cozied up his eagle effort to concession range.
'We were a little bit stumped, but I looked at him and I said, 'What do you want to do?'' Love recalled. 'He said, 'We decided we're going to lay up, so we're going to lay up.'
'And we just didn't hit good wedge shots.'
Woods birdied from seven feet at 13 to even the score, but Garcia responded with a birdie of his own at 14.
Westwood then made a 25-footer for birdie at 16, only to have Tiger roll one in on top of him from 12 feet to stay 1-down.
Love finally contributed with a birdie at 17 ' just his second of the day. And when Garcia missed from three feet, the match was again all square.
It came down to a putting contest at the last. Garcia missed his par putt from six feet. Love made his from four feet. And Westwood nervously missed his from three feet to surrender the match, 1-up.
The American bystanders stormed the green to celebrate - this time after the match was fully completed - and Garcia was seen kicking his bag in frustration.
Woods made nine birdies and one bogey for a round of 8-under 64. Love shot 70.
With the overall score tied at 7, Hoch and Furyk blew a 2-up lead with five holes to play, only to win 17 to reclaim a 1-up edge.
McGinley was the only player in the group to hit the green at 18. Hoch chipped to eight feet, while Furyk blasted his ball from a buried lie in the bunker to twice that distance.
The Irishman two-putted for par, leaving the door open for the U.S. Furyk putted first and missed. Hoch then did the same.
'It was a great note to finish on, to win that last hole, to get 8 each,' Torrance said. 'If we were behind - the last time we were behind was in '95 and we beat them in singles, so let's see if we can do it tomorrow.'
Jesper Parnevik saw his first action of the week in the afternoon. He and Niclas Fasth took a quick 3-up lead on David Duval and Calcavecchia before the Americans came storming back.
Duval birdied the eighth to cut the deficit, and then nearly drove onto the green at 10. His ball finished 25 feet from the hole in the right fringe.
Parnevik tried to reach the green off the tee, but his ball bounced off dry land and into the water. Fasth, who played safely, inexplicably spun his approach shot off the green and into the hazard, thus giving the Americans the hole ' and putting the Europeans in one.
That shot David hit on the 10th hole really turned things around, Calcavecchia said.
Calcavecchia tapped in for birdie at 13 to square the match, and Duval made a 12-foot curler at the par-3 12th to go 1-up. They went dormie-2 after another Calcavecchia birdie at 16.
Fasth birdied 17 to keep alive the hope of a half, but both teams parred 18 to give the Americans a 1-up win.
Calcavecchia and Duval each collected their first four-ball victories. Calcavecchias record improved to 1-4-0; Duval went to 1-2-1.
While those two were able to overcome a 3-down deficit, Phil Mickelson and David Toms werent as fortunate. They fell to Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington, 2-and-1.
The loss was the first in four pairings for Mickelson and Toms. Montgomerie is now 3-0-1 this week, having earned two wins and a half with Bernhard Langer. He hasnt trailed at any point in his four matches.
In 1999, the Americans trailed by four points after two days and came back to win. They got a guarantee from their captain, Ben Crenshaw, who had a 'feeling,' and some words of inspiration from former President George Bush that Saturday night. Bush was on hand this Saturday watching the matches with Strange.
Both captains said they will have their own ways of preparing their teams for Sunday.
'Obviosuly, I'm going to try to say something tonight to motivate them. It's a big day tomorrow,' Torrance said. 'But words of wisdom, I don't know. It will probably come from somebody else. But they're ready for it. They don't need to know anything, just who they're playing against, go to bed and think about it.'
Said Strange: 'I can't do anything other than prepare them. And do I have a feeling? Well, I have a lot of trust and I believe in these guys.'
A team must win 14 points to win the Matches. Being the reigning champions, the U.S. can retain the Cup by earning a 14-14 tie.
Full coverage of the 34th Ryder Cup Matches
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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.”