A Night at Home with the Girls

By Mercer BaggsFebruary 26, 2006, 5:00 pm
I never thought that I would ever write these words: I spent Saturday night watching LPGA Tour golf.
Not that I had any real plans. But watching golf, at night ' womens or otherwise ' is not at the top of my Oh, Boy! List.
Yet there I was, just as Carolyn Bivens wanted me, sitting in my big chair, watching the ladies play. Actually, it wasnt the ladies I wanted to see play, but a pair of girls.
Morgan Pressel
Morgan Pressel tied for 11th in her second start as an LPGA rookie.
Michelle Wie and Morgan Pressel were paired together in the final round of the Fields Open in Hawaii. It was the first time that I can remember being at home and actually wishing that I was at an LPGA event just to walk around with these two for four hours.
Wie and Pressel arent just the future of womens golf, theyve already established a rivalry, thanks in large part to little Miss Morgans verbal jabs ' the ones that Michelle quietly dodges without offering a counter.
But Morgans mouth is good for the tour. They say that a double eagle is the rarest thing in golf, but its not; its a player who says what he or she really thinks.
Since I wasnt inside the ropes for this one, I had to rely on television and published reports to see how the two would interact. From all accounts the two were quite congenial, shaking hands on the first tee, hugging on the last, and chatting amiably down the fairways.
While competitive rivalries are good for any sport, hopefully this one will be of the friendly variety. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird had a contentious relationship before developing a healthy respect for one another on their way to revitalizing the NBA. It all began with a television commercial in which the two both starred. Perhaps if Nike buys Callaway, as has been rumored, then these two girls can sit on a commercial set and get to know one another better.
Michelle and Morgan are a lot like Magic and Larry. Both are extremely gifted, but in their own dynamically different ways. And while one is more glitz and glamour ' more Hollywood; the other is more grit and guile ' more French Lick, Ind.
Their personalities shine through in their outer-wear.
Saturday, Wie wore a matching pink outfit, with a skirt almost alarmingly short for a 16-year-old. She sported some fancy Nike shades and had earrings dangling down to her jaw line. Had she taken off the hat and switched her spikes for some designer shoes, she would have fit perfect the part of someone sitting outside a caf pretending to be Miss Cool Breeze Coffee Drinker.
If Michelle is modern, then Morgan is traditional.
Pressel also had on a pair of long earrings, but wore no sunglasses. Her clothing consisted of a red-and-white-striped Ralph Lauren Polo shirt and average length navy shorts. Red, white and blue. She was probably eating apple pie and humming the National Anthem, too. She could have been a miniature, female version of Davis Love III.
Then there was the third member of their threesome, Sherri Turner. Turner, who is the combined age of two Wies and one Pressel, dressed the part of LPGA Past. She had on some long, baggy shorts; an un-tucked, frumpy shirt; a visor and some spectacles. To complete the look, she even used a broomstick putter.
We are definitely in the beginning stages of a new, younger, hipper LGPA Tour.
But while style certainly has its place in sports, substance is what matters.
Saturday, Wie showed she has both.
There will still be plenty of Wie critics citing that she didnt win this past week and has never really won much of anything. But what she proved at Ko Olina Golf Club is that she is getting closer and closer to winning. And when it happens once, its going to happen a lot.
When Wie three-putted the par-5 13th to fall two off the lead, it looked like she was finished. She just doesnt know how to win, I thought; she cant handle the situation.
And then she proved me wrong.
Because, then she birdied the par-5 14th to get back within one. And then she birdied the 17th to tie for the lead. And then she bombed a drive on 18 and hit an 8-iron from 157 yards to 8 feet.
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie gave the homeland crowd plenty to cheer about with her final-round 66.
She missed the putt on the left side. Had she made it, she would have posted a number which likely would have gotten her into a playoff. Instead, she finished at 13 under, one back and in third place.
Television analysts said that she pulled her putt, that nerves made the stroke for her. She said that she just misread it. To her defense, Seon Hwa Lee had the same putt to win the tournament in sudden death and also missed it left.
With thousands of homeland supporters applauding her effort, Wie was visibly disappointed walking off the 18th green. And that was good. It was good to see her upset about not winning. Unlike for most 16-year-olds, theres not much room left on Wies resume for any more victories of the moral variety.
Wies third-place showing didnt exactly justify her third-place position on the newly unveiled Womens World Golf Ranking, but thats another topic for another story.
On this occasion, Wie has little for which to apologize. For the day, she made seven birdies and one bogey for a closing 66. Pressel, meanwhile, had three birdies and two bogeys for a 71 and a tie for 11th.
When Meena Lee, in the group right behind Wie and Pressel, birdied 18 to post 14 under and effectively end Wies week, I reached for the remote.
But before I changed the channel, there was still one thing that I wanted to see. It wasnt to see if Natalie Gulbis could make a late run or which South Korean was going to win. I had to see if Pressel was going to cry in her post-round interview.
To her credit, Pressel did speak to The Golf Channel after signing her scorecard. But she probably should have passed.
Maybe she thought she could control her emotions this time, or maybe she didnt want to be perceived negatively had she denied the interview request.
Either way, she spoke ' and she cried. Again.
I realize that Pressel is a very emotional girl. And that shes just that: a 17-year-old girl. But enough already with the tears.
Every time she loses, she cries. She seems to take joy in defeating others, but she cant handle losing herself. Thats something shes going to have to get used to. This isnt the AJGA. Her days of domination are over, at least for the foreseeable future. Shell get a few knock-outs each year, but shes going to have to learn to take plenty of punches along the way.
She was obviously upset with her pedestrian performance. But it likely stung a little more that she was beaten so soundly by Wie.
Im sure she believed that she could and would beat Wie, regardless of whether or not she would win the tournament. And Im sure she wanted to prove to the media to the fans and to Wie that she is the better player of the two. And it would have been really sweet to do it on Wies home turf.
But it didnt happen this time, and she didnt handle the disappointment very well.
It will, however, happen at some point. At some time, possibly again this year, the two will again go head-to-head. And eventually Morgan will get the better of Michelle. The same way that Larry eventually got the better of Magic.
It may prove to be a rivalry in which Morgan and Michelle constantly 1-up one another. Or maybe one will dominate the other until the tide is turned for a similar period of time, like with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.
In the last line of Casablanca, Bogart says, Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Wie and Pressel may never become best of friends, maybe just friendly rivals. And if they do, Saturday could have been the beginning of a beautiful, friendly rivalry.
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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.


    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.”