Others Look to Steal Spotlight

By Mercer BaggsAugust 16, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 PGA ChampionshipMEDINAH, Ill ' Players and their practice round tee times are listed on a sign outside the merchandise tent at Medinah Country Club. Tiger Woods name was on there Wednesday; however, it was a part of a statement in the top, right corner that read, No Tiger Woods as of 10:20.
 
Maybe hes coming out later to see how the course plays in the afternoon, pondered one fan to another.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods showed up briefly Wednesday to prepare for the PGA Championship.
As patrons looked up and down the big board they noticed another name conspicuously missing.
 
I dont see Phil on here, pointed out one person.
 
Another chimed in with: This sucks.
 
Phil Mickelson was offsite Wednesday, as he usually is the day before the start of a major championship, playing Chicago Golf Club. Woods, meanwhile, actually did show up. He arrived late in the afternoon to get in a little time on the practice range.
 
If this small sample of fan interest indicates overall sentiment, then once again the primary focus at a major championship is cast on a pair of players ' the top two players in the world.
 
And not everyone seems to mind. Case in point, Jim Furyk, who says hes quite content with the amount of attention he receives, and with his place in the game.
 
You know, it's never mattered, he said in his pre-tournament press conference. Im happy with where I stand in the world of golf.
 
Whether or not I show up on TV every week versus Tiger or Phil or whoever it may be, is not important to me. I think the guys that get the attention or get more attention than me are deserving of it and are obviously great players. I get my due.
 
Furyk is hoping to receive his due Sunday evening in the form of the Wanamaker trophy, as are 153 others who are not receiving nearly as much attention combined as are a certain two.
 
In the shadows of Woods and Mickelson, Furyk has risen to No. 3 on the Official World Golf Ranking. And given his recent performance, as well as his past success in Chicagoland, he has to be considered among the second tier of favorites this week.
 
Furyk has finished inside the top 5 in each of his last four starts, including at the U.S. Open and Open Championship. He tied for fourth in his title defense at the Western Open, held at nearby Cog Hill, and his lone major championship came in the 03 U.S. Open at Olympia Fields, also in the area.
 
Chicago has been good to me, he said. Hopefully I can have a good week.
 
Hes not the only one with such hope.
 
While Woods and Mickelson, who will be positioned alongside one another over the first two rounds this week, will garner the lions share of attention, others are hoping a sideshow can again steal away spotlight ' just like at the U.S. Open.
 
Geoff Ogilvy was the surprise winner the last time a major was contested on American soil. As is PGA Championship custom, he will be grouped with fellow 06 major winners Mickelson and Woods Thursday and Friday. Despite his status as the reigning U.S. Open champion, Ogilvy knows that he will be the third wheel in this threesome ' and it doesnt bother him one bit.
 
Geoff Ogilvy
Geoff Ogilvy is looking to dial-up another major upset.
Im very comfortable being the smallest name in my group. Any time you get to play with the best golfers in the world, it has to be a good thing, said Ogilvy, who also captured the Accenture Match Play Championship and could earn Player of the Year honors with a win this week.
 
If that doesnt happen, there are several other eager ' and worthy ' wannabe major winners.
 
Sergio Garcia may well be at the top of that list.
 
Garcia is coming off a disappointing finish to the Open Championship. He started the final round one back of leader Woods, but struggled out of the gates Sunday at Hoylake, eventually shooting 73 and finishing seven behind in a tie for fifth.
 
It was yet another missed opportunity to win one of golfs Big 4, and one of his best since this tournament, at this venue in 1999, when he made his formal introduction to the golfing world, nearly coming from behind to topple Woods.
 
He failed to do so that week. Seven years later, the 26-year-old finds himself still without a major, and still answering questions as to reasons why.
 
Its not easy to go out there and win a major when youre young and even when youre in your 20s, said Garcia, who has 11 career top-10 finishes in majors, but only one in the PGA since his runner-up finish in 99. Tiger has been able to do that plenty of times, and you expect everybody else to do the same. Its not that easy.
 
Chris DiMarco can attest to that. Hes finished runner-up in three majors, including to Vijay Singh at this event in a playoff in 2004.
 
Like Garcia, DiMarco is coming off a failed opportunity to win the Open Championship. But contrary to Garcia, DiMarco performed quite admirably in the final round, coming up just short to Woods.
 
He enters this week brimming with confidence.
 
I have great memories from when I put myself in position at the British Open, and if I can get myself into position like that again, I feel like I learned a lot from that week, said DiMarco, who was buoyed at Royal Liverpool by the support from his family and the memory of his mother, who suddenly passed away just weeks before that tournament.
 
That week has given me hope for the rest of the year and hope for my career. So Im looking forward to finishing this year out strong. If I can go out and do something crazy and maybe win a couple (of events) coming in, it could be my best year ever.
 
Another player looking to turn around his season is Ernie Els. The South African hasnt won on the PGA TOUR since the 2004 Memorial and is still trying to fight his way back from a knee injury that sidelined him for this event a year ago.
 
Els was just one off the lead after 36 holes of the British, but shot 71-71 over the weekend and finished in third place.
 
He believes that better putting and a better frame of mind are necessary to capture his first PGA Championship title, which would give him three legs of the career Grand Slam.
 
Ive got to do a couple of things a little better under pressure, and thats been on my mind a little bit, said Els, who has finished in the top 5 in each of his last two PGA starts.
 
It feels like my game is not too bad at the moment. Id like to hopefully be in contention again.
 
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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.

    Amen.

    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.”