PGA Tour Report Cards
Birdies, Pars and Bogeys ' thats how were rating performances this year on the PGA Tour.
Once again, Tiger Woods nearly did it all in 2002. He won five times, picked up two more majors and made nearly $7 million ' and thats just in 18 starts on the PGA Tour.
His Masters victory started a run where he finished outside the top-4 on only three occasions for the remainder of the season.
He also led the tour in scoring average, greens in regulation and birdies per round.
Ernie Els didnt have Tigers numbers, but he did officially stop his Grand Slam run. Els won the British Open for his first major championship since the 1997 U.S. Open.
The big South African also won the Genuity Championship for his first PGA Tour title in two years. He went on to finish fifth on the money list with over $3.2 million.
Rich Beem was the other major winner, having claimed the PGA Championship.
Since his maiden victory in the 1999 Kemper Open, Beem had finished 146th and 109th on the money list. He was known more for his off-course escapades, as documented in the book Bud, Sweat and Tees, which chronicled Beems career and 1999 campaign, than his on-course prowess.
But after salvaging his 2002 card, Beem collected his second career win, at the International, one start before his improbable triumph at Hazeltine. He earned $2,938,365 in finishing seventh on the money list, nearly triple his total over the previous three years.
There were 18 first-time winners on tour this season. And while all are deserving of Birdie status, none had a better campaign than Jerry Kelly.
The 36-year-old Wisconsin made his maiden trip to the winners circle at the Sony Open in Hawaii, and then re-entered at the Advil Western Open. He finished sixth in earnings with nearly $2.95 million.
Gene Sauers and Dan Forsman round out the Birdie category. Forsman hadnt won on the PGA Tour in a decade, Sauers since 1989. Both ended those skids in 2002. The 40-year-old Sauers won the Air Canada Championship, while the 44-year-old Forsman won two weeks later at the SEI Pennsylvania Classic.
He won his first start of the year ' after taking off four months. He won again five months later. He made over $4 million for the third consecutive season. He finished inside the top-3 in nearly one-third of the tournaments in which he played.
Sounds like a Birdie year, unless youre Phil Mickelson. The lefthander again went 0-4 in the four tournaments that mattered most, extending his career mark to 0-42.
He finished third in The Masters, second in the U.S. Open, tied for 66th at the British, and tied for 34th in the PGA Championship.
He also suffered that dubious singles defeat to Phillip Price in the Ryder Cup.
Mickelsons World Cup partner David Toms had a similar season ' prominent by most standards, but not by his own.
Toms finished runner-up three times, had 12 top-10s and made over $3.4 million. But he didnt record a single victory, which left the 2001 PGA Champion disappointed in the final tally.
There are good pars and there are bad pars, the former relates to Notah Begay III.
After a two-win 2000 season, Begay injured his lower back due to an over-exuberant conditioning program in the off-season. He made only four cuts in 12 starts in 2001, and missed his first 11 cuts this year.
It all started to change for the better in Memphis, Tenn. Begay, who won the FedEx St. Jude Classic in 2000, finished third at the TPC at Southwind in June. He added two more top-10s to his credit and finished 108th on the money list.
Unlike in 2001, Scott Hoch didnt record a pair of victories ' or even one, for that matter. He even finished in his worst position on the money list in a decade.
Nonetheless, Hoch posted seven top-10s, tied for second at the Michelob, competed on the Ryder Cup team and was 38th in earnings with nearly $1.5 million.
Not bad for a 46-year-old.
Bogeys were as plentiful as Birdies in 2002.
Jesper Parnevik said he would play in every tournament until he won one. He backed off from that statement after starting 0-11.
The former birdie machine treated putters like tissue paper, using and discarding them with little regard.
His streak of four years with at least one win on tour came to a halt. He made only two top-10s, and ended 63rd on the money list ' his worst finish since 1995.
David Duval also notched only a pair of top-10s in failing to win for the first time since 1996. His 80th place showing on the money list was his worst ever as a full-time player on tour. He missed eight cuts, matching his combined total over the previous four years.
And those were just his professional woes.
Duval publicly dealt with injuries and the demise of his eight-year relationship with his fiance.
Hal Sutton was selected 2004 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, and that was by far the highlight of his season.
The 44-year-old missed 15 cuts in 26 starts, finishing no better than a tie for 12th. He was also ranked 153rd in money, his worst showing since 1993.
Joe Durant, Garrett Willis and Robert Damron all won in 2001 ' and all struggled mightily in 2002.
Durant won twice a year ago, and was 14th in earnings. This year, he didnt make a single top-10, missed 12 cuts in 28 starts, and was 137th on the money list.
Damron, who earned his maiden tour victory in the 2001 Byron Nelson Classic, had one top-10 and was 141st in the cash department.
Willis, who was dismal after his Tucson triumph early last year, continued his slide this season. He withdrew mid-event from four tournaments; had 1 disqualification; made 13 cuts and missed 11; and dropped to 136th on the money list.
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.”