Two Tournaments One Week -- Good or Bad

By Mercer BaggsFebruary 23, 2003, 5:00 pm
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. ' Call it golfs version of class warfare.
 
Two tournaments in one week. One for the upper class, the other for the others.
 
Is it good or bad for the game? Does it create more interest or muddle it?
 
Well, that depends on who you ask. Pose those questions to one of the top-ranked players in the world and theyll tell you one thing. Do the same to someone more middle of the road and the answer youll receive will likely be the polar opposite.
 
While the upcoming $6 million World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship will garner the spotlight, the $3 million Chrysler Classic of Tucson will be played in its shadow.
 
For years, a Stateside event has been held opposite the British Open. Two years ago, Tucson was contested the same week as the winners-only Mercedes Championships. The Tour Championship has gone head-to-head with a tournament on offer to those outside the top 30 on the money list. And those who dont make the Ryder Cup usually have a place to play.
 
But since the inception of the World Golf Championship events in 1999, the Tour schedule has become more convoluted.
 
In addition to the Match Play and Tucson tandem, the Reno-Tahoe Open is the same week as the WGC-NEC Invitational (which includes Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup team members, the top-50-ranked players and winners of selected tournaments). You also have the Southern Farm Bureau adjacent to the American Express Championship (which includes the top-50-ranked players and leaders for various tour money lists).
 
Add in the British and B.C. Opens combination, and that makes four double-event weeks this season.
 
Tim (Finchem, PGA Tour commissioner)s job is to give the players as many opportunities to play as they can, said Jeff Sluman, who won The B.C. Open in 2001 when he didnt qualify for the British Open.
 
The British, how many guys go over there from our tour ' 35, 40? Theres definitely the need for an event in the U.S.
 
Last year, there were six times when two events were contested in the same week. Of those six, four produced first-time tour winners. The two exceptions were Loren Roberts, who won the Texas Open the week of the Ryder Cup, and K.J. Choi, who won the Tampa Bay Classic the same week as the American Express. Choi had won in New Orleans earlier in the year, but still wasnt eligible to compete in Ireland.
 
Too many people on the PGA Tour, so two events no problem, Choi said.
 
Choi is one of the players who has perspective from both ends of the table. Hes eaten the scraps and will now feed from the feast. He will compete in his second-ever WGC event at the Match Play. And at 33rd in the world ranking, hes safe to qualify for the two remaining individual events, which also offer a $1,080,000 first-place prize.
 
But there are others who have played only in the greener pasture, such as the world No. 1.
 
Tiger Woods has five wins in 10 starts in the individual WGC events, and has another two victories in the two-man team World Cup.
 
Hes played in every WGC event with the exception of two. He didnt go to Australia for the 2001 Match Play and skipped out on last years World Cup.
 
Ive never been a big fan of that, Woods said of dual tournaments. I dont think it rewards the guys who are playing the best.
 
If you go out next week and lose in the first round and some guy plays well in another event, youre going to get jumped on the money list.
 
Many in the Tours upper crust feel the lesser event saps its big brother. Some have said winning such a tournament doesnt warrant a two-year exemption. And why should a victory in the B.C. Open be worth more than a second-place finish at the British?
 
Aaron Baddeley is not among that populace. Having lost in a playoff to Ernie Els in the Sony Open and having tied for 28th at Riviera, hes certainly not someone you would want to draw in the Match Play.
 
But ranked 98th, hes not eligible to compete in his first-ever WGC event, and will continue his rookie campaign in Tucson.
 
Youve got the top 60 guys in the world and there might be only 30 of those guys on the U.S. tour, so youve still got all the other guys trying to make a living, he said.
 
Forty-six of the 64 currently in the Match Play field are full-time PGA Tour members.
 
Kevin Sutherland is the defending champion. He also finished runner-up in Tucson when it was played against the Mercedes in 2001.
 
He said he doesnt like to see two tournaments contested the same week, but only because he thinks each event deserves its own time in the sun.
 
Its a tough call. I love Tucson. I just wish they could have their own week, he said. Theyre getting nothing ' none of the top players are there, and theres (little) coverage.
 
But if given the choice of having a tournament the same week as another or not having one at all, Im glad they still play.
 
Tour officials say they have no plans of disposing of any of the complementary events, leaving the higher-ranked players unhappy with the situation.
 
But as Sluman points out, Theres more than just 50 guys out here on tour.
 
Related Links
  • Full-coverage of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
  • Full coverage of the Chrysler Classic of Tucson
  • Getty Images

    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.”