Verplank Happy Tiger Still Sore

By Mercer BaggsNovember 2, 2001, 5:00 pm
Scott Verplank walked into the media center late Friday afternoon eating a sandwich and cracking a few jokes.
Its easy to enjoy yourself after shooting 65 and taking the lead into the weekend of the season-ending Tour Championship. Its even easier when you have Verplanks perspective.
Verplank, winner of this years Bell Canadian Open and member of the United States Ryder Cup, has come a long way since his golden days as an amateur; both professionally and personally.
His 6-under 65 in the second round at the Champions Golf Club in Houston, TX has him at 10-under-par 132, one shot clear of overnight co-leader Bernhard Langer and two removed from Mike Weir (66).
The golf course is perfect. And no wind, if you get going today, you can hit it at the hole and make some putts, Verplank said.
Langer followed an opening 65 with a 69. His fellow first-round leader didnt fare near as well. Frank Lickliter bogeyed four of his final five holes to shoot 2-over 73 and fall into a tie for 13th place at 4-under.
On a still Texas day, 24 of the 29 players in the field shot par or better. Mark Calcavecchia had the round of the day, a 7-under-par 64. Hes now tied with Justin Leonard (66) for fourth place at 7-under.
Check out Mark Calcavecchia's scorecard
Calcavecchias day consisted of two eagles, five birdies and a pair of bogeys. A three at the par-5 9th highlighted his round. For the second straight day, he hit the tree guarding the right portion of the green on his second shot. But instead of his ball caroming 40 yards backward ' like it did on Thursday ' it kicked onto the green and rolled four feet from the hole.
I hit a bad shot. I was hoping it would miss the tree and just end up in the bunker, Calcavecchia said. I had given up on it. I kind of looked down and all of a sudden I heard the crowd making some noise and I look up and its rolling over there toward the hole.
David Duval wasnt as fortunate Friday. Standing at 7-under for the tournament, his tee shot on the par-5 13th hit someone in the gallery and went into a hazard.
He re-teed, and once again his ball went right; this time it hit a tree and went into the same hazard.
Duval, who won this tournament here in 1997, eventually carded a triple-bogey-8 and finished the day at 4-under after a 69.
I played good. Im just really disappointed about my score, said Duval, who is still positive about his position. I started the day four (strokes) behind and it only took eight holes to tie (for the lead).Tiger Woods hasnt sniffed the top of the leaderboard yet; but all things considered, hes fortunate to still be in contention.
Hampered by a back injury, Woods shot a first-round 70. Friday, feeling better after some physical treatment, he shot 67 to move to 5-under-par.
Its not painful. Its just a little sore, Tiger said of his ailment.

Tiger was also feeling a little sore after finishing with a three-putt bogey on the final hole.
I felt like I hit the ball well today, said Woods. Just to make a silly mistake at the end like that, just not the way you want to cap off your round.
This is Verplanks fourth appearance in the Tour Championship. He first played in 1988 and tied for eighth. He won the Buick Open that year, three years after winning the Western Open as an amateur.
Little could he imagine ' or anyone else, for that matter ' that it would be 12 more years before he would reenter the winners circle on the PGA Tour.
A series of injuries, combined with frustration and self-doubt led to a trip to Q-School in 1997. After earning medalist honors, he made a strong return to the tour, earning a pair of runner-up finishes and over $1.2 million in 1998.
Then came another setback. Verplank learned he was a diabetic. He said he spent the 1999 season feeling sorry for himself and dipped to 82nd on the money list.
Now that I have got that straightened out and I am so much better it just makes golf so much easier, said the 37-year-old.
Recharged, reinvented and wearing a MiniMed insulin pump on his back while playing, the former Oklahoma State Cowboy won the 2000 Reno-Tahoe Open and climbed to 22nd in earnings.
I have a lot different attitude now. I look forward to playing, Verplank said. When you have something that you like to do and you have it taken away from you, it hits home, you know, it hits home a little bit deeper than, you know, if a guy is just playing bad and hes down in the dumps about his game.
This year, Verplank has seven top-10s. After a tie for seventh in the PGA Championship, captain Curtis Strange chose him for the Ryder Cup team. Two starts later, he won in Montreal.
I never really got a chance to let that soak in, he said of the victory. I got home late on Sunday. I played an outing on Mondaythen the next morning I am trying to get up and go to St. Louis, and you know, the world changed.
Verplank will have to wait another year before competing in his maiden Ryder Cup.
I will be as excited as anybody to be there at that time, he said. But right now, it just pales in comparison to what has gone on around the world.
Just another bit of perspective for Scott Verplank.
News, Notes and Numbers
*Verplank and Langer will tee off Saturday at 10:35 a.m. local time.
*Thursday, only Hal Sutton (at the par-5 10th) made an eagle. Friday, 14 players accomplished that feat. There were seven eagles on the par-5 9th and five on the par-5 5th.
*Thanks to a lack of wind, the course played to a 68.759 scoring average in the second round; compared to an average of 70.034 in round one.
Full-field scores from the Tour Championship
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 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.”