Worth Watching

By Mercer BaggsApril 8, 2008, 4:00 pm
Augusta National released Tuesday afternoon its opening-round tee times for the 2008 Masters Tournament. Here are a few groups worth keeping an eye on:
8 a.m. ET: Ben Curtis, Shaun Micheel
How many times do you think these two guys have been paired together over the last five years? Do tournament committees think Curtis and Micheel, both surprise major champions in 2003, look at the pairing sheet, laugh, wag their fingers and say in a Steve Martin voice, You guys . Those silly Augusta octogenarians.
8:22 a.m. ET: Mark OMeara, Trip Kuehne (a), Ian Poulter
A couple of weeks ago the Golf Guy (Yes, I know the Golf Guy personally. And, yes, ladies, he's single.) was out at the Tavistock Cup and said that OMeara was doing a TV interview after his Isleworth team victory when Poulter (a Lake Nona guy) ran over and doused him with champagne. OMeara played it off on TV, but then gave Poulter a death stare that would have petrified Charles Bronson. Poulter, of course, either didnt notice or didnt care.
8:44 a.m. ET: Gary Player, Miguel Angel Jimenez, D.J. Trahan
How many holes before Jimenez gets tired of the 72-year-old Player yapping in his ear about how hes the most physically fit man in this or any other universe, and that if the Spaniard would quit smoking cigars, do a few crunches and get a decent haircut he might actually contend in a major championship, before he picks him up and dumps him in Raes Creek?
9:39 a.m. ET: Fred Couples, Jerry Kelly, Anders Hansen
Player should have been put in the same group with Couples, who is trying to break the South Africans record mark of 23 consecutive cuts made at the Masters. Couples tied it last year. Should he break it this time around dont be surprised if Player says Couples was the guy he was talking about at last years Open Championship.
10:23 a.m. ET: Zach Johnson, Luke Donald, Geoff Ogilvy
Johnson will be trying to join Tiger Woods, Nick Faldo and Jack Nicklaus as the only men to successfully defend their titles in this event. He will be trying to avoid sharing the company of Mike Weir, however, who was the last defending champion to miss the cut.
10:45 a.m. ET: Tiger Woods, Angel Cabrera, Stuart Appleby
Who held the 54-hole lead in last years Masters? That would be Stuart Appleby, who shot 75 on Sunday and finished in a tie for seventh. As they were in the final round of 2007, Appleby and Woods will again be grouped in Rds. 1 and 2 in 08. But if youre looking for someone to stand up to Tiger this week dont look to the Australian, but rather to the third member of this threesome. Cabrera has the length, the confidence (2007 U.S. Open champion) and the record (three top-10s at the Masters) to give Tiger a run. Maybe.
11:18 a.m. ET: Craig Stadler, Johnson Wagner, Steve Flesch
Johnson Wagner won last weeks Shell Houston Open to make the Masters field at the 11th hour and said even rounds of 90-90 this week could wipe the smile off his face. So the Masters committee put him with Stadler. That will do it.
12:02 p.m. ET: Soren Hansen, Daniel Chopra, Richard Sterne
Winner! Most Non-Descript Threesome in the Tournament. Ever.
1:08 p.m. ET: Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia, Mark Calcavecchia
Bubba has the length. Sergio has the accuracy. Calc has the savvy. If they could combine their skills ' and find a fourth member who could actually putt ' they might have a chance to win this week.
1:41 p.m. ET: Phil Mickelson, Andres Romero, K.J. Choi
This is the only group over the first two rounds in which all three players have won on TOUR this season. All eyes will be on Mickelson, but dont overlook Choi. He finished third here in 2004.
2:03 p.m. ET: Aaron Baddeley, Camilo Villegas, Lee Westwood
The final group of the opening round. Baddeley is a chic pick to do well this week because of his stellar putting. However, he tied for 52nd last year and missed the cut in two tries as an amateur. Nothing would give Johnson more pleasure ' aside from winning it again himself ' than slipping the green jacket onto his good friend this coming Sunday.

Related Links:
  • Complete first-round tee times
  • Full Coverage - The Masters
  • Getty Images

    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.”

    Getty Images

    PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

    The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

    PGA Tour:

    The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.


    We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.