Bunker Shots

By Randall MellJune 30, 2009, 4:00 pm
Michael Jackson left this world last week, but his music is still with us.
 
Some of his lyrics help tell the stories waiting to unfold this week:
 
Thriller
(An Ode to Anthony Kim)
 
Cause this is a thriller, thriller night
And no ones gonna save you from the beast about to strike
You know its a thriller, thriller night
Youre fighting for life inside a killer, thriller tonight

 
Anthony Kim is the defending champion at the AT&T National, but the big question isnt whether he will repeat. Its whether he will finally finish ahead of Tiger Woods in a tournament.
 
In two-and-a-half seasons on the PGA Tour, Kim has never played in a PGA Tour event with Woods and finished higher than Woods.
 
Kims 0 for 16.
 
When Kim won a year ago at Congressional Country Club, Woods was in his first year as tournament host, but Woods wasnt even on the grounds. He was at home recovering from reconstructive knee surgery. Woods leads a field this season that includes four of the top 10 players in the world rankings. Paul Casey (No. 3), Vijay Singh (No. 9) and Jim Furyk (No. 10) are the only other top-10 players in the field.
 

 
I Cant Help It
(Lorena Ochoas Refrain)
 
Looking in my mirror
Took me by surprise
I cant help but see you
Running often through my mind

 
Lorena Ochoa returns to the LPGA at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic outside Toledo, Ohio, after being bumped from atop the Rolex Player of the Year standings.
 
With her victory Sunday at the Wegmans LPGA, rookie Jiyai Shin moved to the top of the standings. Ochoa didnt play last week. Shin also leads the Rookie of the Year race with a real chance to join Nancy Lopez as the only players in LPGA history to win top rookie and top player honors in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Shins also atop the LPGA money list.
 
With 13 victories around the world over the last 18 months, five of them LPGA titles, Shin is more than a victory machine. Shes a legitimate threat to Ochoas No. 1 world ranking. Shin moved up a spot to No. 3 this week with Yani Tseng holding on at No. 2.
 
With South Koreas rise to power in the womens game, it seems just a matter of time until a player from that country seizes the top ranking. Shin, as humble and sweet off the course as Ochoa is, looks like the odds-on-favorite to eventually be that South Korean player.
 

 
Cant Let Her Get Away
(USGAs Ode to Paula Creamer)
 
If I let her get away
Though Im begging
On my knees
Ill be crying everyday
Knowing the girl
That got away

 
The U.S. Golf Association has to be watching with intense interest to see how Paula Creamers left hand holds up this week in her title defense at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic.
 
Losing Creamer for next weeks U.S. Womens Open would be another blow to that event.
 
Creamers bid to win her first major championship will be one of the top storylines going into a week that needs some good tales to tell.
 
Unless Michelle Wie or Natalie Gulbis win the Jamie Farr on Sunday, the U.S. Womens Open will be played without two of the biggest attractions in golf. Wie and Gulbis didnt meet U.S. Womens Open exemption standards and neither made it through sectional qualifying. Their last chance to qualify for the U.S. Womens Open is by winning on Sunday.
 
Creamer injured her left thumb in the middle of the second round of the Wegmans LPGA and withdrew. She was diagnosed with inflammation and tendinitis of the thumbs joint capsule and received a cortisone shot on Monday. A hand and wrist sports specialist cleared her to play, but shell be tested by the pounding that thumb will endure this week.
 

 
Wanna Be Startin Somethin
(John Dalys theme song)
 
I said you wanna be startin somethin
You got to be startin somethin
Its too high to get over (yeah, yeah)
Too low to get under (yeah, yeah)
Youre stuck in the middle (yeah, yeah)
And the pain is thunder

 
John Daly will tee it up in Europe again this week at the Open de France.
 
Though he missed the cut at the BMW International Open in Germany last week, he has to believe even more strongly that the European Tour is the best place for him to rebuild his life and his game.
 
After tying for 59th at the St. Jude Championship, where his estranged wife complained about the restraining order he issued to keep her off the course, the negative news didnt slow in the states. There was that accident where he tore off part of the roof of his RV driving through a tunnel in Mobile, Ala. And last week, there was the news from a judge ordering Daly to pay almost $272,000 in legal fees for his unsuccessful libel lawsuit against the Florida Times-Union.
 
Dalys made the cut in three of six events on the European Tour since heading over to play the Spanish Open in late April. Hes looking for some momentum as he gears up for the British Open, one of two major championship titles he has claimed.
 

 
Beat It
(The path to the British Open)
 
Just beat it, beat it, beat it
No one wants to be defeated
Showin how funky and strong is your fight
It doesnt matter whos wrong or right
Just beat it, beat it

 
The AT&T National offers a last chance to qualify for the British Open.
 
The top two players off a special PGA Tour money list who arent already exempt to the British Open earn a trip to Turnberry. The money list is created from a six-tournament series (The Players Championship, the Memorial, St. Jude, U.S. Open, Travelers and AT&T National).
 
Paul Goydos leaped to No. 1 on the list with his tie for second at the Travelers last weekend with Ricky Barnes moving up a spot to No. 2.
 
Also still in the running are No. 3 John Mallinger, No. 4 Kevin Na, No. 5 Bryce Molder, No. 7 Ryan Moore and No. 8 Matt Bettencourt.
 
Ben Cranes No. 6, but he isnt playing this week.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - AT&T National
  • Full Coverage - Jamie Farr
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • 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.”