The Biggest Crime

By Rex HoggardNovember 19, 2009, 4:28 am

PGA Tour

Rich Young once explained to a simple mind the scientific cat-and-mouse game that led to the conviction of cyclist Floyd Landis. Think CSI: Chess club with a dollop of Law & Order.

Essentially, Young and his anti-doping pocket-protected watchdogs nailed Landis because the ratio of Carbon 12 in his body was not equal to the amounts of Carbon 13, which are soy based and, he points out almost parenthetically, the basis of most synthetic steroids. Nature makes everything in equal portions, he finally explained, which makes an out-of-whack C12 to C13 ratio akin to a doping neon sign.

By comparison Doug Barron’s climb to doping immortality must have seemed like second-grade math to Young. After all, the 40-year-old journeyman had asked for permission to take testosterone and beta blockers, was denied and was promptly handed a sample bottle when he arrived at the St. Jude Classic, his only Tour event in 2009. Barron had likely already been flagged for banned substances by a lab rat somewhere by the time he missed Friday’s cut in Memphis.

Although U.S. Magistrate Tu Pham may, or may not depending on who you ask, have ruled on the letter of the law, the basic impulse for those watching from the sidelines is to establish right and wrong. But the truth is there are no sinners or saints in Barron v. PGA Tour Inc., only two distinct yet essentially noble personalities.

Barron the father and friend and family man no more wanted to circumvent the rules or gain a competitive advantage than Casey Martin wanted to upend the competitive integrity of the Tour with a golf cart.

“It’s a sad deal because the guy is not very competitive. If he needed something for his daily life he should have gotten (a therapeutic use exemption),” Jason Bohn said. “Is he really a threat to our system? He’s not gaining an advantage to play golf. His intent was to live a happy life with his family.”

Perhaps Barron’s real miscue was believing that a clear conscience and an utter lack of intent was all he needed to guide him through his troubled doping waters, when a lawyer and a mountain of legal briefs would have been much more useful.

Barron was not in the Memphis court last Friday when his lawyers argued his case for an injunction that would have allowed him to play this week’s second stage of Q-School. Perhaps he should have been because after just 10 minutes it’s evident that Barron’s conscience is clear.

“I went and saw a (Tour) doctor for one day out of my life who said I didn’t warrant (testosterone) therapy over a doctor that has seen me my whole life who said I did. That’s my biggest problem with all of this,” Barron said. “I don’t understand their thinking about this.”

Without full disclosure of the facts from all parties, it seems Barron’s plight would have likely been a vastly different tale had he not undergone a testosterone treatment just before the St. Jude Classic.

The Tour may not have liked his use of beta blockers, but his doctors had warned him of the health risks if he stopped “cold turkey” and even Young admits it would have been a much more complicated case.

But the last-minute testosterone injection, at least in Young’s mind, is the smoking gun, regardless of doctor’s orders or the best of intentions.

“The testosterone question is pretty straight forward,” Young said. “It’s straight out of the (World Anti-Doping Agency) code.”

Which, in a Twitter-society way, sums up Young the lawyer, if not the man. Simply put, a banned substance in an athlete’s body is all the witness Young needs, regardless of intent.

“(Intent) doesn’t factor in,” said Young, a soft-spoken type with a sneaky-good sense of humor often masked by a dogmatic approach to his job. “It would be very hard to prove what’s in somebody’s head and why they used? Secondly, the rules are clear – they know what they are allowed to use, Doug clearly used testosterone even though he knew he wasn’t allowed to.”

Young is, with all due respect, a bulldog guarding an empty safe. A hired gun tasked to take down a sleeping kindergartener.

Landis, by all accounts, worked tirelessly to elude detection and was armed with an army of mad scientists whose only goal is a better body through chemistry. As was once the battle cry in NASCAR, Landis participates in a sport that adheres to the “if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying” watchword.

It’s a reality in most sports, and the reason Young has become one of the most important people in sport. It’s why the Tour hired the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based attorney to help craft its anti-doping policy and why they sent him to the four corners of the circuit’s schedule in 2008 to educate its members.

But then golf is different. Barron is different. The guy who has called penalties on himself on the golf course did not walk into his doctor’s office more than four years ago looking for 20 extra yards off the tee or one fewer three-putt per round. But then, in fairness to Young and the Tour, they never said he did.

Barron v. PGA Tour Inc. is a story about collateral damage and a crisis of conscience. It is a tale without antagonist or hero, just two quiet and easily likable men on opposite sides of a doping reality that has no use for reason or common sense. And that may be the biggest crime.

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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.



The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”



Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.