Controversy drowns out golf on eve of The Players

By Rex HoggardMay 8, 2013, 6:50 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – “It's a distraction, whether it's the right thing or the wrong thing to do,” Davis Love III figured on Tuesday afternoon at TPC Sawgrass.

The four-time PGA Tour Policy Board member was referring to the brewing brouhaha over the potential ban on anchoring, which is scheduled to go critical before the end of spring. Less than 24 hours later, the circuit, and by default golf, found itself the subject of even more headlines for all the wrong reasons.

On Wednesday the crisis du jour was news that Vijay Singh had filed a lawsuit against the Tour in a New York court for “violating its duty of care and good faith.”

“Good for him,” hissed one Tour type on the TPC Sawgrass practice tee on the eve of the circuit’s flagship event. “Either (IGF-1) was banned and (Singh) should have been suspended or it wasn’t in which case he was wrongfully accused.”

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Forgive the Tour player – who less than 24 hours earlier had accused the Tour of playing favorites for its handling of the Singh affair – if he sounded strangely like an attorney arguing before a judge, but such is the lexicon of professional golf these days.

Not since the early 1950s, when golf’s rule makers played by separate sets of rules, has the game witnessed this level of collective contentiousness.

In a recent article, Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte described an exchange between PGA of America president Ted Bishop and R&A chief executive Peter Dawson regarding the proposed ban on anchoring.

“When Bishop made the point that the PGA of America was standing up for the ‘best interests of the amateur golfer (by publically opposing the ban),’” Rosaforte wrote. “Dawson bristled and, according to Bishop, pointed a finger at him and said, ‘That's not your role.’”

The proposed ban has cut a swath through golf that dissects the Atlantic Ocean. On one side, the R&A, USGA and European Tour, which sided with golf’s rule makers on the proposal. On the other, the PGA Tour and PGA of America.

And if golf’s powerbrokers didn’t sound irretraceable before, Dawson’s recent take regarding the rift promises to only widen the gulf.

“I'm disappointed at the way that campaign was conducted. It put rule-making on to the negotiating table,” Dawson said. “People have taken positions that they will now have to back off from or maintain. The negotiating table is no place for rule-making. Obviously, feelings are strong. We shall have to see where it goes.”

As for the Tour’s stance, commissioner Tim Finchem said on Wednesday to Golf Channel:  “Are we going to follow the (Rules of Golf)? Under our rules we profess to want to do so but our rules also provide the ability to go a separate way.”

Translation: if the circuit doesn’t like the way the USGA and R&A go on the anchoring issue, the Tour could create its own set of rules – effectively ushering in an age of bifurcation.

But if the anchoring debate has taken on a partisan feel in recent weeks, Singh’s haymaker on Wednesday at The Players was akin to a broken bottle in the tense moments before a bar fight.

At issue isn’t whether the Fijian used deer-antler spray or that the supplement contained IGF-1, which is a banned substance on the Tour’s performance-enhancing drug list. He did and it does.

What brings Singh and Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., into the legal cage match is whether IGF-1 should have been on the banned list to begin with.

“Absolutely it’s got IGF-1 in it,” said Mitch Ross, the founder of S.W.A.T.S. (Sports with Alternatives to Steroids), which created the deer-antler spray. “But you can’t ban IGF-1 in its natural form.”

According to the lawsuit, which was filed on Wednesday, “The spray does not contain enough IGF-1 to be anything more than a placebo ... (and) is a biologically inactive protein.”

While you may not like Singh’s timing, his motivations are understandable. Despite the Tour’s ruling last week that he was innocent – a move which was prompted by a policy reversal by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which the Tour follows – he will forever be the “deer antler” guy to fans.

“I am proud of my achievements, my work ethic and the way I live my life,” Singh said in a statement. “The PGA Tour not only treated me unfairly, but displayed a lack of professionalism that should concern every professional golfer and fan of the game.”

In the Tour’s defense, they had no choice but to follow WADA, the global ruling body on all things doping related. Simply put, if WADA is wrong, the Tour doesn’t know how to be right. Nor does the circuit have any interest in getting into the science of doping, as Singh’s lawsuit suggested.

But in the process of protecting the sport from the scourge of doping, a Hall of Famer’s legacy may be forever besmirched no matter how many millions of dollars he may be awarded from Tour coffers.

“I’m just not going to comment on this action for a lot of different reasons. It’s a matter in the court right now,” Finchem said. “We go by the WADA list. When WADA changed its list we dropped the charges.”

But then hiding behind legal nuances and administrative snafus won’t help mend strained relationships or make the game any less contentious.

Golf has become a real-time version of sports talk radio – from Tiger Woods’ run in with the rules at Augusta National known as Drop-gate, to the perception hit golf took when officials at the Masters penalized 14-year-old Guan Tianlang for slow play – and relegated even the loudest cheers from this week’s Players Championship to background noise.

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Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.