Cut Line: USGA's hi-tech rule good news for everyone

By Rex HoggardNovember 22, 2013, 11:07 pm

Golf’s rule makers headline this week’s list by digging a line in the high-tech sand, while Olympic officials continue to scramble in an attempt to turn sand into a golf course that will be ready in time for the 2016 Olympics.

Made Cut

HiDef do-over. The recently announced tweaks by golf’s ruling bodies to end super-slow motion rule violations is good news to everyone, even Tiger Woods.

While USGA officials avoided an arm-chair decision on Woods’ violation during this year’s BMW Championship, which was prompted by a slow-motion breakdown of the infraction, the common sense notion that an infraction is not warranted if it wouldn’t be evident without the aid of technology seems logical.

The rule change, however, emboldened some to call for an end to viewer call-ins, which seems extreme and counterproductive. Viewers call in possible violations all the time, but most are dismissed after a review of the tape by an official. Sometimes those call-ins result in an uncomfortable conversation with the player, but invariably protect the entire field.

And isn’t that what the Rules of Golf are supposed to do?

The Icemon cometh. With an ailing wrist and a tank not even close to being full, Henrik Stenson completed a historic double last Sunday with his victory at the DP World Tour Championship.

Stenson claimed the Race to Dubai trophy less than two months after winning the Tour Championship in Atlanta and the FedEx Cup.

The Swede’s transatlantic tear – which includes three victories in his last seven starts and seven top-3 finishes since July – has made him flush with prize money and bonus cash and propelled him to third in the World Golf Ranking.

Not bad for a guy who was ranked 113th at this point last year. He also endured what appeared at the time a financial haymaker with the collapse of Stanford Financial.

Tweet of the week: @jarrodlylepga (Jarrod Lyle) “Now everything has settled down, I want to send a big thank you to everybody for your support at the Aussie Masters.”

Lyle made the cut at the Australian Masters in his first event back since beating leukemia for the second time. After watching the emotional return it is worth pointing out that it would take a lot more than 140 characters to explain how thankful Lyle really is.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

A coup and a comeback. According to various reports this week, including a lengthy story on, current USGA president Glen Nager attempted to realign the association’s management structure by proposing a long-term chief executive and block Tom O’Toole from becoming president.

Both attempts failed and by most indications Nager will cut ties with the USGA after his term expires this year.

That the “golf guys,” a term used for O’Toole and executive director Mike Davis, prevailed is good news considering the duo’s impact on the association in recent years and their no-nonsense management styles.

That Nager felt compelled to reinvent the USGA is concerning. Maybe the association needs to be run more like a business, but running a business is not now, nor should it ever be, the association’s primary goal.

Blame it on Rio. While 2016 may seem like a lifetime away, when organizers of the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil start putting together flow charts for the construction of the host golf course it is, as Yogi Berra once figured, getting late early.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said this week that the irrigation system for the new course, which is being designed by Gil Hanse, should arrive soon, but he did acknowledge that things haven’t gone as smoothly as he would have liked.

“Actually the progress is reasonably good. We think the timeline is in order. We were really concerned there, as you know, for a good period of time,” Finchem said. “But I am going to go down there in the spring and look at it.”

The plan was to host an event at TPC Timetable sometime next year to test the new venue, but at this rate competitors may be asked to bring buckets of water with them to irrigate the parched turf.

Missed Cut

Cup confusion. During a World Cup press conference this week at Royal Melbourne, PGA of Australia CEO Brian Thorburn began with an interesting take on the history of the event.

“Australia is very proud of its involvement, and I haven’t told Tim (Finchem) this but I have got a photograph in my office of Kel Nagle and Peter Thomson signed by each of them from the Canada Cup in 1955 or whichever year it was. I think they were the inaugural winners,” Thorburn said.

“That is right,” Finchem replied.

Only problem, Roberto De Vicenzo and Tony Cerda won the first Canada Cup in 1953, which was the precursor to the World Cup. Nagle and Thomson won in 1954.

Revisionist history aside, this week’s World Cup was supposed to be a tune up for the 2016 Games, but it still has the look of a “silly season” outing.

Officials altered the format to mirror how the Games will be played in ’16 and figured Royal Melbourne would woo the game’s best and brightest, but if this week’s field is any indication golf in the Olympics may need some more selling.

Matt Kuchar and Kevin Streelman are playing for the U.S., Nos. 7 and 46 in the World Ranking.

Four days at Royal Melbourne may not exactly be the “thrill of victory,” but one would have expected better.

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm