Difference between Vijay and A-Rod's legal cases

By Rex HoggardJanuary 15, 2014, 7:10 pm

As anyone with a news alert on their smartphone knows by now, embattled slugger Alex Rodriguez has decided not to go quietly into the good night of his 162-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

A-Rod, who was implicated in the Biogenesis scandal, announced on Tuesday he plans to challenge the suspension, which was handed down by an arbiter this weekend, in federal court.

That, say most legal minds, is unlikely. Under MLB’s collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union, arbitration is the final solution and according to most legal experts courts are largely unwilling to second-guess an arbiter.

This is newsworthy in golf circles because the ongoing legal bout between Vijay Singh and the PGA Tour strikes a similar cord, with one key distinction.

Singh sued the Tour last year following his run-in with the circuit’s anti-doping program when he admitted to using the Ultimate Spray – which contains IGF-1, a substance that is banned by the Tour and the World Anti-Doping Agency – in a Sports Illustrated article.

Singh was suspended for violating the policy, appealed the ruling and the two sides prepared for an arbitration hearing, which like MLB is the prescribed finish line in a doping case. Before the hearing took place, however, WADA modified its decision regarding the Ultimate Spray, claiming the use of the spray did not constitute a violation in the absence of a positive test (Singh has never failed a drug test), and the Tour dropped the suspension.

Where Singh and A-Rod’s paths intersect is the current legal crossroads and the similarities between MLB’s collective bargaining agreement and the Tour’s membership requirements.

On June 12, the Tour filed a motion to dismiss Singh’s lawsuit in New York Supreme Court based largely on Singh’s 2013 membership renewal form that reads, “the results management provisions of the program shall provide the sole and exclusive method for resolving any dispute related to drug testing.”

In fact, in the circuit’s motion to dismiss the membership agreement was the proverbial tip of the spear for the Tour’s legal team. “As an initial matter,” the motion reads, “by virtue of the Tour membership agreement signed by Singh and every other member of the Tour, Singh has agreed that his sole and exclusive remedy for any discipline imposed under the program is an arbitration proceeding to overturn that discipline. ... The Tour has already granted Singh that complete relief.”

While most legal experts agree A-Rod’s suit is doomed to fail because of a concept known as “deferential judicial review,” Singh’s case and the Tour’s effort to have it dismissed – a motion that is still pending before the court – stands a better chance of going the distance because his case was never brought before an arbitrator.

Singh’s arbitration hearing was scheduled for May 7. On April 30, the Tour, after being informed of WADA’s adjusted view on the Ultimate Spray, dropped its case against the Fijian.

What is worth noting, however, is Singh’s legal challenge would have appeared just as bleak as A-Rod’s had the arbitration hearing taken place. According to various legal sources, Singh’s membership agreement – which is signed each year by every player – would have been as binding as MLB’s collective bargaining agreement, despite the absence of a union in golf.

This is compelling because a collective bargaining agreement is negotiated terms, whereas a membership agreement is not open to periodic review by, say the four player directors on the Tour’s policy board, and yet is just as legally binding.

There are those in Tour circles who have scoffed at Singh’s lawsuit, pointing out that while the 50-year-old challenges the circuit in what is becoming a costly and potentially embarrassing litigation, he continues to ply his trade on both the PGA and Champions tours.

As rumors of enormous settlement offers swirl, some contend Singh is intent on biting the hand that feeds him. But the episode has brought into focus the shortcomings of the circuit’s rules and regulations.

If a membership form, and by extension the 162-page player handbook, is viewed, at least legally, in the same light as a collective bargaining agreement, it may be time for the players to start paying more attention to the small print.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon. 

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Stock Watch: Spieth searching for putting form

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:50 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


Patton Kizzire (+8%): By today’s accelerated standards, he’s a late bloomer, having reached the Tour at age 29. Well, he seems right at home now, with two wins in his last four starts.

Rory (+7%): Coming off the longest break of his career, McIlroy should have no excuses this year. He’s healthy. Focused. Motivated. It’s go time.

Chris Paisley (+5%): The best part about his breakthrough European Tour title that netted him $192,000? With his wife, Keri, on the bag, he doesn’t have to cut 10 percent to his caddie – she gets the whole thing.

Brooke Henderson (+3%): A seventh-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational doesn’t sound like much for a five-time winner, but this came against the men – on a cold, wet, windy, 6,700-yard track. She might be the most fun player to watch on the LPGA. 

New European Ryder Cuppers (+2%): In something of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal, newcomers Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton each went undefeated in leading Europe to a come-from-behind victory at the EurAsia Cup. The competition come September will be, um, a bit stiffer.


Jordan’s putting (-1%): You can sense his frustration in interviews, and why not? In two starts he leads the Tour in greens in regulation … and ranks 201st (!) in putting. Here’s guessing he doesn’t finish the year there.

Brian Harman’s 2018 Sundays (-2%): The diminutive left-hander now has five consecutive top-10s, and he’s rocketing up the Ryder Cup standings, but you can’t help but wonder how much better the start to his year might have been. In the final pairing each of the past two weeks, he’s a combined 1 under in those rounds and wasn’t much of a factor.

Tom Hoge (-3%): Leading by one and on the brink of a life-changing victory – he hadn’t been able to keep his card each of the past three years – Hoge made an absolute mess of the 16th, taking double bogey despite having just 156 yards for his approach. At least now he’s on track to make the playoffs for the first time.

Predicting James Hahn’s form (-4%): OK, we give up: He’d gone 17 events without a top-15 before his win at Riviera; 12 before his win at Quail Hollow; and seven before he lost on the sixth playoff hole at Waialae. The margins between mediocre play and winning apparently are THAT small.

Barnrat (-5%): Coming in hot with four consecutive top-10s, and one of only two team members ranked inside the top 50 in the world, Kiradech Aphibarnrat didn’t show up at the EurAsia Cup, going 0-3 for the week. In hindsight, the Asian team had no chance without his contributions. 

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Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

“I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

“If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”

Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)

Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

“He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

"I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”