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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Snedeker starts slow in effort to snag Masters invite

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

"The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

"He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."