Finchem: Ray Rice situation will not affect Tour policy

By Rex HoggardSeptember 9, 2014, 8:17 pm

ATLANTA – On Tuesday at his annual State of the PGA Tour address at East Lake, commissioner Tim Finchem was asked about the toxic situation fellow commissioner Roger Goodell finds himself mired in.

At first, the NFL’s top man issued a two-game suspension to Ray Rice for striking his now-wife in a casino elevator earlier this year and then tacitly admitted that he blew the call when he announced a restructuring of the league’s domestic abuse policy.

On Monday, he reversed course again after “new video evidence” of the incident became available. Ever since then, things haven’t been going well for either Goodell or Rice, who was released by the Baltimore Ravens and indefinitely suspended by the NFL.

Expect the media masses to spend the next few weeks finding out what Goodell knew and when he knew it. Which brings us back to Finchem and the Tour’s long-held policy to not disclose any form of player discipline other than violations of the circuit’s performance-enhancing drug program.

To be clear, there are no comparisons between what Rice did and what Dustin Johnson, who announced in July he was taking “a leave of absence from professional golf,” may or may not have done.

Rice is guilty of domestic violence, while Johnson may have tested positive for cocaine according to a Golf.com report. Johnson may need help, but Rice is a bully.

Yet while the situations are vastly different, Finchem was asked if the current issues facing Goodell & Co. had swayed him to be a little more open when it comes to the Tour’s policy of “you can ask, but we won’t tell.”

“Saying not quite similar is probably an understatement. A little bit of an understatement,” Finchem quickly pointed out when asked about the Rice situation. Fair enough, but in context there is a lesson to be learned from the maelstrom that has beset the NFL.

If we’ve learned anything from the past 24 hours it is that Rice is a bad dude and anything less than complete disclosure can only lead to distrust and dubious decisions.

Behind a cloak of secrecy, the media and the public have a tendency to fill in the blanks for themselves. In Johnson’s case the chatter has gone to an increasingly negative place and the fallout has picked up this week at the Tour Championship – which he is not playing but will still receive $175,000 from the FedEx Cup bonus pool for finishing 30th on the point list.

That, however, has done nothing to dissuade Finchem from the current policy.

“(The NFL) took strong action in very egregious situations and they spoke about it. We're comfortable with the policies we have right now,” Finchem said.

Yet while the Tour has remained rather consistent on this, the circuit has made some high-profile exceptions when it comes to clarifying perceived suspensions, like they did in the Johnson case.

In the wake of the Golf.com story, the Tour initially declined to comment on the reported suspension, but later added that he had not been suspended and that he took a voluntary leave of absence.

It was not the first time the Tour tinkered with its own policy. In 2009, John Daly was suspended for alcohol-related issues and the circuit initially declined to comment, but later confirmed what Daly told reporters – that he was serving a six-month suspension.

“We reserve the right to comment on anything we want to comment about if we think it's important to do so,” Finchem said last month at The Barclays. “In (Johnson’s) case, we felt like the information that had floated in the media was incorrect and needed to be corrected.”

But the problem with selective sunshine is that it leaves too much to the imagination. The next time a player takes six months off to mend a mysterious injury – much like Johnson did in 2012 when Golf.com reported he served his first drug-related suspension – the default read will always go to the low-hanging fruit.

The Tour is one of the few major sports leagues to value privacy over the public trust and while Finchem didn’t care for the comparison to what Goodell is now going through, there was no denying the warning signs.

It seems highly unlikely Finchem would ever change the Tour’s policy on fines and whatnot, but when his current contract ends in 2016, and he presumably rides his golden golf cart into the TPC Sawgrass sunset, his successor should note the NFL’s current crisis.

The only thing worse than the truth is having the public find out you were trying to hide it.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

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The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."