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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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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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.