Newsmaker of the Year, No. 10: Vijay Singh

By Rex HoggardDecember 10, 2013, 1:00 pm

Buried midway through a lengthy article in the Feb. 4 edition of Sports Illustrated entitled “Snake oil for sale and the athletes who, science be damned, think it might work” an unexpected haymaker was delivered to the PGA Tour’s Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., compound by way of Vijay Singh.

In the article, Singh admitted to using the Ultimate Spray, which contained IGF-1, a growth hormone like HGH that is on the Tour’s prohibited list. Within days the Tour launched an investigation into Singh’s use of the spray.

Ten days after the Sports Illustrated article was published, Singh received a letter from the Tour informing him he had violated the circuit’s anti-doping program. On Feb. 19 another letter arrived stating that Singh would be suspended for 90 days.

The title of the article – which outlined the use of various drugs which claim performance benefits but have little, if any, scientific support – is telling because the Tour, at the urging of the World Anti-Doping Agency, eventually ruled that Singh had admitted to taking little more than an expensive placebo.

“During the appeal process, PGA Tour counsel contacted WADA to confirm a number of technical points,” Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said on April 30. “At that time, WADA clarified that it no longer considers the use of deer-antler spray to be prohibited unless a positive test results.”



Singh, who had not failed a drug test, was cleared and nearly $100,000 in winnings, which had been held in escrow, was returned to the Fijian, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame with 34 Tour titles.

Singh, however, had little interest in an anti-doping mulligan. Shortly after being cleared of any violation, he sued the Tour in May, claiming the circuit publically humiliated him and, “as a result of the Tour’s action, Singh has been labeled by the Tour, media, some fellow golfers and fans as someone who intentionally took a banned substance in an effort to gain a competitive advantage.”

The legal give and take since that filing, which occurred on the eve of the Tour’s marquee event, the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, has been predictably contentious, with the circuit arguing in October that the suit should be dismissed.

While both sides continue to wait for judge Eileen Bransten to rule on the Tour’s motion, the central themes of both side’s arguments remain unchanged.

Singh’s lawyers have argued that the IGF-1 that was in the deer-antler spray he admitted to using is not the same chemical found on the Tour’s list of prohibited substances and that the circuit does not uniformly administer its anti-doping program.

In his original claim, Singh’s lawyers claim that Mark Calcavecchia admitted to using the same spray but was never disciplined by the Tour. And in a recent discovery motion his attorneys requested information related to a “possible or actual violation of the program” by Calcavecchia and four other players.


Newsmaker of the Year: Honorable mentions

Vijay Singh: Articles, photos and videos


“The PGA (Tour) has made exception after exception after exception, both with regard to whom it was administering this drug policy and against whom it was disciplining,” Singh’s lawyer Peter Ginsberg argued in October. “For some reason the (Tour) singled out Mr. Singh and treated him in a way that it has not historically or uniformly treated other (Tour) members.”

Attorneys for the Tour dismissed many of Singh’s discovery requests as a “fishing expedition” and have maintained that he “received the full relief to which he is entitled under his agreement with the Tour, and did not miss any PGA Tour tournaments or lose any prize money.”

“No one pressured Mr. Singh to play the PGA Tour,” the circuit’s attorney Jeffrey Mishkin argued on Nov. 1. “Like every other player he expressly agreed to the eligibility conditions set forth in the membership renewal agreement.”

Throughout the legal wrangling Singh has continued to play, and while he failed to advance to the FedEx Cup playoffs in 2013 he began the 2013-14 season with a runner-up showing at the Frys.com Open.

He also played his first Champions Tour event in September (he turned 50 in February), where he tied for sixth in Hawaii. But he admitted last month at the Australian Masters that the ongoing legal bout has had an impact on his game.

“It has been going on for a whole year and it kind of messed up my whole season,” he said. “The best thing I told myself to do is just focus on what I know best which is playing golf and let the legal side take care of its own.”

That legal solution, however, does not seem imminent. Depending on Bransten’s decision on the Tour’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, a final verdict could still be months, not to mention untold motions and filings, away.

“Snake oil,” it seems, has never been so contentious.

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

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.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


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.