Stallings back from suspension, finds relief and motivation

By Rex HoggardOctober 14, 2015, 3:24 pm

There will be at least one player in this week’s Open field who has embraced the PGA Tour’s version of Opening Day on Thursday with profound zeal.

If the Tour’s nearly non-existent off-season – it’s been exactly 17 days since Jordan Spieth wrapped up a historic campaign at the Tour Championship – makes it difficult for some to embrace the wraparound schedule consider Scott Stallings’ last 90 days.

In July, Stallings became the third player suspended under the Tour’s anti-doping policy for taking an over-the-counter supplement, DHEA, for fatigue. The anabolic agent is a precursor to testosterone production and is banned by the Tour.

For three months Stallings has watched and waited. He played with his son, spent time with his wife and friends and discovered, thanks to a litany of tests, that the fatigue that led to the bizarre violation was curable.

“That was the biggest priority – we didn’t know. I didn’t know why I was feeling bad. It almost drives you crazy because you feel good one day and bad one day,” Stallings told “To find out ultimately that I had to have throat surgery was the last thing in my mind I thought I was going to have.”

It was a doctor at UCLA who eventually unraveled Stallings’ medical mystery through multiple tests, from a sleep study and allergy tests to a CT scan of his head. Open: Articles, photos and videos

Doctors discovered that Stallings was suffering from a severe case of sleep apnea that resulted in about 15 minutes of REM sleep a night. On July 28, he underwent throat surgery in Knoxville, Tenn., to repair a deviated septum as well as other “soft palate” repairs.

“They basically cut out an opening in my throat,” said Stallings of the 45-minute procedure. “It felt like you swallowed acid coated nails.”

The improvement for Stallings has been profound.

“It will change your life,” he said.

In many ways the entire surreal episode has changed Stallings’ life.

The 30-year-old never intended to become a talking point for a performance-enhancing drug policy that leaves no room for intent or interpretation, but his brush with the anti-doping world has prompted many to question the status quo.

Stallings was suspended for taking a supplement, DHEA, that many medical experts say has no performance benefit when taken orally, and he never failed a drug test while taking the substance.

“Hopefully it will create some type of transparency between the Tour and the players,” Stallings said. “I hope what happened to me doesn’t happen to anyone else. Understanding the policy and agreeing with it are two different things, but I should have checked. Hopefully it makes guys more aware to what is going on.”

Stallings, who said he took, and passed, two drug tests while taking the supplement, essentially turned himself in for the violation when he realized he may have violated the policy.

He also didn’t care for the way the Tour portrayed the incident. In accordance with the circuit’s policy, neither the drug nor the details of the violation were disclosed to the public, which prompted plenty of speculation.

“The innocence of intent has no bearing on what happens. I didn’t know, and I think if you are intending to break the rule you are aware of the rule,” said Stallings, whose Tour status remained unchanged thanks to his victory at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open. “I think everyone says [the anti-doping policy] has some flaws.”

Stallings said the support this week at Silverado Resort from his fellow players has been overwhelming and getting back to work has rejuvenated him.

His plan is to play in as many of the fall events as possible, including next week’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, and although he anticipates that his game will be rusty after three months away from the Tour he is looking forward to getting back to work.

“I just realized that I really missed playing,” he said. “You can take a step back and realize I really love this. I’m thankful for the opportunity the Tour provides.”

He also said he expects to be selected for a “random” drug test this week, “guaranteed,” he laughed.

But most of all he’s looking forward to moving on after a peculiar three months, healthy and happy.

“I would have liked to go out and have surgery on my own terms and not be forced into it,” Stallings said. “But it was just nice to be a dad and a husband.”

It’s also nice to get back to work.

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Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:

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Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to to submit your picks for this week's event.

Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

"The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

"You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

"But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."