'Sunday Eight' recall 2011 Masters final-day drama

By Rex HoggardApril 2, 2012, 1:00 pm

From the hurried final hours of the 2011 Masters only the main themes continue to resonate. The details, at least to the majority of the golf public, have faded to background noise.

These are the facts. At 2:30 p.m. (ET) Charl Schwartzel teed off at Augusta National four strokes off the lead, chipped in from Washington Road at the first for birdie and produced the first of many Sunday roars at the third when his approach landed in the middle of the green, spun left and dropped into the hole for eagle to move him to 11 under and into a share of the lead.

Helped by overnight leader Rory McIlroy’s bogey at the first, Schwartzel closed the gap in 38 minutes. All told the South African played his first three holes of the final round in 3 under and his last four in 4 under, historic bookends that defy tradition.

“I watched Charl birdie 17 and thought to myself, ‘This is unbelievable,’” Geoff Ogilvy said. “But that chip-in at the first (a 100-foot running 7-iron for Schwartzel), that’s more unlikely than the second shot at the third. That’s the hardest shot on the course almost. If it misses the hole it’s on the ninth tee almost. It’s a double bogey. It’s the most unbelievable shot.”

Largely lost to time and the fog of a frantic Sunday, however, is one of the most dramatic and crowded finishes in Masters history. Eight players from six different continents held at least a share of the lead on the back nine – McIlroy, Schwartzel, Ogilvy, Jason Day, Angel Cabrera, Tiger Woods, K.J. Choi and Adam Scott.

Not surprising given the venerable course’s unique amphitheater is the clarity with which each of the “Sunday Eight” recalls the final nine holes. For those locked in the competitive quest it was the unique cacophony of Augusta National that kept time with Sunday’s manic changes.

“You can feel it,” Day recalled. “It’s funny man, when the roars go up the whole back nine is amazing. You’ll hear it over there, you’ll hear it from another side. You kind of know what’s going on from what the crowd does.”

For everyone else GolfChannel.com, has created a timeline from last year’s back nine that fittingly begins where it virtually ended for McIlroy.

4:50 p.m.: McIlroy’s tee shot at the 10th hole clips a pine tree and ricochets between two cabins some 50 yards left of the 10th fairway. “Is there out of bounds over there?” McIlroy asks caddie J.P. Fitzgerald. The Ulsterman, who rounded the front nine in 1-over 37 but was still a stroke clear of Schwartzel, Choi and Cabrera, is not out of bounds, but that doesn’t ease his pain.

4:57 p.m.: Scott rolls in a 30-footer for birdie at No. 11 to move to 10 under and join three other players tied for second place.

“Even right from the front nine you could tell what was going on because Tiger was 5 under through eight (holes) and then when Rory dropped his shots at the 10th hole, that’s when I was first in the tournament,” Scott said. “That’s the first time I had any kind of expectations all day.”

5:09 p.m.: McIlroy taps in for triple-bogey-7 at No. 10 to drop to 8 under, two strokes behind a large group tied at 10 under that includes Choi, Cabrera, Schwartzel and Scott. Ten players are within five shots.

5:14 p.m.: And then there were five. Woods misses a 4 ½-footer for eagle at the 15th hole and taps in for his birdie to join four other players tied for the lead at 10 under.

“I hit a good shot at 15. That was a nice little holdy 6-iron, a little softy. I think I had like 207 (yards), I took something off a 6 and just hit it up in the air,” Woods said.

5:20 p.m.: Choi bogeys the 12th hole after missing the green with his tee shot and narrows the list of leaders to a foursome at 10 under – Woods, Cabrera, Scott and Schwartzel.

“I hit a cut shot on No. 12. I aim to the left of the bunker and didn’t cut, it went straight or with a little bit of a draw and left of that bunker when you’re chipping is very difficult,” Choi said.

5:25 p.m.: Ogilvy makes his fourth consecutive birdie at the 15th hole to move to 9 under par after starting the day seven strokes back.

5:26 p.m.: Day joins the leaders at 10 under with a two-putt birdie at the 13th hole. At this point seven different players have had a share of the lead.

5:28 p.m.: Cabrera’s tee shot at No. 12 sails into the back bunker and the Argentine makes bogey to drop out of the lead.

“He knew the bogey at 12 was going to cost him,” Cabrera’s swing coach Charlie Epps said of his man’s 8-iron tee shot at No. 12. “He was always told by (Seve) Ballesteros to always hit it left of the pin and he just hit left too far.”

5:32 p.m.: McIlroy’s tee shot at the 13th hole is pulled left and drops into a tributary to Rae’s Creek and leads to the iconic image of the young Ulsterman standing on the tee with his head buried in his grip.

“To be honest, one of the bad things I did, I just was trying to keep ahead of everyone else instead of maybe having a number in my head and say, ‘Right, I started the day at 12 under if I can get to 15 under,’ just have that as a target, and that's all you are thinking about,” McIlroy said. “That’s something that I've learned from and something that I’ve tried to put into practice now.”

5:33 p.m.: Ogilvy rolls in a short birdie putt at No. 16 to complete his run of five consecutive birdies and pulls into a share of the lead. Of the five players tied atop the leaderboard Schwartzel and Day began the day four shots back, Scott was five back and Woods and Ogilvy were a touchdown adrift.

“When I hit it close at 16 I didn’t see a leaderboard but I just assumed I’d be tied for the lead, but I knew there were a lot of guys,” Ogilvy said. “’I felt like that if I birdied one of these last three holes I really felt there’s a shot here.”

5:37 p.m.: Scott pulls clear of the pack with a 10-footer for birdie at the 14th hole. Nine players are now within two shots of the lead.

5:54 p.m.: Woods finishes with par at the 18th hole for a 10-under 278 total.

6 p.m.: Scott scrambles for par at the 15th hole after pushing his second shot into the gallery and holing an 8-footer to remain atop the pack. Day, who is paired with his fellow Australian, also makes par to stay one back.

6:10 p.m.: Schwartzel’s second shot at the 15th hole rolls through the green but he gets up and down for birdie to move to 11 under and momentarily tie Scott for the lead.

6:10 p.m.: Just seconds after Schwartzel putts out on 15, Scott taps in at the 16th for birdie to move to 12 under and back into the lead alone.

“After 16, honestly my thought was work hard for two pars,” Scott said. “Seventeen isn’t a hole you challenge very often and in my lifetime of watching the Masters I can’t really remember a lot of guys birdieing the last two holes. I have a lot of memories of bogeys on the last two holes.”

6:18 p.m.: With Scott in trouble left of the 17th fairway, Schwartzel rolls in an 18-footer at the 16th hole, his second consecutive birdie, to grab a share of the lead at 12 under.

6:24 p.m.: Day charges in a 30-footer at the 17th to move to 11 under and into second place, a shot behind Scott and Schwartzel.

6:34 p.m.: Schwartzel converts his 15-foot birdie putt at the 17th hole to move to 13 under and into the lead alone.

“I don’t know how many names fit on those leaderboards, but I only saw one name – Adam Scott,” Schwartzel said. “He was the guy who was leading. He was one (shot) ahead of me and then I played 15. I had an 8-footer for birdie and just before I made mine he made his putt on 16. I knew he was now two ahead. I needed to just be one behind, but I never looked around at the board again. I just knew what was going on.”

6:40 p.m.: Day completes his birdie-birdie finish with a 10-footer at the last for a closing 68 and a 12-under 276 total, but it’s not enough to hoist Australia off the Masters schneid and he ties for second with Scott (67).

“I knew what Schwartzel was doing and knew I had to birdie my last two holes. As soon as I hit in close (at No. 18) I knew I’d given myself a chance,” Day said. “I knew if I holed that putt I’d kind of put a little bit of pressure on him but then I looked back down the fairway and saw a couple of balls and was like, OK.”

6:48 p.m.: Schwartzel caps off his historic run with a 25-footer for his fourth consecutive birdie at the last and the day’s low round (66) for a 14-under 274 total.

6:55 p.m.: McIlroy putts out on the last for a par and a closing 80 to tie for 15th place. A little more than two months later he would score the ultimate bounce-back victory with his eight-stroke romp at the U.S. Open.

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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.

Good time to hang up on viewer call-ins

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 7:40 pm

Golf announced the most massive layoff in the industry’s history on Monday morning.

Armchair referees around the world were given their pink slips.

It’s a glorious jettisoning of unsolicited help.

Goodbye and good riddance.

The USGA and R&A’s announcement of a new set of protocols Monday will end the practice of viewer call-ins and emails in the reporting of rules infractions.

“What we have heard from players and committees is ‘Let’s leave the rules and administration of the event to the players and those responsible for running the tournament,’” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior director of rules and amateur status.

Amen.

The protocols, formed by a working group that included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and the PGA of America, also establish the use of rules officials to monitor the televised broadcasts of events.

Additionally, the protocols will eliminate the two-shot penalty when a player signs an incorrect scorecard because the player was unaware of a violation.



Yes, I can hear you folks saying armchair rules officials help make sure every meaningful infraction comes to light. I hear you saying they make the game better, more honest, by helping reduce the possibility somebody violates the rules to win.

But at what cost?

The chaos and mayhem armchair referees create can ruin the spirit of fair play every bit as much as an unreported violation. The chaos and mayhem armchair rules officials create can be as much a threat to fair play as the violations themselves.

The Rules of Golf are devised to protect the integrity of the game, but perfectly good rules can be undermined by the manner and timeliness of their enforcement.

We have seen the intervention of armchair referees go beyond the ruin of fair play in how a tournament should be conducted. We have seen it threaten the credibility of the game in the eyes of fans who can’t fathom the stupidity of a sport that cannot separate common-sense enforcement from absolute devotion to the letter of the law.

In other sports, video review’s timely use helps officials get it right. In golf, video review too often makes it feel like the sport is getting it wrong, because timeliness matters in the spirit of fair play, because the retroactive nature of some punishments are as egregious as the violations themselves.  

We saw that with Lexi Thompson at the ANA Inspiration this year.

Yes, she deserved a two-shot penalty for improperly marking her ball, but she didn’t deserve the two-shot penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. She had no idea she was signing an incorrect scorecard.

We nearly saw the ruin of the U.S. Open at Oakmont last year, with Dustin Johnson’s victory clouded by the timing of a video review that left us all uncertain if the tournament was playing out under an incorrect scoreboard.

“What these protocols are put in place for, really, is to make sure there are measures to identify the facts as soon as possible, in real time, so if there is an issue to be dealt with, that it can be handled quickly and decisively,” Pagel said.

Amen again.

We have pounded the USGA for making the game more complicated and less enjoyable than it ought to be, for creating controversy where common sense should prevail, so let’s applaud executive director Mike Davis, as well as the R&A, for putting common sense in play.

Yes, this isn’t a perfect answer to handling rules violations.

There are trap doors in the protocols that we are bound to see the game stumble into, because the game is so complex, but this is more than a good faith effort to make the game better.

This is good governance.

And compared to the glacial pace of major rules change of the past, this is swift.

This is the USGA and R&A leading a charge.

We’re seeing that with the radical modernization of the Rules of Golf scheduled to take effect in 2019. We saw it with the release of Decision 34/3-10 three weeks after Thompson’s loss at the ANA, with the decision limiting video review to “reasonable judgment” and “naked eye” standards. We’re hearing it with Davis’ recent comments about the “horrible” impact distance is having on the game, leading us to wonder if the USGA is in some way gearing up to take on the golf ball.

Yes, the new video review protocols aren’t a panacea. Rules officials will still miss violations that should have been caught. There will be questions about level playing fields, about the fairness of stars getting more video review scrutiny than the rank and file. There will be questions about whether viewer complaints were relayed to rules officials.

Golf, they say, isn’t a game of perfect, and neither is rules enforcement, though these protocols make too much sense to be pilloried. They should be applauded. They should solve a lot more problems than they create.

Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”