Timely Issues

By Rex HoggardAugust 11, 2009, 4:00 pm
WGC-Bridgestone - 125wCHASKA, Minn. ' Golf clings to rules like scandals to Illinois politicians and paternity suits to Maury Povich Show extras.
 
What they sometimes lack by way of common sense they more than make up for in timeliness (see Mike Weir 2009 Canadian Open) and relevancy (Sundays stopwatch on the final two-ball at Firestone). But they are rules and it is what separates golf from the likes of football or NASCAR, where cheating is not only accepted but seemingly encouraged.
Padraig Harrington Tiger Woods WGC
Tiger Woods is congratulated by Padraig Harrington on the 18th hole during the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitationa (Getty Images)

 
Tiger Woods point is valid, and not just because he carries the games biggest stick. Sundays showdown at Firestone with Padraig Harrington had all the trappings of an instant classic until John Paramor, a European Tour rules officials working the World Golf Championship, warned the days marquee pairing that they were on the clock for slow play on the pivotal 16th hole.
 
Woods respect for Harrington runs deep, maybe deeper than any other card-carrying member on a Tour range, and the moment was ripe for something special with the world No. 1 trailing the resurgent Irishman by one stroke with three holes to play.
 
The winner was not going to come from the groups ahead . . . and we were having a great battle, Woods said Tuesday at Hazeltine National, echoing his sentiments from two days earlier.
 
If Paddy does not hit the ball in the water we play up, we are right behind the group in front of us. (Being put on the clock) certainly affected how Paddy played the hole and the outcome of the tournament.
 
Harrington was more diplomatic, saying he didnt rush any of his eight shots on the hole that ultimately cost him the tournament, but history suggests it was in the back of a very deep mind.
 
Following his dramatic victory at last years British Open at Royal Birkdale Harrington spoke at length about how hard he worked to become a faster player. A stopwatch at a key juncture was always going to alter his game. How could it do anything but throw him off?
 
For that, Woods, even in victory, was put out, going so far as to quasi apologize to Harrington.
 
I'm sorry that (Paramor) got in the way of a great battle because it was such a great battle for 16 holes, and we're going at it head-to-head, and unfortunately that happened, he told Harrington at Firestone.
 
Woods disappointment is certainly understandable. Those watching were similarly disappointed by a seemingly silly ruling at the worst possible moment. Even Woods post-round comments regarding the incident were understandable. But none of that changes the fact that the rule regarding pace of play is rather specific, if not a bit soft on habitual violators.
 
I talked to (Paramor) today, Stewart Cink said. They have to look the rest of the field in the eye. If they didn't put them on the clock, if the field came up and said, Hey those guys were a hole and a half behind, how come they weren't timed? They have to be ready for that.
 
Brandt Snedeker can relate. During the final round of last years Masters he and Trevor Immelman were put on the clock for slow play and, he said Tuesday, they should have been. Because its a rule.
 
It was the competitor in Woods who spoke up on Sunday ' not the worlds most recognizable athlete or the engine that drives the Tour bus ' and it is impossible to criticize him for speaking his mind.
 
Nor can Paramor or any of the Tours tournament staff be blasted for enforcing a rule with little gray area. Where this story goes sour, however, is the fallout and chain reaction Woods comments have caused.
 
The Associated Press reported on Monday that an unidentified Tour official said Woods would be fined for publicly criticizing an official. Arguing balls and strikes is part of sport, has been since grown men started hitting round balls with round bats. A mandated muzzle only gives the entire affair an unnecessary heavy hand.
 
The report was twisted even further on Tuesday when Woods denied he was going to be fined.
 
Ive heard from the Tour and theres no fine, he said. (It) was an erroneous report.
 
The Tour doesnt talk fines or disciplinary action. Its policy, particularly when the subject is Woods, Tiger, and the circuit scrambled Tuesday to plug the hole in the S.S. Ponte Vedra Beach.
 
The information that was conveyed to the reporter was inaccurate, said Ty Votaw, the Tours executive vice president of communications. There has been no process started with respect to any disciplinary action. Based on the reports we have read, Tigers comments related to the impact of the decision. We did not read them as being disparaging.
 
The Associated Press, however, doesnt run stories based on a hunch or shaky sources. If there were a fine, and APs follow up to the original story maintained the original Tour officials claim, and the circuit did a 180 to protect the games alpha male they run the risk of creating Tiger Rules, golfs version of the preferential treatment Michael Jordan received during the height of his popularity, and alienating the membership.
 
It is the only portion of this unfortunate episode that slips into the unsavory, and the only part that will never be fully understood. Lost in all this are Tour officials, who are doing what they are paid to do. Officials, by the way, whose jobs just got a lot more difficult.
 
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    Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

    By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

    One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

    Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

    "I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

    Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

    "I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

    Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

    "Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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    Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

    Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

    Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

    “I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

    The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

    “I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


    Masters victory


    Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

    Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

    Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


    Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


    Green jacket tour

    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

    Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

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    Man of the people


    Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

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    Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


    Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


    Growing family

    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

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    Departure from TaylorMade


    Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


    Squashed beef with Paddy

    Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

    Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


    Victory at Valderrama


    Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm