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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    Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

    The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

    Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

    Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

    Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

    Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.

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    Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

    SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

    Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

    Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

    With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

    ''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

    Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.


    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


    ''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

    Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

    Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

    He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    "I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''

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    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.