Yet Another Detour for Tiger

By Rex HoggardMay 14, 2011, 3:11 am
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – With a swing straight out of cold storage, on a knee in desperate need of a cold compress, Tiger Woods grimaced his way to another early exit at The Players Championship on Thursday and sent a chill down the collective spines of the PGA Tour hierarchy.

For the second consecutive year Woods didn’t put in a full week at TPC Sawgrass, done in this time by an ailing left knee and Achilles that he injured during last month’s Masters.

On Tuesday Woods said he didn’t know what to expect from his injured left leg. It took him just one swing to find out on Thursday.

“The knee acted up and then the Achilles followed after that and then the calf started cramping up,” said Woods, who withdrew after nine holes at 6 over par, 14 strokes behind first-round leader Nick Watney and lost on a leaderboard that featured 78 scores of par or better. “Everything started getting tight, so it’s just a whole chain reaction.”

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods speaks with the media after his WD. (Getty Images)

At the fourth hole the chain began unraveling. From the left rough he hit his approach into a water hazard, from the drop zone he found the same water hazard and needed an 18 footer to salvage a triple bogey-7.

From there his game, and his health, seemed to deteriorate with each shot. There was a grimace when he pulled his approach shot left of the fifth green and a pained knee flex following his drive at No. 6.

Woods, who didn’t play last week’s Wells Fargo Championship while he rested his assorted injuries, said the wayward tee shot at No. 4 was related to his leg and by the time he chipped his third shot into a bunker at the par-5 ninth he was done.

All that remained was the paperwork and another surreal snapshot – this time of Woods climbing into his white Mercedes-Benz for the long, lonely drive back down Interstate-95.

He briefly visited the Tour’s fitness trailer, but that was more a formality than a form of treatment. Tour regulations require a player provide the circuit documentation for a withdrawal within 14 days. “Since 99 percent of the time the player has been working with our physio team they usually stop in there afterward and this note is provided by them,” said Tyler Dennis, the Tour’s vice president of competitions.

Last year Woods withdrew seven holes into his final round at The Players with a previously undisclosed neck injury. By comparison this year was almost predictable.

A man who once lived by the mantra that he never showed up unless he was ready to win, rolled into north Florida this week having not touched a club since Augusta National. He played just nine holes on Tuesday and another nine on Wednesday and seemed out of sync from the outset of his opening round.

He was slow, almost sluggish. To put it in context, Kevin Na moves faster. To put it in perspective, he looked like a man doing Tour commissioner Tim Finchem a favor.

That he was playing TPC Sawgrass was a bigger surprise than his early exit. It’s now been a decade since he won the “fifth major” and a player who has etched out a Hall-of-Fame career by outworking his competition has become something of a part-time player, the byproduct of injury and off-course turmoil.

The mind may be willing, but not the body.

Asked if he was advised by his doctors not to play TPC Sawgrass, Woods said he was not. “They said I could play,” he said “The more rest the better it would be, obviously. It’s a big event.”

The tournament that is, not Woods’ withdrawal. Although the latter certainly qualifies as a happening. One source with knowledge of the injury said the bigger concern is the Achilles ailment, which are historically slow to heal and easy to reinjure.

A Tour trainer said it would take a “normal person” about eight weeks to fully recover from a similar injury. But, of course. Woods doesn’t have that kind of time, nor is he a “normal person.”

He now has three weeks before his next potential start at the Memorial, and just over a month before the U.S. Open. Make no mistake, the man who dismissed doctors’ orders to play the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg will be at Congressional the second week of June.

The only question is what will he bring to the season’s second major? Or even if he will be able to play Congressional?

The camp’s plan now is to wait. Asked if Woods intended to have a magnetic resonance imaging test done on his ailing left knee or Achilles his manager, Mark Steinberg, said via e-mail: “That is not the case. We are in the evaluating phase right now and will determine the next steps.”

For all the concerns that were born from Woods’ off-course missteps in 2010, it was his slowly deteriorating health that should have concerned the powers in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., the most.

Scandal, it now seems, he can deal with. A chronically ailing left leg and a swing that takes a toll with every turn, however, may be a different story.

Follow Rex Hoggard on Twitter @RexHoggardGC

Getty Images

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 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.


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.”