#AskLav: Singh cloud hangs over Pebble Beach

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 7, 2013, 5:37 pm

Only a story as unsavory as Vijay Singh’s deer-antler spray can spoil the felicitous meeting of land and sea.

The most talked-about 49-year-old in golf played Pebble Beach on Thursday, just nine days after he admitted in a Sports Illustrated story that he uses a banned substance, just a week after he withdrew from the Phoenix Open citing a back injury. Quick healer.

Here’s what we know: Singh, in a statement, said he was “shocked” to learn that deer-antler spray contained a chemical (IGF-1) that was on the Tour’s banned-substance list. We know that he met with commissioner Tim Finchem on Wednesday to discuss the report. We know that he’s playing the Pebble Beach Pro-Am. And we know that the PGA Tour has yet to comment on the situation.

It seems unlikely that Singh knowingly took a banned substance; if he had, why openly discuss his use with a SI reporter? But that defense misses the point. Singh used a substance that violates the Tour’s anti-doping policy, and he deserves to be suspended, whether it’s three months, six months, nine months, or a year. Anything less makes a mockery of the Tour’s stance on performance-enhancers.

With that, let’s tear into another #AskLav mailbag. No surprise, there were more Singh queries this week:

Only if it’s applied “every couple of hours … every day,” as Singh outlined in the SI story. Just kidding. Sure, Singh could be sent to the sidelines for a few months, maybe even a year, but there is no way the Tour flips open the record books and begins scrubbing with a giant pink eraser. Besides, Vijay last won the PGA in 2004, long before the Tour enacted an anti-doping policy.

No, this is more an opportunity for the Tour to demonstrate how serious it is about PEDs. If it doesn’t crack down now and suspend a player – a Hall of Famer – who admittedly used a banned substance, what’s that say about its policy?

Now there is some much-needed PR advice for the Big Fijian.

Hyperbolic, perhaps, but Robert Garrigus recently raised a similar point in criticizing the USGA: “They are amateurs who are making rules for a professional game.” Mike Davis and Co. are at a crossroads, and if the PGA Tour decides to go away from the anchoring ban and create its own rule, well, Mark King’s prediction won’t be so easily dismissed.

Why would the Tour embarrass its own? Ask any player and he’ll tell you the slowpokes. But the Tour would never go out of its way to humiliate its own players – same reason it doesn’t reveal suspensions – which is why the ShotLink data is locked away in a safe somewhere deep inside Camp Ponte Vedra, never to be used for public consumption.

So, wait … you don’t like that a color commentator is using, uh, colorful phrases? If I wrote the blandest story possible, I’d lose all of my three remaining readers.

The good news: Double D has re-signed with Nike and seems to be in a good place with his health, his family and his life. The bad news: He hasn’t won in 12 years, has finished inside the top 125 in earnings just once in the last 10 years, and last year made just three of 17 cuts. If he ever wins again, call up Universal Pictures.

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

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

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

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

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

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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