Hey, PGA Tour, not so fast

By Ryan LavnerApril 28, 2017, 8:29 pm

AVONDALE, La. – “All Day” Glen Day is no longer the answer to the trivia question – the last player to receive a slow-play penalty on the PGA Tour.

Two more obscure names were added Thursday to the infamous list of punished dawdlers, after the team of rookie Brian Campbell, making his 13th career Tour start, and 38-year-old Argentine Miguel Angel Carballo received a one-shot penalty for two bad times during the first round of the Zurich Classic.

Their combined world ranking: 910.

Yeah, the Tour sure showed how tough it is on slow play.

Predictably, news of the penalty was met mostly with laughter Friday.

Did the Tour really pick the first round of alternate shot – a format unfamiliar to at least half of the participants – in the first team event since 1981 to dole out its first penalty in 22 years?

“I kinda felt like it was a little unfair,” said Campbell, and he was far from the only one.

Since it’s been so long, let’s blow the cobwebs off the Tour’s pace-of-play policy, which spans three pages in the player handbook:

Once a group is out of position, the players in the group are put on the clock and timed. They are allowed between 40 and 60 seconds to play their shots, depending on the order of when they hit. Exceeding that time limit twice will result in a one-shot penalty.

Since Day got slapped with a shot in the third round of the ’95 Honda Classic, five players have been penalized in a major championship – none as comical as Guan Tianlang at the 2013 Masters. Slow play has been a problem for decades, but officials decided to make an example of a 14-year-old from China. It was embarrassing.

Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos

That first and second rounds on Tour typically take five hours for a three-ball suggests the current policy doesn’t work. The fine for 10 bad times – $10,000 – is .005 percent of the first-place check at The Players Championship. A deterrent, it is not.

Nor is it a crisis, at least not according to PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan. He raised eyebrows earlier this year when he said that he wasn’t interested in speeding up the game, and that the criticism is merely the “impulse in the modern world to do everything faster than we did it last year.”

Yes, players each week are competing for silly amounts of cash, and yes, they deserve the proper time to try to execute their shots. But the penalty Thursday shows the arbitrariness of the Tour’s policy.

Alternates into the Zurich event, Campbell and Carballo were paired with two PGA section pros – they’re 15th on the Tour’s eligibility ranking – who helped fill out the open field. Campbell said those two players, Kyle Ramey and Phil Schmitt, were understandably nervous early and went out in 38 to drop the group out of touch with the group in front of them.

Campbell said the group was “sprinting” around TPC Louisiana, and yet they still were on the clock as they headed to the back nine. Carballo took too long and received a bad time on 12. Campbell, who already had his caddie waiting for him on the par-3 14th tee in an attempt to speed up play, needed more than 40 seconds to hit his shot and got the second bad time.

One-shot penalty.

Campbell vehemently protested the penalty, and he had a point: They got behind early because they were playing with, ahem, two section pros.

But the Tour didn’t budge. “The policy is the policy,” they said … never mind that that policy hasn’t been enforced over the past two decades.

And so now little-known Brian Campbell has one more slow-play penalty on Tour than GOAT slowpoke Ben Crane or the legendary Kevin Na or even former world No. 1 Jason Day, who has brazenly shrugged off his slow play, saying that he’ll back off five times before a shot if it’ll help him hit the shot.

Somehow, the Tour’s pace-of-play policy just became an even bigger joke.

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Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

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Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.

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Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:26 am

PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.

With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.

After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.

“I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”

It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.

Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.

“It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”

Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.

“Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”

Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).

Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.

“It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”

Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.

“This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”

Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.