Major Shocker Hamilton Wins British Open

By Sports NetworkJuly 18, 2004, 4:00 pm
TROON, Scotland --Todd Hamilton defeated Ernie Els in a four-hole playoff on Sunday to win the 133rd British Open Championship at Royal Troon Golf Club.
 
'I was trying to look around as much as I could to soak it all in,' said Hamilton. 'I've won tournaments around the world before, but nothing on a stage like this, so to be Open champion is very special.'
 
The duo finished regulation tied at 10-under-par 274 after Hamilton bogeyed the 72nd hole and Els missed a 7-foot putt for birdie. After pars on the first two holes of the cumulative playoff, Els missed the green at the par-3 17th and knocked his second shot to 8 feet.
 
Hamilton, who posted a 69 in the final round, found the green off the tee and two-putted for par while Els was unable to convert. Back to the 18th tee, Hamilton hit his drive down the right side and managed to clear a bunker with his approach.
 
The American, who spent 17 seasons traveling the world before earning his PGA Tour card through Q-School last year, rolled a utility club within 2 feet of the hole and tapped in for par and the biggest win of his career.
 
'It was a lot of hard work. Ernie is a true champion. He fought to the very end, not only in regulation, but in the playoff. That's why he's a major champion,' said Hamilton. 'I'm so excited. I probably won't sleep for two days. I won't even sleep on the flight home, which I'm usually able to sleep pretty well, but I guarantee I'll be up.'
 
Hamilton held the outright lead heading into the final round, but with a handful of the top players in the game within a few strokes of the top spot, the 38-year-old had plenty of work ahead of him to maintain his position.
 
He got off to a good start at the first and hit his second shot to 8 feet. Hamilton missed his birdie try right, and sent his drive into the rough at the par-4 second to fall back into a tie for the lead with Els.
 
Thomas Levet, who was in contention throughout the week, chipped in from the rough for an eagle at the par-5 fourth to move to the front of the leaderboard at 8 under. Phil Mickelson then holed his third shot at the fourth to grab a share of the lead.
 
Els converted an 18-foot putt for a birdie at the third and grabbed the lead on his own with a birdie at the very next hole. Hamilton persisted and matched his playing partner with back-to-back birdies from the fourth to reach minus-9.
 
Tiger Woods, seeking his first win in a major since the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage, got into the mix with a chip-in birdie from a bunker at the fifth and a birdie at the sixth. The 2000 Open champion at St. Andrews could not keep pace in the inward half.
 
Mickelson hit a tremendous drive at the par-4 seventh and pitched his second to eight feet for a birdie to regain a piece of the lead. Els, who bogeyed the fifth, then birdied the seventh to join the logjam.
 
Hamilton found trouble with a bogey at the difficult par-4 10th and Els struggled even further. The South African hit his second shot into thick grass and barely managed to muscle his ball down the fairway and was unable to get up and down for a double bogey.
 
Just like that, Mickelson, who snapped his drought in the majors with a victory at the Masters and nearly won the U.S. Open at Shinnecock last month, found himself in the lead.
 
Mickelson, who was holding on with several crucial par saves, was again joined by Hamilton, who played his second shot to 9 feet for a birdie at the 11th.
 
Mickelson, who had not dropped a shot since the opening round, bounced his second shot short of the green at the 13th and almost holed out with his third. The left-hander failed to make his par coming back and once again was in the chase.
 
Hamilton, who earned his first PGA Tour win at The Honda Classic earlier this year, kept plugging along and chipped in for a birdie at the par-3 14th after his tee shot missed the green. He moved to 10 under and at the par-5 16th, Hamilton knocked his third shot to 9 feet and drained the putt to open a two-shot edge over the field.
 
With Mickelson in the clubhouse at 9 under, Hamilton still had Els to worry about. Els, who was almost spoiled Mickelson's party at the Masters and was in contention at the U.S. Open until a disastrous final round, saw the door open at the 72nd hole in regulation.
 
Hamilton hit a bad tee shot left at the last, while Els ripped a drive down the middle of the fairway. After playing a recovery shot with his second, Hamilton hit his third to 11 feet.
 
Els, seeking his second Open title and his fourth major victory, played his second shot within 7 feet of the hole. Hamilton missed his par putt, and with a birdie chance to win, the Big Easy left his putt short.
 
The thrilling conclusion in regulation was almost imitated exactly in the playoff, but this time around Hamilton grinded out a par with his so-called 'ugly golf' tactic and walked away with the claret jug.
 
'I think when I don't hit the ball well, having a good short game allows me to at least be competitive, maybe not on a scale like this every week, but I play what I call ugly golf,' he said. 'I hit a lot of punch shots, a lot of big slices off the tees, or big fades, just to keep the ball in play.'
 
Els, who had birdied the 16th and the 17th, had the tournament in sight but was unable to sink a birdie putt at the last for his third runner-up finish at the British Open.
 
'Right now I'm thinking of the putt on the 72nd hole,' Els said. 'That's the putt I'm going to be thinking about for a while. I had such a good second shot, you know. And it was such a weird pin placement where if you were short of the hole, you had such a difficult putt. And if I knew that I probably would have hit it past. I tried to do that in the playoff, too. But that putt, I'm going to think about that putt for a while.'
 
Mickelson had never finished in the top 10 at the British Open. That was before his major breakthrough at Augusta in April, however, and he posted a 68 to finish third at 9-under-par 275.
 
Lee Westwood ran home an 20-foot putt for a birdie at the last to take fourth place at 6-under-par 278. Davis Love III holed his approach for an eagle at the 18th for his second straight top-5 finish at the British Open.
 
Love was joined by Levet in a tie for fifth at 5-under-par 279. Goosen and Scott Verplank were one shot further back at 4-under-par 280.
 
Woods was focused on the weekend, but only managed a 1-over 72 on Sunday. Nevertheless, the 28-year-old posted his first top-10 finish in a major since last year's Open at Royal St. George's.
 
Woods was joined by 2003 Masters winner Mike Weir in a tie for ninth at 3-under-par 281.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - 133rd Open Championship
  • British Open Photo Gallery

  • Full Coverage - 133rd Open Championship
  • 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.

    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.

    Amen.

    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.”