Woods Singh Among NEC Leaders

By Sports NetworkAugust 18, 2005, 4:00 pm
AKRON, Ohio -- The top two ranked players in the world were joined in the lead by an unlikely candidate at the World Golf Championships-NEC Invitational.
Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Sweden's Henrik Stenson, who got into the field with a win at last year's The Heritage on the European Tour, all shot matching rounds of 4-under-par 66 on Thursday to share the opening-round lead at Firestone Country Club.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is seeking his fourth career NEC victory at Firestone.
Davis Love III, who played in the final group in the final round of last week's PGA Championship, posted a 3-under 67 and is tied for fourth place with Chris DiMarco and Nick Dougherty.
Phil Mickelson kept up his strong play from Monday when he captured his second major title at the PGA Championship. He carded a 1-under 69 and is tied for 10th place.
'What I like is I feel very confident with how I'm playing,' said Mickelson. 'I'm trying to take that momentum and carry it over here to Firestone, and the reason I like playing here so much right after last week is it's a very similar setup.'
Woods, who won this tournament from its inception in 1999 through 2001, opened on the back nine and collected his first birdie at the par-3 12th. His 7-iron tee ball hit the flag and rolled back 12 feet, where he holed the putt.
The No. 1 player in the world parred all of his remaining holes on his first side. Woods returned to red figures at the first when his 9-iron approach stopped 20 feet from the hole. He made it two in a row at the par-5 second. Woods' 3-iron second shot missed the green right, but he chipped to 2 feet and converted the short try.
Woods battled some errant drives on the second nine. He saved a pair of nice pars at six and eight, then missed the fairway left at the ninth. Woods knocked a pitching-wedge 15 feet right of the hole and rolled in the birdie putt to grab his piece of the lead.
'I played decent today. I hit some good shots and I also hit some bad ones, but my bad ones weren't really that bad,' said Woods, who tied for second last year behind Stewart Cink. 'All in all, I'm very pleased.'
Woods also continued his fine form from Baltusrol. He opened with a 5-over 75 last week, but fought back with rounds of 69-66-68 and fell two short of Mickelson.
'I felt like I was hitting it well all last week but just didn't putt well,' said Woods. 'I had five three-putts last week, which inevitably ended up costing me probably a chance at winning.'
Singh also posted a top-10 at the PGA Championship and, like Woods, began his first round on the back nine at Firestone. He birdied the par-5 16th, but gave the shot back with a bogey at No. 18.
From there, he went on a birdie run with three in a row from the first. He matched the lead with an 8-foot, downhill birdie putt at the sixth. Singh saved par from off the green at nine to enjoy his share of first place.
'If you drive it good, you can attack the flags,' said Singh. 'I drove it very well on my back nine and hit it close and made the putts.'
Stenson, 29, opened at the 10th and was even for the round when he ran home a 12-footer for birdie at 13. He closed his opening nine with two birdies in his last three holes, both from 8 feet.
His run of impressive play continued at the first when he hit a knockdown 8-iron to 3 feet to set up birdie. Stenson missed the green with his second at the par-5 second, but chipped to 9 feet and rolled in the birdie putt.
At the par-3 fifth, Stenson drained a 65-foot birdie putt and was alone in the lead at 6 under par. He struggled with a bogey at six when he two-putted from 40 feet and fell into a tie for the lead with a bogey at seven after his tee ball found a bunker.
'I know I can play a good game of golf, and I'm just going to try and do that for the next three days,' said Stenson. 'I've had some really good tournaments this year. I've been second twice and third twice, as well. I know I can play well, and I'm just looking forward to the rest of the week.'
Stenson, who is ranked 58th in the world, has one other victory to go along with last year's title at The Heritage. He won the 2001 Benson and Hedges International Open and is 15th on the 2005 European Tour Order of Merit.
Sergio Garcia, Stuart Appleby and Nick O'Hern are knotted in seventh place at 2-under-par 68. Mickelson was joined by Chris Riley and Luke Donald in 10th place at minus-1.
Cink struggled to a 2-over 72 in the opening round of his title defense. He is tied for 32nd place.
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    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.


    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.”