Notes The History of Infamous Rule 88

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HARVE DE GRACE, Md. -- The LPGA Tour probably didn't have Michelle Wie in mind when it created a policy that bans for one year any non-tour member who can't break 88.
 
Barb Trammell, the longtime chief rules official for the LPGA until leaving last year, traced the policy to 1990 when players from the Teaching & Club Pro division competed in tournaments. Some of them struggled, and it became a problem for regular tour members. She recalled two situations that led to what is now known as the '88 Rule.'
 
'We had a T&CP player in the field who shot 100-plus, and for the players who were paired with her, it was a distraction, as you can imagine,' Trammell said. 'The second time, it was a tour player paired with a T&CP player, who made the turn in 52 or 53. The tour player said, 'Either you're going to withdraw or I am.' And the tour player withdrew at the turn.'
 
That's when players went to the LPGA board, and the policy was adopted.
 
Alice Miller, the tournament director of the LPGA Championship and a former player, was involved in the rule. She played with Lori Garbacz and a teaching pro in Minnesota one year. The teaching pro failed to break 100, returned the next day and was on her way to triple digits again when Miller suggested they all withdraw and have lunch.
 
'She wanted to keep playing,' Miller said. 'Lori hit one shot and said, 'I can't do this anymore.' So I kept playing. For a while, they were calling it the 'Alice Miller Rule.''
 
Trammell said the LPGA landscape has changed significantly since then, even when teaching pros play sparingly on the LPGA.
 
'All their playing abilities are much stronger, much better, than they were 15 or 20 years ago,' Trammell said. 'It was never much of an issue. But I don't think at the time the rule was instituted that anybody contemplated a situation like Michelle Wie.'
 
Wie flirted with an 88 in her 2007 debut on the LPGA Tour when she abruptly withdrew at the Ginn Tribute with two holes remaining.
 
The tour waived 'Rule 88' last year for 13-year-old Dakoda Dowd, given an exemption to fulfill a wish for her dying mother. It has been applied twice already this year. Ana Laura Gomez opened with an 88 in the Corona Morelia Championship and did not return, and MacKinzie Kline, the 15-year-old who was allowed to use a cart and oxygen because of a congenital heart defect, had an 89 in the second round of the Ginn Tribute.
 
DIVINE NINE:
Annika Sorenstam is working her way back into shape after missing a month because of back and neck injuries, and that means a slight change in her bag. She has replaced the 4-iron with a 9-wood.
 
Sorenstam could not remember the last time she used a 9-wood, estimating it was five or six years ago.
 
'Hopefully, it's just temporary,' she said. 'I hope to have my strength in my 4-iron.'
 
ST. ANDREWS:
Laura Davies needs only to win a major championship to be eligible for the World Golf Hall of Fame, and while she hasn't won on the LPGA Tour in six years, she likes the way the summer is shaping up.
 
Davies thinks Bulle Rock (LPGA Championship), Pine Needles (U.S. Women's Open) and St. Andrews (Women's British Open) suit her game perfectly. At least, she assumes that's the case at St. Andrews.
 
'I've never been there,' she said. 'Never been to St. Andrews, obviously, never been to the golf course.'
 
Davies doesn't play golf when she's not at a tournament, and 'I'm not about to get on a plane to Scotland.' But she has watched enough of the British Open on television that she feels as though she knows the Old Course well.
 
'I think I'm just going to smack it down the other fairway,' she said.
 
Oddly enough, Davies did television work for the BBC at the British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, Muirfield, Royal St. George's and Royal Troon, but that ended in 2005 when it went to St. Andrews.
 
MAJOR PREPARATION:
Jack Nicklaus doesn't understand why more players do not prepare for a major championship by going to the golf course in the weeks before the tournament, such as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have done at Oakmont.
 
'Those who want to win do it,' Nicklaus said.
 
He recalled going to Oakmont twice before the 1962 U.S. Open to study the course. He wound up with only one three-putt, and beat Arnold Palmer in a playoff for his first professional victory, and first of 18 professional majors.
 
'I went in a couple weeks before to figure out how to play the golf course, and when I came back on Monday (of the U.S. Open) ... I went there to play just to make sure my game was where I wanted it,' Nicklaus said.
 
His favorite example of preparing was Gary Player, who never used to see a major championship venue until tournament week. That changed in 1965, when Nicklaus convinced his South African friend to take off the week before the U.S. Open.
 
'Gary was going to play a tournament the week before, and I said, 'Gary, give yourself a chance to win the U.S. Open,'' Nicklaus recalled. 'The week before, we went down to Bellerive and we played three or four practice rounds.'
 
Player wound up winning the U.S. Open that year to complete the career Grand Slam.
 
MAJOR PRO-AM:
And then there's the LPGA Tour majors.
 
For the first two majors of the year, the women get only one day of pure practice at Mission Hills (Kraft Nabisco) and Bulle Rock (LPGA Championship). At the Nabisco, the stars have to play two pro-ams, including one round on the adjacent golf course. They only have to play one pro-am round at Bulle Rock, but the course is booked with pro-ams on Monday and Tuesday, leaving Wednesday as the only day the course is open for practice all day.
 
Aside from the prize money, maybe that's why the U.S. Women's Open is the marquee event on the tour schedule.
 
DIVOTS:
Pablo Martin, the Oklahoma State star who won a European tour event this year, turned professional Monday and will make his professional debut this week in Memphis. Martin qualified for the U.S. Open on Monday. ... The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board will feature wines marketed by golf legends Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman, Ernie Els and Nick Faldo at select Wine & Spirits stores during U.S. Open. ... Ernie Els is spending his week before the U.S. Open on Long Island, where he plans to relax and play some golf. 'If they let me on Shinnecock, I'll play,' he said with a laugh. Els was in the final group of the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills and shot 80, and later joined the chorus of complaints about the way it was set up.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK:
Four of the seven players who won a U.S. Open at Oakmont were no more than 26 years old.
 
FINAL WORD:
'What I've learned the most in the last 10 years, which I never realized, is how lucky I am.' -- Se Ri Pak.
 
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