Losing faith in the Tour's ability to protect the game


If there is a gold medal at stake, chances are some scientist is in a laboratory right now cooking up a chemical concoction to help an athlete win one.

That’s why the larger issue out of the Wells Fargo Championship Tuesday wasn’t really about Vijay Singh.

It’s about that scientist in the lab and the possibility he will find a substance that will help a golfer hit a ball longer and straighter, or putt with more focus, or with less nervousness, or concentrate more singularly when pressure is ratcheted the highest. It’s about the possibility a new breed of golfer may be coming to the sport which is more steeped in Olympic traditions than the ancient game of golf’s traditions. It’s about the day those practiced scientists find those new golfers.

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That’s why the news out of Quail Hollow isn’t so much about what happened Tuesday as it is what is going to happen tomorrow with the game’s governing bodies trying to steer golf to new international popularity and growth in its Olympic push.

Singh won’t be the last golfer looking to play better by spraying something under his tongue. If the modern, twisted Olympic ideal prevails and golf’s governing bodies succeed in inspiring a new wave of players to pursue major championships after first being enticed to win gold medals, it’s a good bet the nature of tongue sprays will be a lot more potent than the deer-antler version Singh used.

I don’t know about you, but I have less faith today in the PGA Tour and golf’s other governing bodies being able to protect the game’s honorable traditions than I did yesterday. That’s because I have less faith in the PGA Tour’s drug-testing program, in any sport’s testing procedures. I have less faith golf is going to be ready when the greatest threat to its most cherished asset arrives. Performance-enhancing drugs hold more potential in wiping out the notion golf is nobler than other sports. The honor and integrity of the game is threatened by those who believe in winning at all costs, which, really feels like a modern Olympic tradition.

Maybe I have too much faith in those scientists who make winning concoctions, but can you blame me?

If the lab coats were watching Tuesday’s news conference, they must have been giddy over the opportunity the sport presents as a new market. Singh gets a reprieve, basically, because deer-antler spray isn’t as effective as he thought it was. His ignorance and carelessness saved him, but those are qualities ripe for exploitation.

Golf seems more vulnerable today to the plague that has infected so many sports.