Drug Policy Wake-Up Call

By Associated PressJanuary 29, 2008, 5:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)Torrey Pines turned out to be a real wake-up call.
 
Some players were overwhelmed, nervous, even a little scared. Others were frustrated. Most of them were deeply concerned about the future of golf, perhaps not grasping the magnitude of what lies ahead.
 
And that was before Tiger Woods teed off.
 
In morning and afternoon sessions last week at the Buick Invitational, more than 100 players filed into a white tent for a mandatory meeting on the PGA TOUR's new anti-doping policy. Drug experts have been available since the Sony Open. The TOUR doesn't release attendance figures for such voluntary visits, but it's a safe bet these guys had more interest in Pro V1s than TUEs (therapeutic use exemptions).
 
That might have changed last Tuesday.
 
PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem was at the helm, joined by two staff attorneys and three outside advisors. One of them was a top expert on the World Anti-Doping Agency list, which the TOUR used as a guide for its policy and procedures.
 
And while just mentioning the name of certain banned substances is enough to put someone to sleep -- bendroflumethiazide, anyone? -- it wasn't long before reality set in.
 
Do you really know what's in that energy bar?
 
Those protein shakes?
 
'The only thing disconcerting is that you're totally responsible for what you take,' Charles Howell III said. 'You might take a product, and there's nothing on the label that's illegal, yet you don't know if there's cross-contamination.'
 
Even more disturbing was the process of random testing, which could happen anytime and anywhere.
 
Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger was indignant over having a 'collector' accompany him into the restroom to watch him drop his pants and lift his shirt to make sure he didn't have a urine sample taped to his side. And when it was mentioned that 'anywhere' could include coming to a player's house, Frank Lickliter suggested in so many words that the drug official bring a warrant.
 
'He's going to have a hard time getting off my property without a bullet in his (behind),' Lickliter said.
 
The reaction to Lickliter was almost as loud as the cheer when Woods made that sweeping 60-foot birdie putt on the 11th hole Sunday on his way to an eight-shot victory.
 
If nothing else, the meeting got their attention.
 
The anti-doping policy was announced Nov. 12 to little fanfare among players, perhaps because everyone had gone home for the year. But the closer golf gets to testing -- July 8 is the target date -- the more resistance it meets.
 
'I was caught off guard,' Jim Furyk said. 'I thought everyone was pro-testing. What I drew out of the meeting was that a few guys aren't. Not a few. Let's say more guys had negative opinions.'
 
Lickliter doesn't understand why the TOUR adopted WADA guidelines for golf, noting that Vick's Vapor Inhaler is prohibited.
 
'If I use Vick's nasal spray three times, they can kick me off the TOUR forever,' Lickliter said. 'Now, do you think Vick's nasal spray is helping me compete out here? Half the stuff they're testing for doesn't help golfers. These so-called experts are not experts in golf.'
 
Furyk told of a player who confided having a disorder that required drug treatment. Requesting a TUE for the drug means letting his secret out.
 
Tim Herron wonders if Danny Edwards' failed attempt to start a players' union 10 years ago was ahead of its time.
 
For many, it was the thought of a positive test for something not intended to help them lower their score, even if no one has been able to identify a drug that will do that.
 
'I don't think anyone on TOUR is in the business of trying to find something to enhance performance,' Jeff Maggert said. 'Maybe there is, and I'm naive. There's a bigger chance of someone getting tested positive who has absolutely no intent of trying to break the rules. The downside outweighs the upside by 1,000-to-1. The downside is just terrible.'
 
For all the discussion, there is no getting around the fact that drug testing is coming.
 
Whether golf needs it no longer is an issue, although it is hard to refute the recommendation European Tour chief George O'Grady offered in half-jest last year about only testing Woods.
 
'If he's clean, what does it matter what the rest of them are on?' O'Grady said.
 
Asked recently about his diet, Woods said he knows exactly what goes into his body. He said 18 months ago that drug testing could start 'tomorrow' and believes golf is 'heading in the right direction of proving that our sport is clean.'
 
What bothered so many players was golf losing its heritage of an honor system that has guided the game for two centuries. This is the only major sport in which players call penalties on themselves.
 
'And now they're treating us like criminals,' Lickliter said.
 
Finchem is more sympathetic than autocratic on this topic. He has resisted drug testing for years, demanding to see evidence of a drug that helps golfers at the highest level. But there was no getting around the question of knowing golf was clean without a test to prove it.
 
Drug testing in golf was simply inevitable.
 
Twilight set on Torrey Pines after the second session, and Finchem walked slowly along the 18th fairway toward the hotel. He thought the meetings went well and that it was a good step toward educating the players. But it was clear he was not thrilled with where golf was headed, offering a quiet comment without prompting to no one in particular.
 
'This is so counterintuitive to everything golf is about,' he said.
 
With apologies to endless PGA TOUR hype, this is the new era of golf.
 
It's just a different cup.
 
Related Links:
  • Tiger Wins Buick Invitational
     
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    Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

    By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

    NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

    Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

    The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

    Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

    Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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    Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

    Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

    Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

    Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

    4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

    4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

    4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

    4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

    4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

    5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

    5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

    5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

    5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

    5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

    6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

    6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

    6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

    6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

    6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

    6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

    7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

    7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

    7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

    7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

    7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

    7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

    8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

    8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

    8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

    8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

    8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

    8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

    9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

    9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

    9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

    9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

    9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

    10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

    10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

    10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

    10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

    10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

    10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

    11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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    Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

    He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

    “There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

    Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

    “I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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    Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

    Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

    Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

    “I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

    Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

    “It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

    More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

    “I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”