Notes LPGA Debates Rule Change

By Associated PressDecember 28, 2004, 5:00 pm
The LPGA Tour met two weeks ago for an annual review of its policies, and it included what commissioner Ty Votaw described as a full airing of an issue that comes up with regularity -- how to play in wet conditions.
The LPGA came up with lift, clean and replace a few years ago when the ball was picking up mud. That's slightly different from the PGA Tour, which allows its players to lift, clean and place the ball within one club length.
I hope our officials didn't fall in love with that rule, U.S. Women's Open champion Meg Mallon said at the season-ending ADT Championship in November. A lot of times, you're replacing the ball right in front of your pitch march, and that affects your next shot.
Pitch marks cannot be tamped down unless they are on the green.
Barb Trammel, vice president of tournament operations for the LPGA Tour, said changing the policy to get relief from a pitch mark in the fairway might be perceived as skirting the rules.
Just to play preferred lies for that instance is not a reason do it, Trammel said.
Allowing players to put their hands on the ball is always a touchy subject. The USGA never allows that in its biggest championships. Tom Meeks, the senior director of rules and competition, is famous for calling it lift, clean and cheat.
But the tours sometimes have no choice because of wet conditions and the need to finish a tournament that week so they can move on to the next stop. Still, some players wonder why the LPGA Tour doesn't follow the PGA Tour's lead and allow the ball to be placed within one club length.
Annika Sorenstam wants to see a policy similar to the European tour, where players lift, clean and place their balls within the size of a scorecard.
That's just enough, Sorenstam said. We don't have to do a club length. We're not trying to improve our lies, we just do it to clean the ball. Mud is so unpredictable.
Votaw declined to discuss which, if any, policies were amended. He said the panel looked at alternatives to lift, clean and replace and there were issues pro and con for each.
Trammel added, When we started this, players thought it was great because we were playing more by the rules. As time goes on, we're getting more comments about going back to placing the ball. If we do make a change, it would be based on what we feel we can reasonably do within the language of the rules.

Fred Couples was on the practice range during the Target World Challenge, going through his usual routine -- hit a few balls, stop to talk sports.
The Arizona Diamondbacks had made the only big move at that point in baseball's winter meetings by signing Russ Ortiz. The Seattle Seahawks faced a must-win game against the Minnesota Vikings. He wondered if the New York Giants would win a game with Eli Manning at quarterback this year.
Then Couples paused and asked a question.
You think other athletes sit around and talk about the PGA Tour the way we do about them? he said. Like, 'Oh, I can't believe they're still playing at that course.'
Couples looked around at his silent audience, smiled and shook his head.
Then he went back to hitting balls.
The World Match Play Championship in England and the Target World Challenge each have 16-man fields and criteria for qualifying, but only the World Match Play gets world ranking points.
That's a sore spot with Colin Montgomerie, if only because he doesn't believe any match-play tournament should get world ranking points.
You go down to La Costa, there's 64 guys, you can score 60 and lose, he said. You'd have beaten the other 62 guys in the field and you can go home. But some guy scores 75 and wins, and he gets more points than you. That's not right. I don't think there should be world points for match-play tournaments in any situation.
The World Match Play at Wentworth only started getting ranking points this year because it has strict qualifications and is part of the European tour schedule.
Montgomerie is a past champion at Wentworth. He has never made it past the third round at La Costa in the World Golf Championship event. That's not the point.
I can go around at La Costa and not break par one round and win every game, he said. What, and I get 100 world points for playing rubbish? No, no. But I can also play fantastic and lose.

Ever since he turned pro in 1996, Tiger Woods wanted to build a dream house using only the money he earned in golf tournaments. He went over the $55 million mark this year -- that does not include appearance money or sponsorship deals -- and finally has his house.
Only it's not a house.
That's what the boat was, Woods said of Privacy, the name of his 155-foot yacht. Everything I buy, everything that I own, is from my earnings on Tour. That's the way I wanted it to be, that I earned it.
According to Powerboat and Motor magazine, the yacht cost $20 million.

Votaw rarely gives a scouting report on teenagers, but he couldn't help but notice the buzz in Japan over 19-year-old Ai Miyazato.
She is a delightful young woman who has captured the Japanese public's imagination in much the same way as Michelle Wie, Votaw said. The ratings for the Japan LPGA are higher by double than the Japan PGA Tour.
Votaw said this during the LPGA's season-ending ADT Championship. Later that week, Miyazato won her fifth event of the Japan LPGA, and TV ratings dwarfed the men's event in Japan that week -- the Dunlop Phoenix, where Tiger Woods led wire-to-wire for his first stroke-play title of the year.
Miyazato has not said when she will bring her game to the United States, although she has qualified for the Kraft Nabisco Championship in March.

The winter break from golf lasts 25 days from the final putt at the Target World Challenge (Dec. 12) to the opening tee shot at the Mercedes Championships (Jan. 6).

I'm a has-been, but I'm not a never-was. At least I had my moment in the sun. Ian Baker-Finch.
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Hammer in position (again) to co-medal at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 14, 2018, 10:37 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer is in position to go for a rare sweep in this summer’s biggest events.

Two weeks ago, Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas, was the co-medalist at the Western Amateur and went on to take the match-play portion, as well.

Here at the U.S. Amateur, Hammer shot rounds of 69-68 and was once again in position to earn co-medalist honors. At 6-under 137, he was tied with 19-year-old Daniel Hillier of New Zealand.

“It would mean a lot, especially after being medalist at the Western Am,” Hammer said afterward. “It’s pretty special.”

No stroke-play medalist has prevailed in the 64-man match-play bracket since Ryan Moore in 2004. Before that, Tiger Woods (1996) was the most recent medalist champion.  

Match scoring from U.S. Amateur

U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

On the strength of his Western Am title, Hammer, 18, has soared to No. 18 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He credited his work with swing coach Cameron McCormick and mental coach Bob Rotella.

“Just really started controlling my iron shots really well,” said Hammer, who has worked with McCormick since 2015, when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old.

“Distance control with my wedges and all my iron shots, playing different shots, has become really a strength in my game. I’ve really turned the putter on this year, and I’m seeing the lines and matching the line with the speed really well. I think that’s been the key to my summer.”

A two-time New Zealand Amateur champion, Hillier is ranked 27th in the world. He said that, entering the tournament, he would have been pleased just to make it to match play.

“But to come out on top, it’s amazing,” Hillier said. “Cole is a really good golfer and has been playing well lately. So, yeah, I’m in good company.”

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Tee times, TV schedule, stats for Wyndham Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 14, 2018, 9:55 pm

It's the last tournament of the PGA Tour's regular season as the top 125 in the FedExCup points list advance to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for the Wyndham Championship. (Click here for tee times)

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream:

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream:

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Purse: $6 million

Course: Sedgefield Country Club (par 70, 7,127 yards)

Defending champion: Henrik Stenson. Last year he defeated Ollie Schniederjans by one stroke to earn his sixth career PGA Tour win.

Notables in the field

Henrik Stenson at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Henrik Stenson

• Missed the cut last week at the PGA Championship

• Six top-10 finishes this year, including T-5 at the Masters and T-6 at the U.S. Open

Sergio Garcia

• Eight missed cuts in last 10 PGA Tour starts

• Currently 131 in FedExCup standings (33 points back of 125th)

Webb Simpson

• Five top-10 finishes in this event since 2010 (won in 2011)

• 56 under par in last five years in this event (best of any player in that span)

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Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 7:42 pm

Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting another competitive shot was very much in doubt.

Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show when he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.

Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.

Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

"I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."

But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.

After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.

"What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing. Great on him, and great for golf."

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McDowell needs Wyndham result to maintain status

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 5:56 pm

For the first time in nearly three years, Graeme McDowell heads into an event with his PGA Tour status hanging in the balance.

The Ulsterman joined the Tour in 2006, and he has had nearly uninterrupted status since winning the 2010 U.S. Open. But McDowell's two-season exemption for winning the 2015 OHL Classic at Mayakoba only extends through this week, where he will start the Wyndham Championship at No. 143 in the season-long points race.

McDowell tied for fifth at Sedgefield Country Club in 2016, and he will likely need a similar result to crack the top 125 in the standings and retain his fully exempt status for the 2019 season. While he finished T-10 in Las Vegas in November, that remains his lone top-10 finish of the Tour season. The veteran's best results this year have come in Europe, where he tied for fifth at the Italian Open and finished T-12 at the BMW PGA Championship.

Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

"I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I feel like it's not a do-or-die scenario for me," McDowell told reporters earlier this month at the Barracuda Championship. "I feel if I was 25 years old without a European Tour card to fall back on, it would be a do-or-die scenario. Certainly trying to put the pressure off, if I don't get myself into the top 125 it's not the end of the world for me. I still feel like I can play a great schedule next season."

By finishing Nos. 126-150 in points after this week, McDowell would retain conditional status that would likely ensure him at least 12-15 starts next season. He would also still have privileges as a past tournament champion.

But he's not the only winner from the 2015-16 season whose two-year exemption is on the verge of running out. Fabian Gomez (160th), Peter Malnati (164th) and Billy Hurley III (202nd) all need big results in Greensboro to keep their cards, while Shane Lowry, David Lingmerth and Matt Every all earned three-year exemptions for victories in 2015 but currently sit Nos. 139, 140 and 184 in points, respectively.

Last year four players moved into the top 125 thanks to strong play at Wyndham, with the biggest jump coming from Rory Sabbatini, who went from No. 148 to No. 122 after tying for fourth place.