Notes PGA Tour Steroid Policy Lefty Sets Masters Menu
The PGA Tour has no policy on steroids.
Nothing is in the works, because no one has found anything that would help a golfer's performance.
In fact, the only substance abuse policy on the PGA Tour books is a two-page statement from former commissioner Deane Beman in January 1992 that deals with recreational drugs, and alcohol as it relates to players' conduct.
'There is a lot of power involved in golf, but more so feel and touch,' U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen said. 'I don't know if somebody took steroids how that would affect the game. I don't think golf is that much a power sport as it is in other sports, like athletics or things like that, where there is such a small margin between the athletes.'
The only thing golf has tested lately is hot drivers, and that lasted about a month.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said he is comfortable with the tour's 13-year-old policy that makes no mention of performance-enhancing drugs. Not only has there been no evidence that steroids are an issue in golf, he said there has been nothing to indicate that the tour should waste time or money looking for such a drug.
'Some say we ought to test for drugs because all sports test and you want to know you're clean,' Finchem said. 'In a vacuum, I see how you can make that argument. But honestly ... I don't know what we'd be testing for.'
And even if anyone discovered a steroid that would allow someone to hit the ball farther or make more putts, random testing would not be the first step.
Golf is built around honor, and that would apply to steroids.
Finchem said if research found there were performance-enhancing drugs for golf, the board would conduct research and decide whether to ban them. Even then, it would be up to the players not to use them.
'People talk about testing, but that's not the question. That might be a subsequent question,' Finchem said. 'The way you run golf is to pass a rule, and then you expect everyone to adhere to the rule. If we had reason to believe there was a violation, then we could resort to testing.'
OLD MEN IN GREEN JACKET
As further proof that the best part of winning the Masters is the lifetime exemption, consider the comments of the last two champions.
'The biggest thing is I get to go back to Augusta and be part of that tournament, be part of the history, every year,' Phil Mickelson said. 'It probably won't hit me until I'm 60 years old, and I look back and reminisce at the champions dinner to talk about that victory.'
Mike Weir also has thought what it would be like to be gray, balding and wearing a green jacket.
When he was host of the champions dinner last year, he sat next to Byron Nelson and heard tales of Lord Byron playing Augusta National in the 1930s and '40s.
'The whole time, I couldn't help but think how cool would that be, that I could be that 'with it' at 92 years old and be able to tell stories to the guys in the next generation coming up,' Weir said.
Paul Goydos is known by his peers as 'Sunshine,' a sarcastic reference to what appears to be his dour outlook on golf. But it's all a matter of perception.
While others see a defeatist attitude, Goydos says it's simply a case of setting the bar high.
'My expectations are very high, so when I do something that I think is below my level of skill, I consider that to be a poor thing,' he said. 'Is that negative? I disagree. I think it's ultimately the most positive attitude you can have, somebody who is reaching for the stars.'
In that light, his attitude is refreshing.
Goydos is not the most skilled player on the PGA Tour. He was a substitute teacher when he won a Nike Tour event in 1992, eventually paving his way to the PGA Tour. He has never finished higher than 44th on the money list, but one gets the idea it hasn't been from a lack of effort.
He clearly has higher aspirations.
ON THE MENU
Phil Mickelson has settled on his menu for the Champions Dinner at the Masters - lobster ravioli in a tomato cream sauce, Caesar's salad and garlic bread on the side.
'It's very basic, and I've got an Italian background,' Mickelson said.
The defending champion picks the menu - and pays the tab.
THE ROAD TO TURNBERRY
A project to widen the roads headed to Turnberry might be the first step toward getting the links back on the British Open rotation in 2009.
The Royal & Ancient Golf Club has made several trips to Turnberry in the last few months, and already is considering new tees and changes to some bunkers to strengthen the Ailsa course for an Open. But it all starts with how to handle traffic on the single road that leads there.
'Our understanding is work is scheduled to begin on the road in late spring,' R&A secretary Peter Dawson recently told The Scotman. 'If that is the case, then we can look on Turnberry favorably.'
It would be the first time the British Open returns to Turnberry since Nick Price in 1994.
The Senior British Open will be played this summer at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club. ... The LPGA Tour has hired recruiting firm Heidrick & Struggles to help find a successor to commissioner Ty Votaw, who is retiring at the end of the year. ... Darren Clarke played Pebble Beach for the first time since the 2000 U.S. Open, and it didn't take him long to detect the difference. 'The fairways are three times as wide,' he said. ... Ernie Els came out to Fancourt on Sunday and presented the trophy to Japan in Women's World Cup. ... The U.S. Open qualifier will be held in Japan on Memorial Day (May 30) and in England on D-Day (June 6). 'That was not by design,' USGA executive director David Fay said with a laugh.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Vijay Singh had three rounds over par at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, the first time he has done that since the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black.
'I don't know if my game got better or everybody got worse.' - Andrew Magee, who has three top 20s in four events after missing all of last year with an Achilles' injury.
Schauffele just fine being the underdog
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.
Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.
Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.
“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”
Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.
“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”
Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1
Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.
So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.
Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.
Jordan Spieth: 7/4
Xander Schauffele: 5/1
Kevin Kisner: 11/2
Tiger Woods: 14/1
Francesco Molinari: 14/1
Rory McIlroy: 14/1
Kevin Chappell: 20/1
Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1
Alex Noren: 25/1
Zach Johnson: 30/1
Justin Rose: 30/1
Matt Kuchar: 40/1
Webb Simpson: 50/1
Adam Scott: 80/1
Tony Finau: 80/1
Charley Hoffman: 100/1
Austin Cook: 100/1
Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.
For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.
By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.
But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.
As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.
“This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”
Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.
As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.
But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.
After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.
“I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”
But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.
Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.
“I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.
There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.
Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par.
And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.
As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.
“We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”
Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.
Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.
The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.
Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.
It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.
Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.
One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.
McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.
“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”
McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.
“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”