USGAs Antiquated 18-hole Payoff Needs to Go

By Associated PressJuly 4, 2006, 4:00 pm
USGANEWPORT, R.I. -- Annika Sorenstam was so tired from playing 54 holes in two days that she took Tuesday off after winning the U.S. Women's Open. Pat Hurst was exhausted before she got to the first tee for the 18-hole playoff, and that was after a night of rest.
 
Imagine how Billy Burke and George Von Elm must have felt.

It was 75 years ago when they engaged in the longest playoff in golf history at the 1931 U.S. Open. They were tied after 72 holes of regulation, the final 36 holes in one day. There was a 36-hole playoff the next day, and both men shot 7-over 149. So they came back a fifth day for 36 more holes, and Burke shot 148 to win by a single shot at Inverness.
 
By comparison, Sorenstam got off easy.
 
The USGA is the only golf organization that still believes an 18-hole playoff is the fairest measure of a champion.
 
But if that's such a fair test, why did it ever change from 36 holes?
 
And what keeps the USGA from getting with the times and changing to a four-hole playoff (British Open), a three-hole playoff (PGA Championship) or a sudden-death playoff (Masters)?
 
Not even the winner at Newport Country Club liked the idea of 18 holes.
 
'I think maybe a three-hole playoff would have been a little better, especially when all the excitement and adrenaline was there last night with all the people,' Sorenstam said.
 
Turns out she only needed one hole, anyway. Sorenstam hit sand wedge that spun back to 6 feet for birdie on the opening hole, Hurst three-putted for bogey, and everyone was asking about a mercy rule the rest of the morning.
 
'You work so hard, and then we leave Sunday and we still don't know who won,' Sorenstam said. 'It's kind of funny how that all works out. It makes for a long week, that's for sure. You would think that you could determine a winner within 75 holes.'
 
Hurst offered either a three-hole or a six-hole solution.
 
Strangely enough, everyone wondered whether Hurst had the stamina to keep up with Sorenstam over 36 holes on a sun-baked afternoon at Newport, with only about 25 minutes to grab lunch between the third and fourth rounds. A 37-year-old mother of two, Hurst is more likely to be found at McDonald's than Gold's Gym.
 
But fitness wasn't an issue Sunday.
 
Hurst sat on her bag during long waits in the five-plus hour rounds, but her game was superb. She matched Sorenstam shot for shot over 36 holes, playing her best golf -- a final-round 69, matching the lowest score of the tournament -- as the day wore on.
 
What killed her was getting some rest before the Monday playoff.
 
'The competitive juices weren't flowing as much as they were yesterday,' Hurst said. 'You're in the moment. I felt like I lost a little bit coming back out the next day. I wasn't into it as much as I was into it yesterday.'
 
And those are just the players.
 
The atmosphere was dull Monday morning. Instead of 20,000 people crammed into the bleachers and packed behind the ropes, there were about 800 people at most to watch the start of the playoff, a number that swelled only slightly.
 
The USGA said 4,655 people showed up Monday, but some were eating lunch on picnic tables by the entrance, enjoying a summer afternoon in Rhode Island, waiting for a winner who could have been crowned the night before.
 
Volunteers who could have been sailing or sunning returned to Newport to hold ropes and post scores and drive shuttles. The playoff was televised by ESPN -- Johnny Miller and Roger Maltbie didn't bother returning -- and the network probably wished it could have dumped this off on The Golf Channel after Sorenstam led by three shots after three holes, and five shots at the turn.
 
Hurst and Sorenstam played 36 holes Sunday. Why did they need 18 more on Monday?
 
And if sudden-death is such a sham, why does the USGA use that in case of a tie after the 18-hole playoff? Why get away from the marathon match 75 years ago between Burke and Von Elm?
 
The other organizations wised up.
 
The Royal & Ancient gave up on the 36-hole playoff in time for Jack Nicklaus to beat Doug Sanders over 18 holes (72-73) in 1970 at St. Andrews. Then the R&A really went outside the box, introducing a four-hole aggregate playoff in 1989, won by Mark Calcavecchia at Royal Troon. Were they lesser champions because they didn't play 36 holes?
 
One could argue that Greg Norman might have won in 1989 if he had 18 holes instead of four, but an argument could be made just as easily that the Shark still would have found calamity waiting for him at the end.
 
The PGA Championship used to have an 18-hole playoff after it changed to stroke play in 1958, and it was the first of the men's majors to switch to sudden-death in 1977 when Lanny Wadkins won at Pebble Beach. Then it copied the R&A by going to a three-hole playoff in 2000, when Tiger Woods defeated Bob May.
 
The Masters switched to a sudden-death playoff and is sticking to it, although wouldn't it be sweet to see a three-hole playoff over Amen Corner -- a par 4, par 3 and a par 5?
 
As for those who believe anything but 18-hole playoffs can produce fluke champions, explain Jack Fleck beating Ben Hogan in 1955 at The Olympic Club.
 
There's no reason for the USGA not to change, especially since it has gone from an 18-hole playoff to a 36-hole playoff to an 18-hole playoff during its 111 years of championship golf.
 
And there's nothing in the Rules of Golf that spells out how to crown a champion.
 
Only that the lowest score wins.
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M. Jutanugarn eyeing first win with L.A. Open lead

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:50 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn took the lead into the weekend at the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA winner.

Moriya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday at Wilshire Country Club to get to 8-under 134 in the LPGA Tour's first event in Los Angeles since 2005. The 23-year-old from Thailand started fast with birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth and added two more on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th.

Ariya Jutanugarn has seven LPGA victories.

Marina Alex was second after a 68.


Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


So Yeon Ryu was 6 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean players Inbee Park(71) and Eun-Hee Ji (69). Park was the first-round leader at 66. Lexi Thompsonwas 3 under after a 71.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng followed her opening 74 with a 67 to get to 1 under.

Ariya Jutanugarn (71) was even par, and Michelle Wie (70) was 1 over. Brooke Henderson, the Canadian star who won last week in Hawaii, had a 79 to miss the cut.

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Garcia tosses driver, misses Valero cut

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

It wasn't quite to the level of his watery meltdown earlier this month at the Masters, but Sergio Garcia still got frustrated during the second round of the Valero Texas Open - and his driver paid the price.

Garcia had a hand in redesigning the AT&T Oaks Course along with Greg Norman several years ago, but this marked his first return to TPC San Antonio since 2010. After an opening-round 74, Garcia arrived to the tee of the short par-4 fifth hole and decided to get aggressive with driver in hand.

When his shot sailed well left, a heated Garcia chucked the club deep into the bushes that lined the tee box:

It took considerable effort for Garcia to find and retrieve the club amid the branches, and once he did things only got worse. He appeared to shank a chip once he got up to his ball, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on a demanding track.

Garcia closed out his round with four straight pars, and at 2 over he eventually missed the cut by a shot. It marks the first time he has missed consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour since 2003, when he sat out the weekend at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Fort Worth Invitational and Memorial Tournament in successive weeks.

Garcia entered the week ranked No. 10 in the world, and he was the only top-20 player among the 156-man field. He missed the cut at the Masters in defense of his title after carding an octuple-bogey 13 on the 15th hole during the opening round.

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Johnson, Moore co-lead Valero Texas Open through 36

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.

He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore.

''You just never know. That's the beauty of this game,'' Johnson said. ''I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. You just never know.''

Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.

They had a one-shot lead over Grayson Murray (69) and Andrew Landry (67).

Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots behind. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.


Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos


Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, had a short stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.

Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and missed the cut.

It was the first time since 2010 that Garcia missed the cut in successive starts. That was the PGA Championship and, 10 weeks later, the Castello Masters in Spain. This time, he missed the cut in the Masters and Texas Open three weeks apart.

Johnson, a two-time winner of the Texas Open, appeared to be headed to a short week until the key par save on the 13th hole, followed by his eagle, par and three straight birdies. He began the second round Friday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, a sixth birdie on the par-4 first hole, and then an eagle on the short par-4 fifth when he holed out from a greenside bunker.

The only sour taste to his second round was a three-putt bogey from about 30 feet on his final hole. Even so, the view was much better than it was Thursday afternoon.

Moore thought he had wasted a good birdie opportunity on the par-5 14th hole when he left his 50-foot eagle putt about 6 feet short. But he made that, and then holed a similar putt from 8 feet for birdie on the next hole and capped his good finish with a 15-foot putt on the 17th.

''That was a huge momentum putt there,'' Moore said of the 14th. ''It was a tough putt from down there with a lot of wind. That green is pretty exposed and ... yeah, really short and committed to that second putt really well and knocked it right in the middle.''

The birdies on the 14th and 15th were important to Moore because he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie tries to start the back nine.

''So it was nice to get those and get going in the right direction on the back,'' he said.

The cut was at 1-over 145, and because 80 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut on Saturday.

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Daly-Allen team grabs Legends of Golf lead on Day 2

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 11:14 pm

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - John Daly and Michael Allen took the second-round lead Friday in the cool and breezy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

Daly and Allen shot an 8-under 46 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course with wind gusting to 15 mph and the temperature only in the high-50s at Big Cedar Lodge. They had three birdies on the front nine in alternate-shot play and added five more on the back in better-ball play to get to 13 under.

''Michael and I go back to the South African days in the late 80s and playing that tour,'' Daly said. ''We've been buddies since. He's just fun to play with. We feed off each other pretty good. And if he's not comfortable guinea-pigging on one hole, I'll go first.''

On Thursday, they opened with a 66 on the regulation Buffalo Ridge course. They will rotate to the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course on Saturday, and return to Top of the Rock for the final round Sunday.

''I went to high school in Jeff City, so it's cool to have the fans behind us,'' Daly said.

Allen won the PGA Tour Champions team event with David Frost in 2012 and Woody Austin in 2016.

''I'm just here to free up John,'' Allen said. ''It was fun. Luckily, I started making good putts today. We just want to keep the good times rolling.''


Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf


Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco were a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer-Tom Lehman and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett. Singh and Franco had a 7-under 32 in best-ball play at Mountain Top, and Lehman-Langer and Broadhurst-Tripplet each shot 6-under 48 at Top of the Rock.

''Part of the issue here is all the tees are elevated, so you're up high hitting to a green that's down below and the wind is blowing, and there is more time for that wind to affect it,'' Lehman said. ''If you guess wrong on the wind, you can hit a really good shot and kind of look stupid.''

Former UCLA teammates Scott McCarron and Brandt Jobe were two strokes back at 11 under with Steve Flesch and David Toms and the Spanish side of Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez. McCarron-Jobe had a 47, and Jimenez-Olazabal a 48 at Top of the Rock, and Tom Flesch shot 34 at Mountain Top.

First-round leaders Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik had a 52 at Top of the Rock to fall three shots back at 10 under. Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly also were 10 under after a 32 at Mountain Top. Jay Haas aced the 131-yard seventh hole at Mountain Top with a gap wedge. Haas and fellow 64-year-old Peter Jacobsen were 8 under after a 32.