Finchem not concerned over players skipping Olympics

By Doug FergusonMay 11, 2016, 1:10 am

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. - PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem doesn't believe that five players skipping the Olympics will hurt golf's chances for staying on the program beyond 2020.

Golf returns to the Olympics this year in Rio for the first time since 1904. While it is set for 2020 in Tokyo, the International Olympic Committee will vote in 2017 whether the sport stays on the program beyond that.

Adam Scott and Marc Leishman of Australia, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and Vijay Singh of Fiji have said they will not compete, mostly citing a busy summer schedule of major events. Leishman was concerned about the Zika virus because his wife, who nearly died last year from toxic shock syndrome, has a susceptible immune system.

''If you look at the broader things that the IOC looks at from a sport ... the reason they like golf is it's growing around the globe, it's bringing young people to the game,'' Finchem said Tuesday. ''It's one of the few sports that's actively very popular on every continent - just to different levels, but reasonably popular on every continent. So it's truly a global sport, and it's a sport that works quite well with sponsorship, and they're in that business.

''I don't think any of those variables are going to change after this year,'' he said. ''I think we'll be in good shape.''

Finchem said it would have helped golf's chances had the IOC voted for this year's games to be held in Chicago instead of Brazil because ''Rio is not a golf country.'' Without a suitable golf course in Brazil, architect Gil Hanse designed one for the Olympics that was behind schedule because of legal fights over property ownership and environmental concerns.

Finchem, who is on the International Golf Federation board, said the Tour has talked to all five players who have opted not to play and said it was a combination of issues, starting with a tight golf season. To clear room for the Olympics, the PGA Championship has moved to the end of July, meaning two majors will be held in the month before the men's competition starts in Rio.

He also said the Zika virus might have played a role, and some players haven't made the Olympics a priority just yet.

''The easy thing to do would be to say, 'Well, let's just pass this year. We'll go to Tokyo.' So I think it's some combination of things, really,'' Finchem said. ''I don't want to pain the players as making these decisions based on any one thing. I think they're being legitimate when they have said what they have said. But I do think we have had a combination of things that have created some issues this year.

''But we seem to be doing OK, and I think we're going to have a superb Olympics once we get down there.''

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan, also on the IGF board, said the women have embraced a return to the Olympics. He said five or six players have asked him about the Zika virus, though none has said she is not planning to play because of it.

''I don't know any player who's even said, 'I'm on the fence,''' Whan said. ''I've got plenty of players at the age where this could be concerning, but I haven't heard any player say they're interested in stepping out.''

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Kisner doubles 18, defends not laying up

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 6:42 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It was only fitting that Jean Van de Velde was there working as an on-course reporter on Friday as Kevin Kisner struggled his way up Carnoustie’s 18th fairway.

Rolling along with a two-stroke lead, Kisner’s 8-iron approach shot from an awkward lie in the rough from 160 yards squirted right and bounced into Barry Burn, the winding creek where Van de Velde’s title chances at the 1999 Open Championship began to erode.

Unlike Van de Velde, who made a triple bogey-7 and lost The Open in a playoff, Kisner’s double bogey only cost him the solo lead and he still has 36 holes to make his closing miscue a distant memory. That’s probably why the 34-year-old seemed at ease with his plight.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“It just came out like a high flop shot to the right. It was weird. I don't know if it caught something or what happened,” said Kisner, who was tied with Zach Johnson and Zander Lombard at 6 under par. “You never know out of that grass. It was in a different grass than usual. It was wet, green grass instead of the brown grass. So I hadn't really played from that too much.”

Like most in this week’s field Kisner also understands that rounds on what is widely considered the most difficult major championship venue can quickly unravel even with the most innocent of mistakes.

“To play 35 holes without a double I thought was pretty good,” he said. “I've kept the ball in play, done everything I wanted to do all the way up into that hole. Just one of those things that came out completely different than we expected. I'll live with that more than chipping out and laying up from 20 feet.”

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Wind, not rain more a weekend factor at Open

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:39 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – After a half-day of rain in Round 2 of the 147th Open Championship, the weekend offers a much drier forecast.

Saturday at Carnoustie is projected to be mostly cloudy with a high of 62 degrees and only a 20 percent chance of rain.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Sunday calls for much warmer conditions, with temperatures rising upwards of 73 degrees under mostly cloudy skies.

Wind might be the only element the players have to factor in over the final 36 holes. While the winds will be relatively calm on Saturday, expected around 10-15 mph, they could increase to 25 mph in the final round.

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Van Rooyen holes putt after ball-marker ruling

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Erik van Rooyen was surveying his 10-footer for par, trying to get a feel for the putt, when his putter slipped out of his hand and dropped onto his ball marker.

The question, then, was whether that accident caused his coin to move.

The rules official looked at various camera angles but none showed definitively whether his coin moved. The ruling was made to continue from where his coin was now positioned, with no penalty.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


This was part of the recent rules changes, ensuring there is no penalty if the ball or ball maker is accidently moved by the player. The little-used rule drew attention in 2010, when Ian Poulter accidentally dropped his ball on his marker in Dubai and wound up losing more than $400,000 in bonus and prize money.

After the delay to sort out his ruling Friday, van Rooyen steadied himself and made the putt for par, capping a day in which he shot even-par 71 and kept himself in the mix at The Open. He was at 4-under 138, just two shots off the clubhouse lead.

“I wanted to get going and get this 10-footer to save par, but I think having maybe just a couple minutes to calm me down, and then I actually got a different read when I sat down and looked at it again,” he said. “Good putt. Happy to finish that way.”

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Lyle birdies last hole in likely his final Open start

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:32 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – If this was Sandy Lyle’s final Open appearance, he went out in style.

Playing on the final year of his automatic age exemption, the 60-year-old Scot buried a 30-foot birdie on the last hole. He missed the cut after shooting 9-over 151 over two rounds.

“I was very light-footed,” he said. “I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. To make birdie was extra special.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Lyle, who also won the 1988 Masters, has missed the cut in his last eight majors, dating to 2014. He hasn’t been competitive in The Open since 1998, when he tied for 19th.

To continue playing in The Open, Lyle needed to finish in the top 10 here at Carnoustie. He’d earn a future exemption by winning the Senior British Open.

“More punishment,” he said.