Finchem: plenty of 'distractions' in golf

By Doug FergusonFebruary 6, 2013, 1:46 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. - These should be happy times for golf.

Tiger Woods won for the 75th time on the PGA Tour and set a record with his eighth win at Torrey Pines. It was a command performance, the kind that made people think more about where he is going than where he went.

The next week, Phil Mickelson had a chance at 59 until his 25-foot birdie putt on the last hole took a cruel spin around the cup. He thought he had golf's magic number and instead shot his tax rate in California. Lefty still sailed to a wire-to-wire win in the Phoenix Open.

It was the first time since 2009 that golf's two biggest stars won in consecutive weeks.

The trouble is, any discussion about golf these days goes beyond birdies and bogeys. Now it includes ''bifurcation.''

And the day after the buzz was about Tiger, the focus shifted to deer antlers.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem might have seen this coming when he said two weeks ago that while he views the professional game as being the strongest it has ever been, ''I don't like to see distractions.''

There are too many of them right now.

Vijay Singh was leaving the practice range at Pebble Beach on Tuesday when one of the few reporters that has a working relationship with the Fijian called out to him. Singh looked at him, said nothing, and kept walking.

''So that would be no comment?'' the reporter said.

''Yes,'' Singh replied.

Sports Illustrated reported that Singh paid $9,000 to S.W.A.T.S. (Sports With Alternative to Steroids) in November for products that included deer-antler spray, which is said to have an insulin-like growth factor, and is on the PGA Tour's list of prohibited substances. Singh told the magazine he uses the spray, ''every couple of hours ... every day.''

Singh might have been better off keeping quiet, as he often does. But he issued a statement confirming he used the spray, but was unaware it had a banned substance.

''I am absolutely shocked that deer-antler spray may contain a banned substance and am angry that I have put myself in this position,'' he said. ''I have been in contact with the PGA Tour and am cooperating fully with their review of this matter.''

The Tour will not comment except to say it is looking into the matter, though it is backed into a corner.

Singh's admission alone constitutes an anti-doping violation. The first violation is up to a one-year suspension. The Tour has a minimum requirement to publish the name of the player, his anti-doping violation and the sanction.

As long as Singh is in the field, that means the Tour has not suspended him. He is playing this week. For now.

That's not the kind of distraction Finchem was talking about, but it's a big one. The only other player suspended under the anti-doping policy was Doug Barron, the consummate journeyman. Singh is a three-time major champion who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2006. He hasn't won in more than four years, and he had made it to the Tour Championship only once since 2008.

The distraction to which Finchem referred was about the proposed rule that would ban anchored strokes - the kind used with long putters and belly putters. It already was a mess because three of the last five major champions used a belly putter, and because the rule would not go into effect until 2016.

But it's the debate over this proposed rule that has given some corners reason to bring up bifurcation - two sets of rules.

PGA of America president Ted Bishop polled his 27,000 members on anchoring. Just over 15 percent of them responded, and he said 63 percent opposed the ban. The U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient write the Rules of Golf. Bishop noted that the PGA Tour didn't exist when the USGA was founded in 1894, and that the Tour has a ''powerful impact'' on the game. He suggested golf was at a point where two sets of rules should be considered as a potential solution.

The CEO of TaylorMade suggested the USGA was ''obsolete'' and that the PGA of America, in conjunction with the PGA Tour, should be setting the rules. Maybe he forgot that the PGA Tour broke away from the PGA of America in 1968 because of the disconnect between tour pros and club pros.

Finchem said he thought there were certain parts of the rules that could be bifurcated ''and it wouldn't hurt anything,'' though maybe not in the case of anchoring.

Where will it all lead?

Finchem said the Tour's objective was to keep the rules together. Bishop said in an ''ideal world,'' golf would be played under one set of rules.

Debate is healthy as long as it's about golf's best interest, and not financial interests. Don't get the idea that golf isn't growing because the game is too hard. That's one of its greatest appeals.

''The challenge was constant. And it never stopped being a challenge,'' Arnold Palmer once said. ''That was one of the things that really excited me as a kid.''

USGA president Glen Nager got to the heart of the bifurcation bluster during his speech at the USGA's annual meeting over the weekend in San Diego.

''There certainly are important issues for the golf industry to address, including economic issues, but revenue concerns arising during a broad economic slowdown should not lead us fundamentally to alter our approach to writing the rules and defining the game,'' Nager said. ''It is our obligation as a governing body to keep our eye on the long-term good of the game and to hold firm to what we know to be true about the essence of golf.''

In the meantime, Mickelson goes for his fifth win at Pebble Beach this week. All the stars get together for the first time in two weeks at the Match Play Championship.

And the Masters is only two months away.

Pepperell likely sews up Masters invite via OWGR

By Will GrayOctober 15, 2018, 2:13 pm

Eddie Pepperell received a trophy for his win Sunday at the British Masters, but another prize will be coming in the mail at the end of the year.

Pepperell held on to win by two shots at rainy Walton Heath, giving him his second win of the year to go along with a pair of runner-ups. The Englishman started the year ranked No. 133 in the world and was as low as 513th in May 2017. But with the win, Pepperell jumped 17 spots to a career-best 33rd in the latest world rankings.

It means that Pepperell, who finished T-6 at The Open while fighting a hangover in the final round, is in line to make his Masters debut next spring, as the top 50 in the world rankings at the end of the calendar year become exempt into the season's first major.

Another player now in the mix for that top-50 exemption is Emiliano Grillo, who went from 62nd to 49th with a T-2 finish at the PGA Tour's CIMB Classic. Grillo has played in two Masters but missed this year's event. Marc Leishman moved up eight spots to No. 16 with his win in Malaysia, while T-2s result moved Chesson Hadley from 75th to 60th and Bronson Burgoon from 162nd to 102nd.

There were no changes among the top 10 in the latest rankings, with Dustin Johnson still ahead of Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy. Francesco Molinari remains in sixth, with Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth rounding out the top 10.

Both Koepka and Thomas are in the field at this week's CJ Cup in South Korea, where they will have an opportunity to overtake Johnson for world No. 1.

With his next competitive start unknown, Tiger Woods stayed at No. 13 for another week.

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USGA, R&A unveil new limits on green books

By Rex HoggardOctober 15, 2018, 1:53 pm

Following a six-week feedback period, the USGA and R&A unveiled a new interpretation of the Rules of Golf and the use of green-reading materials on Monday.

The interpretation limits the size and scale of putting green books and any electronic or digital materials that a player may use to assist with green reading.

“We’re thankful for everyone’s willingness to provide feedback as we worked through the process of identifying a clear interpretation that protects the essential skill of reading a green, while still allowing for information that helps golfers enjoy the game,” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior managing director of governance.

Players will be allowed to continue to use green-reading books beginning in 2019, but the new interpretation will limit images of greens to a scale of 3/8 inch to 5 yards (1:480), and books can be no larger than 4 1/4 inches by 7 inches (pocket-sized). The interpretation also bans the use of magnification devices beyond normal prescription glasses.

The USGA and R&A will allow for hand-drawn notes in green books as long as those notes are written by the player or their caddie. The rule makers also dropped a proposal that would have limited the minimum slope to four percent in green-reading material.

“These latest modifications provide very practical changes that make the interpretation easier to understand and apply in the field,” Pagel said.

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CIMB purse payout: Leishman earns $1.26 million

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 15, 2018, 1:34 pm

Marc Leishman never let off the gas pedal and cruised to a five-stroke victory at the CIMB Classic. Here's how the purse was paid out at TPC Kuala Lumpur.

1 Marc Leishman -26 $1,260,000
T2 Emiliano Grillo -21 $522,667
T2 Chesson Hadley -21 $522,667
T2 Bronson Burgoon -21 $522,667
T5 Justin Thomas -20 $237,300
T5 Abraham Ancer -20 $237,300
T5 Charles Howell III -20 $237,300
T5 Louis Oosthuizen -20 $237,300
T5 Gary Woodland -20 $237,300
T10 Kevin Chappell -19 $175,000
T10 Si Woo Kim -19 $175,000
T10 Shubhankar Sharma -19 $175,000
T13 Kyle Stanley -18 $122,640
T13 Byeong Hun An -18 $122,640
T13 Paul Casey -18 $122,640
T13 J.B. Holmes -18 $122,640
T13 Stewart Cink -18 $122,640
T13 Austin Cook -18 $122,640
T19 Keegan Bradley -17 $89,320
T19 Kevin Na -17 $89,320
T19 Nick Watney -17 $89,320
T22 Keith Mitchell -16 $71,120
T22 John Catlin -16 $71,120
T22 Cameron Smith -16 $71,120
25 Xander Schauffele -15 $59,920
26 Joel Dahmen -14 $54,320
T27 Kevin Tway -13 $50,120
T27 Gaganjeet Bhullar -13 $50,120
T27 Scott Piercy -13 $50,120
T30 C.T. Pan -12 $43,820
T30 Thomas Pieters -12 $43,820
T30 Beau Hossler -12 $43,820
T33 Billy Horschel -11 $35,303
T33 Ryan Palmer -11 $35,303
T33 Ryan Armour -11 $35,303
T33 Kiradech Aphibarnrat -11 $35,303
T33 Danny Lee -11 $35,303
T33 Kelly Kraft -11 $35,303
T39 Brice Garnett -10 $27,720
T39 Jamie Lovemark -10 $27,720
T39 Brian Stuard -10 $27,720
T39 Jimmy Walker -10 $27,720
T43 Jason Dufner -9 $20,160
T43 Satoshi Kodaira -9 $20,160
T43 Chez Reavie -9 $20,160
T43 Justin Harding -9 $20,160
T43 Ernie Els -9 $20,160
T43 Jason Kokrak -9 $20,160
T43 Sam Ryder -9 $20,160
T50 Branden Grace -8 $15,365
T50 Sanghyun Park -8 $15,365
T50 Andrew Putnam -8 $15,365
T50 Rafael Cabrera Bello -8 $15,365
T54 Ted Potter Jr. -7 $14,280
T54 Ben Leong -7 $14,280
T54 Brendan Steele -7 $14,280
T54 Sihwan Kim -7 $14,280
T54 Troy Merritt -7 $14,280
T59 Whee Kim -6 $13,720
T59 Davis Love III -6 $13,720
T59 James Hahn -6 $13,720
62 Michael Kim -5 $13,440
T63 Pat Perez -4 $13,160
T63 Tom Hoge -4 $13,160
T63 Anirban Lahiri -4 $13,160
T66 Scott Vincent -3 $12,740
T66 Brandt Snedeker -3 $12,740
T66 Ryan Moore -3 $12,740
T69 Peter Uihlein -2 $12,390
T69 Brian Gay -2 $12,390
71 Minchel Choi -1 $12,180
T72 J.J. Spaun E $11,970
T72 Berry Henson E $11,970
74 Ollie Schniederjans 3 $11,760
T75 Scott Stallings 5 $11,480
T75 Jon Curran 5 $11,480
T75 Rahil Gangjee 5 $11,480
78 Leun-Kwang Kim 13 $11,200
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Congressional cited for improper tree removal

By Will GrayOctober 15, 2018, 1:30 pm

With preparations underway for a significant renovation, future Ryder Cup host Congressional Country Club has been cited by Montgomery County (Md.) officials for improper tree removal.

According to a report from the Washington Post, the club near the nation's capital has cut down more than 20,000 square feet of tree canopy in recent months. That's more than four times the maximum removal allowed without obtaining a "sediment control permit," which the club did not procure.

The county's department of permitting services reportedly e-mailed the violation to the club on Sept. 26, and a Congressional spokesperson indicated the paperwork for the permit is "in process."

"Congressional has selectively removed trees for the conditioning of our golf courses," wrote general manager Jeffrey Kreafle. "We have not received a stop work order from Montgomery County. Rather, they notified the club that we need to obtain a sediment control permit for work being done on the golf course."

In an interesting twist, the investigation reportedly started when an anonymous Congressional member tipped off a local environmental group over the removal of what they estimated to be 1,000 trees.

"I am (upset) because they're ruining my club," the member said.

Congressional's Blue Course, which has hosted three U.S. Opens and most recently held a PGA Tour event in 2016, is scheduled for a renovation in 2019. Last month the PGA of America announced that it would be bringing several marquee tournaments to Congressional over the next two decades, including the 2031 PGA Championship and the 2036 Ryder Cup.