The Penalties in Golf are Serious Indeed
Or a basketball player shamefacedly approaching a referee and admitting, Hey, I got him. He missed the shot that would have won the game, and I certainly didnt mean to, but I got him on the arm. Ill take the foul and watch him go to the free-throw line.
A baseball player rounds third and scores on a single to right, but as he crosses home plate with the winning run, he confesses. Oh lordy lordy, I didnt touch third base. I know that means that we lose the game, but I have to be honest. Call me 'out.
Its good for a belly laugh, I guess. If hes a golfer, though, those little scenarios arent funny at all. A golfer is expected to fess up, regardless of the consequence. Thats if he realizes he made a mistake and speaks up immediately. If he unknowingly commits an infraction, the penalty is severe indeed. Disqualification, perhaps?
Just this year, for instance, Greg Norman has faced disqualification twice for violating the same rule. Seems that, after all those years as a professional, he still occasionally misinterprets the rule for dropping a ball after it goes in the water. It happened first at the Honda Classic, which was bad enough. That was close to home in Palm Beach, Fla. The second time it happened, it was really a doozy ' the BMW Asian Open. That was in Shanghai, China, a good 10,000 miles from where he regularly beds down for the night.
Sometimes the penalty is for something you have no idea you are even violating. David Frost was DQd for missing a starting time for a pro-am, for goodness sakes! It was at the Byron Nelson, and Frost swears he didnt even know he was supposed to participate. Oh, well
Last week at the Buick Championship in Hartford, another one was called which tipped the scales of incredulity. This time the guilty party was Dudley Hart. He got the boot in the middle of the second round when his 3-iron turned up with a badly bent shaft. He swears he doesnt remember kicking it, throwing it or tampering with it in any way to cause the kink.
That, of course, is a violation of ol rule 411, the one that states if you start the round with a non-conforming club, youre outta here.
Jon Brendle was the tour official who had the unpleasant lot of informing Hart of the consequences.
Somebody could have kicked the bag in the locker room or something like that, but the USGA takes it that you're responsible for checking your clubs before you play. They take that stand on it, Brendle said.
Brendle, being the gentlemen that he is, gave Hart the chance to come up with a plausible story. Just about anything that Hart said would have been plausible enough. But Hart was stumped. So, Brendle had no choice but administer the old heave-ho.
Had he been able to say he did it in the first four holes - he just can't play with it and there's no disqualification, Brendle said. But in this case, since he couldn't tell us and he was honest enough not to make up a story about it, he got the bad end of that.
Of course, Hart probably has made up excuses a thousand times to tell his wife why he didnt stop at the store on the way home for a quart of milk. But he had to tell one about why the club was bent. And he froze.
The weird thing about it is, said Brendle, if you were out practicing and you went and got a drink and I fell over your bag and didn't say anything to you and you went over to the tee and then you started your round and pulled out a club that was bent, you'd get disqualified for it because at the first tee you're responsible for checking your equipment.
Had he been able to tell us that he tripped over it after play was started or something, then he can't play that club.
Brendle even would have helped him think of an excuse, it seems. If his caddie said after we pulled it out, I threw something over there or I kicked the bag or something like that on the second hole, if he could have come up with any kind of story like that - but nothing like that was there. He couldn't come up with a story.
Hart, incidentally, never saw the 3-iron during the day. He said he hadnt used it during the round, nor had he hit it during his warm-up. His caddy pulled it when he was about to play it on of his fourth hole - the 13th. Hmmm, something doesnt look right, the caddy said. The club was bent like a hockey stick.
Brendle, who hates these disqualification situations, tried everything he knows to keep it from happening this time. He urged Hart to think ' now, what really happened? Think about it, now
But Hart, who is nothing if not brutally honest, couldnt come up with an explanation. Brendle, as befits the rules of golf, had to do his duty. Hart was ejected.
Now, if only Brendle were a line judge and Hart were a lineman. Can you imagine that scenario? Not on your life!
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Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break
Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.
Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.
Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.
“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”
Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.
“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”
Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.
Just like last year, Spieth in desperate need of a spark
CROMWELL, Conn. – Jordan Spieth has arrived at the Travelers Championship in need of a turnaround. Again.
Spieth’s playoff victory last year over Daniel Berger, complete with a bunker hole-out and raucous celebration, went down as one of the most electrifying moments of 2017. It also propelled Spieth to some more major glory, as he won The Open in his very next start.
So it’s easy to forget the state of Spieth’s game when he first stepped foot on the grounds of TPC River Highlands a year ago. Things were, quite plainly, not going well.
He was struggling on the greens, even going so far as to switch putters at the AT&T Byron Nelson. He then failed to contend at Erin Hills, only netting a T-35 finish thanks to a final-round 69 that came hours before the leaders teed off.
So here we are again, with Spieth in search of a spark after a series of underwhelming performances that included last week’s effort at Shinnecock Hills, where he bogeyed the last two holes of his second round to miss the cut by a shot. Except this time, the climb back to the top may be even steeper than it was a year ago.
“I’m not sure where the state of my game is right now,” Spieth said. “If I strike the ball the way I have been this year, then the results are coming. But the last couple weeks I’ve played Muirfield and then the (U.S.) Open, and I hit the ball really poorly and didn’t give myself that many opportunities to let the putter do the work.”
While many big names play sporadically in the time between the Masters and U.S. Open, Spieth remained as busy as ever thanks to the Tour’s swing through Texas. So even after failing to contend much in the spring outside of a memorable finale in Augusta, and even after struggling for much of his week at TPC Sawgrass, Spieth looked out at his schedule and saw a myriad of possible turning points.
There was the AT&T Byron Nelson, played in his hometown and at a venue on which he was one of only a handful with any experience (T-21). Then a trip across town to Colonial, where he had beaten all but two players in a three-year stretch (T-32).
Throw in the missed cuts at Muirfield Village and Shinnecock Hills, and Spieth has made it to the last leg of a six-event stretch that has included only one off week and, to date, zero chances to contend come Sunday.
“I think here this week, the key for me is just to get out in the first round and try not to do too much,” Spieth said. “I mean, 90-plus percent of the tournaments the last two years I’ve thrown out my chances to win a golf tournament on Thursday. I’ve had too much to do from here on.”
That was certainly the case last week on Long Island, where Spieth’s hopes for a fourth major title evaporated well before course conditions became a focal point over the weekend. He was 4 over through his first two holes and spent much of the next 34 stuck in a fit of frustration. He gave himself a glimmer of hope with four late birdies Friday followed by a pair of bogeys that snuffed it out with equal speed.
Spieth has continued to preach patience throughout the year, but there’s no getting around some eye-popping stats; he's 188th on Tour this year in strokes gained: putting and 93rd in fairways hit. It can foster a pressure to find a cure-all in any given week, especially given how quickly he got a middling summer back on track last year.
“It’s something that you fight, sure,” Spieth said. “It’s been that way just about every tournament except Muirfield, because then you go to the U.S. Open and think you don’t even have to shoot under par to win this golf tournament. So as much as that kind of comes into your head, it’s not bothering me this time. I’m going to try and have fun, and make progress.”
After this week, Spieth will have some down time with family before making the trip overseas to Carnoustie. He plans to have a few private dinners accompanied by the claret jug, one last toast to last year’s success before turning the trophy back over to the R&A.
But even Spieth admitted that as it pertains to his chances to follow in Brooks Koepka’s footsteps by successfully defending a major title, he’ll be greatly aided by working his way into the mix this weekend. It represents the last chance in this early-summer swing to get his name back on the leaderboard, an opportunity to light fire to a pedestrian campaign like he did a year ago.
“It’s your basic stuff that sometimes gets off, that the harder you try to get them back on sometimes, the worse it gets,” Spieth said. “It can be frustrating, or you can just kind of wait for it to come to you. I think I’m OK with where things are, whether it’s the rest of this year or next year. I feel like there are good scores coming.”
Twice winner Kizzire on missing U.S. Open: 'Fuel to my fire'
CROMWELL, Conn. – Based on recent form, there likely wasn’t a more decorated player watching last week’s U.S. Open from home than Patton Kizzire.
Kizzire is in the midst of a breakthrough season that has already included two wins: a maiden victory at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in November, and a marathon playoff triumph over James Hahn at the Sony Open in January. While those titles got him into the Masters and the PGA Championship, they didn’t mean an exemption to Shinnecock Hills.
Kizzire got as high as 51st in the world rankings after his win in Honolulu, but his game started to turn shortly thereafter. A T-12 finish at the WGC-Mexico Championship is his lone top-25 finish in 12 starts since his Sony victory, and he missed four straight cuts from the Masters to The Players Championship.
The U.S. Open grants exemptions to the top 60 in the world at two different cutoff points close to the tournament. But in the midst of a cold streak, Kizzire was 63rd and 65th at each of those deadlines. He attempted to earn a spot at sectional qualifying in Columbus, only to find that his score of 5 under was one shot too many.
“I guess just adding a little fuel to my fire, adding insult to injury,” Kizzire said. “Just to have narrowly missed several different ways of qualification was disappointing. But I just tried to spin it as a positive. I got two weeks off, and I did watch those guys struggle a little bit. I wasn’t struggling at home, we’ll just say that.”
Kizzire hopes to put the disappointment behind him this week at the Travelers Championship, where he finished T-53 a year ago. And while his pair of trophies didn’t get him a tee time last week – or guarantee him a berth in The Open next month – they put him in prime position to make the season-ending Tour Championship, which would mean spots in the first three majors of 2019.
The combination of two recent wins and a ranking outside the top 60 isn’t one that comes up often on Tour, but Kizzire maintains a balanced perspective as he looks to get back to playing the kind of golf that will ensure he doesn’t miss any more majors in the near future.
“If I would have played better in between the U.S. Open and my last win, I would have gotten in. So my play was the reason I wasn’t in,” Kizzire said. “You certainly could look at it and say, ‘This guy’s got two wins, he should be in.’ But I’m not making too much of it.”
Masters, Players and U.S. Open champs grouped at Travelers
CROMWELL, Conn. – Fresh off a second straight U.S. Open victory, Brooks Koepka is getting right back to work at the Travelers Championship.
Koepka has stood by his commitment to tee it up at TPC River Highlands, becoming the first U.S. Open champ to play the following week on the PGA Tour since Justin Rose played the Travelers after his 2013 win at Merion. Koepka will play the first two rounds alongside Masters champ Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson, who captured The Players Championship last month.
Here’s a look at some of the other marquee, early-round groupings for a star-studded field outside Hartford (all times ET):
7:50 a.m. Thursday, 12:50 p.m. Friday: Jason Day, Xander Schauffele, Daniel Berger
Day is making his second straight Travelers appearance, having missed the cut both last year in Cromwell and last week at Shinnecock Hills. He’ll be joined by reigning Rookie of the Year Schauffele and Berger, who took home ROY honors in 2015 and last year was on the losing end of Jordan Spieth’s playoff dramatics at this event.
8 a.m. Thursday, 1 p.m. Friday: Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson
Koepka is making his third tournament appearance overall, but his first since a T-9 finish in 2016, before he had either of his two U.S. Open trophies. Reed has become a regular at this event and enters off a fourth-place showing on Long Island, while Simpson cruised to victory last month at TPC Sawgrass and tied for 10th last week.
12:50 p.m. Thursday, 7:50 a.m. Friday: Jordan Spieth, Marc Leishman, Russell Knox
This was the tournament that turned things around last year for Spieth, who took home the title in his debut thanks to one of the most dramatic shots of the year in a playoff against Berger. He’ll start his title defense alongside a pair of past champs, as Leishman won here for his first Tour title back in 2012 and Knox was a winner two years ago when the tournament was played in August.
1 p.m. Thursday, 8 a.m. Friday: Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas
This group should get plenty of attention in the early rounds, with Thomas entering as the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 2 and joined a pair of players who will launch drives all across TPC River Highlands. Watson has feasted on this layout, winning in both 2010 and 2015 among five top-10 finishes, while McIlroy tied for 17th last year in his tournament debut but missed the cut last week at Shinnecock.