Great debate: Arguing the Lexi ruling

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 3, 2017, 4:34 pm

The ruling that led to a four-stroke penalty for Lexi Thompson during the final round of the ANA Inspiration sparked debate that transcended the game.

GolfChannel.com senior writers Rex Hoggard and Ryan Lavner were also fired up and went back and forth on email with differing opinions:

HOGGARD: Uncomfortable? Absolutely. Unfortunate? Without a doubt. Avoidable? No, at least not under the current rules. The social universe can scream all they want about how stupid golf is to penalize Lexi Thompson on Sunday, but the fact is she violated a rule and paid the price for it regardless of who reported the infraction.

LAVNER: No one is debating whether a rule was broken here. She clearly played from an incorrect spot. That’s a two-shot penalty. Fine. Why people are (rightfully) fired up is simple: Because TV viewers should not be allowed to determine the outcome of an event – especially a day late. 

HOGGARD: So the alternative to your point is that if a rules official or fellow competitor sees a violation that’s fine, but if someone watching at home sees a violation (a clear violation) that’s just the luck of the draw? Isn’t the point to assure a fair competition, regardless of how an infraction is discovered?

LAVNER: So, if we’re trying to assure a fair competition, regardless of how it was discovered, you’d be OK with armchair officials phoning in missed holding calls in football and blocking charges in basketball and pitches that actually painted the black? Of course not. In those sports, only an official is allowed to call penalties. It should be the same way in golf. Put an official in charge of monitoring the TV feed. If he spots an infraction, there’s a penalty. If he misses it, well, that’s sports, and there are good breaks and bad. Common sense. Keep the viewers out of it. 

HOGGARD: Other sports don’t have 144 competitors spread out over acres of land on a sprawling playing field. Other sports don’t call penalties on themselves. Other sports (with the exception of cricket) don’t go from dawn to dusk over four days. Golf is not like other sports. Also, officials didn’t just take Joe Viewer’s word for it and dole out penalty strokes. They reviewed the footage, countless times we would imagine, before they penalized Thompson. This is no different, for example, than an official asking a fan where a shot went out of bounds or crossed into a hazard to assure the correct drop is taken. How is this different?

LAVNER: Because those aren’t infractions. In the situation you described, rules officials are gathering as much data as possible to make a decision that doesn’t grind pace of play to a halt. The Lexi case is yet another example of how the Rules allow casual fans to play “gotcha!”. Clearly the USGA and R&A have realized this is unfair – that’s why there is a new “reasonable judgment standard” in the proposed rules changes so players aren’t subjected to second-guessing. In 2019, if those changes are approved, Lexi would not have received the second two-shot penalty. 

HOGGARD: And those changes will be a much-needed and welcome adjustment to the golf landscape, but that doesn’t change the reality now. Under the current rules, Thompson deserved her penalty strokes, whether it came from a rules official standing over her shoulder on Saturday, a fellow competitor or a random fan watching at home. This wasn’t a “gotcha” moment. It was the correct execution of the current rules. The alternative is a victory that is overshadowed by an obvious infraction.

LAVNER: Um, that’s not much better than what we now have – an overshadowed major winner, So Yeon Ryu. Here’s guessing video review will soar to the top of the list of priorities for golf’s governing bodies before the next wave of rules changes. (You and I can both agree it’s more significant than the height a player takes a drop.) Video review is beginning to affect more and more big events. Golf deserves a common-sense solution. 

Getty Images

Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 17, 2018, 8:40 am

Tiger Woods is competing in his first Open Championship since 2015. We're tracking him this week at Carnoustie.


Getty Images

How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2018, 8:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Getty Images

The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2018, 8:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.

Getty Images

Thirty players have drivers tested by R&A

By Tim RosaforteJuly 17, 2018, 1:00 am

Thirty players, including seven major champions, arrived at the 147th Open and received a letter from the R&A notifying them to bring their respective drivers to the equipment standards office located on Carnoustie’s practice ground by 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

Keegan Bradley, Brendan Steele and Brooks Koepka all confirmed that their drivers all passed the COR test (coefficient of restitution, or spring-like effect) administered by the R&A.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


This was the first time the R&A took measures that were not part of the distance insight project being done in conjunction with the USGA.

The PGA Tour has been testing club for approximately five years but has not done random testing to this point.  The Tour’s rules department works in conjunction with manufacturers and tests clubs from manufacturer fans at tournaments on a voluntary basis. The USGA assists the PGA Tour in this process.