Transcript of Golf Channel Q&A with Singh lawyers

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 8, 2013, 8:30 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Golf Channel's Todd Lewis and Scott Rude spoke with Vijay Singh's attorneys, Peter Ginsberg and Jeff Rosenblum Wednesday at TPC Sawgrass. Here is a transcript of their conversation.

Jeff Rosenblum: There is definition in the program manual of what is banned and it must affect muscle. Ligament, tendon growth.  There’s a technical definition there. The Tour sent Vijay a letter. You all know that. They said he was suspended effective February 4. They said, “You can continue playing. We will escrow all of your earnings, hold your FedEx points, and we will keep that.'

Peter Ginsberg: He was suspended February 4. He started hoarding his money in escrow starting February 4.  

Rosenblum: Sequentially, they wrote Vijay Singh a letter suspending him for 90 days expecting him to say, “Thank you. I won’t appeal. I’ll take this. I’m sorry.” We don’ t know what they were expecting him to do. We think they expected for him to take it. But Vijay said, “No, I want to exercise my right to appeal.' They agreed it would not be a public issue until the matter was resolved.  

Golf Channel: So, he was asked to not speak about it?

Rosenblum: No one spoke about it. He was asked to not speak about it.

Golf Channel: When was the discipline handed down?

Rosenblum: On February 19, the letter was received. The discipline was formal on February 19. Before that, Vijay Singh participated fully with the Tour and provided them with a sample of the deer antler spray, answered their questions, gave a statement to the media.  

Rosenblum: There was some correspondence between the initial meeting and the February 19 suspension letter. But they suspended him and he had the right to appeal. If he had not appealed, the suspension would had been effective February 4. It would have gone for 90 days until May 4 or May 5. But, he appealed.

Golf Channel: When were you notified by WADA?

Ginsberg: We were not notified by WADA at all. We never communicated with WADA.

Rosenblum: We were told on April 30 that the Tour was withdrawing its allegations, withdrawing its accusations from the case. And, they agreed Vijay Singh did not violate their anti-doping program.  

Golf Channel: So it (the lawsuit) is to restore Singh’s reputation but also calling the Tour to the carpet on their policy and procedure? How could they (PGA Tour) better handled the situation?

Ginsberg: During the weeks we had to prepare for arbitration, we prepared a series of scientists to do tests on deer antler spray to determine whether the substance was really banned by the PGA Tour. We did basic, elementary kinds of testing. The PGA Tour could have done the same thing and they didn’t.  

Rosenblum: That’s what we’re saying. They should have done the tests we had recognitioned.  

Golf Channel: Why did you feel you needed to run your own tests?

Rosenblum: To prove it was not a banned substance, to prove that Vijay Singh did not violate their program. The timing sequentially, they filed something on April 16 which is their written, initial submission as to why they believe Vijay Singh violated their program. Vijay responded through our efforts on April 24. On April 26, supposedly, WADA sends them a letter that he did not violate the program and his use of deer-antler spray was not a violation. A day and a half later, we filed our response at 5 p.m. Eastern Time, with the scientific test that we discussed that we believe show conclusively that there were no biologically active IGF-1 in this product.  

Golf Channel: Will you take issue with WADA?

Ginsberg: We are only focused on the PGA (Tour).

Golf Channel: How has Vijay been taking this?

Rosenblum: It’s been stressful. When you are a professional golfer, you’ve worked this hard for 30 years, develop a reputation that wants to focus on golf, play by the rules, be a good person, be a great golfer, and then someone accuses you of something. It was about his legacy. It was about his restoration of his image and who he is. He worked hard to build that reputation. It was stressful. It was hanging over his head definitely. Was he strong? Was he able to get up every morning? Sure. But it was difficult.

Golf Channel: When did he reach out to you?

Rosenblum: He got a letter from the Tour on February 19 and reached out to me shortly thereafter. I represented Doug Barron who is the only other golfer suspended or sanctioned under the anti-doping program. I know there are others who were sanctioned for other reasons. So, he reached out to me, and I reached out to Peter shortly thereafter. We have been preparing for this appeal this whole time. That’s what we are saying is irresponsible. It took the three months. And it took the work we did for them to say, “Oh, we agree.”

Golf Channel: In the recent past, the Tour has defaulted to WADA with issues related to performance enhancing drugs…

Ginsberg: All the PGA Tour had to do was reach out to the UCLA laboratory to analyze the spray is to ask UCLA to do a basic, elementary test to determine whether it contained any substance that was banned. The PGA (Tour) didn’t. They didn’t even bother. I don’t know if it was arrogance or irresponsibility. It was uneducated.

Rosenblum: This is hyper-technical, but go do your homework and read online what IGF-1 is. It’s a protein. It’s in everybody. It is in milk. There is IGF-1 in every dairy product. If you want to say if you’re ingesting IGF-1, everyone the Tour feeds a bowl of cereal the morning of a tournament, anyone who puts cream in their coffee is putting, has IGF-1 in it. So the question is, “Is this a product that has biologically active IGF-1 that meets that definition?” The answer is no. So, if you look at the science of it, you realize there were some things that should have been done, and they weren’t done. We don’t know why. We’ll see.

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

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“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”

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Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

Hoylake in 2006.

That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?

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“I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

“The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”

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How will players game-plan for Carnoustie?

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:31 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Justin Thomas took a familiar slash with his driver on the 18th tee on Monday at Carnoustie and watched anxiously as his golf ball bounced and bounded down the fairway.

Unlike the two previous editions of The Open, at what is widely considered the rota’s most demanding test, a particularly warm and dry summer has left Carnoustie a parched shade of yellow and players like Thomas searching for answers.

Under the best circumstances, Carnoustie is every bit the unforgiving participant. But this week promises to be something altogether different, with players already dumbfounded by how far the ball is chasing down fairways and over greens.

Brown is beautiful here at Royal Dark & Dusty.

But then it’s also proving to be something of a unique test.

Where most practice rounds at The Open are spent trying to figure out what lines are best off tees, this is more a study of lesser evils.

Tee shots, like at the par-4 17th hole, ask multiple questions with few answers. On his first attempt, Thomas hit 2-iron off the tee at No. 17. It cleared the Barry Burn and bounded down the middle of the fairway. Perfect, right? Not this year at Carnoustie, as Thomas’ tee shot kept rolling until it reached the same burn, which twists and turns through both the 17th and 18th fairways, at a farther intersection.

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“A hole like 17 in this wind, the trick is getting a club that will carry [the burn],” said Thomas, who played 18 holes on Monday with Tiger Woods. “If that hole gets downwind you can have a hard time carrying the burn and keeping it short of the other burn. It’s pretty bizarre.”

The sixth hole can offer a similar dilemma, with players needing to carry their tee shots 275 yards to avoid a pair of pot bunkers down the right side of the fairway. Yet just 26 yards past those pitfalls looms a second set of bunkers. Even for the game’s best, trying to weave a fairway wood or long-iron into a 26-yard window can be challenging.

“Six is a really hard hole, it really just depends on how you want to play it. If you want to take everything on and have a chance of hitting an iron into a par 5, or just kind of lay back and play it as a three-shot hole,” Thomas shrugged.

It’s difficult to quantify precisely how short the 7,400-yard layout is playing. It’s not so far players are flying the ball in the air, particularly with relatively little wind in the forecast the rest of the week, so much as it is a question of how a particular shot will run out after it’s made contact with the firm turf.

As the field began to get their first taste of the bouncy fun, one of the earliest indications something was askew came on Sunday when Padraig Harrington, who won The Open the last time it was played at Carnoustie in 2007, announced to the social world that he’d hit into the burn on the 18th hole.

“This time it was the one at the green, 457 yards away,” the Irishman tweeted. “The fairways are a tad fast.”

Most players have already resigned themselves to a steady diet of mid-irons off tees this week in an attempt to at least partially control the amount of run-out each shot will have.

Jordan Spieth, the defending champion, hadn’t played a practice round prior to his media session, but could tell what’s in store just from his abbreviated range session on Monday. “Extremely baked out,” he said.

The conditions have already led Spieth and his caddie, Micheal Greller, to conjure up a tentative game plan.

“You might wear out your 5- and 4-irons off the tee instead of hitting 3- or 2-irons like you’re used to,” Greller told him.

But even that might not be the answer, as Tommy Fleetwood discovered on Sunday during a practice round. Fleetwood has a unique connection with Carnoustie having shot the course record (63) during last year’s Dunhill Links Championship.

The Englishman doesn’t expect his record to be in danger this week.

In fact, he explained the dramatically different conditions were evident on the third hole on Sunday.

“There’s holes that have been nothing tee shots, like the third. If you play that in the middle of September or October [when the Dunhill is played] and it’s green and soft, you could just hit a mid-iron down the fairway and knock it on with a wedge,” Fleetwood said. “Yesterday it was playing so firm, the fairways really undulate and you have bunkers on either side, it’s actually all of a sudden a tough tee shot.”

The alternative to the iron game plan off the tee would be to simply hit driver, an option at least one long-hitter is considering this week if his practice round was any indication.

On Sunday, Jon Rahm played aggressively off each tee, taking the ubiquitous fairway bunkers out of play but at the same time tempting fate with each fairway ringed by fescue rough, which is relatively tame given the dry conditions. But even that option has consequences.

“It’s kind of strange where there’s not really a number that you know you’re going to be short,” said Fleetwood, who played his Sunday practice round with Rahm. “[Rahm] hit a drive on 15 that was like 400 yards. You just can’t account for that kind of stuff.”

Whatever tactic players choose, this Open Championship promises to be a much different test than what players have become accustomed to at Carnoustie.