Back and Forth

By Rex HoggardSeptember 2, 2010, 2:20 am

Golf is governed by just 34 rules, although anyone with a Wi-Fi connection or basic cable package would be excused for thinking the sport is riddled with more small print than the Tiger Woods divorce settlement.

From Dustin Johnson to Juli Inkster to Jim Furyk, it seems the ancient game has been hijacked by disclaimers. No need for walking rules officials any longer, roaming teams of lawyers will now tag along to assure compliance.

For Johnson and Inkster, the Rules of Golf left little room for interpretation. Furyk, however, was every bit a self-inflicted wound. When the consummate pro was bounced from last week’s Barclays for missing his pro-am tee time by no more than 10 minutes neither the execution nor the idea made much sense.

The pro-am policy was enacted in 2004 to protect sponsors, but Barclays took a potent right-left combination when the then-third ranked FedEx Cup player missed his five-hour pro-am shmooz-fest and the tournament proper.

On Tuesday the Tour reversed course and nixed the rule for the remainder of the 2010 season thanks, in large part, to the biting comments of Phil Mickelson.

Although it’s encouraging to see Mickelson using his substantial powers for good, rather than evil, his withdrawal from Thursday’s pro-am at TPC Boston smacks of Phil being Phil.

Mickelson made his point beyond even a dollop of ambiguity last Wednesday saying, “(the pro-am rule) is not protecting the players. It's not protecting the sponsors. It applies to only half the field and yet it affects the integrity of the competition. I cannot disagree with it more.”

Although Lefty’s Deutsche Bank dodge smacks of piling on, much like his decision to play non-conforming-yet-legal grooves earlier this year at Torrey Pines, his dissension echoed the loudest last week and likely went a long way to prompting the Tour’s 180 on the policy.

It was an ill-conceived rule and another example of the Tour mandating a machete when a well-handled scalpel was in order.

Since 2004 when the pro-am policy began there have been seven disqualifications as a result of a player missing a pro-am tee time – two in ’04 (Peter Jacobson, 84 Lumber Classic and David Forst, Byron Nelson Championship), one in 2005 (Retief Goosen, Nissan Open), three in 2008 (John Daly, Nick O’Hern and Ryuji Imada at Bay Hill) and Furyk last week.

“Look the fact is there have been (seven) disqualifications over four years. There really isn’t that big of a problem,” said one member of the Player Advisory Council. “There is not a problem if common sense is applied.”

It’s a testament that most players don’t need to be told that it’s important to take care of sponsors. It’s akin to the circuit’s elaborate, and widely ignored, pace of play policy. The vast majority of players don’t need to be told that five-hour rounds are bad for golf, to say nothing of mental health, yet a handful of habitual offenders continue to make life slow in the big leagues.

“What was so badly needed was the same few guys kept making excuses why they couldn’t play the pro-ams,” said another member of the PAC. “Instead of dealing with the few problems a rule was made affecting everyone except, as Phil says and it’s true, it only pertains to half the field.

“Like slow play, we say we are addressing the problem when actually the heart of the problem isn’t fixed.”

In November the Policy Board will attempt to conjure up a fix to the suspended rule and there are no shortage of suggestions. One veteran player suggested a player who misses a pro-am tee time pay a fine, say $5,000, to the tournament charity; while another said a player showing up late – most agree a player who misses a pro-am entirely should be disqualified from that week’s tournament – should finish the pro-am and then take his group out to lunch on his own dime.

Yet millionaires writing checks to tidy up broken china rarely works (see Gulf Spill and BP), and there is already a provision in the Tour regulations that allows a top player (top 30 from the previous year’s money or FedEx Cup list) to opt out of a pro-am twice in a single season in exchange for an alternative sponsor function.

“In a pro-am three or four amateurs are going to get five hours with Phil on the golf course, which is great, but maybe it’s better if you have a dinner with 20 executives and clients for two or three hours,” said Andy Pazder, the Tour’s senior vice president of tournament administration. “Maybe that’s a better use of a player’s time.”

At issue is whether the Tour even needs a regulation. Before 2004, a missed pro-am tee time was handled under the circuit’s “conduct unbecoming” clause, with officials and administrators given the flexibility to handle issues on a case by case basis, free of the mandates of a Draconian policy.

That Mickelson and others are now incensed by a five-year old regulation simply proves a long-held truth – the independent contractors care little for Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., minutia until it hits home or a tad too close to home.

“I’m not sure the mandate was required,” said one PAC member. “It’s a classic case of cutting off the arm when a simple bandage would have worked.”

In this case, less is more, and legalese only makes things messy. Just ask Furyk and Barclays.

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NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 5:50 pm

The NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship is underway at Kartsen Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

After three days of stroke play, eight teams have advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Quarterfinals and semifinals will be contested on Tuesday, with the finals being held on Wednesday. Golf Channel is airing the action live.

Wake Forest junior Jennifer Kupcho won the individual title. Click here for live action, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.

Scoring:

TV Times (all times ET):

Tuesday
11AM-conclusion: Match-play quarterfinals (Click here to watch live)
4-8PM: Match-play semifinals

Wednesday
4-8PM: Match-play finals

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Davis: USGA learned from setup errors at Shinnecock

By Will GrayMay 22, 2018, 4:51 pm

With the U.S. Open set to return to Shinnecock Hills for the first time in 14 years, USGA executive director Mike Davis insists that his organization has learned from the setup mistakes that marred the event the last time it was played on the Southampton, N.Y., layout.

Retief Goosen held off Phil Mickelson to win his second U.S. Open back in 2004, but the lasting image from the tournament may have been tournament officials spraying down the seventh green by hand during the final round after the putting surface had become nearly unplayable. With the course pushed to the brink over the first three days, stiff winds sucked out any remaining moisture and players struggled to stay on the greens with 30-foot putts, let alone approach shots.

Speaking to repoters at U.S. Open media day, Davis offered candid reflections about the missteps that led to the course overshadowing the play during that infamous final round.

"I would just say that it was 14 years ago. It was a different time, it was different people, and we as an organzation, we learned from it," Davis said. "When you set up a U.S. Open, it is golf's ultimate test. It's probably set up closer to the edge than any other event in golf, and I think that the difference then versus now is we have a lot more technology, a lot more data in our hands.

"And frankly, ladies and gentlemen, what really happened then was just a lack of water."

Davis pointed to enhancements like firmness and moisture readings for the greens that weren't available in 2004, and he noted that meterological data has evolved in the years since. With another chance to get his hands on one of the USGA's favorite venues, he remains confident that tournament officials will be able to better navigate the thin line between demanding and impossible this time around.

"There are parts that I think we learned from, and so I think we're happy that we have a mulligan this time," Davis said. "It was certainly a bogey last time. In fact maybe even a double bogey, and equitable stroke control perhaps kicked in."

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UCLA junior Vu named WGCA Player of the Year

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 3:23 pm

UCLA junior Lilia Vu was named Player of the Year on Tuesday by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA).

Vu recorded the lowest full-season scoring average (70.37) in UCLA history. Her four tournament wins tied the school record for most victories in a single season.

Vu was also named to the WGCA All-America first team. Here's a look at the other players who joined her on the prestigious list:

WGCA First Team All-Americans

  • Maria Fassi, Junior, University of Arkansas
  • Kristen Gillman, Sophomore, University of Alabama
  • Jillian Hollis, Junior, University of Georgia
  • Cheyenne Knight, Junior, University of Alabama
  • Jennifer Kupcho, Junior, Wake Forest University
  • Andrea Lee, Sophomore, Stanford University
  • Leona Maguire, Senior, Duke University
  • Sophia Schubert, Senior, University of Texas
  • Lauren Stephenson, Junior, University of Alabama
  • Maddie Szeryk, Senior, Texas A&M University
  • Patty Tavatanakit, Freshman, UCLA
  • Lilia Vu, Junior, UCLA
Chris Stroud and caddie Casey Clendenon Getty Images

Stroud's caddie wins annual PGA Tour caddie tournament

By Rex HoggardMay 22, 2018, 3:15 pm

Casey Clendenon, who caddies for Chris Stroud, won the gross division of the annual PGA Tour caddie tournament on Monday, shooting a 5-under 66 at Trinity Forest Golf Club, site of last week’s AT&T Byron Nelson.

Scott Tway (65), who caddies for Brian Harman, won the net division by two strokes over Wayne Birch, Troy Merritt’s caddie.

Kyle Bradley, Jonathan Byrd’s caddie, took second place with a 71 in the gross division.

The tournament was organized by the Association of Professional Tour Caddies, and proceeds from the event went to two charities. The APTC donated $20,000 to Greg Chalmers’ charity, MAXimumChances.org, which aids families living with autism. The association also donated $10,000 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.