The Biggest Crime

By Rex HoggardNovember 19, 2009, 4:28 am

PGA Tour

Rich Young once explained to a simple mind the scientific cat-and-mouse game that led to the conviction of cyclist Floyd Landis. Think CSI: Chess club with a dollop of Law & Order.

Essentially, Young and his anti-doping pocket-protected watchdogs nailed Landis because the ratio of Carbon 12 in his body was not equal to the amounts of Carbon 13, which are soy based and, he points out almost parenthetically, the basis of most synthetic steroids. Nature makes everything in equal portions, he finally explained, which makes an out-of-whack C12 to C13 ratio akin to a doping neon sign.

By comparison Doug Barron’s climb to doping immortality must have seemed like second-grade math to Young. After all, the 40-year-old journeyman had asked for permission to take testosterone and beta blockers, was denied and was promptly handed a sample bottle when he arrived at the St. Jude Classic, his only Tour event in 2009. Barron had likely already been flagged for banned substances by a lab rat somewhere by the time he missed Friday’s cut in Memphis.

Although U.S. Magistrate Tu Pham may, or may not depending on who you ask, have ruled on the letter of the law, the basic impulse for those watching from the sidelines is to establish right and wrong. But the truth is there are no sinners or saints in Barron v. PGA Tour Inc., only two distinct yet essentially noble personalities.

Barron the father and friend and family man no more wanted to circumvent the rules or gain a competitive advantage than Casey Martin wanted to upend the competitive integrity of the Tour with a golf cart.

“It’s a sad deal because the guy is not very competitive. If he needed something for his daily life he should have gotten (a therapeutic use exemption),” Jason Bohn said. “Is he really a threat to our system? He’s not gaining an advantage to play golf. His intent was to live a happy life with his family.”

Perhaps Barron’s real miscue was believing that a clear conscience and an utter lack of intent was all he needed to guide him through his troubled doping waters, when a lawyer and a mountain of legal briefs would have been much more useful.

Barron was not in the Memphis court last Friday when his lawyers argued his case for an injunction that would have allowed him to play this week’s second stage of Q-School. Perhaps he should have been because after just 10 minutes it’s evident that Barron’s conscience is clear.

“I went and saw a (Tour) doctor for one day out of my life who said I didn’t warrant (testosterone) therapy over a doctor that has seen me my whole life who said I did. That’s my biggest problem with all of this,” Barron said. “I don’t understand their thinking about this.”

Without full disclosure of the facts from all parties, it seems Barron’s plight would have likely been a vastly different tale had he not undergone a testosterone treatment just before the St. Jude Classic.

The Tour may not have liked his use of beta blockers, but his doctors had warned him of the health risks if he stopped “cold turkey” and even Young admits it would have been a much more complicated case.

But the last-minute testosterone injection, at least in Young’s mind, is the smoking gun, regardless of doctor’s orders or the best of intentions.

“The testosterone question is pretty straight forward,” Young said. “It’s straight out of the (World Anti-Doping Agency) code.”

Which, in a Twitter-society way, sums up Young the lawyer, if not the man. Simply put, a banned substance in an athlete’s body is all the witness Young needs, regardless of intent.

“(Intent) doesn’t factor in,” said Young, a soft-spoken type with a sneaky-good sense of humor often masked by a dogmatic approach to his job. “It would be very hard to prove what’s in somebody’s head and why they used? Secondly, the rules are clear – they know what they are allowed to use, Doug clearly used testosterone even though he knew he wasn’t allowed to.”

Young is, with all due respect, a bulldog guarding an empty safe. A hired gun tasked to take down a sleeping kindergartener.

Landis, by all accounts, worked tirelessly to elude detection and was armed with an army of mad scientists whose only goal is a better body through chemistry. As was once the battle cry in NASCAR, Landis participates in a sport that adheres to the “if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying” watchword.

It’s a reality in most sports, and the reason Young has become one of the most important people in sport. It’s why the Tour hired the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based attorney to help craft its anti-doping policy and why they sent him to the four corners of the circuit’s schedule in 2008 to educate its members.

But then golf is different. Barron is different. The guy who has called penalties on himself on the golf course did not walk into his doctor’s office more than four years ago looking for 20 extra yards off the tee or one fewer three-putt per round. But then, in fairness to Young and the Tour, they never said he did.

Barron v. PGA Tour Inc. is a story about collateral damage and a crisis of conscience. It is a tale without antagonist or hero, just two quiet and easily likable men on opposite sides of a doping reality that has no use for reason or common sense. And that may be the biggest crime.

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Vegas helicopters in to Carnoustie, without clubs

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 9:33 am

Jhonattan Vegas did some range work, putted a little and strolled to the first tee for his 5:31 a.m. ET start in the 147th Open Championship.

Everything before that, however, was far from routine.



Vegas' visa to travel to Scotland expired and the process to renew it got delayed - and it looked like his overseas' flight might suffer the same fate. Vegas, upon getting his visa updated, traveled from Houston, Texas to Toronto, Canada to Glasgow, Scotland, and then took a helicopter to Carnoustie.

He arrived in time on Thursday morning, but his clubs did not. Mizuno put together some irons for him and was able to cobble together his preferred metal woods. He hit the clubs for the first time on the range, less than 90 minutes before his start.

"I'm going to go out there and play with freedom," Vegas told Golf Channel's Todd Lewis.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 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)

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

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:30 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.