Difference between Vijay and A-Rod's legal cases

By Rex HoggardJanuary 15, 2014, 7:10 pm

As anyone with a news alert on their smartphone knows by now, embattled slugger Alex Rodriguez has decided not to go quietly into the good night of his 162-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

A-Rod, who was implicated in the Biogenesis scandal, announced on Tuesday he plans to challenge the suspension, which was handed down by an arbiter this weekend, in federal court.

That, say most legal minds, is unlikely. Under MLB’s collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union, arbitration is the final solution and according to most legal experts courts are largely unwilling to second-guess an arbiter.

This is newsworthy in golf circles because the ongoing legal bout between Vijay Singh and the PGA Tour strikes a similar cord, with one key distinction.

Singh sued the Tour last year following his run-in with the circuit’s anti-doping program when he admitted to using the Ultimate Spray – which contains IGF-1, a substance that is banned by the Tour and the World Anti-Doping Agency – in a Sports Illustrated article.

Singh was suspended for violating the policy, appealed the ruling and the two sides prepared for an arbitration hearing, which like MLB is the prescribed finish line in a doping case. Before the hearing took place, however, WADA modified its decision regarding the Ultimate Spray, claiming the use of the spray did not constitute a violation in the absence of a positive test (Singh has never failed a drug test), and the Tour dropped the suspension.

Where Singh and A-Rod’s paths intersect is the current legal crossroads and the similarities between MLB’s collective bargaining agreement and the Tour’s membership requirements.

On June 12, the Tour filed a motion to dismiss Singh’s lawsuit in New York Supreme Court based largely on Singh’s 2013 membership renewal form that reads, “the results management provisions of the program shall provide the sole and exclusive method for resolving any dispute related to drug testing.”

In fact, in the circuit’s motion to dismiss the membership agreement was the proverbial tip of the spear for the Tour’s legal team. “As an initial matter,” the motion reads, “by virtue of the Tour membership agreement signed by Singh and every other member of the Tour, Singh has agreed that his sole and exclusive remedy for any discipline imposed under the program is an arbitration proceeding to overturn that discipline. ... The Tour has already granted Singh that complete relief.”

While most legal experts agree A-Rod’s suit is doomed to fail because of a concept known as “deferential judicial review,” Singh’s case and the Tour’s effort to have it dismissed – a motion that is still pending before the court – stands a better chance of going the distance because his case was never brought before an arbitrator.

Singh’s arbitration hearing was scheduled for May 7. On April 30, the Tour, after being informed of WADA’s adjusted view on the Ultimate Spray, dropped its case against the Fijian.

What is worth noting, however, is Singh’s legal challenge would have appeared just as bleak as A-Rod’s had the arbitration hearing taken place. According to various legal sources, Singh’s membership agreement – which is signed each year by every player – would have been as binding as MLB’s collective bargaining agreement, despite the absence of a union in golf.

This is compelling because a collective bargaining agreement is negotiated terms, whereas a membership agreement is not open to periodic review by, say the four player directors on the Tour’s policy board, and yet is just as legally binding.

There are those in Tour circles who have scoffed at Singh’s lawsuit, pointing out that while the 50-year-old challenges the circuit in what is becoming a costly and potentially embarrassing litigation, he continues to ply his trade on both the PGA and Champions tours.

As rumors of enormous settlement offers swirl, some contend Singh is intent on biting the hand that feeds him. But the episode has brought into focus the shortcomings of the circuit’s rules and regulations.

If a membership form, and by extension the 162-page player handbook, is viewed, at least legally, in the same light as a collective bargaining agreement, it may be time for the players to start paying more attention to the small print.

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U.S. Amateur playoff: 24 players for 1 spot in match play

By Associated PressAugust 15, 2018, 1:21 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer and Daniel Hillier were tied at the top after two rounds of the U.S. Amateur, but the more compelling action on Tuesday was further down the leaderboard.

Two dozen players were tied for 64th place after two rounds of stroke play at Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill. With the top 64 advancing to match play, that means all 24 will compete in a sudden-death playoff Wednesday morning for the last spot in the knockout rounds.

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They'll be divided into six foursomes and start the playoff at 7:30 a.m. on the par-3 17th at Pebble Beach, where Tom Watson chipped in during the 1982 U.S. Open and went on to win.

The survivor of the playoff will face the 19-year-old Hillier in match play. The New Zealander shot a 2-under 70 at Spyglass Hill to share medalist honors with the 18-year-old Hammer at 6 under. Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas who played in the 2015 U.S. Open at age 15, shot 68 at Spyglass Hill.

Stewart Hagestad had the low round of the day, a 5-under 66 at Pebble Beach, to move into a tie for 10th after opening with a 76 at Spyglass Hill. The 27-year-old Hagestad won the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur and earned low amateur honors at the 2017 Masters.

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Hammer in position (again) to co-medal at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 14, 2018, 10:37 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer is in position to go for a rare sweep in this summer’s biggest events.

Two weeks ago, Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas, was the co-medalist at the Western Amateur and went on to take the match-play portion, as well.

Here at the U.S. Amateur, Hammer shot rounds of 69-68 and was once again in position to earn co-medalist honors. At 6-under 137, he was tied with 19-year-old Daniel Hillier of New Zealand.

“It would mean a lot, especially after being medalist at the Western Am,” Hammer said afterward. “It’s pretty special.”

No stroke-play medalist has prevailed in the 64-man match-play bracket since Ryan Moore in 2004. Before that, Tiger Woods (1996) was the most recent medalist champion.  

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On the strength of his Western Am title, Hammer, 18, has soared to No. 18 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He credited his work with swing coach Cameron McCormick and mental coach Bob Rotella.

“Just really started controlling my iron shots really well,” said Hammer, who has worked with McCormick since 2015, when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old.

“Distance control with my wedges and all my iron shots, playing different shots, has become really a strength in my game. I’ve really turned the putter on this year, and I’m seeing the lines and matching the line with the speed really well. I think that’s been the key to my summer.”

A two-time New Zealand Amateur champion, Hillier is ranked 27th in the world. He said that, entering the tournament, he would have been pleased just to make it to match play.

“But to come out on top, it’s amazing,” Hillier said. “Cole is a really good golfer and has been playing well lately. So, yeah, I’m in good company.”

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Tee times, TV schedule, stats for Wyndham Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 14, 2018, 9:55 pm

It's the last tournament of the PGA Tour's regular season as the top 125 in the FedExCup points list advance to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for the Wyndham Championship. (Click here for tee times)

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Purse: $6 million

Course: Sedgefield Country Club (par 70, 7,127 yards)

Defending champion: Henrik Stenson. Last year he defeated Ollie Schniederjans by one stroke to earn his sixth career PGA Tour win.

Notables in the field

Henrik Stenson at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Henrik Stenson

• Missed the cut last week at the PGA Championship

• Six top-10 finishes this year, including T-5 at the Masters and T-6 at the U.S. Open

Sergio Garcia

• Eight missed cuts in last 10 PGA Tour starts

• Currently 131 in FedExCup standings (33 points back of 125th)

Webb Simpson

• Five top-10 finishes in this event since 2010 (won in 2011)

• 56 under par in last five years in this event (best of any player in that span)

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Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 7:42 pm

Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting another competitive shot was very much in doubt.

Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show when he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.

Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.

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"I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."

But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.

After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.

"What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing. Great on him, and great for golf."