Rose ruling sets tone for 'sophisticated technology' use

By Rex HoggardMay 12, 2014, 5:54 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – It was after 8 p.m. ET on Saturday when Mark Russell was settling in for dinner; it had been a long day and he would have preferred to put everything behind him when his cell phone rang.

Russell, the PGA Tour’s vice president of rules and competition, had just overseen a ruling that cost Justin Rose two strokes and took nearly 40 minutes, but the reporter wanted to know why Russell and the rules committee hadn’t considered using a new decision regarding the use of “sophisticated technology” as a mitigating factor in the Englishman’s situation.

“It's not as though he didn't see anything and then it came up because of high-definition television,” said Russell, one of the game’s most even-handed and well-respected officials. “He saw something and backed off, that's why the high-definition rule didn't apply.”

Fifteen hours later Rose was informed that the two-stroke penalty he’d received for violating Rule 18-2b, one shot for the ball moving at address and one for not replacing his ball after it had moved, had been rescinded.

And baseball fans think Major League Baseball’s instant replay process is deliberate.

Russell & Co. revisited the issue on Sunday when they arrived at TPC Sawgrass at 7:30 a.m., and even reached out to golf’s governing bodies – the Royal & Ancient and U.S. Golf Association – at 10 a.m. for more clarification.

PGA Tour statement explaining Rose ruling

After 45 minutes of deliberations, the decision was made to rescind the ruling under the new high-definition decision (18-4), which reads, “The ball will not be deemed to have moved if that movement was not reasonably discernible to the naked eye at the time.”

At about the same time Russell was settling in for dinner with his team of rules officials on Saturday, Rose discovered an article explaining the new decision, which was adopted last year by the R&A and USGA.

“Overnight I read an article that explained the (high-definition) rule and I kind of thought it applied to my case,” Rose said. “I didn’t see how my case was any different than what I read.”

After further review, Russell and some of the game’s greatest rules minds agreed. That it took them more than 12 hours to come to that conclusion is also understandable.

Rose’s ruling was the first time Tour officials, who asked for the amended decision regarding “sophisticated technology,” used the new loophole and it will become the litmus test for similar situations in the future.

Most players who learned of the ruling on Sunday at The Players were relieved. After years of curious and sometime confounding rulings that were only visible in the slow-motion, high-definition landscape, a common sense approach is refreshing.

“If you don’t see it move and your playing partner doesn’t see it move, you go with what you see and what you can live with,” Ryan Palmer said. “I don’t see why you should get screwed by TV. You hope the player has enough integrity to call himself if it really moved.”

In the moment, players have for eons policed themselves. On Saturday at The Players, for example, Rose called in Sergio Garcia, who was paired with the Englishman, and they both watched the replay on the super-sized television adjacent the 18th green and determined the ball hadn’t moved.

For Tour types, this isn’t about a perceived competitive advantage; it’s about the realities of a game that is played outside and under extreme conditions.

“There are times you can’t see everything,” Jimmy Walker said. “What if you blinked when that happened? That’s why they enacted the rule.”

In a twist of cosmic irony, one of the few players who didn’t seem to have a problem with video reviews was Brian Davis, who once lost a playoff at the RBC Heritage as a result of a ruling that likely would have fallen under the new decision.

On the first playoff hole in 2010 at Harbour Town, Davis’ approach to the 18th hole finished on the beach left of the green and while he was hitting his third shot something wasn’t quite right.

“I didn’t see (a blade of beach grass) move because I was over the top of the ball, but when you saw it on replay from another angle you could see it brush up and down,” Davis recalled.

After a video review – using, by definition, “sophisticated technology” – Davis was assessed a penalty and lost the playoff, perhaps the most glaring example of what the rules-makers were trying to avoid with the new high-definition decision.

Yet on Sunday, Davis largely dismissed the need for the new decision.

“As long as we get the right call that’s the important thing,” he said. “They need high-definition (reviews) to make the right call, but they also need common sense to make the right decision.”

Which brings us back to Russell. Taken to the logical extreme, one could argue that under the new decision there is no reason to review any possible infractions. If a player and those who are paired with him feel there was no violation that means they didn’t see anything, so why take it to review?

And where is the line to be drawn on what is considered “sophisticated technology?” Is a basic DVR acceptable but 1080p too techie?

“If it's discernible to the player that it wasn't discernible to the naked eye, I mean, we determined that that's the only way we would have known is through sophisticated technology,” Russell said.

Rose may have been the first player spared a penalty by the new decision but he won’t be the last. Nor will Russell be the last rules official to lose sleep trying to make sense of it all.

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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

“He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

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Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.