Upon Further Review

By Rex HoggardAugust 25, 2010, 11:39 pm

Call it the year of unintended consequences. Upon further review, 2010 should add a stroke, and maybe a shower, as we quickly and sadly descend into the realm of the rules wonks, blue-blazered types who nitpick actions without the slightest interest in intent or consequences or common sense.

On consecutive weekends Dustin Johnson and Juli Inkster suffered at the hands of golf’s blind justice. Some feel we should find those responsible for such arcane rules and throttle them with one of those weights Inkster placed on her golf club to stay loose at last week’s Safeway Classic.

The crowds that surrounded Whistling Straits’ 18th hole, many of whom were standing in the same scruffy wasteland that ultimately cost Johnson his first major sure thought so, chanting, “Let. Him. Play.” as the tape was reviewed and the infamous eraser turned “Glory’s Last Shot' into a reason to head for last call.

There’s not enough sugar in Willy Wonka’s land of freaks to make all this medicine go down.

Earlier this week we spoke with Kerry Haigh, the PGA of America’s managing director of tournaments. Normally Haigh is a relaxed, confident fellow with a sneaky sense of humor, but there was a detached strain in his English voice as we cleared up yet another potential rules infraction.

Even those who live by the Rules of Golf struggled with Johnson’s plight.

“That could have easily been the USGA. It was kind of a perfect storm,” said Mike Davis, the U.S. Golf Association’s senior director of rules and competitions.

What has transpired over the last fortnight was largely a one-sided fight, void of anything even resembling a winner. Nothing good came from any of this, certainly not for Johnson or Inkster. Yet before we start burning rule books and governing tournaments based on straw polls, let’s consider the alternative.

Golf tore a rotator cuff dolling out gratuitous kudos after Brian Davis flagged himself for a rules violation earlier this year at Harbour Town. Golf, the purest announced, is above the type of dishonesty and moral flexibility that plagues other sports. Yet now some of those same purists go weak-kneed at the sight of Johnson adding two or Inkster heading for player parking slump-shouldered and smoldering.

We can’t have it both ways.

The alternative to golf’s rule book can be found in this morning’s headlines:

Roger Clemens was indicted this week on charges of perjury – the NFL’s Roger Goodell has extended his title to commissioner/parole officer. Chad Ochocinco was fined $25k for tweeting during a preseason NFL game – as if that’s the worst thing the project formerly known as Chad Johnson could get dinged for (And let’s hope for Stewart Cink or Rickie Fowler’s sake that PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem doesn’t come down with a similar aversion to social media).

Rules are the backbone of our sport, whether they’re of the Royal & Ancient variety, like Johnson’s run-in at Whistling Straits and Inkster's swing weight, or the administrative type like Wednesday’s pro-am snafu that sent Jim Furyk to an early Barclays exit.

Were Johnson and Furyk trying to gain a competitive advantage? Of course not. But you don’t have to like the rules to acknowledge their place in the game. The simple truth is 95 percent of the golf public doesn’t even understand most of them anyway.

Johnson, the man who paid the ultimate price, knows the rules, if not the scruffy outline of a bunker-turned-sandbox. At 26 years old he also knows a frenzied mob when he sees one.

“I'm pretty sure I'm very good with the rules of the game. And there's nothing that really stands out that's a bad rule or something I don’t understand,” he said on Tuesday.

For those who clamor for clarity know this: Neither Johnson nor Inkster nor Furyk made excuses or asked for special dispensation.

“The rules are rules,” Furyk said flatly at Ridgewood.

And the rules are the firewall that separates golf from the win-at-all-costs mentality that fuels deviant behavior in other sports.

Yet instead of appreciating the sometimes-convoluted essence of the game, those with short-term memories and overactive imaginations search for scapegoats and play the blame game.

It wasn’t Johnson’s fault, it was his caddie Bobby Brown or the walking rules official David Price that blew it. Furyk was late because his caddie, Mike “Fluff” Cowan, didn’t set a second alarm for his man. Or worse, they are bad rules that should have been ignored.

The entire conversation reeks of self entitlement and a lack of personal responsibility, a concept neither Johnson nor Furyk have any interest in.

For those inclined to cherry pick the rules based on the urgency of now consider the alternative: In college athletics it’s called a lack of institutional control. Or, if you’re searching for a shorthand explanation, just call it the NFL.

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Davies headlines field at Senior LPGA at French Lick

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 14, 2018, 10:40 pm

Laura Davies will be looking to win her second senior major championship this year when she tees it up in Monday’s start of the Senior LPGA Championship at French Lick Resort in Indiana.

Davies, who won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open in July, will join a field that includes fellow World Golf Hall of Famer Jan Stephenson, who was announced last week with Peggy Kirk Bell as the Hall’s newest members. Hall of Famers Juli Inkster and Hollis Stacy are also in the 54-hole event.

Trish Johnson is back to defend her title after winning the inaugural Senior LPGA Championship a year ago. Brandi Burton, Jane Geddes, Helen Alfredsson and Liselotte Neumann are also in the field of 81 players who will compete for a $600,000 purse, with $90,000 going to the winner.

Golf Channel will televise all three rounds live from 4-6 p.m. ET on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

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Langer (65) wins regular-season finale by six

By Associated PressOctober 14, 2018, 10:07 pm

CARY, N.C. – Bernhard Langer ran away with the SAS Championship on Sunday to take the points lead into the PGA Tour Champions' Charles Schwab Cup playoffs

Langer shot a bogey-free 7-under 65 for a six-stroke victory in the regular-season finale.

''I just played very solid all day long,'' Langer said. ''Putted well, hit the ball where I was looking and did everything exceptionally well.''

The 61-year-old German star has 38 victories on the 50-and-over tour, also winning this year near Houston. He has a record four victories after turning 60.

''I don't have anything to prove, but I still have golf,'' Langer said. ''I still want to improve my own game. I still want to play to the best Bernhard Langer can play. I don't think I need to prove anything, but I love competing, I love winning or being in the hunt. As long as I can do that, I think you're going to see me out here.''

Langer finished with a tournament-record 22-under 194 total at Prestonwood Country Club, the tree-lined layout softened by heavy rain Thursday from Hurricane Michael. He opened with a 62 on Friday to match Gene Sauers and Tom Lehman for the lead, and had a 67 on Saturday to remain atop the leaderboard with Sauers.

Full-field scores from the SAS Championship

''The 10 under was amazing,'' Langer said. ''I couldn't believe there were two other guys who shot 10 under.''

The four-time Charles Schwab Cup winner also won at Prestonwood in 2012.

''It's always fun to go back to where you've won before because you feel like you know how to play the course and you're somewhat comfortable and that's certainly the case here,'' Langer said. ''I've been probably 50, 70 times now around this golf course and I know how to play every hole.''

Scott Parel was second, closing with a double bogey for a 65.

''Bernhard is just in his own world this week,'' Parel said.

Jerry Kelly had a 68 to finish third at 15 under, and Lehman followed at 13 under after a 71.

Sauers shot a 75 to tie for fifth with Miguel Angel Jimenez (68) at 12 under.

The top 72 players in the Schwab Cup standings qualified for the playoffs, the three-event series that begins next week with the Dominion Energy Charity Classic in Richmond, Va. Dan Forsman tied for 56th to jump from 74th to 72nd, edging John Huston for the final spot by $932. Huston tied for 46th.

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Pepperell captures British Masters, eyes Augusta

By Associated PressOctober 14, 2018, 5:29 pm

WALTON HEATH, England -- Eddie Pepperell won his second European Tour title with a two-shot victory at the British Masters on Sunday and likely secured the even bigger prize of a place in next year's Masters at Augusta National.

The Englishman shot an even-par 72 and held off his playing partner, Sweden's Alexander Bjork (71), as the pair went to the 72nd hole at a wet and windy Walton Heath with Pepperell just a stroke in front.

Pepperell finished on 9-under 279.

Herbert Lucas (69) and Jordan Smith (73) were tied for third, another two shots behind Bjork.

English pair Sam Horsfield (69) and Tom Lewis (70) along with American Julian Suri (74) tied for fifth, one shot in front of tournament host Justin Rose (70).

The victory takes Pepperell into the world's top 35 and almost certainly secures a first appearance at Augusta in 2019. The top 50 at the end of the year are guaranteed a place in the first major of the year in April.

Ryder Cup star Tommy Fleetwood (72) finished 2 under in a seven-way tie for ninth.

Full-field scores from the British Masters

A top-two finish on Sunday would have seen Rose reach the top of the world rankings for the second time this season, the 38-year-old having spent two weeks as No. 1 in September

Pepperell was ranked outside the top 500 as recently as May last year, but won the Qatar Masters in February and followed a runner-up finish in the Scottish Open with a tie for sixth in the British Open seven days later, carding a closing 67 at Carnoustie despite saying he had a hangover.

His three-shot overnight lead was down to a single stroke on Sunday when Bjork covered the front nine in 34 and Pepperell three-putted the ninth, the same hole where he enjoyed a spectacular hole-in-one on Thursday.

However, the 27-year-old Pepperell promptly holed his second shot to the 10th from 122 yards for an eagle to move three clear and a par save from off the green on the 14th looked to have sealed the win.

There was still time for some late drama, though, as Pepperell dropped shots on Nos. 15 and 16 to see his lead cut to a single shot, but Bjork bogeyed the 18th after driving into the heather and Pepperell saved par from a greenside bunker.

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Disappointed Sharma fades to T-10 at CIMB

By Will GrayOctober 14, 2018, 1:46 pm

For the second time this year, India's Shubankhar Sharma watched an opportunity for a breakthrough win turn into a learning experience.

Sharma burst onto the scene in March, taking a two-shot lead into the final round of the WGC-Mexico Championship only to fade to a tie for ninth. It was a similar story Sunday at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, where Sharma started the final round in a three-way tie for the lead but struggled to an even-par 72 that dropped him into a tie for 10th.

"Disappointing, not really happy with the way I finished," Sharma told reporters.

Full-field scores from CIMB Classic

CIMB Classic: Articles, photos and videos

The 22-year-old was 1 over for his first six holes, but he battled back with four straight birdies on Nos. 7-10 to get within three shots of eventual winner Marc Leishman. But his tee shot at the par-3 11th found the water, leading to the first of three straight bogeys that ended any hopes of victory.

"That was probably one of the worst swings of the day," Sharma said. "That 11th hole I think killed the momentum for me. A par there would have gone a long way, and I probably could have made more birdies after that."

Sharma remained optimistic this spring following his final-round fade in Mexico, and he retained a positive mindset despite a rough afternoon as he eyes upcoming starts at both the CJ Cup in South Korea and the WGC-HSBC Champions in China.

"Great experience. Very, very good to have two top-10s on the PGA Tour, so that's a good way of looking at it," he said. "Also, it pushes me to keep playing well. I feel like I have it in me to win out there on the PGA Tour, and I've given myself two opportunities. Game is in a decent place now."