Hossler incident could lead to NCAA substitution change

By Ryan LavnerJune 2, 2016, 7:13 pm

EUGENE, Ore. – In a few years, we may come to remember Beau Hossler chasing after a 4-iron off a downhill, sidehill lie as the moment that changed college golf forever.

The 24 hours that followed Hossler’s shoulder injury were among the most surreal in the history of the NCAA Championship: There was a somber news conference with the finalists; a breathless debate about the star’s status; a concession on the first hole; and, finally, a riveting final match that culminated with Oregon capturing its first national title in extra holes against short-handed Texas.

Fans unfamiliar with NCAA rules struggled to comprehend why a coach could not simply swap out an injured player on the biggest day of the year. Allowing substitutions has been a hot-button issue for the past few seasons, and the Hossler situation – and a superior Texas team’s narrow loss in the NCAA finals – might prove to be the impetus needed to enact meaningful change.

Even the winning coach, Oregon’s Casey Martin, said he’d be in favor of a rule that would allow him to call on a reserve player if needed.

“I think it really deserves attention,” he said Wednesday night. “It would be different and unique because it’s never been done, but it’s something that’s very worthy of consideration.”

In college golf, teams equipped with an eight-to-10-man roster typically bring five starters to a tournament, with the four best scores counting each round. A team’s lineup cannot change once its first player tees off on the first day of competition. If a player is injured or becomes ill during the event, the team must count the remaining four scores and cannot bring in a replacement.

That unfortunate scenario can have serious consequences: Teams with multiple poor finishes are in jeopardy of missing the postseason, with the NCAA requiring at least a .500 record to qualify for regionals.

“You can actually get fired now if you’re not performing,” Oklahoma coach Ryan Hybl said. “Our jobs mean something now. Not making it to regionals is a big deal.”

And so the past two years, at the Golf Coaches Association of America’s annual meeting in Las Vegas, the idea of a substitution rule has gained significant traction, if only to provide coaches with options.

Hybl, who has spearheaded the movement, said they took an informal poll at the convention last December and about 95 percent of coaches were in favor of the proposal. What transpired in Eugene will almost certainly put the topic at the forefront of any discussions this summer.

There still are a few issues to resolve, of course.

Most importantly, the coaches need to define what the rule would entail. To be effective, it must offer coaches complete discretion – the ability to sub out a player for a variety of reasons, from illness to injury to performance, like any other team sport. Limiting the rule to only injury or illness could lead to players feigning an ailment to benefit the team.

“We’ve got to be all-in,” Hybl said, “or not at all.”

The size of a program’s budget is another legitimate concern. Though Oregon and Texas have the funds to send an extra player to 13 events per season – and to cover the cost for another plane ticket, hotel room and food expenses – the same might not be true for mid-major schools, which would further distinguish the haves and have-nots. A logical compromise would be to allow substitutions only in the postseason, when the stakes are highest.

The individual race at each tournament (and season-long statistics) also could get messy, but that’s not a significant concern for most coaches, whose primary focus is on the team component.

With the season now over, the next step in the process is for coaches to conduct a formal poll and to submit legislation to the NCAA golf committee. Hybl said there has been a “wave of support” and that a substitution rule in college golf will be in place “sooner rather than later.” The visibility of the Hossler situation – Oregon also would have subbed, Martin said, with Thomas Lim suffering from flu-like symptoms – could expedite the timeline even more.

Interestingly, Texas coach John Fields didn’t use the team’s heartbreaking finals loss as an opportunity to agitate for change. Just the opposite, in fact.

“We had to overcome some difficulties, and we almost got that done,” he said. “Can you imagine how proud and how glowing we would have been if we had done that? But if we would have substituted somebody in, it would have detracted from that.

“Unfortunately, Beau had a tough, tough injury that made it more difficult for us to win this golf tournament. But nobody in here fretted about it. Nobody said, ‘Yeah, I wish we could substitute somebody in.’ They said, ‘Let’s go play those guys and let’s go win,’ and we almost did it.”


Who knows, maybe Texas wouldn’t have topped Oregon even with a healthy Hossler. But here’s guessing the No. 1-ranked Longhorns likely want a rematch at full strength, 5-on-5 – after all, they spotted the home team a point on the first tee, they had the NCAA Player of the Year favorite watching from outside the ropes, and they lost on the third playoff hole.

They now have a long summer to wonder what could have been.

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'The Golf Club 2019' adds Elvy to commentary team

By Nick MentaJuly 19, 2018, 4:45 pm

“The Golf Club 2019” is adding a new name to its commentary team.

Broadcaster Luke Elvy will join returning announcer and HB Studios developer John McCarthy for the title's third installment.

Golf fans will recognize Elvy from his recent work with CBS in addition to his time with Sky Sports, FOX Sports, TNT, PGA Tour Live and PGA Tour Radio.

A 25-year media veteran from Australia, he now works in the United States and lives with his family in Canada.

"Ian Baker-Finch was my right-hand man on Australian televison," Elvy told GolfChannel.com in an interview at the Quicken Loans National. "And Finchy said to me, 'What are you doing here? You should be with me in the States.’ He introduced me to a few people over here and that's how the transition has happened over the last five or six years."

Elvy didn't have any prior relationship with HB Studios, who reached out to him via his management at CAA. As for why he got the job, he pseudo-jokes: "They heard the accent, and said, 'We like that. That works for us. Let's go.' That's literally how it happened."

He participated in two separate recording sessions over three days, first at his home back in February and then at the HB Studios shortly after The Players Championship. He had previously teased his involvement back in May.

Although he doesn't describe himself as a "gamer," Elvy lauded the game's immediate playability, even for a novice.

“It’s exactly how you’d want golf to be,” he said.

"The Golf Club 2019" will be the first in the HB series to feature PGA Tour branding. The Tour had previously licensed its video game rights to EA Sports.

In addition to a career mode that will take players from the Web.com Tour all the way through the FedExCup Playoffs, "The Golf Club 2019" will also feature at launch replicas of six TPC courses played annually on Tour – TPC Summerlin (Shriners Hospitals for Children Open), TPC Scottsdale's Stadium Course (Waste Management Phoenix Open), TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course (The Players Championship), TPC Southwind (FedEx St. Jude Classic/WGC-FedEx St. Jude Championship), TPC Deere Run (John Deere Classic), and TPC Boston (Dell Technologies Championship).

“I played nine holes at Scottsdale,” Elvy added. “It’s a very close comparison. Visually, it’s very realistic."

The Golf Club 2019 is due out this August on PlayStation 4, XBOX One, and PC.

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Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 3:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.

Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.

Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.

“Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”

The problem was an expired visa.

Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.

No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.

His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.

One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.

His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.

“Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”

He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.

“It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”

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'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

“The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

“That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”

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Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:28 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.

“They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.

“The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”