Is A Player Entitled To Wait Out Wind As Long As He Wants?

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Of course not!

J.B. Holmes epitomizes the same weird entitlement Matt Kuchar and Sergio Garcia exhibited in recent weeks after years of the PGA Tour coddling players.

And while his reading green books, not playing ready golf and in general taking his sweet time amounts to offensive behavior, couple that with the suggestion of a right to wait out gusts, and you are dealing with a mindset only remedied by penalty strokes.

From his post 2019 Genesis Open victory press conference:

So I was never even close to being on the clock all week.  I mean, yeah, when I first got out here I was really slow, but I've sped up quite a bit.  Like I said, the conditions made it tougher, too.  Sometimes you're waiting for the wind to stop blowing 30 miles an hour.  Like I said, I've gotten better.  There's times when I'm probably too slow, but it is what it is.  I was never on the clock.  Nobody ‑‑ never even got a warning.  TV wants everything to be real fast all the time.

The irony of the PGA Tour fearing the negative press from penalties? Situations like this, which have overwhelmed the “day after” chatter at the Genesis Open and overshadowed a great leaderboard, a win, a famous tournament host, amazing work by all to get the tournament in and the sponsor.

It is, after all, a player organization!

Just One Player Laid Up At Riviera's 10th Hole Sunday, Zero Yesterday

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Longtime readers know I’ve tracked the gradual shift of the ShotLink scatter chart at Riviera’s 10th toward the greensite.

The great risk-reward short par-4 is now officially a one-shot hole given that only one player appeared to intentionally lay up Sunday and only 40 over four days of Genesis Open play at Riviera. The rest—400 attempts—”went for the green”.

That, my friends, is a par-4 in name only.

The round 4 scatter chart:

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When the hole played shorter Saturday, no one laid up.

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And over four days, almost no one is even bothering to try to use the lay-up options once so revered before, you know, kale, high-fiber diets and agronomy conspired to shorten the hole.

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JB Wins Genesis, Pushes Back On Slow Play: "You play in 25 mph gusty winds and see how fast you play when you're playing for the kind of money and the points and everything that we're playing for."

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JB Holmes overcame a four-stroke deficit to fellow Kentuckian Justin Thomas in winning the Genesis Open.

My Golfweek game story on a weird day to wrap a weird week.

Obviously Holmes is no fan favorite after last year’s debacle at Torrey Pines but today’s conditions certainly were difficult. That said, as the video embedded below shows, there is a lack of urgency and ready golf issue, as well as a green reading book in this example.

But first, his comments after a final round 70 at Riviera:

Q.  The conditions made things really tough, but there was a lot of discussion on the broadcast and social media about the pace of play today.  What were your thoughts about the pace and is that something you were thinking about or working on?

J.B. HOLMES:  Well, you play in 25 mile an hour gusty winds and see how fast you play when you're playing for the kind of money and the points and everything that we're playing for.  The greens are fast, the ball  Adam had a putt, he kept setting the ball down and it was rolling.  

You can't just get up there and whack it when it's blowing that hard.  You've got to read wind and there's a lot of slope on these greens.  It's not an easy golf course and you throw in winds like that.  On 13 or 14, the par 3, I hit a 5iron and it stays pretty good.  He hits a 5iron really good and a gust of wind comes up and he comes up like 15 yards short, and I think he hit it better than I hit mine.  It's very tough.  Then when you get putting like that, it's just not going to be fast anywhere. 


And…

Q.  Adam Scott said just before that we know J.B.'s a slow player and there was some discussion on the broadcast.  Do you think that's a fair assessment?

J.B. HOLMES:  I've been slow in the past.  I don't think as slow as  I mean, I'm not the fastest player, but I mean, like I said, it was really windy today and we waited a lot early.  At the end, I took a little bit longer at the end, but you're talking about getting down to the tournament, you're talking about the last nine holes of the tournament.  I mean, I think  correct me if I'm wrong, but I think a lot of times the last group of the tournament gets a little bit behind.

So I was never even close to being on the clock all week.  I mean, yeah, when I first got out here I was really slow, but I've sped up quite a bit.  Like I said, the conditions made it tougher, too.  Sometimes you're waiting for the wind to stop blowing 30 miles an hour.  Like I said, I've gotten better.  There's times when I'm probably too slow, but it is what it is.  I was never on the clock.  Nobody  never even got a warning.  TV wants everything to be real fast all the time.

Earlier today on the fourth hole:

Video: Phil's Epic Four That Will Vanish From The Record Books After Early Round 1 Genesis Scores Nullified

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With round 1 suspended and early scores nullified due to the rules staff deciding the poor visibility. Mark Russell’s comments on this rare nullification of scores:

Q. Finally, you nullified the scores that were posted for the few players that were out earlier this morning, first time in more than five years since it's happened on the PGA TOUR. What was the decision for that? 

MARK RUSSELL: We don't do that very often, but if I had it to do over again, we would have delayed the starting times. We tee off at sunrise. We have to because here a lot of times we don't finish, we have to use all the available daylight we have. We teed off at sunrise and I was on the first tee with the players and it was very marginal, thinking in my mind this is going to get better every minute. They teed off, we had their balls under control, but the visual never got better. The cloud cover's so thick that you just couldn't see. 

So once we did suspend play, the committee got together and just decided that we need to nullify these scores because the visual, it never got where you could see where your ball went, barely see the flagstick. And like I say, under normal circumstances it would get better every minute. It never did. As a matter of fact, it got worse, so we decided to nullify the scores. That's not a common thing, but the committee does have the discretion to do that. We felt in this situation that's the thing to do. 

In his one hole that has now been nullified, Phil Mickelson did make this spectacular four:

Kuchar Digs In: It's A Social Media Issue, Won't Lose Sleep And Even Throws Steiny Under The Bus For Trying To Mop Up His Mess!

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Matt Kuchar spoke to GolfChannel.com’s Will Gray Wednesday at the Genesis Open and FedExCup leader, all-time leading money winner without a major who won last fall’s Mayakoaba event after a four-year winless drought with his “lucky charm” local caddie, is digging in.

Mooooooooooch!

Kuchar confirmed he paid “El Tucan” $5000 and the Golf.com report that his agent has since offered an additional $15,000 refused by Ortiz. And he’s not happy about that either. But more on that momentarily.

The graciousness ended fairly quicklky in the chat with Gray.

“I kind of feel like unfortunately some other people have got it in his head that he’s deserving something different than what we agreed upon,” Kuchar said.

He’s certainly correct that he paid $1000 more than they agreed upon, but given that it was Kuchar’s first win in __ years and that a winner’s bonus usually comes with the PGA Tour territory, he’s been blasted for not paying more.

“I ended up paying him $5,000 and I thought that was more than what we agreed upon,” Kuchar said. “I kind of think, if he had the chance to do it over again, same exact deal, that he’d say yes again.”

Good to see he learns from his mistakes!. And that he has shrewd sounding boards all around!

This may be the fatal quote…

“It’s done. Listen, I feel like I was fair and good,” he said. “You can’t make everybody happy. You’re not going to buy people’s ability to be OK with you, and this seems to be a social media issue more than anything. I think it shouldn’t be, knowing that there was a complete, agreed-upon deal that not only did I meet but exceeded.

“So I certainly don’t lose sleep over this. This is something that I’m quite happy with, and I was really happy for him to have a great week and make a good sum of money. Making $5,000 is a great week."

Glad he’s not losing sleep. But in digging in, he’s certainly losing fans and at some point, endorsement income built on a “good guy” image.

Another interview with Golf.com’s Michael Bamberger comes off even worse, suggesting “someone got in his ear”, referring to El Tucan, and says the attempt to make a payment was the idea of his agent. But he didn’t exactly approve of the idea.

Kuchar seemed slightly embarrassed that the additional sum had been offered, as he felt his financial obligation to Ortiz was complete. Asked how it came to be that the additional sum was offered, Kuchar said, “That was the agency.” He was referring to Excel Sports Management, which represents him. Kuchar’s agent there is Mark Steinberg, who also represents Tiger Woods and Justin Rose.

And in case those legendary cheapskate cred wasn’t strong enough…

Kuchar smiled and said, “It’s not coming out of Steinberg’s pocket.” In other words, Kuchar would be paying. He said the additional proffered payment was Steinberg’s effort at damage control.

Given that when you start typing Matt Kuchar into the Google Machine “Matt Kuchar El Tucan” pops up, the issue will, fairly or not, define his career.

Phil's Fighting Words: The Players Is Not A Must-Play For Me

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With The Players moving to March, fresh rye grass growing and Phil Mickelson targeting only courses he can win at, his rationale for possibly skipping The Players Championship is sound. Except that in Ponte Vedra, these are fighting (and fining) words!

From Will Gray’s GolfChannel.com item:

“It’s not one I feel like I have to play,” Mickelson said. “It’s not a must-play for me because I’m 48 and I’ve played it 25 times and I’ve already won it. If I were young and early in my career, I would say yes because I think it’s as close to a major as it can get. But it’s not the best course for me.”

That’s a no, he’s passing.

Genesis Open Moving To Jack And Arnie Status, Field Reduction To 120 Should Liven Up The "Playing Opportunities" Chatter

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ESPN.com’s Bob Harig reports that the Genesis Open hosted by Tiger Woods will move from 144 players to 120 in 2020 and see boosts in both purse and exemption-legngth from winning.

Sources told ESPN that the Genesis Open will receive "elevated status,'' which means it will have a significantly higher purse, offer a three-year PGA Tour exemption to the winner (up from two years) and will have an invitational field that will be reduced to 120 players. This week's tournament at Riviera will have 144 players.

According to sources, an announcement on the new status for the tournament is expected to be made Wednesday, when Woods addresses the media after playing in the tournament pro-am.

I have mixed feelings as anything that elevates such a historic stop is exciting while rewarding the role of Woods and Genesis for making a long term commitment. It’s a wealth of riches for the L.A. stop given Tiger’s involvement, the cachet of Riviera and a prime spot on the calendar for drawing big audiences.

Reducing the field from 144 to 120 is, in part, a statement about the inability of getting a full field around Riviera this time of year. As I noted for Golfweek, a tournament that has gone from 156 to 144 to 120 should open a few eyes to the perils of chasing distance to the point a course cannot defend itself or function. Slow play is often more than just about golfers not making up their mind.

The downside to this news?

The event has been an “Open” competition since 1926 and with that comes a spot for the local PGA section, amateur qualifiers or the successful “Collegiate Showcase” replacement. Throw in four Monday qualifying spots and we know larger fields deliver more storylines, diversity and competitiveness. They also help offset some of the dead weight that turns up too often ( welcome again to LA Vijay, enjoy LAX on a Friday night!).

Sergio: "I’m focused on working hard to channel that emotion the correct way and to be the best me"

In anticipation of his 2019 PGA Tour debut, Sergio Garcia has posted an apology for his actions in Saudi Arabia, that included a bunker tantrum for the ages and vandalism to the Royal Greens course, leading to disqualification.

Happy to be in my first @pgatour event of the season and have my brother on the bag again this year. I’ve obviously had some time to reflect, and want to again say I’m sorry to my fans and fellow competitors. What happened is not an example I want to set, and it's not who I truly am. I am an emotional player and while I believe that's one of my biggest strengths, it's also one of my biggest flaws. I’m focused on working hard to channel that emotion the correct way and to be the best me, learn from it and move forward. Thanks for all the support.

90 Years Later: How The 10th At Riviera Evolved

The 10th hole as bunkers are added around the green in 1928. The left “lay-up” bunker had also been recently installed. The two foreground bunkers and far right bunker were part of the original design.

The 10th hole as bunkers are added around the green in 1928. The left “lay-up” bunker had also been recently installed. The two foreground bunkers and far right bunker were part of the original design.

A few things to remember about Riviera when it hosted its first Los Angeles Open 90 years ago.

—The course was in the “countryside” and a bit of a gamble as a location so far from the city center downtown.

—Riviera was just a year-and-half old with a reputation for extreme difficulty (“Where do the members play?”-Bobby Jones).

—The course underwent modifications prior to the tournament by George Thomas and Billy Bell despite concerns about the difficulty.

When I wrote The Captain in 1996, a year after The Riviera Country Club : A Definitive History, we only knew from mentions in the tournament program that modifications were made to the 5th and 9th holes (greenside bunkers added). A huge bunker on the 7th fairway could also be seen in aerial photos, as could the most significant of all: new bunkering at the world famous short par-4 10th.

After the books were published, I traveled to Golf House and with the help of USGA researcher Patty Moran, found many wonderful articles including this Country Club Magazine piece below by Scotty Chisholm, co-founder of the L.A. Open and friend to Thomas, Bell and many other luminaries.

In it he details why the bunkers were added by Captain Thomas throughout the course under Billy Bell’s supervision—a right he and Bell retained when taking the commission in 1926.

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The remainder of the story. Also note the “Boles McCrackan’s Bletherings” by Chisholm explains Riviera’s 6th hole design by Thomas and when the hole was a 145-yarder, not as played from the silly back tee since added.

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The explanation of 10th hole changes suggests the original bunkerless green was not challenging enough.

“This hole has been too easy to score on even for the so-called dubs. It measures 320 yards and it is a well known fact that the golf architect of today experiences more difficulty in designing a hole of this length than any other. Although the green lies at almost right angles to the tee and difficult to hold with a pitched shot, Thomas has decided to trap it heavily to the right and cut down the putting surface.”

That decision proved a brilliant one, though as the bunkers have become deeper, the green smaller and more pitched with modern speeds pushing 13, the 10th has teetered on the edge of silliness.

Playing now as a long par-3 due to modern driving distances, some of the lay-up strategy is gone as well and silly bottlebrush bushes are needed to defend the hole from even more tee shots driving near the green without regard for accuracy.

Rain this year may take some of the fire out of the 10th green, and that’s not all bad given how it has teetered on the edge of sanity in recent playings. Regardless, the changes made 90 years ago have held up well and are a credit to the original architect’s willingness to make adjustments. And, contrary to an attempted scam designed to reduce the role of Thomas and Bell, the changes were very much made by the original designers as documented at the time.

In the 1929 L.A. Open program after bunkers were added around the green.

In the 1929 L.A. Open program after bunkers were added around the green.

90 Years Later: Slow Play Escapades Were Part Of Riviera's First Los Angeles Open

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Ninety years since Riviera hosted its first $10,000 Los Angeles Open and fourth played, the world’s best return to play for $7.4 million and a Genesis luxury automobile.

Just getting tees in the ground and 72 holes played that week was a miracle, as organizers were having trouble raising funds for the purse and days were too short for getting a full field around the brutal test Riviera posed.

A December Sportsman’s fundraising dinner was hosted by comedian Will Rogers—fresh off an aborted run for President—at the incredible price of $100 a plate. Rogers paid his way at what was called the first $100 a plate dinner. A total of $9000 was raised for the Los Angeles Junior Chamber of Commerce to host the event, which founded by Scott Chisholm, Sherman Paddock and Willie Hunter (gracing the 1929 program cover below and later Riviera’s longtime pro).

As I detail here for Golfweek, headliner Walter Hagen threw a bit of a fit when faced with a slow pairing alongside Tommy Armour. Given Brooks Koepka’s recent criticism of inconsistent pace enforcement, some things never really change. Well, Hagen never used a private parts reference. That we know of.

But as I note in the piece, the slow play issues at Riviera are now less a player-driven issue and more of a product of traffic jams brought on by the shortening of holes. Fitting for this city.

My Instagram post of the 1929 program:

What's More Entertaining? Phil Wanting To Finish In The Dark Or Watching Paul Casey's Face As Lefty Makes His Case?

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The eyes bulge ever-so-slightly, otherwise Paul Casey does one spectacular job not engaging in a full eye-roll as the set and light was all but gone at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Bill Speros recaps the zany post-sunset antics.

Skratch posts the conversation followed by Mickelson’s reaction when the horn sounds (at 17 tee, apparently hoping someone changes their mind!). Play over the final two holes resumes Monday at 8 am PT.

Phil Mickelson's "Overnight" Driver Swing Speed Jump...

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I’m less interested in Phil Mickelson’s off-season speed bump from a distance regulation perspective and more from a mentality boost he says this gives him. However, it is still an amazing leap at age 48 and back to using last year’s Rogue driver.

Some of the improvement is health related, as Steve DiMeglio writes:

He hit the gym to build up his strength and explosiveness, especially in the offseason. He had a biomechanics study done and looked at the kinematic sequence of his swing to pinpoint his strengths and weaknesses. He spent hours working on his putting and iron play.

Further, he hired a nutritionist and is steadfastly adhering to a new diet. Sugar, for instance, is a no-no, and for a man who rarely said no to any dish or a second helping in the past, that takes will power.

“There are a lot of things that you can do to help your body heal, recover, and get strengthened,” Mickelson said.

And from Kevin Cunningham’s Golf.com item on Phil as he’s contending in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

“So at the end of last year, even though I played poorly, I had something happen where it seemed like overnight,” Mickelson said on Friday, “it had really been a year in the works, where my driver speed, it shot up 5, 6 miles an hour, which rarely ever happens to anybody, yet alone somebody in their late 40s.”

Here’s the interesting part confirming that launch angle, bomb and gouge mindset is vital in Mickelson’s eyes:

“I think that’s going to lead to some good things,” Mickelson said. “If you’re going to be crooked off the tee, you sure as heck better be long and that’s kind of the way I’m trying to approach it.”

Of course he’s been incredibly accurate so far this week.

Phil Hits All His Fairways And It's Not Even Close To The First Time

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Phil Mickelson hit all fairways in his AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am opener and believed that was a first.

But as Steve DiMeglio notes for Golfweek, the bigger surprise was just how many times Mickelson has accomplished the feat for someone, uh, mildly accurate off the tee during his illustrious career.

“So history was made today,” Mickelson said. “To the best of my knowledge it’s taken me 27 years and a few months to hit all fairways in a single round in a competition. I may have done it before, but I don’t ever recall doing it.”

Well, Mickelson has done it before. Six times on the PGA Tour, in fact. But let’s cut his memory some slack. The most recent time he accomplished the feat came 21 years ago in the Farmers Insurance Open.

His total recall aside, Mickelson was impressive throughout his round. His seven birdies swamped his lone bogey on the fifth hole and he stood in a tie for third place behind pacesetters Brian Gay and Scott Langley, who also played the Shore and shot 64.

Mickelson also made news by adding the Genesis Open at Riviera where he’s a two-time champion. He had previously decided to skip the event but after a missed cut in Scottsdale, gives the tournament 7 of the world top 10.

The Fisherman Is Ready For His Monterey Peninsula Debut!

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Hosung Choi has got an A-list partner in actor Chris O’Donnell and a pairing with Jerry Kelly and Aaron Rodgers for three days as Rodgers had hoped, including Saturday at Pebble Beach. (Full times and TV listings here.)

Choi’s already got a logo, a following, haters and who knows what else. But the 45-year-old has no plans to change his swing, writes Steve DiMeglio. Shoot, maybe by Saturday Peter Kostis will even have seen him swing and might have his first humorous observation since the mid-90s when Frank Chirkinian fed him a line!

While some pretty big PGA Tour names have arrived and some intriguing pro-am names are in town too, Choi adds a grace levity that will undoubtedly be squashed when Bill Murray comes into camera view.

Here is Choi, world 194, teeing off the 18th at Pebble Beach:

Clarifying Alignment Clarifications: Haotong Li Still Would Be Penalized

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Lots to unpack on the caddie alignment saga, so let’s start with the USGA’s release bullet points summarized here for Golfweek.

The update issued Wednesday could be confusing with so much language and follow up points when actually very little was changed.

So here’s a quick summary since my initial reading assumed Haotong Li would not have been penalized. Turns out, he still would be under this reading because his caddie was aware he was deliberately behind him when he took his stance and proved this awareness when he tried to walk away as Li moved into his stance.

Li could have backed off and things would have been fine. This escape clause now extends to all shots, not just the putting green exception.

As for Denny McCarthy in Scottsdale, the governing bodies concluded he had not taken a stance and therefore the initial penalty call was incorrect. So while the PGA Tour rescinded the penalty and the USGA/R&A took a hit from players jubilant that the Tour had their back, the change was actually made because of an incorrect ruling.

That said, the incorrect ruling stemmed not from official incompetence but the overall confusing nature of the rule and debatable nature of whether McCarthy took a stance.

Whew.

If you’re still wanting more, here goes…

LIBERTY CORNER, N.J. and ST ANDREWS, Scotland (Feb. 6, 2019) – The USGA and The R&A have provided two clarifications to Rule 10.2b(4) regarding restrictions on caddies standing behind players, which take effect immediately. 

The purpose of Rule 10.2 is to reinforce the fundamental challenge of making a stroke and to limit the advice and other help a player may receive during a round. 

Rule 10.2b(4) ensures that aiming at the intended target is a challenge that the player must overcome alone. It states:

“When a player begins taking a stance for the stroke and until the stroke is made, the player’s caddie must not deliberately stand in a location on or close to the player’s line of play behind the ball for any reason. If the player takes a stance in breach of this Rule, he or she cannot avoid penalty by backing away.”  

Exception – Ball on Putting Green: When the player’s ball is on the putting green, there is no penalty under this Rule if the player backs away from the stance and does not begin to take the stance again until after the caddie has moved out of that location.”

The two clarifications provided today can be summarized as follows: 

  • Meaning of “Begins Taking a Stance for the Stroke”:  If a player backs away from a stance, the player is not considered to have begun “a stance for the stroke.” Therefore, a player can now back away from his or her stance anywhere on the course and avoid a breach of Rule 10.2b(4) if the caddie had been standing in a location behind the ball. 

  • Examples of When a Caddie is Not “Deliberately” Standing Behind the Ball When a Player Begins Taking Stance for Stroke: As written, the Rule does not apply if a caddie is not deliberately standing behind a player. It is clarified that the term “deliberately” requires a caddie to be aware that 1) the player is beginning to take a stance for the stroke to be played and 2) he or she (the caddie) is standing on or close to an extension of the line of play behind the ball. Several examples are given in the clarification to provide additional guidance.

The complete language to these two clarifications can be found here

These major clarifications confirm the recent rulings given in relation to Rule 10.2b(4).  

Clarifications provide additional guidance on a Rule based on the circumstances that may arise in applying it. They are part of an ongoing list provided to players and referees.    

“Experience has taught us that introducing a new Rule requires us to balance patience with a willingness to act quickly when necessary,” said Thomas Pagel, USGA senior managing director of Governance. “With so many pivotal changes to the Rules this year, we’ve committed to offering any assistance needed in making the Rules easier to understand and apply, without taking away the inherent challenge of playing the game. We appreciate that everyone involved in drafting these clarifications worked together with this same goal in mind.”

David Rickman, executive director – Governance at The R&A, said, “These clarifications are designed to improve the operation of the Rule and give the players more opportunity to avoid a breach while remaining true to the purpose of the Rule. We appreciate that this requires some players and caddies to make an adjustment, but we believe there is widespread acceptance that it is for the player alone to line up a shot.”

"Behind the scenes of Johnny Miller's broadcast farewell"

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Ryan Lavner of GolfChannel.com tagged along with Johnny Miller for his final days with NBC Sports, and besides the still horrifying revelation of Johnny’s love for cheese whiz, there is plenty to enjoy.

This was fun:

The provocative commentary turned off some fans at home and didn’t endear Miller to those in the locker room, many of whom thought he was a bitter know-it-all lobbing grenades from above. Televised sports is rife with pros-turned-broadcasters who offer platitudes and coddle the athletes they cover. Miller never intended to be malicious; his mantra was accuracy, truth and honesty will always prevail.

“I like to say that I take off their clothes, but I leave their underwear on,” Miller says.  

If he ever thought he crossed the line on-air, he took two fingers and zipped his mouth shut. That was his cue to change the subject, even if a stunned Hicks sometimes needed 15 seconds of silence to recover.

Early in this farewell telecast, Hicks tries to goad Miller into a few more golf spike-in-mouth moments – “We know you’ve been holding back for 29 years, so have at it!” – but the opportunity for some vintage Johnny candor never presents itself. This is a day of celebration, after all, and sprinkled throughout the broadcast are tributes from Tour legends and past commissioners, NBC colleagues and other notable broadcasters, even a taped message from President Trump

For those who missed it, Roger Maltbie’s live farewell was incredible:

 

While We're Reviewing Dysfunctional New Rules: The Grace Drop Technique And Green Reading Books Need Revisiting

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Now that the governing bodies are working overtime to deal with the alignment rule after conceding a lack of success, the navy and grey slack set needs to clear more space on their emergency meeting agenda.

I’ll start with the drop problem spotted by readers John A and June who correctly noted Branden Grace’s incorrect drop on 17 of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Or was it incorrect? After all, he’s almost around knee height as his knee is positioned! (See above.)

The rule changed was explained this way:

  • How a ball may be dropped is simplified; the only requirement is that the ball be let go from knee height so that it falls through the air and does not touch any part of the player’s body or equipment before it hits the ground.

The overall absurd look of the knee height concept can go any day now. It will not speed up the game. Or grow it.

Meanwhile, the Forecaddie explains why you saw players consulting green books seemingly as much as ever at the WMPO. Because the change in spec allowances are not working according to Adam Scott.

“I think the rule has not done anything to change their impact,” Scott said.

But hey, the flagstick rule we definitely can keep!

Rickie Says What We All Understand In Winning The Wasted: "I hope I never have to go through that again"

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It was another wild and wacky finale in Scottsdale, with yet another rules of golf issue helping unravel Rickie Fowler’s lead before the regrouped and claimed the 2019 Waste Management Open title.

He hit some stellar shots down the stretch but we all know there is only one moment worth revisiting:

Dan Kilbridge at Golfweek with the written explanation for those not agonizing with Fowler as things unraveled in surreal fashion.

He was still comfortably in the lead when his pitch shot at 11 rolled over the green and into the water. Fowler took a routine drop behind the green, but his ball rolled back into the water after he walked up to take a look at the green.

That led to multiple conversations with Slugger White, PGA Tour vice president of rules and competition, behind the green. They were still trying to figure out what he scored on the hole after Fowler rolled in a 16-foot putt for a 7 on the par 4.

As it played out, Fowler made the triple bogey because he was given a penalty when his ball – which was deemed to have been at rest – rolled back into the water, the same as if he had hit it into the lake.

As the rules of golf receive greater scrutiny this week, pro golfer Bob Estes noted what appears to be another strange difference between the green and elsewhere on the course. In this case, a ball moving without a player causing it to do so and how the new rules treat such moments:

Statement from PGA TOUR on Rule 10.2b(4): No Penalties Until The Rule Can Be Changed

This one is certainly unprecedented: a rule of golf suspended and just a month into its implementation.

Furthermore, we have a retroactive rescinding of a penalty, admission that the wording of a simplified rule has confused people, and even the possibility of multiple recent past situations being brought up to the point that the PGA Tour referees are spending their days reviewing video.

Here is the statement issued at 3:02 pm ET, with interruptions:

Statement from PGA TOUR on Rule 10.2b(4)

Since the situation during Round 2 of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which resulted in PGA TOUR player Denny McCarthy receiving a two-stroke penalty under Rule 10.2b(4), the PGA TOUR has been in constant contact with the USGA about how the new rule should be interpreted. 

Oh to see that Slack!

During the course of these discussions, this morning a similar situation from yesterday’s round involving Justin Thomas was also brought to our attention. 

Big names involved, this is getting too dangerous!

It is clear that there is a great deal of confusion among players and caddies on the practical application of the new rule during competition, as well as questions surrounding the language of the rule itself and how it should be interpreted. 

So at least one thing is clear in this.

As a result, with the full support of the USGA and The R&A, the rule will be interpreted whereby the two aforementioned situations as well as future similar situations will not result in a penalty.  McCarthy’s score has been updated accordingly. 

Good thing he made the cut.

We will be working vigorously with the USGA and The R&A over the coming days to further analyze and improve the situation with this rule.  The USGA and The R&A will be making an announcement shortly.

And here is the USGA’s statement issued to Golfweek:

Following an ongoing dialogue with players and in cooperation with the PGA TOUR rules team, the USGA and The R&A revisited the penalty assessed to Denny McCarthy during round 2 of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. After an additional review of available video this morning, it was determined that the penalty would not apply in this instance nor in a similar instance involving Justin Thomas. In each of these cases, when the caddie was standing behind the player, the player had not yet begun taking the stance for the stroke, nor could useful guidance on aiming be given because the player was still in the process of determining how to play the stroke. The same would be true for any similar situation that might occur.

The USGA and The R&A recognize that further clarity on how to appropriately apply this Rule is needed. We are committed to assessing its impact and will provide the necessary clarifications in the coming days.

This would seem to be a new interpretation of the rule given that the language I’ve read and the instructions players received said that any kind of caddie involvement behind the player as they began their stance taking was a violation.

Now it would seem a “useful guidance” element has been added. Wow.

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Another Day, Another Alignment Penalty Prompt's Calls For New Re-Write Of New Rule

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Lots to chew on in the latest dust-up under the new rules and while Haotong Li’s was debatable because of the split second nature, it was a violation.

Denny McCarthy’s infraction in the Waste Management Phoenix Open may be debatable enough from all points of view that a rules re-write is already necessary, as Ryan Lavner writes for GolfChannel.com. Because while there is little question his caddie was directly behind him and where no caddy should be these days under the new rules, McCarthy had technically not taken a stance and was a bit too far from the ball to reasonably hit a shot. He also then backs off and goes through his routine, something that would absolve his caddie on the greens, but not in a fairway. Oy.

He was immediately deemed to have been in a “golf posture” and therefore guilty of a violation under 10.2b (4).

Here goes:

The rule is destined to fail because of the difference between green and tee/fairway situations. Lavner offers a solution that I know the folks in Far Hills and St. Andrews will be grateful for.

So here’s what the governing bodies should do, as soon as possible:

1. Allow players to back away and reset anywhere on the course, not just the greens;

2. Remove the phrase “begins taking a stance”  – because even they admit that there is “no set procedure” for determining when that begins – and replace it with “takes a final stance”;

3. Reinforce that only “deliberate” intent to align should be subject to a two-shot penalty.

I do hate to take this opportunity to point out that the issues with this rule are only partially a product of wording. The lack of serious beta testing, particularly on a stage as large and bizarre as professional golf, is really doing a disservice to what are mostly simplified and improved rules.

The other danger for the governing bodies if they don’t act fast: pro tours adopting a local rule workaround that damages their credibility.