Mell: Backstopping Must Stop, PGA Tour Must Intervene

Randall Mell at is the first outside of posts here to take on the backstopping matter. With the PGA Tour Player of the Year trying to argue the practice is almost non-existent and it's his right to take advantage of another player's golf ball as a backstop.


Anyway, Mell notes that a Rules of Golf does cover this issue in the Decisions two ways, with the latter requiring, the players admit intent. What is still not addressed in any of this discussion is the obvious thumbing of noses to the spirit of the rules, something that has left many long time elite players aghast watching the practice evolve.

But if the spirit of the rules angle doesn't impact today's young players, maybe the dollar figure side will.

Using Sunday's Tony Finau incident as his example, Mell writes of the shot saved:

Finau took home $669,000 for finishing second on Sunday. Phil Mickelson and Chesson Hadley finished a shot behind Finau and took home $359,600 for sharing third place.

If Finau had not saved par at the 12th and fallen into a three-way tie for second, he would have taken home $462,933, as would Mickelson and Hadley.

That matters, and so do the FedExCup points at stake.

Mell says the PGA Tour cannot wait for the governing bodies to address something that imperils the integrity of the tour when it's trying to make sure it has all integrity ducks in a row.

The PGA Tour’s administration ought to step in, too, to address whether Thomas is right in his thinking, or whether there is more for players to consider. Fans should know whether the PGA Tour deems Thomas is correct in asserting he has “a right” to play quickly. This isn’t about trying to craft specific language for a new rule. It’s about examining hearts and creating awareness about the importance of even the appearance of impropriety.

There’s no definitive solution here, but if the Tour’s going to implement an integrity program to protect itself from gambling issues, then framing backstopping issues for players that will reduce the possibilities they become a powder keg some Sunday soon is worth flushing out.