Friday, April 28

Lexi Thompson Explains the Mark Seen Around the World

LPGA STAR LEXI THOMPSON HAS RECEIVED a lot of attention in recent weeks for the four-shot penalty that cost her a second major victory at the ANA Inspiration. The penalty came after a viewer message that was based on high-definition video evidence. Earlier this week the USGA and R&A introduced a new decision to the Rules of Golf that will limit video review.

Yesterday at the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout, Thompson faced the media for the first time since the incident. She said it has been a difficult time and hard to sleep. She explained the mark. And she cried.

Here's a snippet from Lexi on the mark:
"I have seen the video, and I can see where they're coming from with it. It might have been, I guess, me rotating the ball, but like I said, I've always played by the Rules of Golf. Growing up with two older brothers, they were always on me for playing by the Rules of Golf. 
"There's no need for me to improve anything. Those greens were absolutely perfect, and the whole week there was nothing in my line to be moving it from anything. So, I have no reason behind it. I did not mean it at all."

Thursday, April 27

Golf on TV: Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Volunteers of America Texas Shootout, Volvo China Open

From a Golf Channel press release.

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 25, 2017) – The PGA TOUR moves to Louisiana this week to unveil an exciting new format at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. 80 two-man teams will compete in a 72-hole event that will feature a stroke play, alternate-shot format in the first and third rounds, and a better-ball format in the second and final rounds. The LPGA Tour this week boasts a field that includes the entire top-20 in the current Rolex Women’s World Rankings, all convening at the Volunteers of American Texas Shootout. The European Tour will stage the Volvo China Open in Beijing, as Haotong Li is set to defend his 2016 title.


Zurich Classic of New Orleans
Dates: April 27-30                                                                      
Venue: TPC Louisiana, Avondale, La.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         3:30-6:30 p.m. (Live) / 7:30-10:30 p.m. (Replay)
Friday              3:30-6:30 p.m. (Live) / 7:30-10:30 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday          1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 7-11:30 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday            1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 7-11:30 p.m. (Replay)

Tournament Airtimes on CBS (Eastern):
Saturday          3-6 p.m.
Sunday            3-6 p.m.

Broadcast Notes:
Event adopts new team format: The field consists of 160 players competing as 80 two-man teams. The format features a stroke play, alternate shot format in the first and third rounds, and a better ball format in the second and final rounds, with the low 35 teams (and ties) making the 36-hole cut. Both players from the winning team will be credited with an official PGA TOUR victory and receive the normal two-year exemption on TOUR, though there will be no world ranking points allotted for those competing in the event.
Notable Teams: Jason Day/Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson, Branden Grace/Louis Oosthuizen, Ryan Palmer/Jordan Spieth, Daniel Berger/Thomas Pieters, J.B. Holmes/Bubba Watson, Kevin Chappell/Gary Woodland, Bud Cauley/Justin Thomas, Steve Stricker/Jerry Kelly, Brooks Koepka/Chase Koepka and Patrick Cantlay/Patrick Reed.    


Volunteers of America Texas Shootout
Dates: April 27-30
Venue: Las Colinas Country Club, Irving, Texas

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         Noon-3 p.m. (Live)
Friday              Noon-3 p.m. (Live) / 1:30-3:30 a.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday          3-6 p.m. (Live) / 4-6 a.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday            3-6 p.m. (Live) / 4-6 a.m. (Monday replay)

Broadcast Notes:
Ko leads elite field that includes entire top-20 of current Rolex Women’s World Rankings: World No. 1 Lydia Ko leads a stout field that will feature the entire top-20 in the current Rolex Women’s World Rankings. Lexi Thompson is among those in the field, as she is scheduled to make her first start since finishing runner-up at the ANA Inspiration in April.
Format: This week’s shootout format is unique in that there is a cut to low 70 and ties after 36 holes and then an additional cut to low 50 and ties after 54 holes.
Shin defends: Jenny Shin finished two shots ahead of Amy Yang, Gerina Piller and Mi Jung Hur to claim her first LPGA Tour victory.
Headlining the field: Lydia Ko, So Yeon Ryu, Ariya Jutanugarn, In Gee Chun, Lexi Thompson, Shanshan Feng, Inbee Park, Ha Na Jang, Amy Yang, Anna Nordqvist, Michelle Wie and Brooke Henderson.


Volvo China Open
Dates: April 27-30                                                                      
Venue: Topwin Golf & Country Club, Beijing, China

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Live, Wednesday overnight) / 2:30-5:30 a.m. (Live)
Friday              10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Live, Thursday overnight) / 2:30-5:30 a.m. (Live)
Saturday          6-10 a.m. (Tape delay)
Sunday            6-10 a.m. (Tape delay)

Broadcast Notes:
Li defends: Haotong Li finished three strokes ahead of Felipe Aguilar to earn his first European Tour win.
Headlining the field: Ross Fisher, Bernd Wiesberger, Thongchai Jaidee, Thorbjorn Olesen, Edoardo Molinari, Thomas Bjorn, Y.E. Yang, Chris Wood, Haotong Li and Jeunghun Wang.

Wednesday, April 26

VIDEO: Tony Jacklin Drives the Thames River

I RECENTLY HAD CONTACT WITH TONY JACKLIN, who has been great to me in recent years. We first got acquainted beginning in 2012 and as I wrote DRAW IN THE DUNES about him and Jack Nicklaus at the 1969 Ryder Cup at Royal Birkdale.

I was searching for something when I ran across the above oddity in Jacklin's breakout 1969 season, during which he won the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

As you'll hear in the clip, Walter Hagen and Jack Nicklaus also drove golf balls across the Thames.

Reporting in January on "An Evening with Tony Jacklin," the Bradenton Herald wrote: "[T]he video showed him ripping a drive 356 yards from the top of a building in England across the Thames River.

(It was atop the Savoy Hotel.)

"That was a publicity stunt," Jacklin said. "... There was a ship in the Thames with a ... light measuring the distances. They made a performance of bringing the golf balls on the silver tray. ... When you swing and looking at traffic down (there), you get this feeling you're going to go with (the ball). So I was on my back foot the whole time."

Tuesday, April 25

USGA: 'New Rules of Golf Decision Limits Use of Video Review'

This could also be called the Lexi Thompson decision after her fiasco at the ANA Inspiration. It's a long time coming. Video review scenarios have created many problems for major championship golf in recent years. The ruling bodies have now spoken. The following is from a USGA press release.

FAR HILLS, N.J., USA AND ST. ANDREWS, SCOTLAND (April 25, 2017) -  The USGA and The R&A have issued a new Decision on the Rules of Golf to limit the use of video evidence in the game, effective immediately. 

The two organizations have also established a working group of LPGA, PGA Tour, PGA European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America representatives to immediately begin a comprehensive review of broader video issues, including viewer call-ins, which arise in televised competitions.

New Decision 34-3/10 implements two standards for Rules committees to limit the use of video: 1) when video reveals evidence that could not reasonably be seen with the "naked eye," and 2) when players use their "reasonable judgment" to determine a specific location when applying the Rules. The full language of the Decision can be found here

The first standard states, "the use of video technology can make it possible to identify things that could not be seen with the naked eye." An example includes a player who unknowingly touches a few grains of sand in taking a backswing with a club in a bunker when making a stroke.

If the committee concludes that such facts could not reasonably have been seen with the naked eye and the player was not otherwise aware of the potential breach, the player will be deemed not to have breached the Rules, even when video technology shows otherwise. This is an extension of the provision on ball-at-rest-moved cases, which was introduced in 2014. 

The second standard applies when a player determines a spot, point, position, line, area, distance or other location in applying the Rules, and recognizes that a player should not be held to the degree of precision that can sometimes be provided by video technology. Examples include determining the nearest point of relief or replacing a lifted ball.

So long as the player does what can reasonably be expected under the circumstances to make an accurate determination, the player's reasonable judgment will be accepted, even if later shown to be inaccurate by the use of video evidence.

Both of these standards have been extensively discussed as part of the Rules modernization initiative. The USGA and The R&A have decided to enact this Decision immediately because of the many difficult issues arising from video review in televised golf.

The standards in the Decision do not change any of the current requirements in the Rules, as the player must still act with care, report all known breaches of the Rules and try to do what is reasonably expected in making an accurate determination when applying the Rules.

Video-related topics that require a deeper evaluation by the working group include the use of information from sources other than participants such as phone calls, email or social media, and the application of penalties after a score card has been returned.

USGA Executive Director/CEO Mike Davis said, "This important first step provides officials with tools that can have a direct and positive impact on the game. We recognize there is more work to be done. Advancements in video technology are enhancing the viewing experience for fans, but can also significantly affect the competition. We need to balance those advances with what is fair for all players when applying the Rules."

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, "We have been considering the impact of video review on the game and feel it is important to introduce a Decision to give greater clarity in this area. Golf has always been a game of integrity and we want to ensure that the emphasis remains as much as possible on the reasonable judgment of the player rather than on what video technology can show."

The USGA and The R&A will consider additional modifications recommended by the working group for implementation in advance of Jan. 1, 2019, when the new code resulting from the collaborative work to modernize golf's Rules takes effect.

Monday, April 24

USGA VIDEO: 9 Things You Didn't Know About Golf Courses

IN HONOR OF EARTH DAY, which was on Saturday, the USGA produced the above edition of "The 9."

Join host Fran Charles and USGA course care experts as they take a look at nine environmental benefits you (maybe) didn't know about golf courses.

Friday, April 21

Another Back Surgery for Tiger Woods

AS REPORTED THURSDAY ON TIGERWOODS.COM, Tiger Woods has undergone his fourth back surgery.
Tiger Woods (Allison)
"The surgery went well, and I'm optimistic this will relieve my back spasms and pain," Woods said. "When healed, I look forward to getting back to a normal life, playing with my kids, competing in professional golf and living without the pain I have been battling so long." 
The operation was performed by Dr. Richard Guyer of the Center for Disc Replacement at the Texas Back Institute. 
"After he recovers from surgery, he will gradually begin his rehabilitation until he is completely healed," Guyer said. "Once that's accomplished, his workouts will be geared to allowing him to return to competitive golf. 
"If you are going to have single-level fusion, the bottom level is the best place for it to occur. Some individuals are born with one less vertebrae, which would be similar to someone who had a single-level fusion," Guyer added.

Thursday, April 20

Golf on TV: Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf, Valero Texas Open, Shenzhen International

From a Golf Channel press release.

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 19, 2017) – World Golf Hall of Fame members Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Lee Trevino will headline the Legends division at the PGA TOUR Champions’ Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge, airing on Golf Channel. The PGA TOUR is in San Antonio for the Valero Texas Open, where Charley Hoffman will defend his 2016 title. On the European Tour, Bubba Watson and Tommy Fleetwood lead the field at the Shenzhen International in China.


Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge
Dates: April 21-23                                                                      
Venues: Buffalo Ridge (Springs Course) & Top of the Rock, Ridgedale, Mo.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday              Noon-3 p.m. (Live) / Midnight-2:30 a.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday          5-7 p.m. (Live) / 12:30-2:30 a.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday            5-7 p.m. (Live) / 12:30-2:30 a.m. (Monday replay)

Broadcast Notes:
Champions Division Teams: Michael Allen/John Daly, Woody Austin/Mark Calcavecchia, John Cook/Joey Sindelar, Jay Haas/Fred Couples, Miguel Angel Jimenez/Jose Maria Olazabal, Tom Jenkins/Mark O’Meara, Jerry Kelly/Steve Stricker, Davis Love III/Scott Verplank, Sandy Lyle/Ian Woosnam, Andy North/Tom Watson.
Legends Division Teams: Gary Player/Jack Nicklaus, Mike Hill/Lee Trevino, Allen Doyle/Hubert Green, Tony Jacklin/Tom Weiskopf.
Austin/Allen defend: Michael Allen and Woody Austin finished one stroke ahead of David Frost and Roger Chapman to win the 2016 edition of the event.


Valero Texas Open
Dates: April 13-16
Venue: TPC San Antonio (AT&T Oaks Course), San Antonio, Texas

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         3:30-6:30 p.m. (Live) / 7:30-10:30 p.m. (Replay)
Friday              3:30-6:30 p.m. (Live) / 9 p.m.-Midnight (Replay)
Saturday          1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 8 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday            1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 8 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)

Tournament Airtimes on CBS (Eastern):
Saturday          3-6 p.m.
Sunday            3-6 p.m.

Broadcast Notes:
Hoffman defends: Charley Hoffman finished one shot ahead of Patrick Reed to claim his fourth PGA TOUR victory.
Headlining the field: Patrick Reed, Jimmy Walker, Zach Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Matt Kuchar, Kevin Chappell, Ryan Moore, Charley Hoffman and Ian Poulter.


Shenzhen International
Dates: April 20-23                                                                      
Venue: Genzon Golf Club (A Course), Shenzhen, China

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Live, Wednesday overnight) / 2:30-5:30 a.m. (Live)
Friday              10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Live, Thursday overnight) / 2:30-5:30 a.m. (Live)
Saturday          6-10 a.m. (Tape delay)
Sunday            6-10 a.m. (Tape delay)

Broadcast Notes:
Lee defends: Soomin Lee finished two shots ahead of Joost Luiten and Brandon Stone to earn his first European Tour win.
Headlining the field: Bubba Watson, Tommy Fleetwood, Ross Fisher, Thorbjorn Olesen, Bernd Wiesberger, Y.E. Yang, Edoardo Molinari, Haotong Li and Soomin Lee.

Wednesday, April 19

The Caddie Blues of Lydia Ko

LPGA PHENOM LYDIA KO HAS GONE through nine caddies in her career. Ko is 19. (She will be 20 in less than a week.) Look, I'm just an "armchair golfer" who writes about the game. I don't know what it's like between the ropes or to be an elite golfer.

But nine caddies at 19? There's something wrong here, right?

Ko's latest caddie, Gary Matthews, was canned after nine events. Ko finished runner-up to Cristie Kerr at the LPGA Lotte Championship in Hawaii this past weekend, but that didn't help her bag man.

"What was so strange for me," Matthews told Tim Rosaforte, "we worked unbelievably well in Hawaii, the communication and everything was just phenomenal."

Added Matthews: "I wish her the best, but she's gone through so many caddies, she needs to wake up on caddie-player relationships. Otherwise she’ll just keep doing it."

Monday, April 17

Wesley Bryan Wears Tartan and Eats Taco Bell

WESLEY BRYAN WON THE RBC HERITAGE by a shot on Sunday at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Bryan, 27, played college golf for University of South Carolina. It was his first title on the PGA Tour.

"At the end of the day, it doesn't really change anything other than I now have one PGA Tour victory," Bryan said in USA TODAY. "There are a lot of guys that have just one PGA Tour victory. My one goal is to get number two at this point."

Four shots back as Sunday began, Bryan charged to the top with a 4-under 67 to edge Luke Donald. The newest PGA Tour winner celebrated with his wife at Taco Bell and then answered questions on Facebook Live, wearing the Tartan jacket.

(H/T Geoff Shackelford)

Friday, April 14

Teddy Leinbach on the Problem in Golf

Following is one more message from Teddy Leinbach and his golf film project, "50 OVER." (I mentioned Teddy earlier in the week here.) Why again? I was about to delete his original email to me (below) and realized it made his case about golf so well. I want to share it with you. Plus I'm enthusiastic about millennials, especially millennials who are passionate about golf. (The bold text treatment is by me.)

By Teddy Leinbach

My name is Teddy Leinbach. I am a recent college graduate with a film degree and, more importantly, a 6 handicap.

To get straight to the point, there is a problem in golf right now. Golf is coming off the high of the Tiger [Woods] era and interest continues to decline every year. Even with exciting young golfers taking over the game at the pro level, the amateur level continues to be dominated by an older, wealthier demographic, and fails to draw much interest from anyone else.

As someone who found a passion for the game away from a country club, I believe this is not a fundamental problem with golf, but rather a problem with the way it is marketed, especially in the United States.

I am in the pre-production phase of a film I am directing called "50 OVER." It is a journey film about four friends who travel across America, stopping in all 50 states in 50 days, playing a round of golf in each state.

By using second-hand clubs, playing at inexpensive courses, discussing our ideas with like-minded people, camping along the way, dressing in non-traditional golfing attire, and embodying an attitude that is drastically different from the stereotypical golfer, my team and I hope to provide a glimpse into a different, less elite, more fun view of golf.  

Here is a link to our Facebook page and website to learn more:

I hope that you agree with the message we are trying to send and [that] you think this is important for the game.

Thursday, April 13

Golf on TV: RBC Heritage, LOTTE Championship, Mitsubishi Electric Championship, Trophee Hassan II

From a Golf Channel press release.

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 12, 2017) – The PGA TOUR is on Hilton Head Island this week for the RBC Heritage, where 33 of the 93 players in last week's Masters field are competing, including the past three champions at this event – Matt Kuchar (2014), Jim Furyk (2015) and Branden Grace (2016). The LPGA Tour is in Hawaii for the LOTTE Championship, airing in primetime on Golf Channel from Wednesday-Saturday. Four of the top-five in the Rolex Rankings, headlined by No. 1 Lydia Ko, all five past champions at this event, including 2014 champion Michelle Wie, are competing. The PGA TOUR Champions are in Georgia for the Mitsubishi Electric Classic, with six Masters champions in the field: Larry Mize, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Mark O’Meara, Jose Maria Olazabal and Ian Woosnam.


RBC Heritage
Dates: April 13-16
Venue: Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         3-6 p.m. (Live) / 11 p.m.-3 a.m. (Replay)
Friday              3-6 p.m. (Live) / 11 p.m.-2 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday          1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 11 p.m.-2 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday            1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 7-11:30 p.m. (Replay)

Tournament Airtimes on CBS (Eastern):
Saturday          3-6 p.m.
Sunday            3-6 p.m.

Broadcast Notes:
Grace defends: Branden Grace defeated Luke Donald and Russell Knox for his first career PGA TOUR win.
Headlining the field: Keegan Bradley, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Bryson DeChambeau, Ernie Els, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Jim Furyk, Branden Grace, Bill Haas, Charley Hoffman, Martin Kaymer, Matt Kuchar, Marc Leishman, Davis Love III, Graeme McDowell, William McGirt, Sam Saunders, Vijay Singh, Brandt Snedeker and Danny Willett.


LOTTE Championship
Dates: April 12-15                                                                      
Venue: Ko Olina Golf Club, Ko Olina, Oahu, Hawaii

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Wednesday     7-11 p.m. (Live) / 11 p.m.-3 a.m. (Replay)
Thursday         7-11 p.m. (Live) / 5-6:30 a.m. (Friday replay)
Friday              7-11 p.m. (Live)
Saturday          7-11 p.m. (Live)

Broadcast Notes:
Lee defends: Minjee Lee defeated In Gee Chun and Katie Burnett by one stroke to earn her second career LPGA Tour win.     
Headlining the field: Aditi Ashok, In Gee Chun, Carlota Ciganda, Paula Creamer, Brooke Henderson, Ariya Jutanugarn, Cristie Kerr, Lydia Ko, Alison Lee, Minjee Lee, Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lincicome, Inbee Park, Michelle Wie, Cheyenne Woods and Amy Yang.


Mitsubishi Electric Classic
Dates: April 14-16                                                                      
Venue: TPC Sugarloaf, Duluth, Ga.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday              12:30-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 2-4 a.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday          3-6 p.m. (Live) / 2-4 a.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday            3-6 p.m. (Live) / 11:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. (Monday replay)

Broadcast Notes:
Austin defends: Woody Austin won on the second playoff hole in 2016 for his second career PGA TOUR Champions win.
Headlining the field: Bernhard Langer, John Daly, Woody Austin, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Larry Mize, Mark O’Meara, Jose Maria Olazabal, Kenny Perry, David Toms, Tom Watson and Ian Woosnam.


Trophee Hassan II
Dates: April 13-16                                                                      
Venue: Royal Golf Dar Es Salam (Red Course) – Rabat, Morocco

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         6:30-8:30 a.m. / 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)
Friday              6:30-8:30 a.m. / 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Live)
Saturday          9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Live) / 12:30-1:30 p.m. (Golf Channel Digital, Live)
Sunday            9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Live) / 12:30-1:30 p.m. (Golf Channel Digital, Live)

Broadcast Notes:
Wang defends: Jeunghun Wang defeated Nacho Elvira with a birdie on the second playoff hole for his first career European Tour win.
Headlining the field: Thomas Bjorn, Nicolas Colsaerts, Erik Compton, Joost Luiten, Matteo Manassero, Brandon Stone, Jeunghun Wang, Mike Weir, Y.E. Yang.

Wednesday, April 12

A Sports Illustrated Cover for Sergio Garcia

SERGIO GARCIA, THE 2017 MASTERS CHAMPION and redeemed man, graces the cover of the new issue of Sports Illustrated. Look at it. It's a great cover that says a lot, especially if you know the history and context behind the images. The pure emotion is, dare I say, perfect.

In SI's national cover story, Alan Shipnuck wrote, "By the time GarcĂ­a arrived at Augusta last week he was largely a forgotten figure, despite a lopsided win two months earlier against a good field in Dubai. But he had a secret weapon: He was in love again, this time with Angela Akins, 31, a former Golf Channel talent who now wears an engagement ring the size of a satellite dish."

Sergio also putted well. And that 8-iron at No. 15 that led to an eagle? That was a Masters moment and one of the greatest shots of the Spaniard's life.

Said Martin Kaymer: "Poor Sergio… It wasn't fair to be made into Tiger's rival—who could live up to that? I think it damaged him a little bit."

We also know that Sergio was his own rival, a talented and tormented golfer who was often in contention at majors and fizzled nearly every time.

Now Garcia is the ultimate insider, a man with a Green Jacket and a prized locker where legends are eternal.

This issue will be on newsstands tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 11

VIDEO: '50 OVER': A Golf Journey Throughout America

A RECENT GRADUATE OF VCU'S ACCLAIMED art school, Teddy Leinbach is a documentary filmmaker. He is also a golfer. Put the two together and you have "5O OVER," a golf journey to 50 states in 50 days that will include -- you guessed it -- 50 rounds.

"This summer, my team and I will travel to all 50 states in 50 days to play a round of golf in each state in order to show the world that golf is more than collared shirts and country clubs," Teddy writes.

"Golf is a sport beyond the country club. Popular among the wealthy, golf has earned a narrow reputation in the United States. But drop the price and pretension, and golf is, dare I say, cool?"

(I want to go.)

Help Teddy with his quest and also support golf. 

In addition, watch the below video. There's a reason golf is seen as old, rich and elitist. Because it is. But is that all it can be?

50 OVER PROMO from teddy leinbach on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 9

Sergio Garcia: 'I Felt the Calmest I've Ever Felt on a Major Sunday'

WE HAD SEEN THIS MOVIE before. After playing a solid opening nine of 2-under 34 that tied him for the lead with Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia faltered. He bogeyed 10. He bogeyed 11. Coming to the 13th hole at Augusta National, Garcia, the man of major sorrows, trailed Rose by 2 strokes.

That's where the Spaniard hit what looked like the fatal shot, a drive that didn't cut enough and nicked a tree. From that spot, it looked like bogey or worse for Garcia. If Rose made birdie, the lead would be 4 shots and the Englishman would likely stroll to the Green Jacket ceremony.

But Garcia showed uncharacteristic resolve. He saved par at 13. Rose also parred.

"I knew I was playing well enough to make something happen," Garcia said in Butler Cabin about the par that saved his chance to win the Masters.

At 14, he made birdie, picking up a stroke.

Then, at 15, he hit the shot of the tournament, a towering 8-iron that never left the flag, bounced off the stick and came to rest 12 feet away.

"I hit one of the best 8-irons I've ever hit," Garcia said.

The putt barely made it to the hole, dropping in for an eagle. With three holes to play, the two Ryder Cup teammates were tied.

"We're good friends," Garcia said. "We're cheering each other on."

But make no mistake. They were also trying to beat each other. It was mano a mano.

"I felt the calmest I've ever felt on a major Sunday," Garcia said.

Both had short birdie putts at the par-3 16th. Rose made. Garcia missed. But then Rose bogeyed 17 and the two were knotted at 9 under as they approached the 18th green. Both birdie putts missed right.

"I thought I had the putt on 18," Garcia said about his 5-footer.


This time, though, Sergio Garcia didn't find a way to lose. Instead, he won it with a 10-foot birdie on the first playoff hole, the 18th, after Rose hit a drive that strayed into the trees and made bogey.

In his 74th major championship, on Seve Ballesteros' birthday, Garcia broke through. The golf world erupted and celebrated with him.

"It's been such a long time coming," Garcia said in Butler Cabin.

A few moments later, 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett put the Green Jacket on Sergio Garcia. Some people, including me, wondered if this day would ever come. Sergio is a major champion at last.

Friday, April 7

Four Share Halfway Lead at 2017 Masters

RICKIE FOWLER SHOT THE BEST ROUND on Friday at the Masters, a 67. Meanwhile, first-round leader Charley Hoffman slipped to 75 after an opening 65. Sergio Garcia had a 69 and Thomas Pieters a 68 to round out the four players at 4-under 140. Those two Americans and two Europeans are leading the Masters heading into the weekend.

Five more players are under par after two rounds: William McGirt, Ryan Moore, Jon Rahm, Fred Couples and Justin Rose.

2015 Masters champion Jordan Spieth fought his way into contention with a 69 that brought him to even par.

Fifty-three players made the cut at 6-over 150. Defending champion Danny Willett won't be around for the weekend.

Thursday, April 6

Charley Hoffman Fires 65, DJ Withdraws

ODD. THAT'S HOW I FEEL ABOUT Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club. Maybe it's mostly because of the bizarre nature of the last 24 hours for Dustin Johnson, currently the best golfer on the planet.

DJ will not play in this year's Masters. He withdrew shortly before his 2:03 p.m. tee time because he slipped and fell on steps at his Augusta rental home and landed on the small of his back. (Stocking feet and wet stairs are a dangerous combination.)

Johnson got treatment all night and showed up for his pre-round warm-up. But he was in obvious pain and couldn't make his normal golf swing. Nor could he tee his golf ball. His withdrawal put a damper on on the first day of the Masters. I hope this freak injury will have no lingering effects on Johnson, whether physical or psychological. If nothing else, it disrupts his recent run of exceptional play that resulted in three victories. That can't be good.

For the rest of the field who had to play Augusta National today, the conditions were tough. The weather was cool and breezy. The scores tell the story. Normally mediocre or worse, 74s and 75s were more like par on Thursday.

For example, Jason Day shot 74. Masters champions Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott shot 75. (Spieth's 75 included a 9 on No. 15.)

Ernie Els had 72. Rory McIlroy, one of the pre-tournament favorites, also carded even par.

However, Charley Hoffman was a man on fire. His 65 included nine birdies.

"I was hitting all my spots," Hoffman said.

Other players in red numbers were William McGirt (69), Lee Westwood (70), Russell Henley (71), Kevin Chappell (71), Andy Sullivan (71), Matthew Fitzpatrick (71), Phil Mickelson (71), Justin Rose (71), Jason Dufner (71) and Sergio Garcia (71).

Tomorrow, cut day, is forecast to be another windy day at Augusta National. There's a long way to go. The players will need to be patient. And beware of stairs.

Wednesday, April 5

VIDEO: Phil Mickelson on 'Loose' Ball Marking

THERE WAS PLENTY TO UNPACK with the Lexi Thompson situation at the ANA Inspiration and how it may have cost her a major championship.

One issue that has perhaps received less attention during the uproar was the manner in which Lexi marked and remarked her ball.

Phil Mickelson was asked about it at the Masters and chose to address the topic without mentioning names. Phil's take: It's a problem on tour among certain players.

In addition, a commenter at this blog said:

"Ms. Thompson failed to replace her ball to the spot where it originally rested. It is not that hard to replace a marked ball to its original resting spot. I read her 'tweet' statement. She never acknowledged that she made an error in replacing the ball and that such an error correctly results in a penalty."

Masters Traditions and the Roars of Augusta

From the archives.

THE MASTERS IS THE ONLY MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP played at the same golf course every year. The tournament founded by Robert Tyre Jones Jr. (Bob Jones) has been on the calendar every year since 1934, except for a three-year interruption during World War II. The world's greatest golfers have competed in Bob Jones's invitational, and since 1949 they have dreamt of slipping into the Green Jacket.

There's something to be said for Masters traditions, even with their many odd expressions, styles and hues. Traditions can be an easy target and fun to chide, but in the end most golf fans love them.

[Masters Food: A Tradition Unlike Any Other]

Why? Why do so many people watch this tournament and make a golf pilgrimage to Augusta National Golf Club?

For its beauty and pageantry, of course, like the Kentucky Derby, the "Run for the Roses." But also because Augusta National is the game's ultimate echo chamber. No golf course or tournament produces more anticipation, more excitement and more roars than the Masters and Augusta National.

Golf fans know this golf cathedral like they know their medicine cabinets.

We know where there will be birdies and maybe eagles, and where there can be bogeys or worse. We know each of the final nine holes from years of watching the waning hours and deciding shots of the championship. We know where the pin placements will be on Sunday. We even know how the putts will break.

Most of all, we know there will be roars—birdie roars and eagle roars, Saturday roars and Sunday roars. Who will produce the roars at this year's Masters? Who will don the Green Jacket?

Today is a day to be thankful for Masters traditions. And to anticipate the roars of Augusta. I can almost hear them now.

Monday, April 3

VIDEO: A Ruling Again Upstages a Major Golf Championship

Guilt by high definition and slow motion? This was not the original intent
of the Rules of Golf.

SO YEON RYU WON THE ANA INSPIRATION in a playoff with Lexi Thompson, but the cacophony surrounding the year's first major has nothing to do with Ryu and everything to do with a four-shot penalty assessed to Thompson at a late stage of the final round -- and a day after the incident occurred.

This continues to be a major problem for major golf championships, including the players, fans, tours and governing bodies. In fact, it's beyond ridiculous.

At Ron Sirak wrote:
The stain that will always hang over this tournament is that for the third time in less than a year, one of golf's major championships was marred by a rules situation that could have been avoided. This time, Thompson was the victim. It cost her a second title at the ANA, for moving her ball less than an inch. 
Someone who apparently has little going on in their life sent an email to the LPGA fan website during Sunday's final round, pointing out that Thompson had misplaced her marked ball on No. 17 in Saturday's third round.
Apparently, a rules rewrite by the USGA will address the issue that probably cost Thompson her second major title, but those simplified rules will not be implemented for a while.

What bothers me is how disruptive these incidents are to major golf championships. Once a round is over and the scorecard is signed, shouldn't it be finished and not subject to change because of an email from a TV viewer?

When nearly everyone feels terrible about what happened to Thompson (and all seem to agree that she didn't move her ball less than an inch intentionally), then how can penalizing her four shots (two for the rules infraction and two for a wrong score) be a good thing?

And yet there are different views about what happened.

AP golf writer Doug Ferguson said this on Facebook:
I'm just amazed how it gets glossed over in this LPGA rules debate that the problem started with Lexi. She marked her ball closer. That's a penalty. So the idea that a TV viewer influenced the outcome? No. Lexi influenced the outcome. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but so much of this debate is missing the point. Criticize the rule all you want, but you can't arbitrarily decide when to apply the rules ... to EVERYBODY.
I don't have a problem with TV viewers. When you're made aware of a violation, you have to act on it.
So, there you go. No sympathy for Lexi.

But Ferguson also said this: "If a rule were to be changed, I think it's prudent to have every round 'in the books' an hour after the last putt falls, instead of waiting for 72 holes (or 54) for it to be considered closed."

I agree with Ferguson's "in the books" sentiment, and I imagine many, if not most, golf observers do as well. These next-day reviews and rulings are agonizing for all and hurting the game. It's time to put an end to these rules fiascoes.