Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Professional golfers got to where they
are for a reason - they excel at a very difficult sport. What makes the sport
The rule book.
So many rules questions can come into play in one round that it's mind-blowing.
For the third time in four years, there was a big rules question at the Abu
Dhabi Golf Championship. The offenders of the violations were Padraig
Harrington, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.
In 2011, Harrington's ball moved when he picked up his ball mark, and because
he didn't take a penalty or replace his ball, Harrington was disqualified for
signing an incorrect scorecard.
Woods, in 2013, drove in sandy area with underbrush covering the sand. His
ball was embedded, and playing partner Martin Kaymer agreed. The tour's chief
The 2-stroke penalty caused Woods to missed the cut.
This past weekend, McIlroy took a drop in the rough from a pedestrian walkway.
However, after taking the drop, he was still standing on the line of the
walkway when he played his shot.
The rules state you must be completely clear of the hazard when playing your
next shot. McIlroy was given a 2-stroke penalty, and lost the tournament by
How does this continue to happen at the top level of the game? First off, the
players seemingly don't know the rules well enough. Secondly, there aren't
enough rules officials at these events.
Annika Sorenstam was not only one of the greatest golfers of all time, she was
a stickler for knowing the rules. So much so that she regularly attended USGA
If you ask other LPGA players, they might say Sorenstam used that to her
advantage from time to time, but I'd point the finger at those other players
for not knowing the rules as well as Sorenstam did.
There are two things that I would do if I led a major golf tour: 1) make
players pass rules tests on a regular basis, and 2) have rules officials on
every hole at every event.
If players want to play at the highest level, they should be able to figure
out where to drop when their golf ball crosses into a red- or yellow-staked
They also should know that they need to be fully clear of a hazard after
taking their drop. By the way, McIlroy was called out by another caddie in his
group for that violation.
That caddie may get a bunch of ugly looks from other players for a while, but
kudos to him for spotting the violation and having the guts to call it.
As for the second part of my thoughts, adding an official to every hole seems
to contradict making players know the rules. I'll grant you that.
However, if the players aren't able to figure out the proper ruling, having
more than a couple officials at each event will make it easier to get the
rules decisions done quickly and accurately.
The majors have rules officials walking in every group, as does the WGC-
Accenture Match Play Championship. The big tours - PGA, European and LPGA -
should be able to pay for 18 officials each week.
If they don't want to buck up for said officials, revert back to my first
thought. Make the players pass rules tests a few times a year. If the tour can
grab a player right after a round for a drug test, why not grab him for a
Professional golfers should start acting more professional, and that includes
knowing the rules through and through.
REED SPRINTS TO SECOND TITLE
Patrick Reed broke through for his first tour win in August. This past weekend,
he blitzed the field en route to win No. 2.
The 23-year-old struggled in his first year as a pro last year. From the start
of the season through July 4th weekend, he played in 20 events and collected
just two top-10 finishes versus nine missed cuts.
Something clicked for Reed at the John Deere Classic. He shared seventh there
and followed with a tie for ninth at the Canadian Open. He was not eligible
for the next two events, but that didn't halt his momentum.
Reed carded three rounds in the 60s to get into a playoff at the Wyndham
Championship. In that playoff, he beat fellow rookie Jordan Spieth for the
At the Humana Challenge last week, Reed started with three straight 63s on
three different courses. He set the tour record for lowest score in relation
to par after 54 holes, and was the first player in tour history to shoot 63 or
better in each of the first three rounds.
"(It) almost seems like I'm in a putting coma. The hole seems huge, it almost
feels like I can't miss," Reed said after the third round.
He led by a touchdown entering the final round and only needed a 1-under 71 to
cling to the title. The only reason his final margin was two strokes is
because his two closest competitors closed with a 63 and a 62.
Reed blitzed the field with 30 birdies. Not only is that a lot, even for the
Humana Challenge, Reed only had 44 total birdies in his previous four events
His momentum might be halted a little bit as he withdrew from this week's
event with a rib injury.
Let's hope that doesn't last. A fun, new rivalry between Reed and Spieth is
something the tour can build around as some of the older stars starting moving
over to the Champions Tour.
* As great as Bernhard Langer was on the PGA Tour, he continued that stellar
play on the Champions Tour. With five birdies in the last six holes, he broke
through a crowded leaderboard for his 19th win in 127 career starts on Sunday.
* The LPGA season opens this week in the Bahamas. The weather surely can't be
as bad as last year, when a foot of rain fell on the course two days before
the event started. They managed to play three rounds on a 12-hole course to
get 36 holes in. Nothing like that will happen this week.
The Sports Network