By Jim Brighters
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Here are some rantings from the world of professional golf. Sort of.
TIME FOR A CHANGE
"Dropgate" as it has been called in some circles is still on the minds of most. Last week, I dealt with the specifics of the Michelle Wie/Michael Bamberger situation. This week, we'll look at the big picture.
The question remains in golf, how can a member of the press influence someone's score? It doesn't necessarily have to be the media. It could be the beer vendor or an eight-year-old kid watching from home. If someone who believes they are up to speed on the rules of golf thinks they see an infraction, tour officials can raise a stink.
Look at this year's baseball playoffs. There have been several blown calls by umpires that have not just influenced games, but seriously changed the landscape of the series. Now, should a beat writer for the Astros be able to call Major League Baseball and be able to get the umpires to reverse their call? Don't think so.
How about this one? Can that same beat writer call Bud Selig the following day and say Jermaine Dye was not hit by a pitch? Umpires look at the tape and reverse their decision from the night before. Astros win. Huh?
How often do you hear the word, "integrity," in golfing circles, especially in reference to the violation of rules? While I respect that, and players that follow the rules, Wie's situation magnifies a problem in professional golf.
Are the rules, or even the enforcement of them, outdated?
Rules are in place so that everyone has the same level of fairness on the playing field. These instances where members of the media or the average stiff at home call infractions hurt one group of people: superstars.
Do you think there were a lot of members of the media following the Candie Kung/Gloria Park pairing on that Saturday afternoon a few weeks back? Remember seeing that group on television that day? The only way you see someone on the tube is if they are near the lead, are a star, hole out from somewhere or get mauled by a grizzly bear in the middle of the round.
Is that unfair to Wie, Woods, Sorenstam and Mickelson? Yes it is. The more tournament officials allow outside forces to have an impact on rulings, the more it hurts the best players. That right there makes for an unfair bias.
The thing that has bothered me the most is the day wait in between. An incorrectly signed scorecard is a violation punishable only by disqualification. Nobody, not Wie, her caddy, her playing partner Grace Park, Park's caddy, the other members of the media following Wie, the galleries, astronauts looking down on the tournament from space nor any single person watching on television noticed the infraction. Except Bamberger.
The punishment of disqualification appears to be too much in this instance. Wie's intent was certainly not to cheat, which I guess doesn't matter that much, but the punishment doesn't seem to fit the crime. If you don't call a penalty on yourself that you don't think you committed, you will lose your paycheck.
The biggest problem with golf rules is that there is no consistent method out there to enforcing them. There are rules officials everywhere, but a player is not necessarily under obligation to use them. The onus is on the golfer to call the penalties on himself or herself.
Golfers certainly do have respect for the game to call penalties on themselves. They do it enough (normally with the aid of an official), that it's absurd for officials to allow outside forces to serve as policeman for the game.
Wie got burned because she was in the limelight that week and she didn't use an official to help her out. One of those flaws is easy to fix - always consult someone who gets paid to know the rule book in and out. The other one is tricky and I'm not quite sure how to stop it.
Maybe the way to stop people from calling fouls on golfers is for the players to know the rules better than others.
This is one of the most interesting turn of events in golf in a long time. I still ultimately believe that if a rule gets broken, you take your medicine. It just doesn't sit well in this case.
1.) What do you think of Lucas Glover winning in Disney World?
I'm always impressed by a guy who goes out and makes some crazy birdies to win a championship. Other than that, I honestly possess not one additional thought about Lucas Glover winning the FUNAI Classic.
2.) Why is Nick Price in the news?
He is criticizing International Team captain Gary Player, who offered the assistant captain job to Price just before the competition. Price turned it down and complained that Player screwed him by saying, "Nick Price refused to take it." I see Price's point of view, but why not just accept the offer? If you would have done it four months ago, what's the difference? Player certainly did not have any secret motive in destroying Price to the media. Price is one of the most-liked players in the sport. Player wouldn't go out of his way to rip him. He was making a simple statement.
3.) What do you think of the PGA Tour's decision to cancel the Nationwide Tour's Miccosukee Championship because of Hurricane Wilma?
The timing stinks with their Tour Championship this weekend, so several players lost a chance to get in that field. But folks, they cancelled it because of an approaching hurricane. Not light drizzle in the forecast. An actual hurricane. Tough break for those guys who didn't get into the 60-man field, but better than sitting through a hurricane.
4.) There are three Tour Championships this week. Excited the season is winding down?
Oh yeah, definitely winding down. The LPGA Tour is playing back-to-back events in Asia, the European Tour's 2006 season begins in like two weeks (that's not a joke), there are six silly season events, three more regular PGA Tour events and each tour's Q School. It's like a mini-vacation.
5.) Chrysler Classic winner....
Let's go with Tom Lehman. I think he's playing well lately and especially since being named the Ryder Cup captain last year. It's a hunch, but one I'll take. I haven't picked a winner since Tiger at the British Open in July. I'm due.
1.) Tiger Woods 2.) Phil Mickelson 3.) Retief Goosen 4.) Vijay Singh 5.) Sergio Garcia 6.) Chris DiMarco 7.) Jim Furyk 8.) Adam Scott 9.) Colin Montgomerie 10.) David Toms - stays in 10th because I don't have enough faith in Lucas Glover to keep up his torrid pace.
1.) Hale Irwin 2.) Mark McNulty 3.) Jay Haas - another week and another win. Will be playing Champions Tour golf exclusively next year. 4.) Dana Quigley - Hanging on to first on the Charles Schwab Cup list. I'd do whatever it took to win $1 million tax-free. I'd consider Gillooly-ing someone. 5.) Peter Jacobsen 6.) Tom Watson 7.) Jim Thorpe 8.) Craig Stadler 9.) Loren Roberts 10.) Bob Gilder/Mark James - couldn't decide between the two, so I left them both in.
1.) Annika Sorenstam 2.) Paula Creamer - won in Japan this week. Unfortunately, can't go any higher than second. 3.) Michelle Wie 4.) Cristie Kerr 5.) Natalie Gulbis 6.) Lorena Ochoa 7.) Pat Hurst 8.) Sophie Gustafson 9.) Birdie Kim 10.) Jeong Jang
Let's say you're running a tournament and the two top players in the world are coming. Everyone loves your tournament because you have Mickey Mouse, an amusement park and a place called Epcot Center, which is a funny word. Now, let's say that both of those top players miss the cut, which happens about as infrequently as a comet sighting. Now, which do you do, grin and bear it, or head to the bar? The bar, right? Me too.
Jose Maria Olazabal won the Mallorca Classic and, very quietly, he's put together a solid 2005 year. He can still be a factor in major championships. Well, all but the U.S. Open because he's not good enough off the tee.
Retief Goosen will skip the Mercedes Championships next year to spend time in South Africa. Can't fault the man. He says it takes 35 hours of travel to get to Hawaii from South Africa and that means you'd have to watch almost 18 movies to get through the flight. Yikes.