Front 9-Edition 14

June 27, 2016 -

1.       In the continuing aftermath of the Rules fiasco at Oakmont during last week’s U.S. Open, USGA chief, Mike Davis issued an official apology on Thursday. Too little and much too late. After Dustin Johnson and playing partner, Lee Westwood, and then the rules official with their group all agreed that Johnson did not cause his ball to move (and TV replays bore that out), the USGA approached Johnson on the 12th tee to say that he “might” be penalized one stroke for causing his ball to move http://www.birdgolf.com/redemption/ . The two USGA Rules aficionados,  Jeff Hall and Thomas Pagel, who autonomously determined that Johnson had indeed caused the ball to move and would later penalize him that shot before he signed his scorecard, essentially called Johnson, (as well as Westwood and their pairing’s Rules official), liars. In this situation it is ultimately the call of the player unless a blatant breach has been committed. Not only did Johnson not break any Rule but he was tried and convicted and deemed liar on the say-so of two trumped-up bureaucrats with delusions of grandeur. “Sorry” is not nearly enough.

2.       Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, has had eight runner-up finishes since his last win at the DP World Tour Championship in 2013 (that was the year that Stenson won both the FedEx Cup on the PGA Tour and the European Tour’s equivalent, the Race to Dubai). Closing with a 1-under par, 71 for a 4-day total of 17-under par, the former World #1 won the BMW International Open in Germany today. Stenson finished three shots clear of Thorbjorn Olesen and Darren Fichardt to win his 10th career event on the European Tour.

3.       We may have seen Tiger Woods at the only golf tournament he will attend this year when he appeared at the Quicken Loans National, which benefits his foundation. At his news conference, Woods said that he was now able to play 18 holes, but unable to do so for consecutive days. It has been 10 months since the former World #1 has played on the PGA Tour and his status is very much in doubt for the remainder of 2016. Said Woods: “I’m just playing it week-to-week. I keep getting better, keep getting physically better. I just hope that everything clicks in and I can do it sooner than later.”

4.       There was however one member of the Woods family who played in a golf tournament this week. Woods’ 7-year old son Charlie finished tied for second in a U.S. Kids Golf South Florida Tour event on Thursday. Charlie shot 55 for 9 holes and finished five shots behind the winner in the 7-year old Age Division (Woods flew in from the Quicken Loans tournament in Washington D.C. to be on hand to watch his son).

5.       World #1 Lydia Ko and American star Morgan Pressel entered Sunday’s final round of the LPGA Tour’s Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G, tied for the lead at 14-under par. On Sunday, Ko would separate herself from Pressel and all her pursuers, shooting a final round, 68 and securing a 3-shot victory over Pressel and Candie Kung. This is the New Zealand phenom’s 13th win on Tour. She is 19 years old. The game today has a plethora of young stars on both the PGA and LPGA Tours but none shine so brightly as the delightful and supremely talented, Ko who continues to set Athenian records with such blissful grace.      

6.       On Wednesday, Rory McIlroy became the latest marquee player to withdraw from the Rio Olympics because of concerns for the Zika virus. The World #4 had insisted that he was definitely participating as early as the beginning of the month, but changed his mind with fears about the mosquito-borne virus that causes birth defects in babies (McIlroy is getting married to Erica Stoll later this year). The 27-year old 4-time Major Champion said: “Even though the risk of infection from the Zika virus is considered low, it is a risk nonetheless, and a risk I am unwilling to take.” He was replaced on the Irish team by Graeme McDowell who would subsequently remove his name from consideration the following day, citing the same reasons (G-Mac and his wife are expecting their second baby this Fall). Golf is returning to the Olympics for the first time since 1904 but the burgeoning list of players who will not be there is growing by the day. On Friday, South Africa’s Brendan Grace joined countrymen, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen who withdrew last month. Superstars, Adam Scott and Vijay Singh had made themselves unavailable earlier in the year and World #1, Jason Day, said he was still considering whether or not to play. 

7.       Acushnet, the parent company of golf-ball giant Titleist and Footjoy (shoes and gloves); will be issuing an initial public offering (IPO). There is no word on what exchange the stock will be traded, but it will have the symbol, GOLF. The deal could raise a reported $300 million. Acushnet was acquired by clothing magnate Fila sportswear in 2011 for $1.2 billion and is based in Massachusetts.        

8.       It was turn back the clock week at the Quicken Loans National tournament at Congressional Country Club, with 53-year old Vijay Singh and 46-year old Ernie Els both in contention heading into Sunday’s final round. Els would fade slightly on Sunday to finish in 5th place while Singh shot a 6-under par 65 to claim second place behind first time winner Billy Hurley III. Hurley had an outstanding Amateur career while at the Naval Academy and then fulfilled his 5-year obligation in service with the Navy rising to the rank of Lieutenant. The Quicken Loans honors the armed forces and are part of the monies they raise during the week (under the auspices of Woods’s charities). Hurley was one of two Sponsor’s exemptions for the week selected by Woods so his maiden win on the PGA Tour may well have been, meant to be.    

9.       In case you were wondering, The European Ryder Cup team will still have the familiar EU flag of a yellow ring of stars on the blue background despite the decision by UK voters to leave the EU.

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