On April 3, 1959, 19-year-old amateur Jack Nicklaus missed the cut at his first Masters. But just six Aprils later, Masters co-founder Bobby Jones said on the occasion of the Golden Bear's second of six Masters titles, "Nicklaus played a game with which I am not familiar."
Fast forward 30 years and Nicklaus played a practice round with Stanford’s Tiger Woods and was so blown away with the U.S. Amateur champion that he predicted that Woods would win 10 Masters green jackets, or as many as he and Arnold Palmer won combined.
The lords of golf have proposed more than 100 changes to the Rules of Golf that would go into effect in 2019. In light of the current firestorm stemming from the unfortunate situation involving Lexi Thompson on Sunday at the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A would be wise to head back to the drawing board and let truth and justice be their guiding light.
Once again, the excessive punishment didn’t fit the crime in golf, a sport that too often has sent someone to jail for going 4 mph over the speed limit. In this case, the LPGA’s review of a TV viewer’s email determined that Thompson a day earlier had breached rules 20-7c (playing from a wrong spot after not replacing her ball in the exact place) and 6-6d (signing for a lower score). In giving her a pair of two-stroke penalties, golf violated the life rule of common sense and suffered another black eye. If it weren’t Masters week, I’d propose a suspension.
Did she gain an advantage?
Many players at the Masters on Monday were discussing the four-shot penalty that Lexi Thompson incurred in Sunday’s final round of the ANA Inspiration, the LPGA’s first major of the year (“4-stroke penalty stuns Thompson at ANA,” April 3, bit.ly/2nxsvFa).
In case you missed it, Thompson marked her ball on the 17th hole of Saturday’s third round at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., before facing a 2-footer for par. When she replaced the ball, it clearly was in a different position than where it had been before she marked it.
Don’t let TV replays ruin golf
The officiating of professional golf by TV viewers has to be stopped (“4-stroke penalty stuns Thompson at ANA,” April 3, bit.ly/2nxsvFa).
There is nothing fair about rules violations being cited against players who happen to be playing well enough to appear on the televised coverage. If all players are not subject to the same scrutiny, it should not be allowed. Unfortunately for Lexi Thompson, had she just marked and allowed her fellow golfer to putt out, this never would have been an issue at all.
Cleveland Golf will introduce three new putter models for its Huntington Beach Collection next week. The three putters – the 3, the 6C and the 10 – are made from 304 stainless steel and will be available April 14.
PGA Tour: Masters Tournament
Augusta (Ga.) National GC
Symetra Tour: Northern California Classic
Windsor (Calif.) GC
LPGA: Lotte Championship
Ko Olina GC, Kapolei, Hawaii
European Tour: Trophee Hassan II
Royal Golf Dar Es Salam, Rabat, Morocco
PGA Tour: RBC Heritage
Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Champions Tour: Mitsubishi Electric Classic
TPC Sugarloaf, Duluth, Ga.
Junior: Sage Valley Junior Invitational
Sage Valley Golf Club, Graniteville, S.C.
European Tour: Shenzhen International
Genzon GC, Shenzhen, China
Web.com Tour: United Leasing and Finance Championship
Victoria National GC, Newburgh, Ind.
PGA Tour: Valero Texas Open
TPC San Antonio (Oaks Course)
Champions Tour: Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge
Top of the Rock, Ridgedale, Mo.
Symetra Tour: Sara Bay Classic
Sara Bay CC, Sarasota, Fla.
National Golf Day
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