Jan
24
2011
This Week’s PGA Tour Confidential: The Bob Hope Classic, Tiger, Paddy and More
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour Confidential

Tiger's last appearance at Torrey Pines was the 2008 US Open

For the few who haven’t read it yet (because I know it’s just about everyone’s first stop on Monday morning), check out the latest edition of PGA Tour Confidential. We discuss the world’s No. 3 making his first start this week at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, Padraig Harrington and Dimplegate, Captain Davis and the 2012 US Ryder Cup team (a bit premature), and of course, the thrilling finish at the Bob Hope Classic. Below are some excerpts to get a lively discussion started. First, let’s go to the incorrect scorecard rule and armchair rules officials:

Herre: Interesting development on the armchair official front last week. The Padraig Harrington DQ has both the R&A and the USGA saying they will take another look at the incorrect scorecard rule. Think they’ll finally change the rule for signing an incorrect scorecard?

Shipnuck: If not now, when? There’s a lot of chatter among the press and players, most of it in favor of abolishing the DQ, some of it for silencing fans altogether. I think it will get amended to a retroactive penalty, which I think is a mistake. I like that the rules of golf are so black-and-white. There’s enough shades of gray in sports.

Morfit: If every shot is on video, as it is now at the game’s highest level, it seems possible. It shouldn’t be that difficult to review the breach in question and give a more specific penalty than what is now given, which is a firing squad.

Charlie Hanger, executive editor, Golf.com: Seems like public sentiment is calling for it, based on the comments on GOLF.com and elsewhere. Whether you agree with armchair officiating or not, it seems unnecessarily harsh to DQ for signing a card you didn’t know was wrong.

Gorant: Hope so. It’s a terrible rule. You don’t want to give anyone an incentive to cut corners, but as long as the player didn’t knowingly sign for the wrong score I don’t see the point in the ex-post-facto DQ. Assess the strokes and move on.

Bamberger: No, I don’t think they’ll change. The DQ for singing an incorrect card is the thing that makes golfers hyper-focused on keeping a perfect card.

I’m not a fan of viewers calling in rules violations, mostly I don’t think it’s fair for guys to receive a punishment that doesn’t impact the whole field — only a small percentage of players get TV time. Also, armchair officials can only make a difference in the first three rounds unless they manage to get a hold of the Tour before a winner is announced. The rule is that once a champion is declared, the results are final.

So, should the punishment for signing an incorrect scorecard be changed to fit the crime? Well, actually, this would create a gray area and it’s impossible to judge intent. Plus, “intent” technically doesn’t always matter in the Rules of Golf — it’s your word, but if you break a rule, you’re still penalized because that’s the way it is. Conor wrote a great must-read column over the weekend, outlining the potential gray areas if the USGA makes an amendment.

Jhonny Vegas, baby!

Moving on. Who watched the finale of the Bob Hope?

Shipnuck: It was a great finish — lots of whooping in the Shipnuck household. This kid Vegas is totally likable and played his heart out for 89 holes. Near tragic finish at the last. Amazing up-and-down on the 91st. Then in the water on the 92nd and he still won. Woodland is a stud too. It was fun to watch two youngsters trying to hold on with so much at stake.

Wei: Woodland is really interesting. The kid hits it a mile. Every time I’ve heard his name come up, beginning at Q-school, the players just say, “He hits it LONG.” He didn’t start playing big national golf tournaments until he was a junior in college. He played basketball for a year at a Division II college and then realized there weren’t too many 6’0″ white guys in the NBA, so he decided to focus on golf instead. He transferred to Kansas and played on the men’s golf team. Growing up, he didn’t play any A.J.G.A., U.S. Amateurs, etc., because he was too busy playing basketball and baseball. Guy is just an incredible athlete, obviously.

Herre: Went back and read some of Vegas’s transcripts. Interesting stuff about the chilling effect Hugo Chavez has had on golf in Venezuela. He’s pretty much destroyed the game there.

Gorant: Yeah, that’s one country we won’t have to worry about in the Olympics.

Van Sickle: Actually, Olympic golf is an individual event, not a country-vs.-country team event, which I think would’ve been better. And on the contrary, we do have to worry about Venezuela because Vegas will almost certainly be in the field if he’s among the top 300 ranked players in the world by then.

Herre: Vegas will be a great story at Augusta. He’ll be like those Czech golfers who, in 1968, somehow got out of the country to play in the World Cup. They were welcomed as heroes.

Walker: At the risk of sounding like Sean Penn, I’m not ready to equate Venezuela with Iron Curtain-era Czechoslovakia. Excuse me now, I’ve got to go punch a photographer.

Bamberger: Like everybody, I loved the finale and the playoff, and I especially love that tournament golf does not care where you grew up, what you look like, what your parents do for a living, how old you were when you got your first full set, who your teacher is. It only cares what you can shoot for 72 holes. Or 92, in this case. Welcome to Augusta, J. Vegas. You’re gonna have a ball, and so will we.

Beautifully said, Bamberger. Like I wrote last night, Vegas is a guy you can’t help pulling for.

Alright, time for everyone’s favorite topic or at least the most intriguing these days: Tiger Woods. How will he play at Torrey Pines? I have no idea what to expect. The guy owns Torrey, winning the Buick Open six times and the epic ’08 US Open. I’m not concerned about his swing and what he’s doing with Sean Foley. I’m sure he’s hitting it fine. What made pre-scandal Tiger so dominant was his clutch putting. He always drained the ones he had to in pressure situations and he rarely missed a five-six footer. It was appalling to watch him yip those like a weekend hacker (including yours truly) last year. Now, much of this is mental and Tiger had a lot on his mind. Surely he’s been dedicating extra hours in the meditation room to regain his superior focus.

How do you think Tiger will finish? Will his descent to No. 3 in the world ignite him? Will he return to the pre-scandal Tiger? Who knows, but I bet he’s close! Only thing I’ll put money on is the Tour pairing him and Rocco together for the first two rounds.

Drop your thoughts below.

(AP Photos)