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TV technology has attention of USGA

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ATLANTA (AP) - Television evidence indicated a possible rules violation. The official talked to the player before he signed his card, and the player was adamant that no violation occurred.

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The decision went in favor of the player because the evidence was deemed inconclusive.

This was not Tiger Woods at the BMW Championship.

This was Colin Montgomerie in the Volvo Masters at Valderrama in 2002. Video appeared to show Montgomerie's putter touch the ball before it had stopped rolling after he missed a 5-foot putt on the 10th hole.

He wasn't penalized, and wound up sharing the title with Bernhard Langer when the playoff couldn't continue in darkness.

Why no penalty?

``We went through this involved question-and-answer,'' European Tour chief referee John Paramor said Tuesday. ``He said, `I did not touch this ball.' We had no other evidence apart from these two-dimensional TV picture. If it had been shot from another angle, maybe it could have been proved.''

Golf and television have come a long way.

Woods was penalized two shots in the BMW Championship despite arguing that his ball only oscillated as he tried to remove a branch in front of it. The video that showed otherwise was taken in high-definition, clear enough to see every dimple.

And this might be golf's next frontier, at least when it comes to the rules.

``Our Rules of Golf committees - the USGA and R&A - are always trying to look forward at what they should address,'' said Thomas Pagel, the USGA's senior director of rules and competition. ``Certainly, HDTV has been on the forefront for the last several years.''

Pagel pointed to April 2011 and Decision 33-7/4.5 as ``the beginning of the review of HDTV and what impact it has.''

The faces on those decisions were Padraig Harrington and Peter Hanson. Harrington was disqualified for an incorrect score when HDTV revealed his ball moved when he was removing his marker on the green. Hanson's violation was a double-hit.

In both cases, the infraction was revealed only through the use of high-def - in Hanson's case, it was played in super-slow motion.

The next edition of the Decisions of Golf is due in January 2014.

``As we continue to have these issues, it's certainly something to consider,'' Pagel said. ``But I don't want to get ahead of myself.''

Regarding the players who get far more TV coverage than anyone else, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said there was no easy answer.

``We have a lot more cameras on the players who are in contention Sunday,'' he said. ``You've got 70-something players on Sunday. Seven or eight or 10 of them can win the golf tournaments; 85, 90, 95 percent of the camera time is on those seven or eight players.''

Finchem doesn't have strong feelings about TV viewers calling in violations. He referred to it as ``cumbersome and difficult and awkward'' at times, yet interesting to the fans. He said the tour would take a look at prohibiting viewers calling in, though it is not believed to be a high priority.

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PAYNE STEWART AWARD: Peter Jacobsen is this year's recipient of the Payne Stewart Award, given each year to a player who personifies some of Stewart's traits - integrity, sportsmanship, presentation and charity.

The award began the year after Stewart perished in a freak plane accident in 1999, the year he won the U.S. Open.

``He was an amazing guy,'' Jacobsen said. ``A lot of you knew Payne, knew what he stood for. He was a dynamic personality, somebody who was as intense competitor as there is in the history of the game, but also somebody who knew how to have fun.''

And not just on the golf course.

Stewart played the harmonica in ``Jack Trout and the Flounders,'' the band of PGA Tour players that Jacobsen organized.

``Huey Lewis, who's a great harmonica player, said Payne was about an 8 handicap on the harmonica, which is pretty good. Because he (Lewis) was about a 15-handicap golfer. So it's a fair trade.''

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THE FINALS: Ryo Ishikawa has received three special invitations to play in the Masters. He was awarded an exemption for the PGA Championship last month, even though he had fallen to No. 158 in the world ranking.

But getting a PGA Tour card? This time, the 22-year-old from Japan earned it.

Ishikawa had a 69-68 weekend at the third Web.com Finals event in Ohio. A week earlier, he shot 66 in the final round and finished fifth in North Carolina. Those results have assured him earning back his PGA Tour card for next year.

The Web.com Tour Championship at Sawgrass next week (Valley Course) is the final event of the four-tournament series.

The top 25 players from the Web.com Tour money list already have their cards and are playing for a priority ranking. The other 25 are based on the money list from the four tournaments. Ishikawa is sixth on that list, making him a mathematical lock.

Everyone down to Hudson Swofford can't fall out in the race for the open 25 cards. Heath Slocum and Sean O'Hair are close.

The replacement for Q-school seems to be working well for its first year. One of the curiosities about this Web.com Tour Finals was whether it would favor the players from Nos. 126-200 in the FedEx Cup or the players from Nos. 26 to 75 on the Web.com money list.

Going into the last event, the PGA Tour players have a 15-10 lead in the race for those 25 open cards.

Steve Wheatcroft is holding down the 25th spot, just $1,583 ahead of Bhavik Patel of the Web.com Tour. Among those PGA Tour players in jeopardy of not getting a card are three former Ryder Cup players - Robert Karlsson ($12,955 out of the 25th spot), Chad Campbell ($20,755 behind) and Chris DiMarco ($20,950 behind).

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SHINNECOCK SCOTT: Adam Scott had a record-setting score last week, just not at the BMW Championship.

On his way to Chicago, the Masters champion played a casual round at Shinnecock Hills and wound up setting the course record with a 63. Scott played the red tees, which are the tips on the Long Island course. He made a 12-foot putt on the last hole to beat by one the record set by Raymond Floyd during a recreational round in 1996.

``It's pretty cool,'' Scott said. ``The members got pretty excited when I came off the course, and it's one of the best tracks in the world, for sure. No one has ever shot that score in over 100 years off the tees I played. So that's a pretty neat thing.''

Shinnecock Hills is one of the five founding clubs of the U.S. Golf Association. Scott had rounds of 75-75 to miss the cut when the U.S. Open was held there in 2004. It returns to Shinnecock in 2018.

``It was a really fun day, and I felt a little sense of achievement, absolutely - especially beating Raymond Floyd,'' he said. ``It's added to a really good year.''

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DIVOTS: Steve Stricker says his practice amounts to playing golf during the summer in Wisconsin. In the winter? That's a different story. ``I enjoy practicing because it's all I can do,'' he said. ... Mike Scanlan is leaving the LPGA Tour as its media director to become communications director for IMG in North America. ... The AT&T National began in 2007 as a new tournament built around the Fourth of July in the nation's capital. That's no longer the case. The tournament hosted by Tiger Woods now has moved earlier, and that Fourth of July date now belongs to The Greenbrier Classic. ... Dating to the Canadian Woman's Open last year, 16-year-old amateur Lydia Ko would have earned just short of $1.2 million. ... Five players from PGA Tour Canada have earned Web.com Tour cards for next season - Mackenzie Hughes, Riley Wheeldon, Mark Hubbard, Hugo Leon and Wil Collins.

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STAT OF THE WEEK: Nick Watney (63) started the FedEx Cup playoffs with the worst seed of the 30 players who made it to East Lake for the Tour Championship. Harris English (19) had the best seed of players who did not make it.

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FINAL WORD: ``It's been a college degree and a Masters' degree. I've learned more than any other year.'' - Jordan Spieth, on his rookie season on the PGA Tour.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

  
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