May 23, 2012
PGA Tour too slow to tackle issue
By TIM MCKAY, QMI Agency
A couple of worthy lessons came out of the latest controversy surrounding slow play in golf.
The debate over whether Morgan Pressel should have been assessed a penalty or not during her semifinal match against Azahara Munoz in the Sybase Match Play Championship Sunday is moot -- both players were on the clock and she violated the allotted time to play, so it's cut and dried -- but it sent a message to the LPGA Tour players, and, with any luck, their PGA Tour brethren.
It was a ballsy call by rules official Doug Brecht and one that had to be made. While Pressel, known in the past for her temper tantrums on the course, eventually broke down to lose the match she had been leading, it's a victory for the world of golf and its new hot-button topic.
The week prior, Kevin Na and the PGA Tour were in the news for slow play and the lack of penalties being doled out. With Na -- and with slow play in general -- the question of etiquette enters the equation and that's the other lesson that can be gleaned from the two recent events.
Pressel, clearly fuming following her penalty on the 12th hole, could have used it as a rallying point but instead she tried to later call a penalty on Munoz on 15 for touching the line of her putt. It's just poor sportsmanship on her part, even though Munoz's slow play was the reason they were on the clock in the first place.
Na, on the other hand, handled his situation well, first apologizing during the Players Championship for his bizarre swing tick, then saying he was going to address the situation.
Lo and behold, Na, playing this week at the Crown Plaza Invitational at Colonial, says he will try to remove the waggles this week, surely making life easier for his playing partners if his one-practice-swing routine works.
"No waggle," Na told the Golf Channel.
"I'm going to be over the ball and pull the trigger ... We'll see how it goes."
The European Tour doled out awards ahead of one of its flagship events, the BMW PGA Championship, this week.
The shot of the year went to Rory McIlroy for his tee shot on the 10th hole at Congressional in the final round of his U.S. Open masterpiece. McIlroy's six-iron landed past the pin on the 218-yard par 3, and, using the backstop, spun back to within inches of the hole for a tap-in birdie to further cement his record-setting victory (http://bit.ly/weuVzB).
It was a great shot, but it pales in comparison with the PGA Tour's shot of the year for 2011 -- Bill Haas' chip out of the water for a ridiculous up-and-down during a playoff in the Tour Championship to clinch the FedExCup and its $10-million prize -- and what is sure to be the shot of the year in 2012 -- Bubba Watson's dramatic snap-hook shot in a playoff to secure the Masters.
When McIlroy stood on the 10th tee in the final round, victory was all but assured as he held an eight-shot lead over Y.E. Yang, so the shot doesn't hold the same weight as others in terms of pressure. In fact, McIlroy had a more dramatic shot in the same round that could have affected the outcome more than his tee shot at the 10th, when his third on the par-5, 555-yard sixth hole cleared the water by just a foot and he was able to make par.
You can't deny, however, that the shot on the 10th hole put an exclamation point on the championship.
"Last year was a great year for me. To get that first major was a huge moment in my career and hopefully the stepping stone to many more," McIlroy said.
DELAET ON DELIGHTFUL RUN
Graham DeLaet's stock appears to be rising on the PGA Tour.
DeLaet turned heads with his tie for fourth last month at the Zurich Classic and then got into the Players Championship, where he tied for 70th. Last week at the Byron Nelson Championship, the Weyburn, Sask., native tied for 41st.
But the most important part of that run for DeLaet, who is playing this season on a 26-start major medical exemption following back surgery early in 2011, is that he made another $322,637.50 toward the $657,694 he needs to regain full playing privileges. DeLaet now has earned $526,902 in 14 events and is just $130,792 shy of his target.
Gary Williams of Golf Channel's Morning Drive on Wednesday singled out DeLaet as a player to watch, saying he feels the Canadian is close to his first PGA Tour victory.
On the tee
BMW PGA Championship
Wentworth Club, West Course (7,302 yards, par 72), Virginia Water, England
- World's top three tee it up in one of the Euro Tour's flagship events and No. 2 Luke Donald can regain top spot from Rory McIlroy with a win
Crowne Plaza Invitational
Colonial Country Club (7,204 yards, par 70), Fort Worth, Tex.
- Canadians Graham DeLaet and David Hearn join PGA Tour's only two-time winners in 2012, Jason Dufner and Hunter Mahan