Sports Outside the Beltway

Tiger Woods to be fined for criticism of official

This for comments he made after winning last weekend’s Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio. From AP-

Tiger Woods will be fined by the PGA Tour for his public criticism of a rules official after winning the Bridgestone Invitational, a tour official said Monday.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the tour does not publicize fines.

They certainly don’t. Tour player Jonathan Kaye was suspended from the tour for two months for a 2001 incident. A security guard wouldn’t allow Kaye entrance to the player locker room without seeing his player ID badge. At some point Kaye attached the badge to his zipper or something else would caused the guard to take offense. Kaye was fined and suspended from playing the PGA Tour for two months.

Woods was bothered after his four-shot victory Sunday because he and Padraig Harrington were put on the clock at the par-5 16th. He said that caused Harrington to rush three difficult shots, leading to triple bogey.

Harrington is the defending PGA Champion this weekend in Minnesota. He also won back to back British Opens in 2007 and 2008.

Honestly a player as good as Harrington shouldn’t allow a rules official to ruin his tournament. It is an excuse in my opinion.

European Tour chief referee John Paramor told Woods and Harrington they were being timed.

Woods said he told Harrington after it was over, “I’m sorry that John got in the way of a great battle.”

Paramor said the final pairing was well behind most of the back nine, but officials gave them time to catch up. They were still 17 minutes out of position on the 16th tee, when they were put on the clock.

Woods and Harrington had the entire par 5 16th hole, Firestone’s signature hole, to themselves. The hole measures well over 600 yards.

The PGA Tour has rarely taken slow play seriously. To be truthful, no player has gotten a meaningful penalty in over a decade. This is unlike the LPGA Tour who has shown no hesitancy giving out two stroke penalties to even to players in contention. Angela Park was penalized two strokes during the final round of a 2008 Hawaiian tournament where she eventually finished fifth three shots behind the winner.

Were Harrington and Woods out of position on the course? Yes, without a doubt. That the PGA Tour doesn’t enforce its slow play policy doesn’t mean the official was wrong in his actions. Ryan at Waggleroom gets it right

Selective enforcement of the Rules of Golf is unacceptable. Just because the final group had no chasers, were Tiger and Paddy, and were playing for a huge first prize check does not mean that the rules should be ignored. Play slow and the players involved should be penalized.

Timeliness is a part of golf, but many players seem to ignore that part of the rule book – including Woods and Harrington. When the press questioned JB Holmes in 2008 about his lethargic manner around the course, Holmes best summed up the attitude of many players when he said, ““A lot of old habits kick in when you’re under pressure. You’re playing for $1 million. If somebody thinks I’m slow, or taking long, I don’t care. … I would rather be slow and win than rush something, hit a bad shot and not win.”

That kind of attitude is why players should be put on the clock. They should not be allowed to disrespect the rules governing the sport just because of the money on the line. Players should not get a free pass just because of their name.

No one, including Harrington and Woods, should be above the rules. I have said that before. Woods open criticism was also wrong, and under Tour rules makes him subject to a fine for what he said. The PGA Tour is again right. The rules if they are have any meaning are to be enforced against all players and under any circumstances.


When Irish eyes are smiling…again- Padrig Harrington wins the PGA Championship

Three weeks after winning his 2nd consecutive British Open, Ireland’s Padrig Harrington wins the PGA Championship. Back to back 66s gave Harrington a two-shot win over Sergio Garcia and Ben Curtis.

Harrington has been a top European golfer for a decade. I thought he could win a major one day, but 3 out of 6 and back to back? Never. His 2007 British Open win may have been more than a little fortunate. Several golfers having Sunday meltdowns. In 2008 Padrig came out on top at the British and PGA playing the best golf, at the same time no one else blowing the tournaments. Will there be Padrig slam talk now? He’s two Major championships away from holding the Grand Slam. That seems an impossible feat for someone not named Tiger Woods, but who would have thought Harrington would have the chance?


Irish Eyes are smiling- Padraig Harrington wins back to back British Opens

The Irish golfer won by four shots over Ian Poulter. Greg Norman, who had the lead going into the final round, finished tied for third with Henrik Stenson. Jim Furyk was the low American, finishing tied for 5th with amateur Chris Wood.

A four-shot margin victory usually denotes a tournament with little suspense. That can hardly be said for the 2008 British Open. First Harrington played the front nine in three over. That and Norman’s struggles allowed many players into the tournament. Harrington then steadied himself but it was not before he made a birdie on 15 did that victory looked fairly certain. An eagle on the Par five 17th doubled Harrington’s lead from two to four shots.

With Harrington winning in 2007 also, we now have had back to back back to back British Open champs. Tiger Woods in 05 and 06 and now Harrington. Before that you got to go back to Tom Watson in 82 and 83. Next year’s British Open goes to Turnberry. Can Harrington be the first player to three peat since Peter Thomson in 1956? He likes links golf, but we’ll have to wait a year.

One last thing- Tom Watson won his 5th British Open at Birkdale and his first at Carnoustie. The courses Harrington has won on. How about Turnberry? That was the sight of Tom Watson’s famous 1977 duel with Jack Nicklaus. Watson came out on top. History may be on Harrington’s side. Carnoustie was out of the British Open rotation from 1976-98 and Turnberry was only added in 1977 and has not held the Open since 1994. There isn’t that large a group who had chances at all three of these courses.

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Defending British Open Champ Padraig Harrington has a sore right wrist

However the Irish golfer thinks he will be able to tee it up when play begins tomorrow.

SOUTHPORT, England — If this was nearly any other week, Padraig Harrington would already be home.

Instead, he was strolling around blustery Royal Birkdale, still trying to cope with the pain in his right wrist, still trying to work out how he can possibly defend his British Open championship.

Harrington cut short another practice round Wednesday on the eve of the tournament, managing only three full swings before his wrist started throbbing again. He walked the rest of the course, limiting himself to chipping and putting, the only things he felt comfortable enough to risk.

So, will he play?

“I can’t say honestly at this moment,” Harrington said as he strolled down the middle of the 18th fairway, midway through a practice round that was little more than a pleasant walk.

Later, after coming off the ninth green, he was a bit more specific about his prospects. Harrington said it was 75 percent likely he would at least tee off, but put his chances of making it through the first round at only 50 percent.

To me the wrist sounds too sore to make Harrington a legit threat to repeat this year. If healthy, I may put him in a list of the 10 players most likely to win the 2008 British Open. Englishman Luke Donald withdrew from the BO Open earlier this week, and now looks doubtful in regards to this fall’s Ryder Cup.

Who do I think will win? Ryan at Golf News Net gives the odds for certain players as set by bookmakers in the UK.

8/1 – Sergio Garcia
12/1 – Ernie Els
14/1 – Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood
16/1 – Padraig Harrington
20/1 – Justin Rose
22/1 – Jim Furyk
25/1 – Vijay Singh, Robert Karlsson
28/1 – Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvy, Andres Romero
33/1 – Retief Goosen, Angel Cabrera, Henrik Stenson, Stewart Cink, Anthony Kim
40/1 – Luke Donald, Trevor Immelman, Paul Casey, Justin Leonard, Robert Allenby, Martin Kaymer

Jason Sobel of ESPN ranks the top 50 players as he sees them.

Here’s my prediction- I think it will be a fairly obscure player, probably one of the Europeans. Someone this admitted golf nut is unlikely to have known of before this week.

Birkdale has a history of unknowns contending. Syd Scott, Mr. Lu, a then unknown Spaniard Seve Ballesteros at the 1976 British Open, Eamon Darcy, Mike Harwood, Raymond Russell and Brian Watts. Then you always seem to have one of these at any Britih Open venue. They usually come in second or third, but they surprise sometimes. Paul Lawrie for example. There were also Todd Hamilton and Ben Curtis more recently.

So I’d take the field. According to Ryan, the odds with the bookmakers for that selction is 3/2. Alot of golfers at pretty low odds.

That’s what I think will happen this weekend. Phil Mickelson never plays well in the British Open, most of the other likely contenders have one or more marks against them going into this week’s play. If some were to make me name three golfers, they would be- Jim Furyk(3rd at the 1998 BO, the last played at Birkdale), 1997 BO Champ and 99 runner up Justin Leonard, and Stuart Appleby. It will be an interesting weekend.

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