April 25, 2014


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

End of a snarky year

By David Mackintosh
Golfing Traveller

Recall it began in February with a dispute between Vijay Singh and the PGA Tour, when the 50-year old Fijian admitted to using a substance the PGA Tour had specifically banned, his response a counter-lawsuit claiming the Tour was victimizing him unfairly. The outcome is still in the legal machinery but for a man who has PGA Tour lifetime earnings of 68 million dollars, (3rd all-time), this had all the unpleasantness of the dog that bites the hand that feeds it.

Then came the Masters, the sweet pleasure of great sportsmanship between victor Adam Scott and gracious runner-up Ángel Cabrera spoiled by that rules infraction by Tiger Woods, where his incorrect drop at the 15th hole, after striking the flagstick and rebounding into the water, led to a rules-softened punishment, Woods permitted to play Sunday when many believed his most-correct response should have been to withdraw from the tournament.

There would be more rules issues for Woods, the season ending with animosity when outspoken television commentator Brandel Chamblee suggested Woods had been “cavalier with the rules.”

That ugly word “bifurcation” came back in focus when the USGA and the R&A got their way with the decision to modify use of the long putter from January 2016, but not without a public spat between these two top rules bodies and the PGA of America, while the politically agile PGA Tour was somehow able to retain one leg in each camp for most of the debate. It remains to be seen if long-putter users, who have played their entire careers using the “attached” method, will resort to legal action before the proposed changes are implemented.

Then not much after the USGA had seemingly re-burnished its public image by announcing a new 100 million dollar television contract for its events, came news the man who had masterminded both, two-year term president Glen Nager, had been upended by an internal coup and will leaving the USGA permanently in February.

In August, the British press broke a sensational story that the bosses of the US PGA Tour and the European Tour had been in secret meetings, the prime purpose to consider either a merger of the two entities, or even more incendiary, a PGA Tour world takeover.

Naturally official denials came quickly from both sides of sides of the Atlantic and to date there has been no further news, baffling to some extent considering the value newspapers that ran the story stated their unnamed sources of information were impeccable.

It surely cannot have been entirely coincidental that a week later, the European Tour announced its inaugural EurAsian Cup, a team event so similar to the Presidents Cup that the player-availability conflict implications are impossible to ignore.

There were many more spats, not least the One Asia Tour having to last-minute cancel their planned December Tour Championship in China. A Happier New Year would be a good thing!

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