10 alternative PGA Tour storylines from 2017

Golf News

Mark Townsend runs down his favourite moments from the PGA Tour season that you aren't talking about

1. Slow play on the PGA Tour? Solved

Five hours this, six hours that… Wesley Bryan danced round his final 18 of the 2017 season in 89 minutes – and shot his best score of the week, a 69, at the BMW Championship.

With no chance of making it to the Tour Championship Bryan was out in 42 (minutes) and back in 41.

“I just wanted to have some fun. But once I got through six or seven holes averaging five minutes a hole, I thought we should keep booking it. And then we got to the back nine, I got that hour and a half number in my head.”

2. Just 22 years later slow player(s) fined

For the first time since 1995 a ONE-SHOT PENALTY was dished out by the PGA Tour.

Brian Campbell and Miguel Angel Carballo were given a bad time at the Zurich Classic and their foursomes effort of 73 was upped to a 74.

And, as always, it was someone else’s fault. The pair were out last with local club pros Kyle Ramey and Phil Schmitt and their supposed poor play got things off to a bad start.

“I hate to say it,” Campbell said, “but they were struggling through the first five holes and we got way out of position.

“On 14, my caddie had to run up to the tee box because we were behind [and had already had one bad time], and we were running all over the place.

“I had to go back to the green to tap in because Carballo missed the putt. In normal cases, we all get to the tee at the same time, but because my caddy was already up at the tee, I think the clock may have started a little sooner than I felt like it should have.”

3. Ball hits leaf, man docked four shots

Matthew Southgate was playing in the Web.com Tour Finals in the hope of securing a card for the PGA Tour.

Then, standing over a shortish putt for birdie at the 15th which would get him back to level for the day and level for the tournament, this happened…

Yes, have another look, and another. That’s right, a leaf causes Southgate’s ball to deviate off line. All barely believable but he tapped in and moved on.

Enter the Rules of Golf and Rule 19-1. What he should have done is replay the stroke from its original position. The par four turned into an eight – with two shots for playing from the improper spot and two more for signing an incorrect scorecard. Think Lexi Thompson but rather than a belated phone call it was a force of nature.

Southgate, 6th at this year’s Open which got him into these Finals, then bogeyed 17 and trebled the last to finish with a 79. He tweeted afterwards: “Hurts more every time I look at it!”

He ended up not getting a card for the PGA Tour.

4. Jordan, put the ball down

The final Presidents Cup score was a whopping 19-11 for the Americans, their seventh win on the bounce, but the first thing that many will recall immediately is another rules fiasco.

On the Saturday afternoon Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed were all square in their match with Jason Day and Louis Oosthuizen at the 12th hole.

Day has been conceded his birdie putt after pitching in close, Oosthuizen’s drive had run just through the green. The South African’s putt for eagle bypassed the hole so Spieth scooped up the still-moving ball and threw it back to him.

Enter the Rules of Golf and match referee Andy McFee. You CANNOT stop a moving ball.

The hole was awarded to the Internationals who tried to argue on behalf of their opponents, even Tiger Woods’ intervention couldn’t change matters, and the Americans recovered to win at the 17th.

5. Sergio goes through the bag (on the greens)

It’s the Dell Technologies and Sergio Garcia needs a low one to get into contention on the Saturday.

Then, at the 4th green, this happened…

Six weeks earlier he had attacked a gorse bush and nearly had to withdraw from the Open.

This time, after underhitting-slash-misreading a putt, he took his anger out on a sprinkler head and the water hydrant came out on top.

With the putter head bent out of shape, a different model to the one that closed out his win at Augusta, he then had to resort to trying his M1 fairway wood. And he made the birdie putt.

By the time he arrived at the 9th hole, after a flurry of bogeys, he was using his M2 driver and that was then retired after horseshoeing out from 16 inches.

Next came the 3-iron, which then brought birdies at 13 and 17, and he signed off, now with a wedge, with a double-bogey seven.

In the end there were 33 putts, nothing holed from outside 15 feet and a total of 75.

6. The Postman turns prankster

What a year for Ian Poulter, aka The Postman, as he – wait for it – began to deliver on the course again.

One minute he seemed set for the scrapheap having just missed out on retaining his PGA Tour card.

Then he was adjudged, to cut a very long story short, to have been unfairly penalised points-wise after a medical exemption – and all thanks to Brian Gay pointing out the discrepancy.

So he was then eligible to play at Sawgrass where he finished in a tie for 2nd.

But before all that there was this little prank that seemed to get the better of everyone; his caddie Terry Mundy even got loads of congratulatory messages, despite it being on, er, April 1.

Even Poulter’s dad apparently fell for it.

If you are a bit anal though you would have seen through the Englishman’s japery…

  • There are no alternates so Woods’ withdrawal wouldn’t have opened up a spot for anyone.
  • Any late invites are handed out months in advance.
  • If you examine the cropped photo the year looks to begin with an ‘f’ (for fifteen which is the invite Poulter used) and not an ‘s’ for seventeen.

Still, nicely done and welcome back Poults.

7. And the Dad of the Year is…

We had talked about Phil Mickelson and the 2017 US Open ever since the 2016 version was done with – and then he missed it to be at his daughter Amanda’s graduation.

With six runners-up finishes and just the USGA showpiece to tick off to complete the career Grand Slam he announced at the start of June that he would likely not be at Erin Hills.

“My daughter is graduating, she is the school president, she’ll be giving the commencement speech for the school and I am going to be there. Unfortunately it comes on the Thursday of the Open, around 10 in the morning Pacific Time and there’s no way I can make it no matter what the tee time is. I didn’t want the USGA to be caught off guard and I wanted the alternate to know he will most likely be in,” Mickelson said.

There was then all sorts of talk over Mickelson might be able to get a private jet to Wisconsin if there was a rain delay and ‘Bones’ was even on site in case it came off but, with the conditions being perfect on the Thursday, he officially withdrew.

Jim Mackay

8. Kim keeping it real

The usual post-tourney Twitter shot of a golfer on a plane involves half a dozen people sat round in comfortable clothing, bad headwear, some liquid refreshment and maybe even a trophy if it’s just been a successful weekend.

Here’s the newly-crowned Players champion Si Woo Kim on his way home after trousering $1.9m as he became the youngest winner at Sawgrass – on a commercial flight, in ‘coach’ and in the middle seat…

9. And the Quote of the Year goes to…

If ever there was an unlikely winner in the steam pot of Malaysia it was Pat Perez.

A few weeks previously he had played in his first Tour Championship at the age of 41 and, after his win over Keegan Bradley, he delivered the quote of 2017.

“I’m not going to change anything. I’m still not going to work out. I’ll still have a bad diet, and I’m going to enjoy myself.”

And all of us who are carrying an additional bit of timber, have little or no core strength and would rather have a pint than a glass of water all had a little smile to ourselves.

10. Never work with animals, children and pro-am partners

One of the more unlikely injury storylines involved Padraig Harrington at the St Jude Classic in June and there was a thought that it might have been a career ender.

Harrington was at a clinic when he was hit on the elbow by an amateur taking a practice swing, he was trying to mend his hook at the time. The result was six stitches and no golf for the next two weeks.

Rio

“Thankfully nothing was broken. I thought it was the end of me playing competitive golf. Barring me fainting from the shock of pain, once I numbed it up, I couldn’t feel anything.

“He caught me on the left elbow – middle of the clubface, middle of the elbow. When I came back from the hospital, I gave him a big hug. It was a pure accident. These things happen. I know he felt bad.

“He told me I straightened out his hook.”

In March Charl Schwartzel suffered a similar fate but he just missed his pro-am at the Valspar after being hit by his playing partner’s ball. On his opening hole the ball hit a tree and ricocheted onto Schwartzel’s wrist as he tried to take cover.

After 10 holes he was unable to hold the club but, after some ice painkillers, he was OK to tee it up on Thursday.

Four days later he finished in 6th.

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