PGA Tour's silence on Singh issue is deafening
The Tour's don't ask-don't tell policy has put Vijay Singh in an awkward and unecessary position
Published on Friday, Mar. 15, 2013 11:35AM EDT
What if a PGA Tour player won a tournament then refused to do the obligatory post-round interview for television and failed to show up for the post-tournament press conference. That might just be the scenario this weekend at the Tampa Bay Championship.
After Thursday’s opening round, Vijay Singh was just four strokes off the lead. This is the same Vijay Singh who, at the beginning of February, admitted to using a product that contained a banned substance. At the time, the PGA Tour said it would investigate and take whatever action necessary, if any.
Six weeks later and there is still no decision - at least publicly - from the Tour. It’s possible that they could have taken some sort of action and that Singh has appealed, which would allow him to continue playing. But we’ll never know because the Tour refused to comment on disciplinary action against its players.
Which leads us to this week and the very real possibility that Singh could win which would open up a Pandora’s box that the Tour would most certainly like to avoid. Upon completion of his round, Singh refused to give any comments about anything to anyone. "No comment to you. No comment to anybody" was what he told a Tour media official.
As ESPN’s Bob Harig writes, the situation is both awkward and pathetic because the way the Tour works, the uncertainty could drag on for weeks which would take us into the first major of the season, the Masters. Imagine the three ring circus that would ensue should the 50-year-old go on to win his second green jacket.
Singh is permitted to play while the process drags on -- and to be fair, the tour's drug testing policy does have an appeal avenue that should not be dismissed -- but depending on the outcome, all of his results since he acknowledged taking the substance could be voided.
At the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship on Feb. 25, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was asked about the Singh situation, saying: "There's no time urgency here because if action is taken, it'll be reported. If no action is taken, it won't be reported, and that'll be the end of that. I'm not concerned about that.''
That suggests the situation could already be resolved. If they're not going to release anything, maybe it is done? Or, more likely, if the tour determines there was no violation in the coming weeks, it would actually take the extraordinary step of saying nothing? If so, doesn't it make this drug policy a farce?
STEPPING ASIDE: Rory McIlroy side-stepped a potential firestorm by declaring he will not take part in the Medalist Golf Club member-guest tournament. McIlroy, the number one ranked player in the world, was scheduled to partner Michael Jordan - he of Chicago Bulls NBA fame - in a field that included his new best buddy, Tiger Woods and Golf Channel morning personality Ahmad Rashad.
McIlroy’s decision to play in the event had some in the golf world grumbling, considering he does not have any plans to play in actual legitimate tournaments such as Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill event next week. He is scheduled to play in Houston ahead of the season’s first major which - if he makes the cut - would give the young Ulsterman a total of 10 rounds under his belt heading into Augusta.
As it is, McIlroy has decided to trade in his spot alongside His Airness for some more quality time with girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki, who will arrive in Miami earlier than expected after getting bounced from a tennis event in California.
Keegan Bradley will instead take the world number one’s spot as Jordan’s partner.
ON THE FENCE: Tom Watson has made no secret which side of the debate he is on when it comes to the anchored stroke. He maintains it is not a golf stroke. However, when it comes to the USGA and R&A proposal to ban the stroke, he admits it’s like trying to get the genie back into the bottle.
“I do have mixed feelings and have direct, you know, feelings because my son Michael was a very poor putter with a conventional putter. He went to a belly putter and he makes everything, and he loves the game because of it. The game is fun. He can play lousy and then gets on the greens and he makes everything. And, yes, I don't think it's a stroke. I'm still in that camp,but the reality of the situation is this. This has been allowed to go on for X number of years, 30 years, 40 years. It's unlike I think the croquet putter you saw Sam Snead, I think the USGA made a very quick decision on that, said you can't do this, Sam. I'm not sure whether Sam was the only guy doing it, but made a very quick decision on that particular stroke. They didn't wait 30 years to make a decision on the stroke. So I think that's the crux of the issue. There's too many players who have been using it, and the USGA hasn't done anything about it. USGA and R&A haven't done anything about it. If they were going to do something about it, they should have done something about it a long time ago.”
NO SALE: The P.E.I government has decided to continue operating the four provincially owned golf courses it put up for sale last summer. According to the Guardian newspaper, while the government is in talks with several parties to take over the operation the courses, they are not about to rush into anything even if the 2013 golf season is around the corner.
Despite an increase in the total number of rounds played last year, the government says it lost $800,000 operating the four courses - Brudenell River, Mill River, the Links at Crowbush Cove and Dundarave. Tourism Minister Robert Henderson says a sale is still the priority but he wants to make sure the deals are fair to the taxpayers of P.E.I.
According to the Guardian, P.E.I.’s golf industry generates upwards of $16 million per year in tax revenue for the provincial government and local municipalities, and contributes about $61 million to the Island’s GDP.
ILLEGAL DIRT: Gord Holder of the Ottawa Citizen says Canadians travelling stateside who bring their golf clubs with them need to make sure those clubs are spic and span when they make the return trip across the border or risk being them declared “not admissible into Canada.”
“Failing to declare that you have goods in your possession that may contain dirt or plants and food items can result in the seizure of the items and/or a penalty of $800 under the Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS), a civil penalty for non-compliance with customs legislative, regulatory and program requirements,” Holder writes, quoting a statement he received from a Canada Border Services Agency spokeswoman. “The reason for this level of scrutiny is the soil or dirt can present a hazard to Canadian fauna and flora as a carrier for invasive species. These pests can wreak havoc on our ecosystems by destroying native species and causing unalterable damage to the Canadian landscape.”
“Plant pests can be introduced through various pathways, including wood packaging, soil and firewood, for example. In this case, the soil on the golf clubs or shoes is treated the same as some fruits and vegetables and other plants that cannot be imported to Canada because they may contain soil (and pests therein) that could cause damage to our ecosystems.”
SEEING IS BELIEVING: Padraig Harrington has been wearing glasses for the last month, and now he’s wearing them on the golf course. The most peculiar part of this look is that the three-time major champion technically doesn’t even need glasses.
“I’ve got 20/20 vision without glasses,” he said. “But I have struggled for a number of years with reading the greens. What I see and what it is are not the same thing.”
Harrington’s eyes are too dry to wear contact lenses, so he’s opted for eye glasses. He was on his fifth pair at Doral, and he’s getting closer to the right frame.
The trouble for Harrington is that he grew up with a slight right-to-left bias with how he reads. After a number of laser surgeries, his bias is now left-to-right.
“I’ll wear them all the time to relax my eyes,” Harrington said. “Your eyes change as you get older, and certainly mine have. This is better to read the greens. Because if you can’t read the greens, it leads to indecision. And indecision leads to bad putting.”
GENERAL HAS THE HONOURS: Reports out of South Korea say the nations top officials are looking into reports that top military officials were busy playing golf instead of keeping their eye on increasing tensions with neighbouring North Korea.
Newspaper reports claim that a military golf course in Seoul was crowded with senior army officials, including ranking generals. The defence ministry confirmed that some of its generals had been out on the course but that no one in sensitive positions was involved.
The sport has led to the downfall of several top military officials in the past. In 2007, an air force chief was forced to resign after playing golf while the country was mourning the death of a Korean soldier in Afghanistan, and in 2009 the defence ministry sacked the military’s chief medical officer and court-martialled 50 military doctors for playing while on duty.
Missed the cut by 1 again. Driving would be good enough for top 10, irons would make the cut but short game wouldn't win a monthly medal!
Missed the cut by 1 again. Driving would be good enough for top 10, irons would make the cut but short game wouldn't win a monthly medal!— Edoardo Molinari (@DodoMolinari) March 15, 2013
Files from the Associated Press were used in this report