Tiger Hot-dog Incident Bodes Ill for Golf 0 4

(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) Oct. 13, 2011 — The flying wiener and bun thrown toward Tiger Woods signals that golf has become a participatory sport of the worst sort.

The mustard-and-onions-hold-the-relish missile is the continuation of an ugly trend that started years ago with partisan chants of “U.S.A., U.S.A.,” at the Ryder Cup.

There has always been streaking by nude people at golf events — including the British Open. But while a naked butt may be thing of beauty (or not) depending on its shape, the larger trend of fans crossing the line is getting ugly.

There was the merciless heckling of Colin Montgomerie, which got so bad he stopped playing in U.S. events. In 2004, a guy was ejected from the fifth hole of Match Play Championship after following Davis Love III and shouting “No love,” every time Love stepped onto a tee box.

Now, the former No. 1 player in the world has been taunted by a fan who threw a hot dog at him at the Frys.com Championship in California. Why did he do it? Here’s what the hot-dog hurler told The Bleacher Report:

“I threw the hot dog toward Tiger Woods because I was inspired by the movie Drive,” Kelly said. “As soon as the movie ended, I thought to myself, ‘I have to do something courageous and epic. I have to throw a hot dog on the green in front of Tiger.’”

Clueless, stupid and idiotic are three words that quickly come to mind. And apparently premeditated, too, based on the guy’s Facebook photo of the actual hotdog taken in his car before the incident.

Golf used to be a spectator sport where in return for appropriate attire and demeanor, fans got close to the action — but did not become part of it, save for the occasional member of the gallery bonked by a wild tee shot.

There was polite applause, respectful silence and cheering. But hot-dog tossing?

The idea that any loser who wants to make a splash on TV feels free to do so signals that the way golf tournaments are staged may have to change, and that the faces of the people behind the ropes quickly will soon be populated by guys with guns, badges and uniforms.

And that is not a good thing for a game that is already in trouble.

–Dan Vukelich

Elsewhere:

Albuquerque’s Katie Kempter fared poorly at the Stage II of the LPGA Qualifying School in Venice, Fla., tying for 102d, four strokes short of the top 70 players, plus ties, needed to advance. She finished the 2011 LPGA Futures Tour season 51st on the money list, with 15 starts and two top 10 finishes.

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Ewart Wins Euro Ladies Tour Qualifier 0 6

(MURCIA, SPAIN) Jan. 20, 2011 — Former Lobo golfer Jodi Ewart won the Q School event to gain full status on the 2012 Ladies European Tour. She had already won full status on LPGA Tour.

Ewart claimed first place in the Euro qualifier on Thursday in Murcia, Spain, finishing five rounds on the La Manga North and South courses at 11-under, edging Swiss amateur Anais Maggetti by two shots. Ewart, 24, held the top spot for the final four rounds.

“I mean, fourth on the LPGA and now winning the LET; it’s a pretty good off-season if you ask me,” the Yorkshire, England, native said. “It feels good and I’m really looking forward to this year.”

Ewart heads home to Florida before beginning her inaugural LPGA Tour season Feb. 9, at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in Victoria, Australia.

The interview below was shot by us as she finished her Lobo golf career.

— Dan Vukelich

PING CEO: Change the Golf Ball, Save the Courses 0 4

(PHOENIX) Jan. 3, 2012 –The chairman and CEO of Ping says three different balls should be approved by rule-makers — one longer, one the same as and one shorter than balls currently approved for play.

Shorter balls could then be mandated as a condition of play on classic courses hosting PGA Tour events — keeping them competitive. Longer balls could be allowed for amateur play. Ball distance could even be factored into handicaps — like course slope ratings, says PING head John Solheim.

The proposal is a radical departure from the principle underlying the Rules of Golf that a single ball with a single distance limit be played by players at all levels, even though many golf authorities believe the length of the modern golf ball is the single biggest factor in making some of the great courses of the 19th and 20th centuries obsolete for professional play.

In a letter to the USGA and the R&A, Solheim proposed  a “Ball Distance Rating System” to categorize balls into three distance categories. “This concept addresses the unique talents of the top 0.1 percent of the world’s golfers without hurting the other 99.9 percent,” Solheim said.

A “silver dot” rating could apply to balls that conform to the current distance limits, a “gold dot” rating to balls that are longer (perhaps 30 yards longer), and a “bronze dot” rating for balls that are shorter than today’s ball limit (again, maybe 30 yards shorter),” Solheim said.

“More BDR levels could be added, if needed, to address future increases in driving distance by Tour professionals,” he said.

“Most courses hosting professional tour events were built with, or have added, sufficient length to challenge the world’s best golfers. Perhaps a small number of tournaments, those played at some of the game’s classic courses, would find it exciting to put the original design elements of the layout back in play by requiring shorter rated golf balls,” he said.

Higher handicappers could play a longer ball to make them competitive against longer courses, Solheim said.

Click here for John Solheim’s complete statement.