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Brad Fritsch banned 3 months for violating PGA Tour’s anti-doping policy

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Brad Fritsch, PGA Tour veteran, has been handed a three-month suspension for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy. The 40-year-old Canadian self-reported taking a weight-loss supplement that contained a banned ingredient.

Fritsch alerted the Tour to his violation in November, so his three-month ban is backdated to the 30th of that month. He’ll be eligible to return to competition February 28.

Interestingly, Fritsch didn’t play a competitive round while taking the banned substance, DHEA. He wrote candidly about his mistake in a Facebook post January 8th.

He discussed the program his friend Alex, a chiropractor and weight-loss specialist, put him on ahead of the new PGA Tour season.

“The majority of Alex’s program is low calorie, highly disciplined eating. You eat two meals per day (I did noon and 6pm), consisting of a small protein and whatever vegetables you want. Yes, I almost died in the first two weeks. If it sounds awful, that’s because it was. I tried to drink 120oz of water per day, and then took the supplements that every other program participant takes – a liquid multivitamin, even more vitamin D, a “body detox” solution, a probiotic, and a spray called BioSom.

‘“Hey, it’s not that spray that got Vijay in trouble, right?”’

“That was a text from November 30, from one of my brothers. I was telling him and my other brother what I was doing with the weight loss program. It felt like my heart sank into my stomach. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t checked all of the supplements against our Anti-Doping list. I immediately sent a text to Andy Levinson, head of the Tour’s Anti-Doping program.”

Unfortunately, we already know how this story ends. Fritsch continues

“That last supplement ended up containing a substance called DHEA, and it is indeed banned on our Anti-Doping list…I’m just so upset with myself that I didn’t think to question what was in the supplements. But I never did. And in the program rules, it stipulates that a self-report is the same as a positive test. I did know this when I sent the text to Andy Levinson – like I said above, I believe in the program. I’m a proud member of the PGA Tour and I don’t take that lightly. If there is any silver lining, it’s that I thankfully never played a competitive round during all of this…I just wish I had paid attention to the details. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t pay attention to the details.”

It’s standard fare for golf writers and talking heads to wax poetic about the virtue of golfers calling penalties on themselves and self reporting, but this is a glowing example. More than likely, no one would ever have known Fritsch took a banned substance that he didn’t even play golf while taking, yet he didn’t hesitate to investigate himself (too late, as it turns out unfortunately) and report.

Fortunately, Fritsch was able to find a silver lining in the present dark cloud.

“I don’t feel great about this situation, but I’ve had over a month to kind of process my feelings about it. I’m in a good place (and I’ve lost 28 pounds, so I’ve got that going for me). I’m not sure I’d feel exactly the same way if I had competed against my peers while using a banned substance, even if it was out of ignorance.”

Including Fritsch, five golfers have been suspended under the Tour’s 2008 anti-doping policy. Most recently, Mark Hensby earned a year-long suspension for failing to submit a sample.

You can read Fritsch’s full, thoughtful post below, which includes some strong takes about the Tour’s anti-doping policy.

It has been announced that I have been suspended by the PGA Tour for three months, retroactive to November 30, the day I…

Posted by Brad Fritsch on Monday, January 8, 2018

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  1. joe

    Jan 11, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    He only called it on himself b/c he must’ve known a test was upcoming. These guys aren’t that stupid to NOT know something that enhances your body/performance shouldn’t be put in your body before checking…der. Sorry Brad, not buying what you’re selling, and making yourself out to be some honorable athlete…

  2. Donny Johnston

    Jan 10, 2018 at 10:34 am

    Everyone knows Brad is a juicer. You don’t get a body like his from just diet and exercise. He was most likely on another cycle and made this story up.

  3. Mark

    Jan 10, 2018 at 8:46 am

    Can’t believe people think chiropractors are legitimate health care professionals. The entire field is snake oil quakery at best and in some cases extremely dangerous.

  4. Andrew

    Jan 9, 2018 at 7:19 pm

    Good man and what makes golf special: Having the marbles to call a penalty on oneself. Better than most these day. Would not see 1 in 1,000 trust fund brats do this.

  5. Golf Cheater

    Jan 9, 2018 at 6:24 pm

    He should have kept his mouth shut and there would have not been an issue.

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USGA, R&A finalize limits on green-reading materials

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The review period is over the USGA and R&A’s new interpretation of Rule 4.3 as it pertains to green-reading materials is finalized.

Starting Jan. 1, 2019, the governing bodies have agreed to limit the size and scale of putting green maps. However, one of the most contentious elements of the original proposal, which would have allowed only depictions of slope greater than four percent, isn’t included in the final decision.

“These latest modifications provide very practical changes that make the interpretation easier to understand and apply in the field,” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior managing director of governance. “We’re thankful for everyone’s willingness to provide feedback as we worked through the process of identifying a clear interpretation that protects the essential skill of reading a green, while still allowing for information that helps golfers enjoy the game.”

Per the official USGA release, yardage books may not include

  • Any image of a putting green must be limited to a scale of 3/8 inch to 5 yards (1:480) or smaller (the “scale limit”).
  • Any book or other paper containing a map or image of a putting green must not be larger than 4 ¼ inches x 7 inches (the “size limit”), although a “hole location sheet” that displays nine or more holes on a single sheet of paper may be larger, provided that any image of a single putting green meets the scale limit.
  • No magnification of putting-green information is allowed other than a player’s normal wearing of prescription glasses or lenses.
  • Hand-drawn or written information about a putting green is only allowed if contained in a book or paper meeting the size limit and written by the player and/or his or her caddie.
  • The final interpretation also clearly defines that any use of electronic or digital putting-green maps must comply with the same limits.

The release also indicates the USGA and R&A will continue evaluating the use of green-reading materials.

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Tour Rundown: Pepperell wins the British masters, Leishman wins in Malaysia, Langer wins again

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October, and the trees are stripped bare, of all they wear. U2

Perhaps it’s due to its status as my birth month, or something larger and deeper. October is a raw month, as April was cruel for Eliot. It is raw in its golf, too. Of the four events played this week, only one took place in the USA. Touring professionals left the summer of majors behind, to journey globally, in search of answers and questions. They went to Malaysia, England and Korea (and let’s not forget, North Carolina.) Names both familiar and emerging claimed trophies, and the game marched on. Here’s a Sunday rundown of all things tour, mid-October.

CIMB in Malaysia in Leishman’s hands

Marc Leishman’s brilliance with golf cudgels is know well to his touring brethren. To the golfing public, which measures fame in little more than major victories, he is an enigma. And here was Leishman, on Sunday at Kuala Lumpur, schooling playing partner Gary Woodland and the rest of the field with a brilliant 65. There were lower scores, but just barely (a pair of 64s.) Leishman had 62 earlier in the week, but was a wee bit overlooked, as Woodland had 61 the same day. On Sunday, there was no mistaking the two. Leishman rushed from the gate with birdies on hole 2 through 5, scarcely glancing rearward at the trailers. He summited 26 strokes beneath par, equalling the tournament record and placing him five clear of the runners-up. Woodland tried to keep pace, but fell off the rails midway through the inward half. 3 bogeys in 5 holes did him in, dropping him back to a tie for 5th at -20. 2nd spot on the podium belonged to the american trio of Emiliano Grillo (Argentina), Chesson Hadley and Bronson Burgoon (both USA). The victory compelled Leishman to 2nd spot on the young FedEx Cup list for 2018-19.

Hana Bank belongs to Dumbo

If In Gee Chun had her way, the golfer nicknamed Dumbo would scamper off by gobs of strokes with each tournament. Owner of an unfortunate 0-3 record in LPGA Tour playoffs, the Korean golfer wants no part of extra holes. While 3rd-round leader Charley Hull of England struggled with birdie-bogey runs, Chun birdied 4 of her first 6 holes and separated herself by 3 strokes from the field. Out in 31, she resisted the lure of a 10th-hole bogey and added 2 more birdies to reach 16-under par. Hull and company could not close the gap, and the Englishwoman settled for 2nd at -13. Chun began the week with matching 70s, to place herself inside the top 20, but not yet a threat. Her weekend was nearly flawless, as she matched 66s on Saturday and Sunday, to emerge from the multitude. The win was her first, non-major victory on the LPGA Tour, coming after triumphs at the 2015 US Open and the 2016 Evian Championship.

Ace, Ace, Baby propels Pepperell to British Masters title

It was a rugged, mucky affair on Sunday at Walton Heath, born of the talented hand of architect Herbert Fowler. Eddie Pepperell, who spends a fair amount of time mucking around on Twitter, was the man for the job. He began the day at -9, and ended the day at that figure. Most times, even par gets you nowhere on tour; on this particular Sunday, it got you to the top of the podium. Pepperell had four eagles on the week, including an ace on Thursday and the hole-out below for a deuce on Sunday. The winner made a massive putt for par on 14, which probably saved his round. He bogeyed 15 and 16 to let Alexander Bjork into the tournament. The Swede was unable to capitalize, bogeying 18 to offer Pepperell a 2-stroke advantage at the home hole. The Englishman finished in proper form, getting up and down for par from a greenside bunker to win by a pair.

By the way, if you want a crack at Fowler in North America, visit Eastward Ho! on Cape Cod (which he built) or Pebble Beach, whose 18th hole he extended to its current glory.

SAS Championship almost never in doubt for Bernhard Langer

Bernhard Langer made a single bogey in 54 holes this week. The inconceivable occurrence happened precisely at the midway point of the tournament, on the 27th hole of SAS Championship. Astronomers at the Arecibo observatory in Puerto Rico acknowledged a slight orbital shift at that very moment, while CERN scientists reported … oh, never mind. Langer had made 8 birdies in 9, back-nine holes on Friday for 29 on the par-37 side. It was ultimately his week, although Gene Sauers kept pace for a while. The duo matched 62-67 through 36 holes, but Sunday was all Germany. Langer had 7 birdies on the day for 65, leaving him 6 strokes clear of 2nd-place Scott Parel. Sauers struggled in round three, tumbling all the way to a tie for 5th spot, after a +3 75.

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How a broken 6-iron changed Eddie Pepperell’s 2018

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When Eddie Pepperell was scrambling around local golf shop Auchterlonies in Scotland on the week of The Open Championship looking for an emergency replacement shaft for his 6-iron, he probably didn’t believe that moment would change the trajectory of his 2018. That incident, however, played a considerable role in Pepperell’s wire-to-wire victory at last week’s British Masters.

In Scotland, Pepperell had his 6-iron fitted with the KBS C-Taper shaft, and according to Mizuno’s Matt McIsaac, at The Open that week, he hit his 6-iron better than any other club over the four days on his way to a T6 finish.

Fast-forward to last week’s British Masters, and on the Monday of the event, the Englishman was to have a filming session with Mizuno where the company would demonstrate to him its shaft optimizer.  Pepperell was then taken through Mizuno’s 3-swing diagnostic process, where lo and behold they recommended the KBS C-Taper shaft to him.

Described as “very much a feel player” by McIsaac, Pepperell equipped himself that day with a new set of JPX 919 Tour irons, with KBS C Taper shafts, and then went on to win the British Masters just a few days later.

What should we glean from this story? Well according to Matt McIsaac, it’s that there is a best fit shaft out there for everyone.

“There’s a ‘best fit’ shaft for everyone – for Eddie; it was the KBS C Taper – for someone else it will be the S Taper.  Wait for the moment when you’re open to improvement, throw away your preconceptions and try the Optimizer.  It doesn’t know if you’re male, female a tour winner or a 24 hcp – just measures your move and finds the best shaft for it.”

With last week’s victory, Pepperell, who sat 133rd in the Official World Golf Rankings at the beginning of the year, is now ranked 33rd in the world and looks assured of a place at Augusta National next year for the Masters.

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