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Amy Olson denies any wrongdoing in backstopping controversy



Following the backstopping controversy which overshadowed the LPGA’s Honda Thailand event, Amy Olson one of the two players involved, took to social media to present her side of the story.

Within the post, Olson denied any intent and dismissed claims of collusion, while stressing both herself and Ariya Jutanugarn’s innocence from any wrongdoing.

The LPGA previously addressed the situation after the second days play, stating

“There was no agreement by either player to leave Jutanugarn’s ball in place to help Olson’s next stroke. An LPGA Rules Official was approaching the 18th green at the time and agreed that no breach had occurred.”

Neither player received any punishment over the incident, and both Olson and Jutanugarn notched top-25 finishes at the event, finishing T23 and 14th respectively.


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Gianni is a freelance writer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts as well as a Diploma in Sports Journalism. He can be contacted at Follow him on Twitter @giancarlomag



  1. Peter McGill

    Feb 28, 2019 at 8:20 pm

    I always clear on my popularity in the group if they all race up to mark their ball when I’m about to chip…

  2. dan mcco

    Feb 26, 2019 at 6:17 pm

    Change the rule so that a ball cannot be marked unless the player hitting onto the green requests it. Then there is no backstopping issue and everyone gets the “advantage”. We used to make player putt over or around a ball on the green (stymies.)

  3. Matthew Keves

    Feb 26, 2019 at 1:29 pm

    Simple fix…if an opponent’s ball hits yours, you both play it as it lies…no more putting it back where it was. That’ll stop this immediately

    • Sandra

      Feb 26, 2019 at 1:43 pm

      That’s a good one. I’d go for that AND mark my ball every time!

  4. frank cichon

    Feb 26, 2019 at 12:06 pm

    What a joke! After hitting her chip, Ariya started towards the hole INTENDING to MARK her ball but glanced at Olson and was WAVED OFF by Olson. If anyone that has played the game at a fairly decent level (having some skill) knows that a ball resting within 2 feet right of the hole makes a downhill chip (from a poor lie) MUCH easier. I my mind Olson took advantage and hit the shot MUCH quicker than she would have. I think Olson should have been penalized …not Ariya because Olson waved her off. As for not holding up play…did I not see Wie standing on the fringe of the green (NO CLUB in hand) waiting for a RULING. WHAT A MONTH FOR GOLF……..KUCHER, DJ’s ruling was another JOKE ….I lost a lot of respect for ALL 3 of these golfers.

  5. UpstateGolfer

    Feb 26, 2019 at 9:34 am

    Rub of the green. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it hurts. I am for the speed up of play and if it helps a player every now and again so be it. Non-Issue.

  6. Tim Armington

    Feb 26, 2019 at 9:14 am

    If she is good enough to hit a 1.5″ ball at will why wouldn’t she aim at the 4.5″ hole? It speeds up play and should be a non-issue!

  7. Jim

    Feb 26, 2019 at 9:13 am


    Words are significant! Your use of the word “denies” in your column above implies there was guilt. A much more positive word would have been the truthful “explains” what happened. I’m tired of all you journalists and so-called experts taking the negative viewpoint on everything, especially Chamblee!

    Regarding the backstopping, Amy made an error in judgement trying to protect the field from slow play by playing fast. That’s all.

    Stop trying to make something sinister or negative out of it and get on with life and more important things!

  8. Dennis

    Feb 26, 2019 at 9:02 am

    Require a ball on the green must be marked before the next player plays his/her shot.

    • Dave R

      Feb 26, 2019 at 10:50 am

      Curious…how far away 100yds…50yds
      This whole “backstopping” thing is ludicrous…

  9. joro

    Feb 26, 2019 at 8:59 am

    So what, there is no rule against it and it is done all the time. A person chips it close and rather than wait for the player to mark it, which takes time, the next player hits. So big deal, it is stupid to even comment on it. It has been going on forever.

  10. Tiger Noods

    Feb 26, 2019 at 5:49 am

    You guys are full of it. The word “likely” is used in the rule, and by all accounts, likely by definition is better than a 50% chance. The thought that you are all suggesting that it was *LIKELY* that the other ball would be hit from a pitch from off the green is flatly preposterous. If it were “likely”, then imagine how easily a larger target, like a 4.25″ hole would be hit from there… this was just a wee little 1.68″ ball!

    You either expect these ladies to be shooting 59s consistently, or you are putting way, way too much into this.

  11. JP

    Feb 25, 2019 at 9:42 pm

    Jutanugarn was on her way up to mark her ball. She knew it was likely to get hit. Olsen waved her off and proceeded to do just that.
    Everyone who saw it knew it was a rule infraction.

    Like already said, if this were match play, there’s no way Jutanugarn doesn’t mark her ball!

    • scott

      Feb 26, 2019 at 2:21 pm

      “likely”? Why didn’t she just hit the stick instead of the ball that was 2 feet to the right? Wouldn’t it be easier if she would have just hit the stick and made the chip instead of hitting the other ball?

      But I guess you are right EVERYONE knew it was a rules infraction. Let’s not let the fact that it IS NOT a rules infraction get in the way of your story.

      • JP

        Feb 26, 2019 at 3:47 pm

        “Likely” as in it had a good chance! It was in close proximity to the intended target. So yes, it was likely to get hit.
        Oh wait! Not just likely, it DID get hit! That’s how likely a ball somewhat close to the pin is to get hit. A distinct possibility. That’s why there is a rule about this.
        Given the choice, I’d love to have a ball or two somewhat close to the pin each and every time I chip up. And I’d prefer those balls be just left, right, or behind the cup. Why? Because it’s likely I’ll hit them once in a while and it will help. Or is there a rule regarding this???

  12. Tom

    Feb 25, 2019 at 2:33 pm

    Both spectators watching the women’s golf noticed the infraction…!

  13. 2putttom

    Feb 25, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    what does the “rule” say

  14. thebigdad

    Feb 25, 2019 at 11:58 am

    I can assure you had Jutanugarn’s ball been in front of the hole, Olsen would have insisted it be marked.

  15. bob

    Feb 25, 2019 at 11:06 am

    So they want to speed up play, but you have to stop to mark every ball on the green.

    • kevin

      Feb 25, 2019 at 1:38 pm

      it took the players 12 seconds from the shot to walk to the green and fist pump. marking a ball sitting next to the cup does is not the reason why players are slow.

      the simple test should be whether or not the ball would’ve been marked during match play. guarantee it would’ve.

      • Matt D

        Feb 25, 2019 at 4:37 pm

        100% right Kevin. Jutanagarn’s instinct was to mark it because it might give Amy an advantage. Jutanagarn is entitled under the rules to mark her ball, or have any other ball marked if there’s an advantage. My guess is she didn’t want to make waves so just left it.

  16. Jon G

    Feb 25, 2019 at 9:48 am

    Players need to know the rules. I like Amy, but ignorance of the rules for any player in a sport they play for a living is not good for the sport,

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Ernie Els announces final 3 Presidents Cup vice-captains – which includes 2 previous Masters champions



Ernie Els has revealed that Mike Weir, K.J. Choi, and Trevor Immelman will take on the role of vice-captaincy for the 2019 Presidents Cup.

The trio joins Geoff Ogilvy, who Els named as one of his vice-captains back in November, in what is a truly international team of captain’s assistants.

Both Choi and Weir have experience with the vice-captaincy role, with Choi being a part of Nick Price’s team in 2015, while Weir was an assistant captain under Price in 2017. Immelman will be making his debut as a vice-captain.

Speaking concerning his choices for assistant captains, Els cited the importance of his vice-captains coming from all corners of the globe and stressed how a “new formula” was needed to previous regimes to help the International side defeat the U.S. team for just the second time in the event’s history.

“We’ve got almost every continent covered with these four guys. So that’s basically why I chose these guys, and we really need to change things up from previous Cups. And I wanted them to buy into this new formula and make them take this formula forward.”

The South African also mentioned how he would be approaching the pairing process for the event at Royal Melbourne differently than his predecessors, and that he would be leaning heavily on statistics and science before the biennial team event kicks off in December.

“I’ve seen what other captains have done in the past. In this instance, I really wanted to try and start a new thinking process around the pairing system. I’m using a lot of data, a lot of science into what we’re going to be doing in December in Australia, and I wanted to get guys who have played a lot of Presidents Cups like myself.”

U.S. captain, Tiger Woods, has thus far appointed three vice-captains — Fred Couples, Zach Johnson and Steve Stricker. Woods has the option to choose one more captain ahead of the event.

The 2019 Presidents Cup gets underway on Dec. 12 at Royal Melbourne Golf Club, the site of the International team’s sole victory in the event back in 1998.



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Morning 9: OWGR point allocation issues | Reed on switch to Titleist irons | Els picks assistants



By Ben Alberstadt (

March 20, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. OWGR issues
Overshadowed by rules-related discontents, many tour pros are less than thrilled about the allocation of Official World Golf Ranking points. So great is their grieving that the PGA Tour tasked a duo of mathematicians to investigate.
  • Their findings: Relative to the PGA Tour, other tours are allocated too many points.
  • An AP report with this anecdote…”Against a field as strong as some majors, Tommy Fleetwood shared the lead after 18 and 36 holes, played in the final group and was still in the mix at The Players Championship until a tee shot into the water on the 17th hole. His three-way tie for fifth was worth 16.53 ranking points.”
  • “Earlier that day, Guido Migliozzi won his first European Tour title at the Kenya Open, which until this year was a Challenge Tour event. The strength of its field was slightly weaker than the Boonchu Ruangkit Championship on the Asian Development Tour in January…Migliozzi received 24 ranking points, the minimum for the European Tour.”
2. Captain Els picks Choi, Immelman, Weir
Captain of the Presidents Cup International team, Ernie Els named K.J. Choi, Trevor Immelman and Mike Weir to join Geoff Ogilvy as his assistant captains for the December event.
3. Good on them
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols with the news that a pair of the expecting Brittany Lincicome’s sponsors will pay her full contracts for 2019, even though she won’t meet the required minimum number of starts.
  • “…Two of her sponsors, CME Group and Diamond Resorts, will honor her full contracts in 2019 even though she won’t play a full season.”
  • “Lincicome, a two-time major winner, and husband Dewald Gouws are expecting a baby girl, due Sept. 1, two weeks before the Solheim Cup at Gleneagles.”
  • “I mean, I never thought in a million years that they would do that,” said Lincicome. “I feel so honored and blessed to be represented by two great companies that are going to do this. It’s just fantastic.”
4. Pepperell’s process
Never change, Eddie Pepperell. He’s a bit from the Englishman following his T3 finish at The Players, via Doug Ferguson at the Associated Press.
  • “There is a method to what others might consider madness.”
  • ”’Historically, whenever I’ve been at courses a long time, come Thursday I can be de-motivated,” Pepperell said. ”I don’t want to work my (tail) off too hard on Monday through Wednesday. That represents you’re lost. I don’t want to be lost. That always represented a sign of struggle for me.”’
  • “Pepperell is more interested in being technically sound….”Most courses are in front of you, require good shot-making and skill,” he said. ”It doesn’t matter how well I know a golf course. If I’m struggling with technique, I ain’t going to go out there and beat these guys.”’


5. Monahan speaks
Golf Digest’s Stephen Hennessey mined the transcript of PGA Tour Commissioner, Jay Monahan, for some of the most interesting morsels.
Here’s one.
  • Q: “You mentioned some things you wanted to sort of button up with the other organizations. Can you give an example of something where you feel like the relationships have been strained and need fixing, and is some of that related to your view on distance versus what they’re kind of building to with their distance study?”
  • MONAHAN: “I think — so the way I’ll characterize that is that if you look at — let’s talk about slow play, my favorite subject. There’s a lot of discussion about slow play. And when you have six or seven different organizations that have different policies and different perspectives and we’re not each fully aware of what those are, that may not be serving the best interests of the game. So how do we learn from each other on a subject like that? How do we diagnostically look at something that is getting a lot of discussion and ultimately can we improve? So that would be one.”
  • “Driving distance is another. How do we fully understand each other’s perspectives, and then how do we have good debate and discussion about what the solutions, what the opportunities or where we go from here. But I just think that — and I want to be clear that this is on us, too. We just need to be more transparent, more forthcoming about our thinking across the board, and I think that’s going to get us to a good place.”
6. Reed’s switch to Titleist irons
Andrew Tursky at talked to Patrick Reed about his wholesale iron switch ahead of last week’s Players.
Why the big iron switch on the week of THE PLAYERS?
  • “I needed a new set because my irons were getting worn out. When I talked to the Titleist guys, I was fortunate enough that they were able to help me out and work with me to get a new fresh set of irons into play. After they built them, I absolutely loved the way they I hit ’em and how they were performing. From that point on, I felt like I had to get them battle-tested and put them under-the-gun, and I was able to do that last week…I actually got them that week (of THE PLAYERS). I was looking for new irons already because, my Callaways were great, they were just worn out. The grooves were gone.
  • For me, (I just had to) make sure (the Titleist irons) had the right weight and the right swing weight, because they looked the same and felt the same going through the turf (as the Callaway irons). For me, it was just making sure they were fresh. I knew I needed a fresh set leading into this stretch [of tournaments]. When I tested [the new Titleist irons] on the range, they were unbelievable on Tuesday, and Wednesday when I played on the course they were just as well. I felt like… I hit them great on the golf course, I just needed to dial in distances a little bit…They feel great. I look forward to continue playing with them.”
Reed also added that Titleist’s tour van added the lead tape to match the head weights to his previous gamers.
7. Eyes on Akshay
Golf Channel’s Will Gray on the 17-year-old phenom, Akshay Bhatia, who will play in this week’s Valspar Championship, and his somewhat atypical path to turning pro.
  • “Like many skilled players his age, Bhatia aspires to turn pro. But his timeline is significantly shorter than most of his peers, as his amateur career is measured in months, not years. He is open about his plan to turn pro later this year, eschewing any thoughts of college in a decision he made along with the help of his father, Sonny, and “inner circle” when he was still in middle school.”
  • ‘”I’ve never liked school. I’ve never been very smart, like sitting in a classroom, and I have the worst attention span when it comes to it. But I love being outside and love playing golf, just competing,” Bhatia said. “So my dad was like, ‘You know what? Let’s just not go to college. Let’s not do it.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, that’s fine.’ I mean, I’m an eighth-grader, of course I’m going to say no to school.”‘
8. A tiny oral history of Ho Sung at Pebble

Stellar stuff from Anna Katherine Clemmons at ESPN, talking to the folks who teed it up with Ho Sung Choi at Pebble Beach…

“AARON RODGERS, PACKERS QUARTERBACK: I watched video of his swing, and I tweeted that I’d love to play with him because I already had a Pebble Beach partner, Jerry Kelly, who leans a ton. I thought that’d be a fun pairing.”

“JERRY KELLY, THREE-TIME PGA TOUR WINNER: I thought the swing wasn’t real. Then I saw he’d won in Japan, so I tweeted, “Hey, my long-lost brother on the Japanese Tour!”

“CHRIS O’DONNELL, ACTOR WHO WAS WITH RODGERS, KELLY AND CHOI AT PEBBLE BEACH: I’d seen his swing when it first went viral. Then, when the pairings came out, I asked, “Who is Ho Sung Choi?” Later I watched the video again and was like, “Oh my god, it’s him!”

“RODGERS: His impact positions are incredible. He tees it up so high, and other than a popup on 10, he really hit it well off the tee. He’s super flexible-it’s like a yoga backbend. I tried to do one at one point on the range, teasing with him, and my back started hurting.”

Full piece.

9. The 14
If you didn’t catch our new series (in partnership with TXG), I think you’ll want to. Johnny Wunder and TXG’s Ian Fraser do a deep dive into the PGA Tour winner’s WITB in “The 14” (like, half-an-hour-long video deep). If you’re a gear junkie, it’s must-watch stuff.

See “The 14” here.


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Rahm’s water ball at 11: Is the Spaniard his own worst enemy, or should his caddie have stayed silent?



Few shots on the course have stunned golf fans and analysts alike more than Jon Rahm’s water ball on the 11th hole while leading the Players Championship on Sunday.

The exchange prior to the shot went viral on social media, which has now been removed by the PGA Tour. With his caddie, Adam Hayes, pleading for Rahm to lay up, the Spaniard pulled rank and proceeded to fire his ball into the water, in a moment of madness which proved a fatal blow in his bid to capture the Players trophy.

Immediately after the incident, announcers called the move “perplexing” as well as explaining how they “didn’t understand any of that,” referring to the seemingly rash decision made by Rahm after what appeared to be a calm and constructive assessment of the situation with his caddie.

Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee went even further than those commentators, calling the fiery 24-year-old’s decision and subsequent water ball “the most baffling decision” in the history of the tournament.

Rahm, however, came to a very different conclusion to what had occurred. With the ball taking a splash, the Spaniard lost his cool and was audibly heard saying “I was so f****** sure the first time,” which could only allude to him believing that his caddie had injected some doubt into his mind, causing the error.

Another water ball at 17 sank his chances entirely, and speaking after the round, Rahm stuck to his guns, believing that he had done the right thing and confirmed how he believed that his caddie’s involvement had hindered him.

“Adam was trying to convince me to go right. When I first got to the ball, I was really sure I could do it. If you give me 10 balls, besides that one, I’ll hit the other nine on land. Unfortunately, I got a little bit of doubt in me.”

Veteran caddie Kip Henley, speaking to GolfDigest, explained that while Hayes and the rest of America knew he was suggesting the right thing, he had no choice but to back down.

“Ninety-eight percent of America looks at that and knows Adam was making the right call. Birdie is great, but par doesn’t kill you, and a good caddie is able to look at the situation without as much emotion as the player.

“The whole time you’re fighting you better be aware where your guy is leaning because if you know he’s not coming over, you need to start backpedaling. You then need to make him feel like it’s a good decision. Everybody does that. You read your guy, and you find a way to change your tune.”

How the incident will affect their future working relationship remains to be seen. But Rahm’s refusal to accept that he may have been better served by listening to his caddie while speaking after the event is only likely to ignite the doubts over the Spaniard’s impetuous temperament.


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19th Hole