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Morning 9: 8 PGA Tour players petition to play in Saudi event | New rules of Amateur Status

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By Ben Alberstadt
For comments—or if you’re looking for a fourth—email me at [email protected].
October 27, 2021
Good Wednesday morning, golf fans.
1. 8 PGA Tour players petition to play in Saudi event
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch…”Eight PGA Tour players—including world No. 2 Dustin Johnson—are seeking permission to compete at the Saudi International tournament, Golfweek has learned. The Tour previously said that it would deny waivers for its members to take part in the controversial event.”
  • “Tour players need to obtain a release to compete on other circuits. A Tour spokesperson confirmed to Golfweek that a decision on waiver applications is not required until 30 days before a tournament starts. The Saudi International is scheduled for February 3-6 at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City, meaning players might not learn if they will be permitted to play until Tuesday, January 4.”
  • “PGA Tour members who choose to compete without obtaining permission are subject to disciplinary proceedings, most likely in the form of a fine.”
2 (Rules of Amateur) Status update
Golf Digest’s Ryan Herrington…”Officials with the USGA and R&A unveiled Tuesday the finished product of their four-year modernization initiative that redefines what amateurs can/can’t do to better reflect the modern game and make the rules easier to understand and apply. Most notably, amateurs now will be allowed to receive money to cover expenses with no restrictions or prohibitions. Additionally, amateurs will be able to make money off their name, image and likeness.”
  • “Short term, the biggest beneficiaries of the relaxed rules are elite nationally and internationally ranked players—those whose golf prowess would allow them to be compensated for endorsing, promoting and advertising products and services. Since all previous prohibitions will be lifted, there will be no ambiguity as to what is or is not permissible. The era of Lucy Li being “warned” about appearing in an Apple Watch ad jeopardizing her amateur status are over.”
  • “Long term, the hope is that the changes will allow up-and-coming golfers previously hindered from developing their true potential because of the monetary issues associated with traveling and playing in tournaments to continue to pursue the game without the burden of certain financial worries.”
3. More 
Golfweek’s Julie Williams…”The USGA announced Tuesday that its updated amateur code has been published but won’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2022. As with any major USGA Rules update, the final changes are a result of months of review and a public feedback period. The goal was to make the concept of amateurism easier to understand and apply.”
…”The new Rules identify only four acts that would cause a player to lose his or her amateur status:
  • Accepting a prize with a value exceeding the prize limit ($1,000) or accepting prize money in a handicap competition.
  • Playing as a professional.
  • Accepting payment for giving instruction (although all current exceptions still apply, such as coaching at educational institutions and assisting with approved programs).
  • Accepting employment as a golf club professional or membership of an association of professional golfers.
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4. 15-year-old bomber to tee it up
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…”It’s hard to imagine a more memorable start to a professional career than competing in the world’s only night golf tournament a mere 15 minutes from home. Add to the fact that the pro happens to be a 15-year-old high school student who stands 6-feet tall and generates head-turning power and it’s a headline-worthy debut for Chiara Noja at this week’s Dubai Moonlight Classic.”
  • “The German-born player was raised in England and moved to Dubai shortly before last year’s Dubai Moonlight Classic. After playing almost exclusively in professional events this season on the LET’s Access Series, where she finished runner-up in Belgium, Noja decided it was time to take the next step. While she wouldn’t reveal all that’s in store for her upcoming schedule, Noja said it was too good to wait.”
5. Making the most of it
Golfweek’s Adam Stanley…”Matt Hill was a can’t-miss college star at North Carolina State, matching accomplishments that only Tiger Woods had achieved before him. And after Hill’s eight-win season in 2009, he quickly made a deep splash in his native Canada, topping the Order of Merit on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada.”
  • “But life, like golf, is unpredictable. Sometimes the can’t-miss kids end up missing. Or they run into injuries. Or the game rears its unsympathetic head – no matter your resume.
  • “Hill, of Brights Grove, Ontario — the same hometown as Mike Weir – is proof. He will make his first start on the PGA TOUR since 2017 after Monday qualifying for this week’s Butterfield Bermuda Championship.”
  • “I haven’t played a ton of tournaments lately, but you just never know with golf,” Hill said from his home in West Palm Beach, Florida. “You keep plugging along and try to get better and you never know when it’s going to happen.”
6. Round of golf for Brady’s No. 600 ball?
Our Matt Vincenzi…”Over the weekend, Tom Brady threw his 600th career touchdown pass; a 9 yard strike to wide receiver Mike Evans.”
  • “Instead of giving the ball to the legendary quarterback, Evans tossed it in the stands to a fan wearing his number 13 “Evans” jersey. That decision ended up being quite a costly one for the Buccaneers.”
  • “29-year-old Byron Kennedy was the man who received the ball, and thankfully decided to give it back to the team, in exchange for some other memorabilia. Experts have predicted that the 600th touchdown ball would be worth about $500,000 at auction, but Kennedy didn’t receive anything close to that value.”
  • “According to Michael David Smith of NBC Sports, the fan had a special request that would appeal to golf fans. Kennedy asked that Brady play a round of golf with him: “Renegotiate, no, but play a round of golf as repayment? That’d be pretty cool,” Kennedy told Andrew Siciliano.”
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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Don Corneilius

    Oct 28, 2021 at 4:44 pm

    That’s right brother!

  2. Don Corneilius

    Oct 28, 2021 at 4:43 pm

    Amen brother!

  3. japs

    Oct 27, 2021 at 5:28 pm

    GScandlen says:

    May 29, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    I appreciate your honesty. That is the default position for humanity — misery exists and there is nothing ahead but death and rot. Jesus came to tell us it doesn’t have to be that way. I choose to believe him. I understand those who choose otherwise. I was there for a very long time.

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Greg Norman praises ‘rebel’ players ready to compete in controversial Saudi International

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There has been much speculation as to whether the new Greg Norman-led Asian Tour will be able to snipe some of the world’s best golfers during the 2022 season.

As reported by Golf Digest Australia, it appears Norman is confident in doing just that.

Yesterday, organizers of the Saudi International, which is set to take place at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club from February 3-6, confirmed 25 of the golfers who will be making the trip to Saudi Arabia.

The list of stars is quite long and headlined by Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, and Dustin Johnson. Additionally, many of golf’s European Tour stars will be joining the field, including Adam, Tyrrell Hatton, Xander Schauffele, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen and Paul Casey.

In response to their commitment, Norman praised the “rebel” players for standing up to what he called “anti-competitive threats” in a memo sent to the golfers:

“I want to share my undivided support and endorsement for the stance taken in announcing your participation in the Saudi International,” he wrote.

“You are standing up for your rights, as professional athletes, and for what is right and best for the global development of the sport of golf.

“Without this change, you will never realise your individual and collective value, or elevate the game to the levels it deserves. Simply put, the anticompetitive threats and actions these professional bodies have taken are designed to prevent fair competition, limit the game’s growth, and harm your ability to realise your true value. 

“I wanted to reach out directly to share the respect I have for you and the strength of your actions, and also to voice the level of support you have from so many sectors of the industry, who are greatly encouraged by your leadership and the new horizons in golf’s future.”

The Saudi International will be played directly opposite to a brand new DP World Tour event, the Ras al Khaimah Championship, scheduled to take place in the UAE the same week.

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Golf pioneer Lee Elder passes away at age 87

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One of the pioneers against segregation in golf, Lee Elder, who will be mostly remembered for his appearance as the first black golfer to take part in The Masters, was reported to have died on Sunday, aged 87.

Having moved to Los Angeles at a young age, Elder took jobs at local golf courses before being encouraged and tutored by Joe Louis and Ted Rhodes before making his mark in the United Golf Association Tour for African-American players, at one stage winning 18 of 22 tournaments.

He reached the PGA Tour in 1968, losing a play-off to Jack Nicklaus at Firestone but always faced an uphill battle against the prejudice that existed.

Per Golf Channel’s report, during a tournament in Memphis one of his opponents, Terry Dill, saw a spectator pick his ball up and discard it, only for him to receive death threats at his hotel.

Further to that and similar episodes, at the 1968 Monsanto Open, Pensacola, Elder was amongst many black players forced to change in the car park as members would not allow non-white players in their clubhouse.

Six years later, Elder was to win in Pensacola, paving his way to that first initiation to The Masters, and whilst he received “up to 100 death threats” he confirmed some 40 years later that, “Every green I walked up on, the applause was just tremendous, I mean every one of the people shouted, ‘Go, Lee! Good luck, Lee!’”

In 1979, Elder became the first black player to qualify for the Ryder Cup and became a crusader and spokesman for injustice against racism at golf clubs, as well as speaking out against social discrimination and forming the Lee Elder Scholarship Fund, aiding low-income families seeking a place at college.

Elder eventually became a member of the PGA Champions Tour winning six of his first 22 starts and a total of nine tournaments.
As Tiger Woods won the 1997 Masters, Elder was on hand to witness the cheers. “You would have thought I was winning the golf tournament,” Golf Channel report Elder to have said. “To be there, to see what Tiger did, that meant the world to me.”

Indeed, Tiger himself stated that “I wasn’t the pioneer. Charlie Sifford, Lee Elder and Teddy Rhodes paved the way,” said Woods. “I was thinking about them and what they’ve done for me as I was coming up the 18th fairway. I said a little prayer and a thanks to those guys. They are the ones who did it for me.”

Last April Elder was appointed an honorary starter (alongside Nicklaus and Gary Player) for the 85th Masters declaring that it was ”one of the most emotional experiences that I have ever witnessed or been involved in…..it is certainly something that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

Masters chairman Fred Ridley gave Elder the ceremonial first-tee honours while adding that Elder will “make history once more, not with a drive, but with his presence, strength and character.”

Lee Elder is survived by his wife, Sharon, and will surely go down in history as one of the most influential players to break down racial barriers within the sport.

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19th Hole

‘OMG’ – Pro golfers go wild over Tiger Woods’ swing video

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If you are a fan of golf, there’s a good chance you have seen the most recent video of Tiger Woods hitting a golf ball on the range posted to his twitter account yesterday.

As ecstatic as golf fans are about seeing Tiger Woods effortlessly swing a club again, players on Tour seem to be just as fired up about Tiger’s video.

Here we’ve rounded up some of the best tweets from Woods’ fellow PGA Tour players:

The PGA Tour is in a great place, with many young superstars on the rise and interest in the game at all time high. Even still, yesterday was a reminder that nothing moves the needle in the sport of golf like Tiger Woods. If more evidence is needed, the video Woods tweeted currently has 6.8 million views in under 24 hours.

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