BREAKING NEWS: PGA Tour suspends players competing in first LIV Golf Invitational Series event

By Sports Desk June 09, 2022

The PGA Tour has suspended the 17 members who are playing in the first event of the controversial LIV Golf Invitational Series.

The news was confirmed in a memo signed by Tour commissioner Jay Monahan on Thursday.

Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia are among the players to have been suspended, though the latter two are among those who have notified the Tour of that they have resigned their membership.

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  • R&A boss says rule change to reduce golf ball distance is ‘proportionate’ R&A boss says rule change to reduce golf ball distance is ‘proportionate’

    Golf’s governing bodies insist a new rule change to reduce the distance balls travel is “proportionate” and will have “minimal” impact on recreational players.

    The R&A and USGA had previously proposed a Model Local Rule (MLR) to give elite tournaments the option to require the use of balls which would travel around 15 yards less.

    R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers and USGA counterpart Mike Whan confirmed that the MLR would apply in their own events, most notably the Open Championship and US Open, respectively.

    Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods supported the proposal but it was opposed by the PGA Tour and PGA of America and strongly criticised by top equipment manufacturing company Acushnet and the likes of Justin Thomas, who plays their market-leading Titleist balls.

    In response to what Slumbers termed “pretty much no support” for the MLR, the R&A and USGA are now revising the speed at which balls are tested, which will effectively make current versions non-conforming.

    The change will apply at the elite level from 2028, but also for recreational players from 2030.

    Keegan Bradley said during last week’s Hero World Challenge that he had already tested a potential version of the new ball and claimed it was 40 to 50 yards shorter with his driver, labelling it “monstrous” that amateur players would be impacted by the new rule.

    However, Slumbers told the PA news agency that such “emotional numbers” were completely inaccurate as he outlined the rationale behind the change.

    “Having had pretty much no support for an MLR, we thought how can we best achieve our objectives, which is bringing back a little bit more skill in the game, slowing down hitting distance and our environmental sustainability concerns, without a tremendous impact on the recreational game,” Slumbers said.

    “We can do nothing, we can bifurcate the game – which was the MLR – or change the game for everybody. We always said that doing nothing was not an option.”

    The clubhead speed at which balls are tested will rise from 120mph, which was implemented in 2004, to 125mph, while the distance limit remains at 317 yards, plus three yards of tolerance.

    “Over the last six months we’ve had quite a lot of golf balls sent to us that could have conformed with the MLR so we’ve been able to test and understand how a ball at the fastest clubhead speeds would perform with the different rule,” Slumbers added.

    “The impact on the game is as follows: For the fastest swing speeds it will be 13-15 yards, for the average Tour speed nine to 11 yards and for the average recreational player less than five yards.

    “We also know that as the clubs get shorter, the impact will tend towards zero because the clubhead speed drops.

    “We do think it is proportionate and it is targeted and the impact to the recreational game is minimal and certainly not the emotional numbers that have been discussed in recent days.”

    Reaction to the change is certain to be mixed, but Slumbers gave short shrift to any suggestion of further “notice and comment” periods.

    “This is a rule change, a change to the rules of golf equipment standards,” added Slumbers, who conceded that the PGA Tour and PGA of America would have preferred the status quo.

    “There is a process that we agreed with all the industry and we followed that diligently.

    “It’s taken five years to get to this point and we have listened, but we feel we’ve got to the end of that process and the reality is that the rule change doesn’t come into effect into January 2028.

    “This is a significant period of time and we have given more, as we were previously talking about 2026.

    “Governance is not easy, but our responsibility is to look to the future and make sure the game is appropriately structured for the long term and we believe this rule change is part of that.

    “I think it’s an important moment for the game and it’s a positive moment for the game.”

    In addition, the governing bodies will monitor how drivers can become non-confirming through regular use and research how the clubs perform with off-centre hits.

    The PGA Tour and PGA of America both gave a qualified welcome to the news while also expressing opposition to the increase in test clubhead speed.

    “Throughout the process we have provided feedback to the USGA and The R&A and are pleased to see a number of our recommendations reflected in this most recent announcement,” the PGA Tour said in a statement.

    “However, we believe the proposed increase in test clubhead speed to 125mph is disproportional to the rate of increase we see when analysing PGA Tour radar data.

    “In conjunction with guidance from the Player Advisory Council, Player Directors and Policy Board, we will continue to share our feedback with the USGA and The R&A.”

  • How driving distance in golf has increased as new rule reduces ball travel How driving distance in golf has increased as new rule reduces ball travel

    Golf’s governing bodies have announced a change to the way golf balls are tested in order to reduce the distance they travel.

    The revision to the Rules of Golf will apply at the elite level from 2028 and for recreational players in 2030, resulting in a 14-15 yard reduction for the former and less than five yards for the latter.

    Here, the PA news agency looks at how advancements in equipment have led to this point.

    Early days

    The earliest clubs were often carved by the players themselves and made of wood, while King James IV of Scotland is recorded as buying clubs from a bow-maker in Perth in 1502. Balls were initially also made of wood before the “featherie” – made of cow or horsehide and stuffed with feathers – was introduced early in the 17th century. Around 1750, the first club heads made of iron began to emerge, while hickory and persimmon imported from America became the standard wood of choice for club makers.

    The early 1900s

    Improvements in forging techniques late in the 19th century had allowed iron club heads to be mass produced, with steel shafts becoming more popular around 1925 and eventually legalised in 1929. With no limit in place, some players carried large numbers of both steel-shafted and hickory clubs until the 14-club rule was introduced in 1939.

    1960s and 70s

    The first shaft made from fibreglass was released in 1954 and, although it never truly caught on, graphite shafts – which were stronger and lighter than steel – soon followed. The introduction of cavity-backed irons, rather than traditional “blades”, also had a major impact, as Ping founder Karsten Solheim predicted: “The thought I had was if you put perimeter weighting around the club it would give you a chance to mishit it and still make a good shot.”

    1979-present day

    The launch of the first metal TaylorMade driver in 1979 kickstarted the next stage in club development, although it took more than a decade before persimmon clubs became fully obsolete. TaylorMade later offered the first driver with easily adjustable weights to help promote a fade or draw, while the use of lightweight titanium allows manufacturers to create much larger club heads with thinner walls to maximise the sweet spot for greater forgiveness. The ball also developed with the advent of a Surlyn resin cover, and later Urethane, while Nike’s solid construction ball was hugely popular after Tiger Woods used it to win the 2000 Open at St Andrews. Three months later, the launch of Titleist’s ProV1 in Las Vegas prompted numerous players to switch to the new three-piece multilayer ball.

  • I’ve knocked off a lot of rust – Tiger Woods pleased with progress in comeback I’ve knocked off a lot of rust – Tiger Woods pleased with progress in comeback

    Tiger Woods felt he had made significant progress after completing 72 holes in his latest comeback from injury in the Hero World Challenge.

    Competing for the first time since undergoing ankle surgery after withdrawing from the Masters in April, Woods carded a closing 72 in the Bahamas to finish level par for the week and 18th in the 20-man field.

    The 47-year-old recovered from a double bogey on the third with three birdies in the next four holes and also birdied the 14th and 15th after dropping  shots on the eighth and 11th.

    “I think I’ve come a long way,” Woods told NBC.

    “From being a little bit rusty to playing four days and knocked off a lot of rust which was great, and just the physicality of actually playing and competing again – I haven’t done this in a while.

    “It was nice to get out here with the guys, have some fun and compete. I wish I would have played a little cleaner but there’s always next time.”

    Asked about his pre-tournament prediction that he could be able to play one tournament a month in 2024, Woods added: “If you ask me right now I’m a little bit sore.

    “But once a month seems reasonable. It gives me a couple of weeks to recover, a week to tune up. Maybe I can get into a rhythm. That’s what the plan was going into next year and I don’t see why that would change.”

    In a separate interview with a group of reporters, Woods added: “Every day I got faster into the round. The first day took me a while to get a handle on it, second day was faster, today was right away.

    “And that’s eventually, when I play on a regular basis, that’s normally how it is.

    “I think the best part of the week is the way I drove it. I drove it on pretty much a string all week. Granted, these fairways are big. I felt like I had my ball speed up, which was nice, and I was hitting the middle of the face the entire week, which is nice.

    “So it’s not like I have to go and try and find something the next few weeks or something going into next year; what I’ve been working on is right there and maybe just [need to] tighten up a little bit.”

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