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Truth and Rumors: Players respond to bunker ruling, Tiger is 'finished', PGA Championship going muni

Tour TweetsBy now you've heard everybody and his mother's reaction to Dustin Johnson's two-stroke penalty at Whistling Straits (my mother's reaction: "My, he's tall."). As for Johnson's fellow PGA Tour pros, after the Championship festivities wound down, they took to the Internet and Tweeted their brains out. Intrepid blogger Stephanie Wei has compiled some of the best Johnson-related Tweets:

Stewart Cink: @donnabrookes there’s NEVER a doubt whether you’re in a bunker in St Andrews! Even the ones that have seen golf balls all year!
Not sure if relevant to Whistling, but after my 2004 Hilton Head waste area controversy, they rebuilt all wastes on course into bunkers.
In light of PGA finish, Augusta just announced new seating for patrons available in right greenside bunker by 18 green.

Joe Ogilvie: I’m stupified they are even considering penalizing Dustin, if anything it is Ground Under Repair.
Common sense would be to play everything inside the ropes as bunkers and every “bunker” that is outside the ropes as waste areas.
In crisis managemt never good to employ the “cover my ass” strategy as PGA seems to be doing. Never works. Admit set up was wrong & move on

John Daly: So that means the sandy cart paths that I saw & other players hit off of are also considered bunkers?!
So, a sandbar off Lake Michigan considered a bunker too if that’s what they’re sayin–

Rickie Fowler: Proud of the way my boy DJ handled the ruling--I think a bunker that fans have been standing in all day should be considered a waste bunker
No telling what I would have done…from the tv coverage I never once thought of him being in a bunker just thought it was a bare spot

Not a lot of surprises here: almost everyone either took Johnson's side or at least the compromise position that it was as much the course's fault as DJ's. A couple interesting notes though. First, there is no love lost between Tour players and the 18th hole at Whistling Straits. As much as these guys seem to admire the course as a whole, the "Dyeabolical" 18th gets no love whatsoever. Also, Wei herself brings up the possibility that several (and quite likely many) players broke the exact same rule throughout the week, they just weren't under as much scrutiny, so no one noticed. For some reason this situation kind of reminds me of that NFL game a couple of years ago when Donovan McNabb admitted he didn't know the NFL's overtime rule (and that games could end in ties). We all had a good laugh at him until we found out that half the league was equally clueless. Not a perfect analogy, I know, but that's what it makes me think of. FYI, Tiger's finishedBeing a member of the New York media, I try to give my fellow writers the benefit of the doubt--I often have to write articles that touch (or go slightly beyond) the borders of my personal knowledge/expertise, so I understand that other writers and reporters have to do the same. Usually, at those times I take a slow, cautious tone and try not to be overly dramatic. New York Magazine's Drew Magary has taken a slightly different approach...
Tiger Woods didn't win the PGA Championship [Sunday], or any major this year. Get used to that sort of thing happening, because Tiger Woods will never win another major championship again.

He's finished. He's not catching Jack Nicklaus. He's won what, fourteen majors? Well, that's what he'll stay on for the rest of eternity. It's a shame, because he has put his entire being into chasing Nicklaus, and we, as fans, have followed him for over a decade assuming that the record would eventually be in his grasp, and sooner rather than later. It's frustrating to get to this point and think that we'll never reach that moment with Woods. But we never will. There are a few reasons why.

Here are the reasons that Magary gives for his bold prediction (he goes into each with some detail):
1. What's the point? 2. He isn't made for this kind of adversity.
3. Other players are better now, and they aren't scared of him.
4. Turns out, Tiger Woods is not preternaturally immune to pressure.
5. He's not Tiger Woods anymore. So who is he?
I'm going to be completely honest, when I read the first paragraph of this story I assumed it was satire and, unfortunately, I was mistaken. In deference to Magary, I'm not sure that any of these statements is, in and of itself, incorrect (except for "What's the point," because, as the author states, the point is to beat Jack's record). The problem is that they amount more to grasping at straws than actually building an argument (in effect, he's answering the question: if Tiger Woods never won another major, why would that be? Rather than the question: How will Tiger Woods play for the rest of his career?) Yes, Tiger is struggling, and yes, his personal life has clearly taken a toll on his game, but the idea that he's "finished" is borderline absurd. T4, T4, T23, T28. Those are Tiger Woods' finishes in the majors this year. That means that when things were at their absolute worst, Tiger finished in the top five twice and the top 30 all four times against the toughest fields in golf. At the height of his powers in 1969, Jack Nicklaus went T24, T25, T6 and T11 in the majors. Good thing he didn't just pack up his clubs and go home. PGA Championship going muni?Some good notes from the AP's Doug Ferguson about the PGA Championship trying to find more reasonable public courses as host sites in the future.

Anyone wishing to take on the Whistling Straits course where Martin Kaymer won the PGA Championship and Dustin Johnson was buried by a bunker ruling need only to make a reservation and have $340 handy, along with $100 for the caddie.

That's still not as much as Pebble Beach.

Even so, there is a difference in public play between resort courses, such as Pinehurst or Pebble Beach, and true public courses, such as Bethpage Black and Torrey Pines.

The PGA Championship is lacking in the latter.

This came to mind last week during the PGA of America's annual news conference, in which president Jim Remy shifted the focus to public golf. He noted there are more 9-hole courses than 18-hole courses in America, and that 75 percent of the rounds played in the country are on public courses. He cited the average fee at just under $30.

"There are availability of reasonably priced golf courses, and I think that we need to get the message out that there is a real value to a family to be involved in a sport," Remy said.

So why isn't the PGA Championship going to such a course, which can provide a proper test and have room to stage a big event? It has been more than two decades — 1989 at Kemper Lakes outside Chicago — that the PGA Championship was held on a daily fee course.

"We've had discussions with a number of daily fee facilities, along with traditional clubs," PGA chief executive Joe Steranka said. "We'll step out of the box every now and then and try something. And right now, the USGA is doing a great part in taking it to the Bethpage Blacks and Torrey Pines."

Hard to say if the PGA actually follows through with this. Even though I'm sure they're sincere about trying to get more daily fee courses into their rotation, I imagine that the logistics of that are extremely tricky--especially finding a course that can hold the quality of golf/amount of spectators they need and that's not already on the Open circuit. I talked to a bunch of everyday golfers at Bethpage Black for our Open preview a couple of years ago, and while many of of them were excited and proud to be regulars on a U.S. Open course, they couldn't help but gripe at the number of tee times that had been cut to accommodate for the changes that had to be made and to let the course set up for the Open.
   

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by Kevin Cunningham