BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was the first to be tested for drugs under its anti-doping policy that began last year at the AT&T National. Tim Clark was the first player to be tested.
One year and more than a thousand random samples later, Finchem says the tour remains clean.
“There have been no suspensions because of doping,” Finchem said Wednesday. “It’s not going to surprise me if we have some issue, but I think what’s clear is we do not have a doping problem. Having an issue or two as we go forward does not mean we’re having a problem. It could mean a lot of things. But – knock on wood – we’re very pleased at this point in time.”
Under the anti-doping policy, the tour is required to notify the media if a player tests positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
Finchem declined to say, however, if anyone has tested positive for a recreational drug, such as marijuana.
While such drugs are covered under the policy, the tour treats that as “conduct unbecoming a professional” and would not make any positive tests public.
“I said we have had not positive tests with respect to performance enhancing,” he said. “We may have had some test results that trouble us in other areas that we treat in a different bucket. But we don’t publicize those.
“We may in those instances – I’m not saying this has happened or not, I’m just saying what the process is – consider it conduct unbecoming, and what are our choices? We can suspend a player, we can fine a player, we can do both of those and put a player into treatment. We could also add to that regular treatment.”
He asked to confirm if anyone has tested positive for recreational drugs.
“I wouldn’t say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to that,” he said. “I’ll say this – we don’t have a problem in that area.”
Finchem said the International Olympic Committee observed the tour’s drug-testing procedures earlier this year and was impressed. And while he says golf remains clean on the one-year anniversary of testing, he would not be surprised if that changed.
“I think when you’re dealing with hundreds of athletes, and things can get into your body, we may very well have problems,” Finchem said. “But at this point, not only do the players accept the rule, they put it on the same level as any other rule of golf. They work hard to understand what they need to be doing. They stay updated, and we’ve avoided problems.”
CONGRESSIONAL HIATUS: Most players have found Congressional to be in the best shape in the three years of the AT&T National, especially the greens. Just in time for the greens to be rebuilt for the U.S. Open in 2011.
Tournament host Tiger Woods will take the tournament to Aronomink outside Philadelphia for the next two years, as new greens are being installed and the U.S. Open is held. It will return through 2014, with an option for three more years.
“It’s unfortunate, with the U.S. Open coming here. We have no choice,” Woods said. “We have to go, and it’s part of what the USGA makes you do. I think the golf course can be in even better shape with the new greens.”
Jim Furyk tied for fifth at Congressional in the 1997 U.S. Open, six shots behind Ernie Els. The course has been renovated since then and no longer closes with a par 3 over the water on the 18th.
Furyk already has noticed more changes, such as extended tee boxes. He’s mostly concerned about the greens, however.
“The one thing you have here from a U.S. Open standpoint is that it’s very difficult to make the greens here too quick,” he said. “If you get them up there at 12, 13 (on the Stimpmeter), you really lose a lot of your pin placements, and you lose your ability to make the golf course playable.”
GROOVES AND ROUGH: The PGA Tour is moving ahead with a USGA rule on smaller grooves next year, and commissioner Tim Finchem says there might be changes to how a golf course is set up – but not right away.
Finchem says the rough has not been as high this year at several golf courses, main to compare the effect with previous years.
“The reason we did that was to set the stage for now measuring what happens on those same golf courses when we shift grooves,” he said. “You’re not going to see us revolutionize our setup the first month of next year, but over time we’re going to be experiments with a lot of different ways to set things up.
“Our hope is that this change is going to make the game more interesting to watch from a variety of perspectives.”
He also said the tour is leaning toward applying the new grooves to Monday qualifying at PGA Tour events, but not the pre-qualifiers that are typically held five days earlier. Those pre-qualifiers rarely have PGA Tour members, while Monday qualifying that offers four spots in the tournament have more PGA Tour players.
GLOVER THE GOLFER: U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover played just about every sport until sticking with golf in the eighth grade.
It was an easy decision.
“I was a short, dumpy kid, so I played line in football and I didn’t like to be on the bottom of the pile,” he said.
It ultimately came down between golf and baseball.
“I was a catcher, and I got hit a few times where it didn’t feel great,” Glover said. “So I pulled the plug on that pretty quick.”
Someone found it hard to believe that Glover was short and dumpy. When did that change?
“About the time I quit all those other sports,” he said. “My shoe size and my age were the same from when I was 7 to 14, if that tells you anything about how much I was growing.”