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Rub of the Green

June 19, 2011

RUB OF THE GREEN: Even golfers say there is drug problem on Tour

TERRE HAUTE — Are professional golfers using performance-enhancing drugs? This writer wouldn’t have the foggiest, but if you asked Gary Player, one of the game’s greatest, the answer would be a resounding, “Yes.”

In a news conference held more than a year ago, Player indicated he had personal knowledge that some golfers were using HGH (human growth hormone).

On top of Player’s remarks Dick Pound who heads the World Anti-Doping Agency, stated that Player’s statements were on target. Pound also pointed an accusing finger at the PGA for burying their heads in the sand and refusing to admit the Tour had a “problem.”

As long ago as the mid 1960s a rumor circulated that one California professional was adept at supplying drugs to golf pros who were interested

Not that long ago, John Daly made a remark to the effect he wished everyone would “get off his back” in regard to his drinking and do something about the drug use on the PGA Tour. Shortly after John was quoted, he never made another reference regarding drug use. One could guess that Tim Finchem may have called John to task and advised him that if he wanted to play the PGA Tour, he would do well to put a zipper on his lips.

When it comes to winning arguments with the PGA, I know of only one player who could win a dispute with the PGA brass, and he’s out of the mix with an injury these days.

With drugs creating problems in a variety of sports it might be in the PGA’s best interests if a doping policy was implemented. After all, in a sport that is founded on qualities of courtesy and honesty, it is a sad situation when there are professional golfers who are intent on taking unfair advantage over those who follow the rules.

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With the U. S. Open winding down, it’s easy to recall the plight of a journeyman professional by the name of Mike Donald. A few years back, Donald had the Open all but in his pocket until Hale Irwin knocked a 50-foot putt into the cup on the 72nd hole to gain a tie.

The Open, unlike most golf tournaments, utilizes an 18-hole playoff instead of a sudden death format. Donald again was leading Irwin as they headed toward the closing holes of the playoff, but a bogey by Donald gave Irwin a tie at the end of the 18-hole playoff.

Now the winner would be determined by sudden death. The first player to win a hole would be the champion. You had to commiserate with poor Mike Donald. He had golf’s biggest prize in the palm of his hand only to see it slip away when Irwin got a birdie.

I don’t think Mike Donald has won much of anything lately, but I doubt if he ever wakes each morning without recalling The Open that got away.

I always feel a pang of pity for those who have had golf’s biggest prize seemingly theirs only to have it elude them at the last second.

The great Sam Snead knew about that syndrome. Early in his professional career Sam came to the last hole of the Open needing only a par to win. A bogey on the par 5 would give him a tie, but he had to settle for a fat 7 in a tournament that he would never be able to add to his outstanding resume.

One thing is certain, who ever wins a U.S. Golf Championship will be a player who posses all the shots. The USGA enjoys displaying greens that are hard and fast, rough that is deep and thick and pressure that only the most gifted can endure. It’s easy to understand why so many professional golfers covet a win in the Open above all other tournaments.

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The popular Brazil Open is on tap for July 2nd and 3rd at Forest Park. Divisions include pros, amateurs, ladies open, seniors (50-64), super seniors (65 plus), boys’ and girls’ junior divisions.

Field will be flighted after the first day for amateurs and seniors; juniors play in age groups. Entry fees are $50 for amateurs and seniors and $75 for pros. Juniors pay $30. Golf carts are not included. Enter before June 26 and receive a sleeve of Titleist Pro V1’s. For further info call Mark Rogers at 812-442-5681 or email mark.rogers1@joink.com.

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Hulman Links in conjunction with the Boys’ and Girls’ Club will offer instruction for juniors 6 to 16 years of age. Instruction is Mondays  from 9 a.m. to noon in June and July. Cost is $40 for members and non-members will need to join the Boys’ and Girls’ Club for $30 plus the $40 fee for the classes.

For information or to sign up call (812) 232-2046.

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Rea Park is offering a Junior Golf Camp for boys and girls July 5, 6 and 7 from 8 to 10 a.m. Instruction will be provided by Rea Park Golf Pro Dave Kennedy along with Terre Haute South Golf Coach, Chris Cassell and West Vigo Golf Coach, Travis Turpen. Cost of the camp is $50. For more information or to sign up call (812) 232-0709.

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The Women’s City will be played July 22nd through July 25 with all rounds at Hulman Links.

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The Mini City will be July 9 and 10. Sign up will be available at Rea Park toward the end of June. For more information call (8120 232-0709.

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Tip of the week: The late Gene Verostko always offered this advice to any who were having trouble with their respective golf games. “Keep your head as still as possible and you always get something out of the shot.”

Keep your head down and your shoestrings tied. We’ll be back.

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