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Clubhouse in play? Use common sense

By BOB HARIG
Published August 29, 2006


Those who dive into the rules of golf do so at their own risk. Even professionals who play for a living are sometimes caught unaware of the game's often unforgiving oddities.

But some things just beg for common sense.

Take, for instance, the clubhouse at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio. The same clubhouse where Tiger Woods on Friday sent an errant second shot onto the roof - and got a free drop.

By any definition, a clubhouse is not in the field of play. It is out of bounds.

Or should be.

But PGA Tour officials ruled Woods was entitled to "line of sight" relief from the grandstands behind the green.

The clubhouse was not marked out of bounds, so instead of having to take a stroke-and-distance penalty - which would have meant hitting his fourth shot from behind the same tree where he had just crushed a 9-iron over the green and onto the roof - he got a drop, hit his third shot onto the green and two-putted for bogey.

Woods, who went on to win the Bridgestone Invitational in a playoff over Stewart Cink, admitted he was lucky.

While waiting 30 minutes for the ruling at the ninth hole - another group played through - he fully expected to be heading back down the fairway.

"It might be out of bounds tomorrow," he said, alluding to the fact that, perhaps, somebody might re-think the policy of a clubhouse not being marked out of bounds.

The ball left the field of play, and whether or not the clubhouse and parking lot were physically marked with white out-of-bounds stakes should not matter.

Woods was off the golf course, and that means he, or anybody in the same position, should have to reload.

The PGA Tour rules officials on site pointed out that most clubhouses on the PGA Tour are actually in play.

So you can blast a ball over them, and there's no penalty?

For what it's worth, Phil Mickelson's errant tee shot on the 72nd hole at Winged Foot would not have been out of bounds even if it had gone over the hospitality tent that it bounced off.

Depending on where the ball came to rest might have meant a different shot, but there would have been no penalty.

Bogey train: This is the 10-year anniversary of Woods' turning professional. It had been nearly that long since he made four straight bogeys during a tournament, as he did Saturday at the Bridgestone Invitational.

Woods made consecutive bogeys at the fifth through eighth holes at Firestone, starting with a three-putt from 50 feet and concluding with a missed green that led to a long par putt.

The only other time Woods had done that as a pro was at the 1996 Tour Championship, during the second round, when he had five bogeys in a row from the second through sixth holes at Southern Hills Country Club.

Woods had four bogeys in a row as an amateur during the third round of the 1995 Masters and five in a row in the first round of the 1996 U.S. Open.

Left out: Sweden's Carl Pettersson, who won the Chrysler Championship last fall, would be a lock for the European Ryder Cup team if that victory and his second the following week would have counted in the European Ryder Cup standings.

But Pettersson, who sought to rejoin the European Tour last year, was told he could not do so until the beginning of the season. So the points earned from those high finishes did not count.

And it appears he is not even on captain Ian Woosnam's mind for one of the two at-large selections to be made Sunday.

Pettersson said last week at the Bridgestone Invitational that he has not heard from Woosnam.

"It doesn't really disappoint me, but it surprises me a little bit," Pettersson said. "I would have thought he would have called a few guys who were close to making it. But it's his choice. He's the captain, and he needs to do what he thinks is right."

Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, David Howell, Colin Montgomerie, Robert Karlsson and Paul Casey have secured places on the team heading into this week's BMW International Open.

Padraig Harrington is all but certain of qualifying, with Jose Maria Olazabal and Paul McGinley holding onto the final two automatic spots.

The only other players who have a chance to climb into the top 10 are Paul Broadhurst, Johan Edfors and John Bickerton.

The European team is decided with the top five players from a world rankings points list, with the next five coming from European tour earnings.

Woosnam is said to be considering Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke, Thomas Bjorn and Ian Poulter for his at-large selections.

Practice in Ireland: The entire U.S. Ryder Cup team left Sunday from the Bridgestone Invitational on a chartered flight to Ireland, where the golfers began two days of practice Monday at the K Club outside Dublin.

Captain Tom Lehman sent players out in four groups of three, with a rookie in each group to learn the ropes. And you can get an idea already of his thoughts on pairings.

Chad Campbell and David Toms played with Brett Wetterich. Mickelson and Chris DiMarco were in another group with Vaughn Taylor. Cink and Scott Verplank, both captain's picks, went off with Zach Johnson. And Woods and Jim Furyk played with J.J. Henry.