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Grip on Sports: In golf, it really isn’t over until it’s over – or even later

Russell Grove of North Idaho College takes a shot from the 9 during the 2017 PNW Rosauers Open Invitational at Indian Canyon Golf Course in Spokane on Sunday, July 16, 2017. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Russell Grove of North Idaho College takes a shot from the 9 during the 2017 PNW Rosauers Open Invitational at Indian Canyon Golf Course in Spokane on Sunday, July 16, 2017. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Sometimes, the way the rules of golf are adjudicated seems unfair. And can cause some bad blood. Read on.


• Imagine the Mariners have a two-run lead going into the bottom of the eighth inning in game seven of the World Series. Three more outs and they have their first title.

Except the umpires get together with a couple of players, the two managers and a fan and decide Robinson Cano had missed second base in the fifth inning.

After a discussion, he’s declared out – and the subsequent two runs that scored that inning are taken off the board. It is a tie game.

Sound farfetched?

It is, and should be. But that’s basically what happened in yesterday’s final round of the Rosauers Open Invitational.

Brady Sharp won the tournament at Indian Canyon with a birdie on the first extra hole. But the only reason Russell Grove didn’t win in regulation was a two-shot penalty assessed after the end of his round for a rules infraction that occurred on the sixth hole.

Here is how Jim Meehan describes it in his story:

“Minutes after Grove finished, rules officials took Grove, his caddy, and playing partners Derek Berg and Jason Molner and their caddies to No. 6. It was determined Grove violated rule 13-2 by improving his lie, area of intended stance or swing or line of play, apparently by moving a live branch.

“The two-shot penalty dropped Grove into a tie with Sharp at 16-under 197. The Walla Walla Country Club assistant pro won the playoff with a birdie on No. 18 after Grove’s 15-footer burned the left edge.”

According to Jim’s story, Berg pointed out Grove’s violation to those in authority on the 12th hole. The two talked with officials on the 13th tee and “it sounded as if the matter was resolved with no infraction,” according to the story.

But after the round was over and with more investigation, a two-stroke penalty was assessed, resulting in a tie between Sharp and Grove. And the extra hole.

Golf is a 15th Century game that is trying, slowly but surely, to deal with 21st Century sensibilities. For most of its history, the game relied on each player to police themselves. If a player felt he did nothing wrong, his or her word was their bond and the game moved on.

That’s not the case anymore, except maybe in the two-dollar Nassau at the club.

There have been a few highly publicized after-the-fact penalties in recent majors, affecting pros from Dustin Johnson at the 2010 PGA to Lexi Thompson (pictured) during this year’s ANA Inspiration.

Yesterday’s kerfuffle at Indian Canyon won’t reach that level of national indignation, but it probably means as much to those involved.

And it may have caused some hard feelings.

“I wish (Berg) would have brought it up when it occurred and not when I jumped ahead of him (on the leaderboard),” Grove told Meehan after the round.

And that’s the rub. A player does something that may be considered a rules violation. Or not. No one says anything then. But an hour or so later, the player is penalized for the action.

The goal, a level playing field for all competitors, is admirable. But how does that legal maxim go? Justice delayed is justice denied.

In golf recently, sometimes it just takes too long to figure out the correct verdict.


WSU: ESPN did a story this weekend on the oddity of Washington having two highly ranked quarterbacks in this year’s recruiting class. Yesterday, the Huskies picked up a commitment from another well-regarded quarterback, who will be enrolling a year down the road. What are the odds all three finish their football career at UW?

Gonzaga: Few Good Men held off Team Utah 85-83 to reach The Basketball Tournament’s round of 16 for the second consecutive year.

Indians: Spokane spent the early part of Sunday’s game at Avista Stadium building a six-run edge. The Indians spent the latter part of it squandering the lead, before losing 10-9 to Salem-Keizer. Johnathan Curley offers the game story and Whitney Ogden delves into the outcome a bit deeper. … Around the Northwest League yesterday, Eugene took a third consecutive game from Everett and Hillsboro won 6-1 over Vancouver.

Mariners: There are a couple of weeks before the trade deadline. What will Jerry Dipoto do? That’s the subject of my weekly column this morning. … The Mariners’ winning streak reached three with a come-from-behind, 7-6 win in 10 innings in Chicago. Nelson Cruz belted another home run and the bullpen did weighty work. … Mitch Haniger has a bad finger. … Danny Valencia hit a key home run. … Former Ferris High pitcher and Mariner farmhand Andrew Kittredge will make his major league debut for Tampa Bay. … ESPN sees Felix Hernandez as the Mariner playoff key.

Sounders: The U.S. Men's National Team is making roster changes and that includes a couple of Sounders, one coming and one going.


• I love sleeping in my own bed. Sadly, I have one more night with it and then a whole bunch of nights in hotel rooms. I wish my mattress could make the trip with me. Until later …