Golfers barred from throwing items to fans at Phoenix Open

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Scott Halleran By Scott Halleran

HONOLULU (AP) -- The PGA Tour already has banned the caddie races on the infamous par-3 16th hole at the Phoenix Open. Next on the taboo list: tossing items to fans in the grandstands at golf's rowdiest hole.

A notice was posted in the locker room Tuesday at Waialae that said, "At this year's Waste Management Phoenix open, for fan safety reasons, players and caddies are prohibited from throwing, kicking or otherwise propelling items into the crowd on the 16th hole."

Someone wrote on the top of the notice, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?"

Um, no.

Players won't be able to claim ignorance. Andy Pazder, the tour's chief of operations, said the notice would be posted at the TPC Scottsdale, in the tent on the tee boxes before a player starts his round and even on the electronic scoreboard on the 16 hole.

How it gets enforced is another matter. Pazder made a small clarification by using the word "indiscriminately" throwing objects. In recent years, Rickie Fowler has tossed hats into the grandstand and Bubba Watson is becoming famous for the swag he throws into the bleachers. What first got the tour's attention was Padraig Harrington kicking a football into the stands. That's now forbidden.

Pazder said a direct handoff is fine.

"If a player is going by handing them out or flipping them to someone in the first row, that's fine," he said. "But not going by throwing things like a Frisbee."

At issue was safety, much like how the NFL bans players from heaving a football into the stands after a touchdown.

"A fan in public seating in a mad scramble to get a hat is going to hurt himself, or land on top of another person," he said. "I would say to the players, `Think about the liability.'"

Pazder said he has talked to Watson, among other players, and didn't receive too much pushback. But as the handwritten addition to the notice indicated, he's aware the tour will get criticized as the "No Fun Police."

As if the Phoenix Open isn't rowdy enough, Tiger Woods is playing the tournament Jan. 29-Feb. 1 for the first time since 2001.

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STADLER GOES LEFTY: Kevin Stadler has been using a long putter for the last 16 years, and that will have to change next year with the new rule that outlaws an anchored stroke used for the long putters.

He already has figured out. Stadler is going lefty.

"Just going backward with a little short one," Stadler said.

He has been using a conventional left-handed putter, though not in competition, because it feels the most comfortable to him. For a right-handed player, going to the other side is similar to a cross-handed grip.

"I don't even know how to grip a putter conventionally," Stadler said. "I've putted my whole life as a kid cross-handed, and when I was a really little kid, I played left-handed for a little bit. It feels comfortable. That's probably what I'm going to do."

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GWAA AWARDS: All the times he failed to win might be one reason Jim Furyk was a winner - at least with the media.

He was voted to receive the ASAP Sports/Jim Murray Award by the Golf Writers Association of America for his cooperation with the media. There certainly has been plenty of chances this year as Furyk has four runner-up finishes and became the first player with $6 million in worldwide earnings without winning. It was a tough year, though Furyk never ducked reporters. At one event, given a chance to go out a side door, Furyk went out to speak to the media after losing a share of the 54-hole lead.

"I've never looked at it as a tough or difficult," Furyk said. "I've always thought that we both have jobs to do. I feel I have a responsibility to help portray (to readers) what they are seeing and in order to do that, I can tell the media what I'm thinking."

In other awards, the GWAA voted to give Jarrod Lyle the Ben Hogan Award for remaining active in the game despite a physical ailment or illness. Lyle battled leukemia as a teenager, won twice on the Web.com Tour to get his PGA Tour card, and then had a recurrence that kept him out of golf for some 18 months before he returned.

"To be awarded the Ben Hogan Award is a huge honor," Lyle said. "To be placed among some of the game's greatest is something I will cherish forever."

The William D. Richardson Award went to Doc Giffin for contributions to golf.

Giffin was a former press secretary for the PGA Tour when Arnold Palmer asked him to be his traveling secretary. This year, Giffin and Palmer celebrate 49 years working in that capacity. Giffin was the man behind the scenes of one of golf's most endearing figures. In the era before cellphones, Giffin agreed to stay at the home office in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, to write, organize fan mail and autograph requests and keep up with demands on Palmer that came from all corners of the world.

They will be honored April 8 in Augusta, Georgia, at the GWAA's annual awards dinner.

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FOUR-BALL CHAMPIONSHIP: The Philadelphia Cricket Club will host the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship in 2020, the first time the club has hosted a USGA championship since Alex Smith won the U.S. Open in 1910.

The club has three courses. St. Martins hosted the U.S. Open in 1907 and 1910, though it now is a nine-hole course. The Wissahickon Course, designed by A.W. Tillinghast and opened in 1922, will have stroke-play qualifying and the match play portion of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball. It was restored last year by Keith Foster. The other is the Militia Hill Course, which opened in 2002 and will be used only for stroke-play qualifying.

The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball makes its debut this year at Olympic Club in San Francisco. The next two events are scheduled for Winged Foot (2016) and Pinehurst (2017).

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DIVOTS: The Web.com Tour announced a 25-tournament schedule for 2015 that begins the last week in January in Panama and wraps up the first weekend in October with the last for the Web.com Tour Finals at the TPC Sawgrass (Valley Course) at PGA Tour headquarters. ... The USGA and Ross Greenburg Productions are behind a one-hour documentary called, "Nicklaus: The Making of a Champion," which Fox will show at noon EST on Sunday before the NFC championship game. This is the first of a 12-year deal between Fox and the USGA. ... Bubba Watson will auction his 1939 Cadillac LaSalle C-Hawk Custom Roadster this week in Scottsdale, Arizona, at the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction. He said he will donate all proceeds from the sale to Birdies for the Brave.

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STAT OF THE WEEK: Charles Howell III has played the Sony Open every year since 2002. He has never shot worse than 73, and 35 of his 48 rounds have been in the 60s.

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FINAL WORD: "Every 20 years or so years there's a dominant player in the world. But the 15-year span he put together is probably the best 15 years you'll ever see in your life." - Jason Day on Tiger Woods.

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