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September 5, 2003

Jim Halliday

Mike Shea


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: We would like to thank Jim Halliday from the RCGA and Mike Shea from the PGA TOUR Rules for joining us for a few minutes to speak about the Paul Azinger ruling.

Why don't we just begin with questions.

Q. Maybe you could tell us, what exactly happened, and how you became aware of it?

JIM HALLIDAY: We became aware of the situation when somebody who was watching the ESPN broadcast called PGA TOUR headquarters and made us aware that they had observed on television on the 15th green after Fred Funk's chip shot from behind the green. While the ball was still in motion, somebody removed the flagstick, an unattended flagstick, which was -- while the ball was still in motion. That is a breach of rule 17-2.

So Steve Carmen received the call from PGA TOUR headquarters. Steve is one of the PGA TOUR officials here this week. You probably know him. So Steve went to the television compound to see if there was a tape of this incident, and, in fact, there was. And it was clear that the flagstick had been removed while Mr. Funk's chip shot was still rolling. So we then needed to determine who had removed the flagstick.

Q. Inaudible?

JIM HALLIDAY: The breach, attendance of the flagstick was unauthorized and that's what Rule 17-2b covers. It's the unauthorized removal of a flagstick while a ball is in motion after a stroke. That was what the breach was in this circumstance.

Q. Wouldn't have mattered which caddie?

JIM HALLIDAY: Well, it wouldn't have mattered which caddie is was, no. If it had Mr. Funk's caddie, it would have been his penalty. If it had been Mr. Damron's caddie, it would have been his penalty.

Perhaps it would be useful if I read the rule. Would that assist you in understanding what took place?

It's Rule 17-2b. Unauthorized attendance is the heading and "b" covers the circumstance in stroke-play. It says: In stroke-play if a fellow competitor or his caddie -- so Mr. Azinger or his caddie -- attends, removes or holds up the flagstick without the competitor's authority -- so without Mr. Funk's authority or knowledge -- while the competitor is making a stroke or his ball is in motion, the fellow competitor that will incur the penalty for the breach of this rule. And the breach penalty is, in stroke-play, two strokes.

Q. My understanding was that it was not absolutely clear whose legs those were that were removing the flagstick?

JIM HALLIDAY: Except that when we were in the scoring area, I mean, Mr. Azinger's caddie said that he was the one that -- to the best of his recollection, he was the one that took the flagstick out. And we were able to ascertain that, in fact, that's who it was by his shoes.

Had the ball been at rest and the flagstick is removed, there is no unauthorized attendance. The flagstick is just being removed.

MIKE SHEA: Only a couple more rolls, probably. It's a very harsh rule --

Q. What is it trying to prevent?

JIM HALLIDAY: I believe it's trying to prevent -- the flagstick is really under the control of Mr. Funk, okay. And nobody is allowed to either remove that flagstick without his authority. It's his ball that's involved and it's his stroke. And when somebody takes that action without the competitor's authority, then they are, in fact, interfering with that competitor's stroke.

MIKE SHEA: It would probably be a case whereas Jim just said, where if let's say Fred had hit his ball a little too hard and stands a chance of hitting the flagstick, going in the hole or stopping it and someone comes up and pulls it out, that wouldn't be fair.

Q. Why is this, what is the concept of this being two shots as opposed to one shot? As said, Mike, it's harsh.

MIKE SHEA: It is harsh. The Rules of Golf sometimes can be harsh. There are very specific reasons and times in the rule book when a violation a one-stroke penalty and all other times it's two. That's not a very good answer to your question, why.

So all I can tell you is that's the way the book has been written. It's a wonderful code for a game that's been around for a long time. It's one of the things that makes the game as great as it is. But, in this situation, it's a very harsh penalty.

JIM HALLIDAY: Generally, I would think, generally in stroke-play, you have breached a procedure, it's a one-stroke penalty. If you take an action that is a breach it's a two-stroke penalty. So if your ball moves and you haven't taken an action and really caused it to move, there's a procedure there but if you take a stroke and in Maggert's case, took a stroke and the ball came back and hit him. The general penalty in stroke-play for a breach of the rule is two strokes.

Q. Now Mike and Jim, if you can help me out with a couple things. Speculation on my part purely, but what if that ball had come to rest first and then the flagstick was pulled and then either wind or some other element started moving that ball again? Could be literally a fraction of a second that that could possibly happen, was that actually looked at the tape?

JIM HALLIDAY: We looked very carefully at the tape at all times.

MIKE SHEA: The ball was continually moving. I think that I could -- we would have to discuss this. But I can almost draw a difference if a ball is stopped and then all of a sudden the wind blows it, someone's picked up the flagstick, I would kind of feel differently about that.

JIM HALLIDAY: In that case if the ball had come to rest and moved subsequently, remember the rule says after a stroke, when that ball has moved, not as a result of a stroke. But the wind or the slope of the grown has caused it to move. In that case this rule would not apply. It would not be unauthorized attendance during a stroke. The ball had already come to rest in your scenario and subsequently moved because of the wind where that's not a stroke. So the player would not be penalized in that circumstance.

Q. So is this a little bit different difficult under the circumstances for the PGA TOUR to swallow when people call in via TV when a rules official actually at the hole doesn't see it, the playing partners don't see it? We've been through this before with other rules where viewers have called in. What's the PGA TOUR's feeling about this sort of thing now, and has it changed in the past couple of years?

MIKE SHEA: We take all the information that we can gather from any one from any source. Our job is to conduct a competition and make sure that everyone is playing by the Rules of Golf. And whether be a spectator who is there that saw something or a viewer on television who saw something, there's no difference.

So when a violation, a potential violation, has been brought to our attention, we have to research it, find out if the violation did, in fact, take place and then apply the appropriate penalty if we have to. That's fairness to the player, fairness to the game and fairness to the other 156 players that are playing.

Q. (Inaudible)?

MIKE SHEA: Paul mentioned that, because I was involved at the Doral. There was a situation where he had some loose impediments when he was taking a stance in a hazard. And he had shot a 65 the first round at Doral one year and we found out about it after he had signed his card, a viewer called in. We had to view the tape, we had to go the next day and Paul ended up being disqualified.

Q. I know this is probably irrelevant to the ruling, but how far away from the hole was the ball?

MIKE SHEA: Two feet maybe I would say.

Q. So there was no danger of it ever approaching the hole at that point?

MIKE SHEA: It was beyond the hole.

Q. Is there not inequity in the fact that a player Mike Weir has 40,000 people watching him, and if you're a young amateur player you might have two people watching you. Every shot Mike plays is on television, there is more chance somebody is going to pick up a ruling on certain players than other players?

MIKE SHEA: I would say that the marquis players are probably under the eye of the camera much more so, and a lot of viewers can see a lot of things that could possibly take place. I think the same thing could happen with a particular person following the young amateur in his group and only one guy has seen this incident and he brings it to us. It's not as likely because it's only one person. But if it happens that way, then it has not been seen by everyone else. It's only been seen by this one person. And that may not be a good answer it might not be fair, but that's the way it is.

Q. Can you tell us where the call originated from? Was it Canada or the U.S.?

MIKE SHEA: I cannot. As Jim said, we had received the call from one of our ladies at PGA TOUR headquarters and they called in to the PGA TOUR headquarters. So I don't know where the call originated from.

I would assume if someone called -- I'm assuming it probably came from the States.

Q. At what point did Paul find out about it and if you could describe his reaction, please.

MIKE SHEA: I think Paul handled it very well. As I said it's a very harsh penalty. And when Paul looked at the tape, there was no question in his mind that the ball was moving, we showed him the rule before he had seen it. He wanted to see it because if he was getting penalized by this, he wanted to make sure it was right. He looked at it that quick and said, yeah, the ball is moving. He took his medicine like a man.

I tell you, it's a testament to our players. I'm not saying he was happy, but he took it very well. It's a testament to the players and to the game.

Q. How many of these calls do you get like in the course of a tournament or the course of a year? Is the phone ringing off the hook?

MIKE SHEA: We do get calls. A lot of times we are chasing -- it's a bad call. When we do we have receive a call we follow up on it. We try to go to television to see if they have any information, any tape of it. I can't really give you a number. Tiger, we get calls on Tiger a lot.

Q. It's not the same person calling over and over?

JIM HALLIDAY: No, no. (Laughter.)

JIM HALLIDAY: When the competition is closed, then the player has unknowingly breached a rule, then he is not subject to disqualification. If he knew that he breached the rule and didn't do anything about it, then there is no time limit in that circumstance, but that doesn't happen.

MIKE SHEA: It's actually ongoing for four days. We could receive a call tomorrow about something that happened in the first round, it would still be live.

FRED FUNK: Until we actually award the championship trophy, which is how our competition is closed, if a breach came to our attention we would be obligated to act upon it and player could be subject to disqualification.

Q. Is there any take about changing the rule, a fan affecting play --

MIKE SHEA: Not from the PGA TOUR standpoint. I can't speak for the USGA and I can't speak for the R&A, but I know that at their championships, at our championships, RCGA championships, in golf, I would say golf throughout the world, that's the way it's conducted.

Q. Fred Funk when he was in here, termed the idea of a fan calling in, a spectator calling in, affecting a tournament like that BS. Every time a story like this happens, it becomes a big deal and in the past, has the PGA ever reviewed the thought of allowing people to call in and left it to just people on the course, officials on the course?

MIKE SHEA: I can't say that we haven't talked about it. But we have always come out on the side that we are going to act on any information that we get no matter how we get it.

Q. Does Azinger's caddie when he was talked to say that he knew about the rule, didn't know about the rule, just had a brain cramp ?

JIM HALLIDAY: I heard him say to Paul: "I would have never done it had I known the rule." The young man felt really bad. Paul, to his credit, was very nice to his caddie. He was trying to make him very comfortable with the fact that, you know, it was his action that caused Paul the penalty. But Paul handled it like a gentleman and so did the caddie.

Q. There's an official at the hole or the green?


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: That for joining us for a few minutes. We appreciate your time.

End of FastScripts.

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