More news has golf off course as sport enters second half of season

There was more intrigue off the course than on it as golf's season reaches the midway point, writes Steve Elling.

Tiger Woods is making headlines again for winning golf tournaments. Unfortunately he has also been in the news for illegal drops and a verbal sparring match with Sergio Garcia.
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They are making the turn, about to start the inward holes, and for the sake of the professional sport, here is hoping that the back nine is playing downwind.

The European Tour this week is playing the 22nd sanctioned event of 45 on this season's schedule, and the PGA Tour has already reached its midpoint.

It has been a noteworthy year, mainly for the shots executed verbally, not athletically.

What has happened outdoors has mostly been supplanted by disasters in banquet halls, law offices, referee conference rooms or sessions with the media.

Here is the scorecard on the first half of 2013, with a list of the front-nine's most memorable moments:

1. Tiger tales

Tiger Woods has thrice been poked and prodded regarding alleged or admitted improper drops, at Abu Dhabi, Augusta and Sawgrass.

His reputation does not need more dents.

2. Antler dismantler

Vijay Singh admitted he used a banned substance derived from deer antlers, then sued the PGA Tour for enforcing its doping rule book.

Peers called it brazen and embarrassing.

3. The Rory story

Rory McIlroy changed clubs, shuffled managers, quit in the middle of a poor round because of a toothache and is winless after starting the year as world No 1.

Pass the aspirin.

4. Euro devaluation

The US migration continues for top Europeans, but where are the wins? Among Europeans in the world top 40, two have global victories in 2013.

The money's better in the US, but so is the talent.

5. El Nino v Eldrick

Sergio Garcia and Woods, who detest one another, traded amusing barbs for two weeks before Garcia uttered a racially tainted term that could seriously damage his career.

6. Belly up

The US Golf Association and Royal & Ancient banned the anchoring of putters, beginning in 2016.

Players are threatening to sue.

It is going to be uglier than a yippy putting stroke.

7. Kuchar is king

The mostly overlooked veteran Matt Kuchar has won three big titles in 13 months and jumped to No 4 in the world rankings.

Pretty good for a guy who, a decade ago, lost his card.

8. Tiger tracking

Woods moved back to No 1 and has amassed four victories faster than in any season in his career.

He also shot 79 and posted his second-worst 72-hole score last week. Ever the enigma, eh?

9. Nobody's home

With top internationals competing in the US, stroke-play events on the regular European Tour have drawn an average of 3.3 players ranked in the world top 40.

Five events have had … zero.

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