An admission by Singh; an opportunity for the PGA

Unlike the major professional sports leagues and even the men's and women's professional tennis tours, the PGA Tour has steadfastly refused to announce fines or suspensions. Tour officials do not acknowledge discipline meted out for acts like throwing a club into the gallery, blowing off a mandatory players meeting, getting into an on-course altercation with another player or walking off the course without finishing a round.

updated: January 31, 2013 17:21 IST
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Scottsdale, Ariz.: At a time when Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson are among the most revered and highly compensated athletes in the world, it's easy to forget that professional golf once was considered the province of rogues and ruffians, its reputation shadowy enough that in the late 1950s Jack Nicklaus seriously considered remaining an amateur.

Vijay Singh's admission to Sports Illustrated that he used deer antler spray, which contains IGF-1, an insulinlike growth factor that is on the PGA Tour's list of prohibited substances, affords the tour a wide-open window to let in transparency and public accountability, the last elements needed in its evolution from a profession of hustlers to a respected world player.

Nicklaus helped usher golf into the mainstream with his family-man gravitas and 18 major titles. Along came Seve Ballesteros and Greg Norman, who played major roles in growing golf on the global stage. Woods' arrival led to bulked-up tour purses - from an average of $1.47 million in 1996 to $6.2 million last year - and the repositioning of golf as a sport cool enough to attract bona fide athletes.

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