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GolfWRX Morning 9: Phil already going full Mickelson | Singular US Open stories

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Good morning, GolfWRX members. As most of you are signed up for our newsletters, you likely already know that I’ve been sending this little Morning 9 roundup of nine items of note to start your day.

In case you’ve missed it, or you prefer to read on site rather than in your email, we’re including it here. Check out today’s Morning 9 below. Feedback is always welcome–send everything from news tips to complaints (hopefully more tips than complaints)!

If you’re not signed up for our newsletters, you can subscribe here.

By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

June 12, 2018

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans. Yesterday I asked if there was anything I ought to ask Sergio Garcia. Per a request, I asked him about changing wedge grinds for Shinnecock. He said he hasn’t changed anything and doesn’t plan to.
1. Vintage Phil
Mickelson, who will be practicing off site until the U.S. Open begins, spoke with the scribes at Shinnecock in a press conference Monday. He did not disappoint.
A few morsels.
  • “So the notes that I had in 2004 are all accurate. In fact, they were 100 percent the same from 2004 as they are today,” Mickelson said. “But the notes that I took weren’t precise, like this putt breaks ‘X’  amount. The notes were that you must stay here for this pin, you must go here for this pin, the odds of getting up and down from this spot are 50 percent, 10 percent.”
  • “The difficulty is, when you dream of a championship as a child – whether it’s U.S. Open or the Masters, whatever event – and you dream of winning these tournaments as a child and you work hours and hours and you fly in days and days and do all this prep work, and then you are left to chance the outcome, as opposed to skill, that’s a problem. That’s the problem that I have with it.”
2. Spotlight on singular U.S. Open stories
Given its unique open qualifying format and system of exemptions, the U.S. Open always produces a narratively rich field.
  • There are plenty of stories on that front. Joel Beall at Golf Digest looks at Matt Parziale, the Massachusetts firefighter who won the Mid-Am and has already played in the Masters.
  • Parziale on shelving his pro golf dreams: “Every decision I make, I don’t have any regrets,” Parziale said. “I just do what I think is right. I could be wrong. No, I’m still able to play golf and compete, and I enjoy that, and I have a career that I’m able to do, family. I didn’t want to miss out on life. I could be 35 years old and never make it happen. Then where do you start?”
  • In a similar vein, this AP profile of Garrett Rank, the NHL ref who qualified for the competition.
  • “Cancer for me was kind of a blessing in disguise,” Rank said. “It gave me a way better approach to hockey and golf and kind of changed my attitude that, hey, maybe that bad shot isn’t really that bad or, hey, maybe this missed call really isn’t that bad at the end of the day.”
3. USGA and Shinnecock Nation to Build Oscar Bunn Golf Facility
Press release
  • The USGA and the Shinnecock Nation have released a joint public statement today, confirming their shared commitment to a successful U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club this week.
  • “The USGA and the Shinnecock Nation share a long history that began in 1896 with the start of our relationship and will again be celebrated during the 2018 U.S. Open.
  • “The leadership of both organizations has worked together for several months to identify opportunities to recognize the Shinnecock Nation’s contributions to the golf course, honor its heritage and engage its members in the championship.
  • “The USGA will not only engage the Shinnecock Nation in various ways during the championship but will also provide a lasting tribute with the development of the Oscar Bunn Golf Facility, which will offer a place for Shinnecock golf enthusiasts and juniors to learn to play the game and enjoy it for a lifetime.”
4. Goodwin gets in
Dave Shedloski profiles on the the beneficiaries of a recent USGA decision.
  • “Last fall, the USGA announced that the champions of the U.S. Junior Amateur and the U.S. Mid-Amateur would be granted exemptions into the following year’s U.S. Open.”
  • It was a rush of emotions and a dream come true,” the Texas teen said Monday at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, where he will make his U.S. Open debut on Thursday. “Any teenager dreams of playing in the U.S. Open, and you always visualize making that putt to win the U.S. Open. So to have that dream come true at just 17 years old is something I could have never wished for.”
5. Remember the VAS?
Jonathan Wall catches up with Corey Pavin and Roger Cleveland to discuss the singular Cleveland VAS irons Pavin won at Shinnecock with in 1995.
  • “The VAS (Vibration Absorbing System) irons had a teardrop-shaped head that was a half-inch larger than conventional irons and a wide sole that allowed the club to rest squarely at address. Then there was a large purple badge in the cavity and rounded inset hosel that gave the heel a pronounced point and helped the head turn over at impact.”
  • “Cleveland wanted the clubs to have a more traditional shape, but the company that owned Cleveland Golf, French manufacturer Skis Rossignol S.A., wanted to build something that would elicit a reaction from the equipment industry and beyond.”
6. 10 years of turmoil
The great Jaime Diaz looks back at a surreal decade in the life of Tiger Woods.
7. Just the (Shinnecock) facts
Sean Martin at PGATour.com put together a great list of Shinnecock-related morsels
  • “Legendary golf writer Herbert Warren Wind wrote that after Shinnecock Hills opened “the United States for the first time had a golf course that looked like a golf course.”…It was a 12-hole course when it opened in 1891. Willie Davis designed the layout, while 150 members of the Shinnecock Indian reservation built the course.”
  • “The crew “removed the blueberry bushes from the rough, utilized the Indian burial mounds as obstacles before the greens or made them into sand traps, cropped and manicured the sandy turf,” Wind wrote.”
  • “One-hundred dollar shares of the club were sold in September 1891. Forty-four men and women purchased between one and 10 shares apiece. The clubhouse, designed by famed architect Stanford White (who was later murdered atop Madison Square Garden), opened in the summer of 1892. The club’s membership already had grown to 70 members.”

More.

8. How the favorites should fare
Malcolm Herbert breaks down the contenders.
Tiger Woods
  • Evidence for Success: Tiger has won three U.S. Opens, all at tough classic courses (Pebble Beach, Bethpage Black, and Torrey Pines). He has hit his irons beautifully this year, ranking fourth in Strokes Gained Approach-the Green and fifth in Strokes Gained Tee to Green. He is coming off a strong week at the Memorial, where he also hit 71 percent of his fairways.
  • Evidence for Failure: Tiger ranks 120th in Strokes Gained Off the Tee and a horrible 184th in Driving Accuracy. He is 102nd in Greens in Regulation. He also putted terribly at the Memorial, losing 1.924 strokes to the field.
  • Consensus: This isn’t a great setup for Tiger with his driving and recent putting woes. If he can get the ball in play and putt well, however, he can certainly make some noise.
9. Odds!
A quick look at the oddsmakers‘ top 10 (via Bovada)
  • Dustin Johnson 9-1
  • Rory McIlroy 11-1
  • Jordan Spieth 14-1
  • Justin Thomas 14-1
  • Jason Day 16-1
  • Justin Rose 16-1
  • Tiger Woods 16-1
  • Rickie Fowler 16-1
  • Brooks Koepka 18-1
  • Jon Rahm 20-1
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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Mr. Replier Guy

    Jun 12, 2018 at 1:33 pm

    Are the burial mounds still in play? Seems obscene.

  2. W

    Jun 12, 2018 at 8:59 am

    Sometimes, when you make too much of something, it totally ruins it. That’s what they’re all fighting against, especially Phil.

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19th Hole

Lexi Thompson violates Rules of Golf at Indy Women in Tech Championship

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During the third round of the Indy Women in Tech Championship, Lexi Thompson unknowingly ran afoul of the Rules of Golf.

Preferred lies–AKA lift, clean, and place–were in effect at soggy Brickyard Crossing. Thompson hit her drive at the par-5 10th hole wide right. It settled in the sixth fairway. Believing she was allowed to lift and clean any ball in the fairway, Thompson began to do so.

The rule, of course, only applies to balls that settle in one’s own fairway. Fortunately for Thompson, an official saw what was happening and stepped in to administer a penalty.

“Thankfully, Marty [the official] intervened before she hit her next shot,” Golf Channel’s Kay Cockerill reported. “Otherwise, she would have been hitting from the wrong spot, and it would have been a two-shot penalty. So, in a sense, it saved her a shot.”

The LPGA issued this statement.

“While playing the third round of the 2018 Indy Women in Tech Championship, Lexi Thompson incurred a one-stroke penalty for breach of the preferred lies local Rule (Appendix IA Part 3b Course Conditions).”

“The Committee adopted the preferred lies local Rule due to the turf conditions of the golf course after receiving over an inch of rain. The LPGA, under the local Rule, restricts the player from preferring her lie when her ball lies in a closely-mown area of a hole other than the one being played.”

“During the play of hole #10, Thompson’s tee shot came to rest in the fairway of hole #6. As Thompson’s ball lay on the fairway of hole #6, she was not entitled to prefer her lie.”

“She preferred her lie in breach of the local Rule but prior to playing her stroke from a wrong place (Rule 20-7), she was questioned by a Rules official regarding her actions. As she had not played her stroke from the preferred spot, she did not receive the general penalty of two-strokes under the local Rule. However, she did incur a one-stroke penalty under Rule 18-2 for lifting her ball at rest without authority.”

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Joe LaCava, Tiger Woods’ caddie, paid a heckler $25 to leave at the WGC-Bridgestone

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While Steve Williams would likely have taken a different route, Tiger Woods’ current caddie admitted to bribing a fan to leave his boss alone.

LaCava called into ESPN’s “Golic and Wingo” and told a tale of paying of a heckler at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

LaCava said the man heckled Woods throughout his final round at the Bridgestone, and on the 14th hole, LaCava interceded, telling the man to check out action elsewhere on the course. Interestingly/absurdly, the man said he would be happy to, provided LaCava reimburse him for his ticket.

Here’s the full transcript c/o ESPN.

Mike Golic: “Did you have any issues with the people at Bellerive?”

Joe LaCava: “Not at all, and you hit it right on the head, 99 percent of the guys and women are behind Tiger, pushing for Tiger. They want to see good golf in general they’re not anti-the-other-guys, but they’re certainly rooting for Tiger more so than the other guys. But, funny you guys ask that question. The week before in Akron, I had a little incident with a guy who was harassing my guy on the 14th hole at Akron the last day outside the ropes, roughening him up pretty good. And I said, hey listen bud, why do you gotta go there? Everyone’s having a good time, everyone’s pulling for Tiger. You don’t like the guy that’s one thing, but you don’t to be yelling at my guy, screaming negative stuff like that. And I said at the end of the day, if you affect him, his performance, it effects my bottomline. So he calls me a couple names and I go back and forth with the guy, and I say why don’t you just leave. And he says well if you give me $25 for the ticket that I bought today I’ll leave. And I said here you go, here’s $25.”

Mike: “Did he leave?”

Joe: “So I whip out $25 and he starts to go down the 14th fairway toward the green. I say look pal $25 is $25 you gotta head the other way. So he starts to head the other way, he goes 20 yards down the line, then he calls me a certain other, a swear word. So I run 20 yards back the other way and I’m going face to face with this guy. And all the sudden Tiger’s looking for a yardage, and I’m in it with this guy 20 yards down the line. So some cop has to come in, push this guy outta the way, and take him outta the tournament.

Mike: “So what did Tiger say when you came back to give him the yardage?”

Joe: “Well that’s a great question. We were so far to the right of the trees, and he was on his third shot believe it or not, we were still 150 yards away from the green, and he didn’t really know what happened. He heard the commotion, he heard the guy yelling at him, so we talked about it after the fact, but he didn’t really know how it developed. And he says I was wondering what happened, and he goes normally it wouldn’t that long to get a yardage. I said well a little incident down the road. He didn’t have a problem with it, and actually I gotta standing ovation for kicking the guy outta there.

Security probably should have happened sooner when LaCava was $25 richer.

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19th Hole

A brief cart ride (by his caddie) has big implications for Akshay Bhatia at the U.S. Amateur

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16-year-old Akshay Bhatia may be looking for a new caddie for his next event. The rising star of amateur golf was penalized when his caddie accepted a ride on a golf cart at the 14th hole during the round of 64 at the U.S. Amateur.

Bhatia would go on to lose to Bradford Tilley.

The match was all square at the 14th. Chris Darnell, Bhatia’s caddie, made a pit stop at the bathroom after Bhatia hit his approach. While the player walked to the green, Darnell was approached by what he believed was a USGA official driving a golf cart.

“The gentleman was wearing a USGA pullover,” Darnell said afterward. “I asked if I could get a ride to the green to keep up pace, and he said yes. So I hopped on the back, got up to the green, hopped off and thought nothing of it.”

Of course, neither players nor caddies can ride on any form of transportation during the round unless authorized, per the Rules of Golf. Bhatia was penalized accordingly and lost the hole after a (real) official spotted the infraction.

Particularly frustrating for the golfer was the fact that he had birdied the par-5 and believed he was going 1 up on his opponent, only to find out they were all square.

As mentioned, Bhatia would go on to lose in 19 holes.

Adding another layer to this drama, Darnell said Tilley’s caddie had done the same thing earlier in the match.

“I had already seen the other caddie in our group do it on the ninth hole,” Darnell said. “Same thing – USGA pullover, drove him from the bathroom up to the fairway – so I assumed it was fine. I didn’t point it out at the time because everything seemed kosher. He had the USGA stuff on, and I didn’t think anything of it.”

What are the chances Tilley or his caddie admit to the infraction now? And who is this mystery idiot who loves the USGA enough to drape himself in their garb but is daft enough to blatantly break a straightforward rule of competition?

Dumb rule? Certainly in this sense. But so many situations exist in amateur play that you can understand why the USGA would level a prohibition on transportation. Still, shouldn’t there be some room for interpretation? It’s difficult to argue Bhatia himself gained any advantage…

What do you think, GolfWRX members?

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