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LPGA Tour pros embroiled in backstopping controversy



Update: 2/22, 9:50 p.m. The LPGA released the statement below

End update

Backstopping has been a controversial subject in the game of golf as of late, and this week during the Honda LPGA Thailand, an example of backstopping occurred that has left many golf fans on social media irate, primarily for what happened directly after the incident.

The incident took place on the final green during the second round of the event and features Amy Olson and Ariya Jutanugarn at the heart of the controversy.

Playing her chip shot from the side of the green, Jutanugarn cosied her ball up by the hole, and while seemingly courteously seeking permission from Olson to tap in her putt before the latter played her greenside shot, she appeared to be waved off. Olson then backed off, played her shot, and her ball, which looked to be running well past the pin, collided with Jutanugarn’s and settled right beside the hole. The two then laughed and celebrated the development with a fist-bump.

Neither player received a penalty for the incident, which many golf fans feel violated rule 15.3a/1, which states

In stroke play, under Rule 15.3a, if two or more players agree to leave a ball in place on the putting green to help any player, and the stroke is made with the helping ball left in place, each player who made the agreement gets two penalty strokes. A breach of Rule 15.3a does not depend on whether the players know that such an agreement is not allowed.

For example, in stroke play, before playing from just off the putting green, a player asks another player to leave his or her ball that is near the hole, in order to use it as a backstop. Without knowing this is not allowed, the other player agrees to leave his or her ball by the hole to help the other player. Once the stroke is made with the ball in place, both players get the penalty under Rule 15.3a.

The same outcome would apply if the player whose ball was near the hole offered to leave the ball in play to help the other player, and the other player accepted the offer and then played.

If the players know that they are not allowed to make such an agreement, but still do it, they are both disqualified under Rule 1.3b(1) for deliberately ignoring Rule 15.3a.

Amy Olson currently sits two shots off the lead heading into the third round, while Ariya Jutanugarn is seven shots off the pace.




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Gianni is a freelance writer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts as well as a Diploma in Sports Journalism. He can be contacted at Follow him on Twitter @giannimosquito



  1. Tom

    Mar 5, 2019 at 7:15 pm

    Perhaps the LPGA would draw more viewers if the attractive players just wore G-strings and pasties with high heels? (Picture Carl (Bill Murray) at the ball washer in Caddyshack!

  2. CJ

    Mar 4, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    The fist bump was the thing that made me more mad than anything. I don’t like what she did but the tours need to figure out their rules and consequences asap

    • geohogan

      Mar 29, 2019 at 10:04 am

      If Potus can get away with collusion with our worst enemy, why get excited over to professional golfers colluding to cheat the rest of the field.

  3. JP

    Feb 28, 2019 at 12:45 am

    Let them use backstops all they want. But make both players play their ball where it lies after they come to rest.
    I guarantee players close to the pin will ALWAYS mark their ball.

    • Caroline

      Feb 28, 2019 at 6:07 pm

      Just another reason to slow down play…plan BS just replace the ball at rest where it was and the new ball plays where it ended up…simple…backstop, players are so good they can hit balls on the green and not the hole..hole is 4 times larger…

      • Sandra

        Feb 28, 2019 at 7:58 pm

        You just don’t get it. It’s not that they’re so good they can hit another golf ball. It’s when they miss the hole, they have a chance of hitting the other ball rather than running by too far. Have you considered the rule was written for a reason?

  4. KJ

    Feb 26, 2019 at 3:49 pm

    They both should have been DQ’d per the rules of golf. Im not buying the Im just a pretty dumbgirl routine. She is at the elite level of golf, so she knows the rules or should know the rules. I knew it and Im a 10 handicap hacker. They agreed period!

    In stroke play, under Rule 15.3a, if two or more players agree to leave a ball in place on the putting green to help any player, and the stroke is made with the helping ball left in place, each player who made the agreement gets two penalty strokes. A breach of Rule 15.3a does not depend on whether the players know that such an agreement is not allowed.

    Once again they KNOW the rules at this level. If the players know that they are not allowed to make such an agreement, but still do it, they are both disqualified under Rule 1.3b(1) for deliberately ignoring Rule 15.3a Bang see you later!!

    All stated this does NOT make them cheaters……….it makes them people who should have been issued a penalty for a rules infraction.

    Anyway it looks like the Everyone gets a trophy crowd has made it to the LPGA.

  5. mario

    Feb 26, 2019 at 9:47 am

    Good thing those referees are not taking a decision on the Irish backstop… That would last another two years

  6. Rufus T. Firefly

    Feb 26, 2019 at 9:14 am

    This is why some people avoid this game. Too many judgmental assholes looking for an issue.

  7. GrandpaDino

    Feb 25, 2019 at 5:12 pm

    Another solution in search of a problem. Play on, girls!

  8. Charlie

    Feb 24, 2019 at 11:00 am

    Let’s acknowledge the grey area involved here! The rule states when chipping up from just off the green….being said, what is the difference between 30 yards off the green, or 160 yards from the green? If you acknowledge the terminology of just off the green, that would be closer to being on the fringe versus 20 to 30 yards away. Are players going to go mark a ball from 150 out? No! So let the players use the rules to their advantage for a change!

  9. Ace

    Feb 24, 2019 at 9:01 am

    They did it but the question is how are you going to prove it? Answer…Your not

    That being siad its a dumb rule that will never really be enforced so best thing to di is remove the dumb rule and accept the fact sometimes players will get these “breaks” rather intentional or not.

  10. Gunni

    Feb 23, 2019 at 8:09 am

    Don’t worry, Karma will prevail.

  11. Ozarkgolfer

    Feb 23, 2019 at 7:54 am

    Penalties to both – obvious backstopping. No one is asking for balls to be marked when players are over 100 yards out – it makes sense when there is chipping and pitching green side.

  12. Hppyglmr

    Feb 23, 2019 at 4:50 am

    Happy Gilmore says phhhuq your rules, snobby dooshwads.

  13. Ni

    Feb 23, 2019 at 3:01 am

    Why is this even an issue? Clearly she hit Ariya’s ball by luck. Especially from where she was.

    • doug miller

      Feb 23, 2019 at 6:55 am

      I agree 100%. If she is good enough to do it on purpose just hit the pin every time, pure luck!!!

  14. dat

    Feb 22, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    I originally though this was about players using the grandstands as backstops….then I read the article.

    Stupid. This rule isn’t being broken, it is pure chance. Get out.

    • geohogan

      Feb 22, 2019 at 11:14 pm

      The way the rule is written, it isnt necessary that the opponents ball ended up being a backstop or not.
      Simply playing the shot, while the opponents ball was in position to be a backstop is sufficient to incur the penalty for each player in stroke play.

      ignorance of the rule, is no excuse from being penalized or disqualification.

  15. youraway

    Feb 22, 2019 at 5:32 pm

    The Rules are written, agreed upon and published by the R&A and the USGA. This is an obvious and flagrant violation of the Rule. It’s not only clear, but it is recorded. BUT, this is an LPGA event and I have no doubt, they will not enforce the Rules, which calls for the DQ of both players.

  16. benseattle

    Feb 22, 2019 at 3:44 pm

    Backstopping is an affront to the game and about as close to cheating as you can get because it involves not ONE but TWO players. The rule can be as simple as “balls near the cup must be marked before another player makes a stroke IF BOTH PLAYERS ARE NEAR THE GREEN.”

    In this case, Jutanugarn should have ignored Olson’s “wave off,” (even if done to speed up play) and marked her ball. Of course it’s absurd to infer that Olson TRIED to hit the resting ball but the fact remains that because the ball was left nearby INTENTIONALLY leaves open the (slim) chance that Ariya’s ball could serve as a backstop. This is a bad, bad look for ANY tournament golf so let’s just eliminate the controversy and instruct golfers to mark a ball near the cup “when in the vicinity of the green.” You’re in doubt about what that means? THEN GET UP THERE AND MARK IT.

    Why is backstopping wrong? Because it can give a player an advantage NOT AVAILABLE TO THE REST OF THE FIELD. And it’s preventable.

    • Piter

      Feb 24, 2019 at 2:57 pm

      It’s luck of the draw really. 5mm to the right and she would’ve been worse off. This time she was lucky so she smiled and so did Ariya coz id doesn’t affect her anyway. It’s not like me there are 6 balls you might “accidentally” bump into.

  17. Tom

    Feb 22, 2019 at 3:27 pm

    Notice the size of crowd in the video? NOBODY there…..nobody cares…..

  18. Pete

    Feb 22, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    Lets be honest, neither player ‘agreed to leave the ball there with the intention of helping the other player’ even if they did so non verbally. So while its a scummy move and definitely cheating, they found a way to not be in contravention of the rule. The fist bump was all about sharing a fun moment of hitting anothers ball which is rare as opposed to the, ‘hell ya, cheating is awesome’ accusation

  19. Lance

    Feb 22, 2019 at 2:20 pm

    The fist bump was simply inferring that it was a good break. Neither one of these players should be labeled as cheating here. The rules are very intricate as we all know and my bet is that neither one of the players were aware of the optics here. I understand players are responsible to know the rules but let’s cut them some slack here. I can guarantee that Ariya is the consummate professional and would never not do her part to protect the field. #letsfocusonsomethingvalid #peoplearetoughbehindakeyboard #beeducatedbeforecastingpoorjudgement

  20. Tiger Noods

    Feb 22, 2019 at 1:58 pm

    This rule requires clarification. It implies that this is during a sequence when players are putting.

    How many times have we all said, “Don’t bother; it’s not like I’ll hit it.” 99.9% of the time you’re right. In a pro’s case, maybe that’s 98%. Either way, I can’t see how this was a conspiracy. This is not a penalty, and the norms of the game do not require you to mark when another player is not close enough to use a putter.

    Molehill, not mountain.

    • youraway

      Feb 22, 2019 at 5:46 pm

      That’s not what it implies at all. A player should not leave their ball in position to assist. I assure you leaving a ball on the green while another is putting would not assist but the player would incur a penalty if their ball struck another ball left on the putting surface.

      • Tiger Noods

        Mar 4, 2019 at 5:58 pm

        You can’t even spell your own nickname correctly. Go worry about knee-height drops, troll.

  21. Dennis Wimd

    Feb 22, 2019 at 1:43 pm

    Not a penalty. What if they’d been 200 yards off? Where is the line?
    Remember if a ball strikes a ball on the green the striking ball remains where it lands and the struck ball is replaced.

    • Mike Cleland

      Feb 22, 2019 at 1:59 pm

      I agree with you. Where’s the line? Get the blue blazers involved & we’ll be marking balls before we hit our second shots on Par 5s. The way to speed up play is to “simplify” the rules. I suppose the USGA believes if they aren’t constantly getting involved in every little issue they couldn’t justify their $800,000/year salaries.

      • joey5picks`

        Feb 22, 2019 at 3:53 pm

        The line is common sense and not unduly delaying play. Bottom line, they broke rule 15.3a. Both should get a 2-stroke penalty.

  22. Bill

    Feb 22, 2019 at 1:43 pm

    Ridiculous behaviour. Olsen’s ball would’ve been about 8ft past. Bet Ariya wouldn’t leave her ball there if both had to play from where their respective balls finished.

  23. Mike Cleland

    Feb 22, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    What’s up. Do we need a rules issue at every event? The USGA & their blue blazers haven’t learned the old adage ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’…is there a lawyer on every hole? The USGA isn’t happy unless they are on the front page every week.

    • joey5picks

      Feb 22, 2019 at 3:56 pm

      The USGA doesn’t govern Australia. The R&A does. USGA only governs US and Mexico.

      • Aztec

        Feb 22, 2019 at 9:49 pm

        Wrong, it’s Golf Australia. They may choose to adopt R&A policy, but they are the governing body. Why would you think the R&A has an official voice in Australian golf?

        • Christopher

          Feb 23, 2019 at 11:49 am

          Like joey5picks posted, the R&A are the governing body for over 110 countries, Golf Australia literally confirms it (and the USGA’s) on their site. They can implement their own local rules, but they’re governed by the R&A.

    • geohogan

      Feb 22, 2019 at 11:23 pm

      if professional then know the rules or get out of the game.
      We wouldnt have issues or delays if players knew the rules,
      rather than trying to circumvent the rules.

      if players delay for rulings which should be known to them,
      the pga should begin suspending those players.

      it will speed up play and maybe the players would take time
      to learn the rules of the game they play for a living.

  24. BD

    Feb 22, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    Individuals cheating is bad enough. But much worse, and more damaging to the Int Egypt the game, is the collusion of the LPGA (and, in other examples, the PGAtour) in such cheating by failing to penalise such behaviour.

  25. kirk brady

    Feb 22, 2019 at 1:29 pm

    Back stop – maybe
    an object for lining up trying to make the chip – most likely – and no penalty there

    When is the press going to stop creating controversies to get readers – between this and organizing the extortion of Kuchar, I think the sporting press deserves an enema and 10 mile run with full pack.

  26. Dave

    Feb 22, 2019 at 1:10 pm

    Oh, it’s just the LPGA? Who cares, almost as irrelevant as the WNBA. Wish they would cut TV coverage of it entirely.

    • Steve

      Feb 22, 2019 at 2:42 pm

      Wow…a trumpster….

    • DougE

      Feb 22, 2019 at 4:59 pm

      I care. I enjoy watching the LPGA and personally, I think those girls offer a great product. You wish you were 1/2 as good. But, I’m guessing you are not and probably never will be with such a poor attitude. Sorry, but misogyny is not attractive, nor does it make you better than women.

      What is your problem? LPGA golf is much closer to the kind of golf most of us can relate to. Evidently, you think it is beneath you. You will likely never have the game of a PGA Touring pro, so why not learn something from watching the girls. With some practice, you may even be able to make some of the shots they can make. I learn so much watching them. You might too if you gave them a chance. But hey, I’m just an old 5-6 handicapper, so what do I know?

      One thing I do know is that I’d bet on Ariya, or Lexi, every day of the week over betting on anyone who thinks the girls are irrelevant.

      • Dave

        Feb 23, 2019 at 2:59 am

        You are of the minority demographic that enjoys LPGA and Champions Tour coverage, Doug. That’s not subjective, that’s fact. I know your feelings are hurt, but very few even care about LPGA and Champions.

        Sorry I’m not attractive to you, buddy.

  27. Mohamed

    Feb 22, 2019 at 12:52 pm

    The bigger question is – how do you prove intent. Also, both were playing off the green, so if they were 100yards away and this happened – what then?

    • Jim

      Feb 22, 2019 at 1:04 pm

      You’re right. The key word here is “intent”. If Amy intentionally asked for this, intentionally planning to try to hit the ball, then the penalty applies. If she was just ready to play and not wanting to wait and was not even expecting to hit the other’s ball, there is no intent.

      Due to the way the pair reacted, it was a celebration of luck!

  28. Jim

    Feb 22, 2019 at 12:45 pm

    They need to be penalized. Both were complicit once Ariya stutter stepped to NOT mark her ball and then the fist bump confirms the agreement.

  29. Doug

    Feb 22, 2019 at 12:41 pm

    Tom is a tool. This is definitely cheating. Olson waived Ariya off for the very reason of backstopping. Ariya should be protecting the field. A fail for both sides. Disappointing that both tours are failing to uphold the integrity of the same.

  30. Timothy Covey

    Feb 22, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    Stupid. What are the odds even if the plan was to hit the other ball that she would actually hit the other ball. If shes that good she should just chip it in the hole on every hole every time. Might as well cause you’d have to be that good. The fact that people are even upset let alone irate is just pure ignorance.

  31. Mon

    Feb 22, 2019 at 12:30 pm

    It really did not look like she was doing it do use the ball. I think she was ready to hit and waved off the other player who was still standing off the green.

    • joey5picks

      Feb 22, 2019 at 3:59 pm

      The “other player” has the right, and responsibility, to mark her ball to protect the field. This was a perfect example of Olson gaining an advantage on the field.

  32. kevin

    Feb 22, 2019 at 11:28 am

    apparently as the lpga and pga continue to alter the rulebook, they forget to actually enforce the rules.

    this is an embarrassment to the LPGA, and the other players should be calling this for what it is…cheating.

  33. Tom

    Feb 22, 2019 at 11:15 am

    Not a big deal, few watch LPGA…

    • snapjack

      Feb 22, 2019 at 12:30 pm

      Only Tom could come up with that kind of answer. The normal retort is, why are you here then, but in this case I say to you Tom, GFY

      • Tom

        Feb 22, 2019 at 1:48 pm

        Ohhhhhhh….snappy typing all tuff n sheet…!

    • Dave

      Feb 22, 2019 at 1:13 pm

      Completely agree with you. I’m always annoyed when I turn to the Golf Channel at night to catch up on the PGA Tour highlights/coverage from earlier in the day, and we are forced to watch someone named Pornanong hit driver 235 in a tournament in Thailand.

      • Elmo

        Feb 23, 2019 at 10:22 am

        Racist too!

        Bring in religion and you’ve got the triple threat!

        Yeehaw KKK golf.

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Why players are living so far under par



The PGA Tour’s tagline is “Live Under Par,” and every week we see the best players in the world take on courses set up to challenge them as much as possible. Even on these difficult courses, with pin positions tucked around greens and rough grown out beyond what many regular golfers might ever experience, we still see the pros who are playing their best get way under par and often break scoring records.

But how and why does this happen week after week? Are these courses just not challenging enough? Are players really that good? (“These Guys are Good” was the tour’s previous motto, after all)

Let’s break down a few factors that relate to scoring on the PGA Tour and why we keep seeing low scores on an almost weekly basis.

First off, we have the length. It’s not a guarantee that more length equals higher scores. Pebble Beach under U.S. Open conditions is a great example of that, but if we are to use a recent example, at Hamilton Golf & CC (host course to the RBC Canadian Open), we saw Brandt Snedeker shoot 60 during his Friday morning round, and multiple rounds in the low 60s. Hamilton is not a long course by modern PGA Tour standards, but on a day with some benign pins, little wind, and slower, softer greens (thanks to a wet week leading up), it’s a perfect scenario for someone to make a score. On top of that, to finish off the tournament we saw Rory McIlroy get on a total heater Sunday afternoon to shot 61 – with a bogey at the last, and win by 7 – yes 7!

Rough. As we saw at the PGA Championship this year at Bethpage Black, length plus rough means that you are going to eliminate more than half the field before the tournament even starts. It’s the exact reason we saw the bomber-filled leaderboard that we did.

On the opposite end of the spectrum a dry Open Championship often proves that tightly mown areas actually pose a greater risk to players than rough, since once a ball starts rolling, there is no telling where and when it’s going to stop – although a hazard is usually the answer. Average length rough around the greens makes chipping and pitching difficult, and when you add in the fact that as the week goes on the pins get closer to slopes and edges, it’s a recipe for those having the best week with their irons having the best chance to take home the trophy.

Player skill. This is the X-Factor. No matter what you do to the course fans need to realize that week to week, you have the world’s best players taking their games to every tournament. It all comes down to a numbers game. Half aren’t going to make the cut, 35 percent are going to play well but miss some putts, and the final 15 percent are going to have their games peaking and be inside the top ten.

Within that 15 percent, one or two of those players are going to be firing on all cylinders, and if you are a casual observer, that’s all you really get to see on TV, the guys on fire like Rory this past Sunday at the Canadian Open.





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5 things we learned on Friday at the U.S. Open



If the weather forecast is to be believed, the next 48 hours of Pebble Beach weather will be a blend of cloudy, partly cloudy, and mostly cloudy skies. Rain will never have less than a 10 percent chance of falling, but never more than 20 percent. Winds will peak at 11 mph, dropping to three mph, blowing from west to east, at a variety of angles. What that consistent weather forecast means, is that golf will not be consistent.

The USGA should not need to water the greens, which means that they will slowly firm up, forcing golfers to be even more precise in the changing landing spots they select. It means that anyone who shoots the score of 65 (that was low each of the first two days), will find himself in the thick of the chase. For now, let’s take a brief look back at five things that we learned on Friday at the U.S. Open.

5. The numbers

79 golfers made the cut at 2 over, 11 shots behind the leader. Eight golfers missed the cut by one stroke, while 24 others made the cut on the number. Of the 79, four are amateurs, at 2 over, E, E and 2 under, respectively. That foursome will do battle for its own tournament medal, although none is expected to challenge for the overall championship trophy. Rhys Enoch had an 11-stroke turnaround, from 77 to 66, to make the cut on the number.

Rickie Fowler went 12 strokes the other way, from 66 to 78, to move from squarely in title contention, to 10 shots off the lead. Pebble Beach showed no favoritism to either wave, morning or afternoon. Low and high scores came during each. What Pebble Beach did do, was fray the nerves and distract the attention of the competition. The first act is now complete.

4. Brooks Koepka looks like…Brooks Koepka

True to his word, Koepka doesn’t change much. No soaring highs, no crashing lows…yet. The U.S. Open Champion of 2017 and 18, who is also the PGA Champion of 2018 and 19, stands at 4 under par, tied with four others in sixth place,  five shots behind the leader. Of the nine golfers between him and the top, three have won major titles, none since 2014. Only one of them, Rory McIlroy, has won the U.S. Open, and his win came on a rain-softened Congressional course in 2011.

Besides McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson at 1 under, and Tiger Woods at even par, no other golfer in the field has more than one major championship to his credit. It’s a wide-open weekend, so why shouldn’t Koepka have as much say as anyone in the outcome? The defending champion had half as many birdies (six to three) on Friday, but one-third as many bogies (three to one). It’s that second number that will weigh heavily on his result. The fewer the mistakes, the more likely the victory.

3. A Rose by any other name … needs another major title

In 2016, Justin Rose won the Olympic gold medal, a unique achievement in his generation. Problem is, no one knows where it ranks in terms of tournament victories. In 2017, Rose went into a playoff at Augusta National with Sergio Garcia, but came out a runner-up. The Englishman has won 24 times around the globe but lists just the 2013 U.S. Open in his major victories column.

In terms of a place in history, he needs more than one. Rose sits tied with Dustin Johnson, Jerry Pate, Henry Picard and a hundredfold of other champions of a solitary grand slam event. Trouble is, Rose’s long game is not at its best. His putting is sublime, but his driver is wayward, and his iron game, misguided. Do Aaron Wise, Chez Reavie and Chesson Hadley pose a threat to the man currently in 2nd place? Probably not. It’s the Oosthuizens, the McIlroys and, of course, the Koepkas that demand that Rose preserve his pristine putting stroke, while getting his long game in order. This is the elite of the elite, after all. No excuses, no margin for error.

2. Will the U.S. Open see another, first-time major champion?

Five of the last seven U.S. Open champions had not previously won a major title. Two of the last three Open champions at Pebble Beach (Graeme McDowell in 2010 and Tom Kite in 1992) made the Open their first major victory. For those reasons alone, names like Wise, Hadley, Reavie, Kuchar, and Wallace should not be eliminated from consideration this weekend.

True, the U.S. Open environment is a cauldron of pressure, increasing in constriction as each nine holes passes. At the same time, Koepka, Johnson, Kaymer, Rose and Simpson each had to find something yet unknown, to push aside the detractors and gain admission to the exclusive club of Open champions. Pebble Beach is a known commodity to PGA Tour regulars, so the putting might not be the greatest concern of the final 36 holes.

What will come into play, are the playing corridors. Fairways essentially cut in half, pushed left and right toward hazards and other dangers, a fraction of the width normally seen in February. The sure thing is that there is no certainty. The holder of the champion’s silver come Sunday might as soon be a first-timer as a repeat winner. Time will tell. After all, things like this could happen to anyone.

1. Gary Woodland is in uncharted territory

On the bright side, Gary Woodland played around Pebble Beach in 65 strokes on Friday. Six birdies against zero bogeys added up to the low round of the day and a two-shot advantage over Justin Rose. Also on the bright side, Woodland has hit 22 of 28 fairways, and 26 of 36 greens in regulation over the first two days. The leader has three PGA Tour titles to his credit, including Phoenix in 2018.

On paper, Woodland looks like a good bet to hoist the trophy on Sunday. That’s where the confidence begins to wane. Woodland’s track record in major events is improving, with consecutive top-10 finishes in the 2018 and 2019 PGA Championships. His best U.S. Open finish, though, was eight years ago, his only top-30 finish in the event. Woodland tees it up on Saturday in the final pairing, with the 2013 U.S. Open champion. No time like the present to find out if a step to the next level is in the offing.

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Morning 9: Record Rose | Tiger’s iron game betrays | Plenty more from Pebble



By Ben Alberstadt (

June 14, 2019

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1 Rose starts with 65
AP’s Doug Ferguson on the synergy…”Justin Rose played alongside Tiger Woods, and then joined him in the U.S. Open record book at Pebble Beach.”
  • “In a gentle start to the toughest test in golf, Rose birdied his last three holes Thursday for a 6-under 65, giving him a one-shot lead on a day so accommodating that more than three dozen players broke par.”
  • “It was an ideal start for Rose and for the USGA, which wants a smooth ride after four years of various mishaps in the U.S. Open. The idea was to start safe and make the course progressively more difficult, and a forecast of dry weather for the week should make that easier to control.”
  • “Rose knew what was at stake when he blasted out of a bunker short of the par-5 18th to about 12 feet. He was watching the telecast earlier when Rickie Fowler had a birdie putt for a 65 to tie the lowest U.S. Open round at Pebble Beach, set by Woods in the first round of his record-setting victory in 2000.”
2. “One of his better rounds”
Ryan Lavner at Golf Channel on Rickie’s start…
  • “With little wind and receptive greens, Fowler missed only one fairway and just three greens on his way to a 5-under 66 that shared the early lead at Pebble Beach.”
  • “It’s probably one of my better rounds I’ve played in a major,” he said Thursday.
  • …”It’s been a long road to get to the point where majors felt like another week, because they are bigger. They’re majors,” Fowler said. “But it’s time to soak it all up and have some fun.”
3. O’Connell recovering
Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge on Kevin O’Connell’s wild week at Pebble…
  • “It was a little bit of a blur, because literally 10 minutes later I was throwing up in the fairway on eight,” O’Connell said Thursday.
  • …O’Connell said he wasn’t feeling great when he started his practice round Tuesday, but he didn’t think much more of it. By the time he got to No. 7 he was in trouble, so much so that he couldn’t even enjoy the ace.
  • …A nasty case of food poisoning had already started to take hold.
  • “I had a stomach ache, but I didn’t know it was full-on food poisoning like I was gonna be vomiting,” O’Connell said. “I could kind of tell when I walked up the hill on eight and started sweating a lot, I kind of had that feeling. … Honestly when I hit it in the hole on seven, I don’t want to say I didn’t care, but I was feeling pretty bad. I was ready to get out of there.”

Full piece.

4. Not so much for Phil
  • Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Mickelson remains in pursuit of the final leg of the career Grand Slam, and this week that quest brings him back to a familiar venue in Pebble Beach. But the conditions he encountered Thursday morning weren’t a far cry from those he saw in February en route to a win at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, as many big names in the field feasted on a soft layout that will undoubtedly become more difficult as the week progresses.”
  • “But Mickelson was stuck in neutral, making just two birdies against three bogeys en route to a 1-over 72 that left him six shots off the early lead. He made just one putt outside of 10 feet all day, that coming on the difficult 10th where he salvaged par, and he missed a 22-inch putt on No. 3 that led to a bogey.”
  • “There was a good opportunity to score, and I played better than I shot,” Mickelson said. “I thought it was a great opportunity to get a few shots, and I just didn’t do it.”
5. Tiger struggles with irons
George Willis at the NY Post on Woods 1-under opening effort…
  • “After playing the front nine in 1-under, including a double-bogey on the par-3 fifth, Woods played the back nine in even-par, draining putts from as far as 30 feet to keep his scorecard in red numbers. He’ll start the second round five shots behind Justin Rose, who fired a 6-under 65 on Thursday.”
  • “It was typical Pebble Beach where the first seven holes you can get it going and then after that you’re kind of fighting and kind of hanging on,” Woods said. “I proved that today. I had it going early and had to fight off through the middle part of the round and hung in there with pars. I’m very pleased to shoot under par today.”
  • “He made a 30-footer to save par at the par-5 14th, and scrambled out of the bunker to make a 7-footer for par at the 17th. He closed with his 10th straight par at the 18th after his second shot landed in the bunker left of the green.”
6. Who is Sepp Straka?
Scanning the U.S. Open leaderboard, it’s a question plenty are asking. Thanks to Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols for putting a prime together.
  • “…The Straka brothers played college golf together at Georgia, with Sepp staying on for a fifth season. Sam, who was born two minutes before Sepp, went into commercial real estate for three years after graduation but recently decided to give golf another go. He’s currently playing on mini tours in the southeast and plans to try for Q-School later this year.”
  • “They’ve spent their entire lives pushing one another. Both share a career-low round of 62.”
  • “When we were growing up, any time I played golf, good or bad, I always asked what Sam shot,” said Sepp. “That’s the one guy you want to beat in the field.”
7. Good start for Rory report on Rory’s opening round…
  • “All four of McIlroy’s previous Major Championship wins came after a first round in the 60s and the 30-year-old will hope that sequence continues in California after an opening 68 which left him three under and continued his recent fine form.”
  • “The former World Number One has moved up to third in the Official World Golf Ranking after a win last week on the US PGA Tour, his second of the season to go with top tens at the WGC-Mexico Championship, WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and US PGA Championship.”
  • “The Northern Irishman started on the back nine and made a bogey on the tenth after pulling his approach into a bunker but birdied the 13th and then hit a superb tee shot on the par three 17th to set up another.”
  • “After scrambling for a par on the 18th, McIlroy picked up further shots on the second and third and also rattled the pin from 15 feet for par on the fifth after duffing his chip from heavy rough.”
8. BK
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard on Koepka’s opening 69…
  • “…Maybe this is the ultimate chip for a player who relishes the role of being the overlooked superstar. Although he’d mentioned a promotional spot for this week’s championship that didn’t include him as a perceived slight, perhaps the real fuel comes from the idea that this wasn’t supposed to be his kind of course.”
  • “It certainly didn’t look that way early in his round when the two-time defending champion birdied four of his first six holes to move to within a stroke of the early lead.
  • “There were hiccups coming in – a missed green at No. 8 that bounced hard and into the hay, a wayward drive at No. 13 and a tee shot at the iconic 17th hole that airmailed the green. They all led to bogeys and added up to a 2-under 69 that was four shots off the pace set by Justin Rose.”
9. So your dad wants to play golf?
Andrew Tursky talked to PGA Pro Anne Cain about the particulars of getting your holdout father started playing golf ahead of Father’s Day.

“…To help us sift through the clutter, and get dad started the right way, PGATOUR.COM recently spoke with Anne Cain, a Top-100 ranked instructor from the PGA TOUR Academy at World Golf Village. Cain was an All-American at the University of Georgia, played golf professionally, and then went on to coach dozens of TOUR players and collegiate competitors”

PGATOUR.COM: What are the essential purchases that need to be made to start playing golf?

ANNE CAIN: “I think a good starting set is a putter, wedge, 7-iron and driver.”

PGATOUR.COM: Should you spend more money on lessons or a club fitting/new equipment?

ANNE CAIN: “I would recommend spending more time on lessons initially. A good instructor should be able to guide you on future club purchases, as well.”

PGATOUR.COM: Do you recommend group lessons, or one-on-one lessons?

ANNE CAIN: “I recommend private lessons if your budget allows for it. Imagine taking piano lessons in a group – you are not going to get the same individual attention as you will in private instruction. Group lessons are better for socializing or getting info on a particular shot within the game.”

Full piece. 


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