Record 26 subpar rounds Saturday at U.S. Open

By Associated PressJune 19, 2011, 12:31 am

BETHESDA, Md. – Rory McIlroy isn’t the only golfer having his way with the Blue Course at the U.S. Open. See the 65s from Jason Day and Lee Westwood? And the 66s from Webb Simpson and Fredrik Jacobson? Count ‘em: a record-setting 26 rounds under par on Saturday.

“I’ve been a little disappointed with the golf course the last couple of days. It wasn’t as firm and fast as I would like to have seen it,” said defending champion Graeme McDowell, whose red-number contribution was a 69 that put him at even par going into Sunday. “The greens are soaking wet, and so are the fairways. It’s target golf. It’s not really a U.S. Open.”

The previous record for subpar rounds in the third round of a U.S. Open was 24, set at Medinah in 1990. Congressional could produce scores like this back when the Kemper Open was played here and no one would blink, but it’s now supposed to be rigged up for the toughest test in golf.

“You can take advantage of it and go for more flags than you can in a U.S. Open,” said Jacobson, who birdied 10 of 15 holes with nary a bogey during a stretch that began late in the second round. “That’s why I think we’re seeing red numbers. It is what it is. If it rains a bit, you’ve got to try and make the most out of it.”

The U.S. Golf Association spent years planning for this weekend. All the greens were rebuilt. Tee boxes were moved back so far that they’re nearly bisecting other fairways, making it often confusing to figure out which hole is next without the aid of a map or a directional sign. It’s a whopping 7,574 yards from start to finish if all the back tees are used.

But last week’s stifling temperatures and humidity sent the heat index into triple-digit territory, stunting the growth of the rough, wilting the fairways and greens and putting the USGA behind in its preparations. The rain finally started falling on Thursday after play was under way – literally a gift from the heavens for anyone who likes their golf in the 60s.

“I don’t think we’re going to try to trick Mother Nature,” said Tom O’Toole, chairman of the USGA’s championship committee. “This is what we’ve got in 2011. You come to the U.S. Open in the District of Columbia or Maryland in June, that’s the dice you roll. That’s what we got with a soft golf course. It’s not coastal California. It’s not Long Island, Shinnecock, where the course is built on sand. It’s a heavy soil golf course.”

Even those not shooting in the red are faulting themselves for leaving strokes on the course. World No. 1 Luke Donald said he “could’ve shot a couple under quite easily” if he’d only made a few putts.

“The rough isn’t quite as gnarly as at some other U.S. Opens,” Donald said after his third-round 74. “It has that different feel. It almost feels like the Firestone or something. It’s still tough out there, some tough pins, and you’ve got to play well to shoot a good score.”

Phil Mickelson was also among those looking for a tougher challenge, even though he appeared to be challenged quite sufficiently in his round of 77.

“It would be really fun to see had we not had the rain,” Mickelson said, “because I think it’s such a fair setup that it could accommodate fair conditions that they were anticipating. But, really, the course itself is very fair and leads itself to good scores if you play well and high scores if you don’t, which I don’t think you could ask for anything more.”

O’Toole said the low scores aren’t going to change the “road map” the USGA laid for the course for the four days of play. There are no plans to conjure up outrageous pin placements; no wickedly speeded-up the greens just because McIlroy has a record score of 14 under.

“It certainly isn’t the mindset to react to good scoring and say, ‘Ah, ha, we’ll show ‘em,”’ O’Toole said. “We are trying to test the greatest players in the world physically and mentally. That’s what we’re going to try to do tomorrow, and if that score, whether it’s Mr. McIlroy or anybody else, is substantially under par, it’s perfectly all right with us.”

It’s also just fine with Westwood, one of the golfers not pining for a harder course after his three straight birdies on the back nine Saturday. For him, all that red on the leaderboard is a refreshing U.S. Open change.

“Yeah, nice to see. They set the golf course up great,” Westwood said. “You play well, you shoot good scores. There’s no tricks to this one. It’s a fair, honest course.”

But it’s also a course that had to wait 33 years between U.S. Opens until the tournament returned in 1997 and then 14 years until this one. After this week, it’s tough to figure when the USGA might decide to come back.

“It’s our position that the golf course was more forgiving this week because of the weather that we experienced,” O’Toole said. “Not because Congressional is not a worthy golf course for the U.S. Open. It’s a big, long, difficult golf course. These players caught it on a week when it’s very soft.”

Getty Images

PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

PGA Tour:

The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.

LPGA:

We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.

Getty Images

Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm

Sharma among three Open qualifiers at Joburg Open

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:16 pm

Shubhankar Sharma earned his first career European Tour win at the rain-delayed Joburg Open and punched his ticket to The Open in the process.

Sharma returned to Randpark Golf Club Monday morning after storms washed out much of the scheduled final day of play. Beginning the re-start with a four-shot lead, he hung on to win by three over South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen.

Both men can make travel plans for Carnoustie next summer, as this was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series with three spots available for players not otherwise exempt who finished inside the top 10. The final spot went to Shaun Norris, who tied for third with Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen but had a higher world ranking (No. 192) than Pulkkanen (No. 197) entering the week.

The Joburg Open was the final official European Tour event of the year. The next tournament in the Open Qualifying Series will be the SMBC Singapore Open in January, where four spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs.