Fowler (65) matches scoring record, leads U.S. Open

By Doug FergusonJune 16, 2017, 1:04 am

ERIN, Wis. – Erin Hills made its debut as a U.S. Open course Thursday with a most gracious welcome for Rickie Fowler, who matched the record to par in the opening round with a 7-under 65 on the longest course in major championship history.

Fowler had a one-shot lead over Paul Casey and Xander Schauffele. And they plenty of company.

The low scoring suggested the 11-year-old course was a cream puff, hardly the USGA's idea of the ultimate test in golf.

Just don't mention that to some of the best players in the world.

Jason Day had two triple bogeys and posted a 79, his worst score ever in the U.S. Open. Rory McIlroy joked earlier in the week that anyone who couldn't hit such wide fairways ''might as well pack your bags and go home.'' He spent all day in the knee-high fescue and shot 78, his worst U.S. Open score.

Defending champion Dustin Johnson probably didn't feel so badly by the end of a most peculiar day. He only shot 75, with just one birdie.


U.S. Open: Scores | Live blog: Day 1 | Full coverage


''You won't get a better day for scoring,'' Johnson said wistfully during the long walk to sign his card.

No one took advantage like Fowler.

Fowler, who shared the 36-hole lead at the Masters in April, never came seriously close to bogey because he was never in trouble. He kept it in the short grass, the secret to Erin Hills that wouldn't appear to be that difficult with some of the widest fairways for this major.

''You don't get many rounds at the U.S. Open that are stress-free,'' Fowler said.

Fowler's seven birdies were from no more than 12 feet, including three in a row around the turn. His 7 under par tied the record to par for the first round of a U.S. Open held by Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf, who each shot 7-under 63 at Baltusrol in 1980.

''It is always cool to be part of some sort of history in golf,'' Fowler said. ''But I'd rather be remembered for something that's done on Sunday.''

Day and McIlroy, just to name a few, might not make it that far.

Of the top 10 players in the world, only Masters champion Sergio Garcia (70) and Fowler broke par. For players like Jordan Spieth (73) and Johnson, it was a matter of not making enough putts. For most others, it was being careless off the tee and facing the rigorous test of recovering.

Casey started eagle-birdie and finished with two birdies over the final four holes for his 66.

''I was just trying to have half as good a round as Rickie had,'' said Casey, who played in the afternoon. ''The scoring was so good this morning. I was happy it stayed benign for us, and I capitalized on it.

The opening round was without Phil Mickelson for the first time since 1993. He was in California for his daughter's high school graduation, hopeful for enough of a weather delay to jet across the country to Wisconsin. But as the sun rose over Erin Hills, and the forecast was for no rain, Mickelson withdrew.

More startling than the low scores was smoke rising from about a half-mile away when a commercial blimp, not affiliated with the tournament, crashed into a field and burst into flames. The pilot, the only one aboard the blimp operated by Florida-based AirSign, was being treated for injuries.

''I was teeing off and I looked up and saw it on fire, and I felt sick to my stomach,'' Jamie Lovemark said.

On the golf course, there was only a barrage of birdies.

Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood and Brian Harman were at 67, with Patrick Reed and Adam Hadwin in the group at 68. Hadwin tied a U.S. Open record when he made six straight birdies, from the 18th hole through the fifth hole. He was 100 feet away for birdie on No. 6 and burned the edge of the cup on that one, except that it ran by some 7 feet and he three-putted for bogey.

''You don't often see that in a U.S. Open,'' Hadwin said. ''But there's way too many holes out here where one bad shot could be a double bogey quickly. So I did a really good job of staying present, staying focused on the next shot.''

The course was set up at 7,845 yards, the longest of any major. Length wasn't the issue. It was sporadic storms earlier in the week that has softened the greens. One example of that was Fowler hitting 3-wood into the green on the 632-yard 18th hole, with a breeze at his back. His ball landed on the green and only rolled out about 10 feet. On typical U.S. Open greens, that would have run all the way off the back of the green.

Still to be determined is what kind of test Erin Hills can present the rest of the week, especially with more rain on the way Friday and Saturday afternoon.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: