Round 1 - News and Notes
Two of a Kind
Tennis star Martina Hingis, a five-time Grand Slam winner, is on the grounds this week, watching her boyfriend Sergio Garcia compete.
Sergio, who is seeking his first major title, said he has talked with Hingis on what it takes to win an historic event.
She is in a very similar position to me, he said. She knows what Im going through. She knows what it feels to be in this kind of position. And thats helpful. To me, it takes a lot of weight off my shoulders to be able to talk to somebody that understands that.
Rain Doesn't Slow Greens
Overnight rains did little to help players navigate the greens Thursday.
I didnt see them playing a whole lot softer or slower than the practice rounds, said Dudley Hart, who played in the first group out in round one. I was surprised. Fortunately, I didnt have too many long putts.
Hart took 25 putts in shooting 1-under 69. But regardless of distance, all putts had the ability to be dangerous.
They are faster than at any U.S. Open, said Phil Mickelson of the speed of the greens. Theyre rolling 14 on the stimpmeter. To say 14 on the stimpmeter is hard to comprehend or put in terms ' if the average player has a seven-foot putt, it would roll by seven feet.
Its difficult to make putts or feel like you can be aggressive on the greens.
Mickelson officially used his putter 31 times in round one. And even though he commented on the greens buttery surface, he added they were also the best rolling poa annua greens that Ive ever seen. You can make a lot of putts if you read them right.
The Importance of Driving
Putting wasnt Harts primary concern entering the first round.
I had about eight drivers on the range yesterday at about 1:00 (PM) trying to find a club, he said. It wasnt the driver as much as it was my swing.
Hart and his brother-in-law, Mark, finally found a solution, if only a temporary one, and took it to the course Thursday. The driver of choice came in handy, as he used it 10 times. Hart hit 11 of the 14 fairways, which measure, on average, 24-28 yards in width.
I drove the ball pretty well for the most part, he said. Ive got nowhere else to go, Ive got to stay with it. Ive gotten the ball in the fairway more often than not, and in the practice rounds, that wasnt the case.
Hart finished his first round with three consecutive birdies. He was then asked if he wanted the round to continue.
Im glad to be done, he said with an exhausted smile. Its a long day, playing 18 holes on this golf course, and I dont want to play 19 or 20 ' 18 is fine.
Hale Irwin and Tom Kite criticized reigning U.S. Senior Open champion Bruce Fleisher for withdrawing prior to the start of the U.S. Open because he felt he could not be competitive.
Irwin, a three-time U.S. Open champion in on a special exemption this week, shot 12-over 82 Thursday. 1992 Open champion Kite, who tied for fifth last year, shot 80.
Still, Irwin felt playing was the right thing to do.
Absolutely, I do, Irwin said. Obviously, Im not happy with the way I played, but I was out there. I look forward to next year. At least I was here.
Handling the Pressure
Derek Tolan admitted to being nervous in shooting 8-over 78. But wouldn't you be if you were 16 years old and playing in your first U.S. Open?
'I didn't think I was going to be all that nervous, but you could just watch the tapes. I was walking funny,' he said. 'I was so nervous, I forgot how to breathe.'
Full coverage from the 102nd U.S. Open
Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change
Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.
David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.
“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.
Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.
“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”
Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.
The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.
Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.
Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:
1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.
2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.
While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”
PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes
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:
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.
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.
Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open
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.
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).
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 5: Dec. 12
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18