Kaymer in command, but nothing determined

By Rex HoggardJune 15, 2014, 12:56 am

PINEHURST, N.C. – Golf’s Hall of Fame was once housed in a nondescript building behind the fourth green on Pinehurst No. 2 before it was co-opted by Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., and relocated to points south.

On Saturday Martin Kaymer may have solidified his claim to candidacy into the relocated Hall with his Houdini act on the par-4 fourth hole.

After covering his first 36 holes with just a single bogey, the German had already matched that total through three holes at a dusty U.S. Open when he hit a wild hook into the pine straw left of the fourth.

After a prolonged conversation with the USGA’s top minds – including president Tom O’Toole and executive director Mike Davis – Kaymer took a drop, chipped out and hit his fourth shot to 15 feet for an unlikely bogey.

If you check Merriam-Webster for the definition of a “good bogey” it will now feature a snapshot of Kaymer’s stoic mug.

U.S. Open trophies aren’t doled out on Saturday, but if the 29-year-old can scratch out a victory on Father’s Day at Pinehurst history will go back to that gritty moment when Kaymer refused to be beaten by an increasingly difficult golf course or the rub of the green.

A victory on Sunday would give Kaymer two majors, a bookend for his 2010 PGA Championship triumph with a faux major high card via his win at last month’s Players Championship. He would become just the fifth player to ever collect that trifecta.

But that’s getting ahead of ourselves.

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Way back in 2005 Retief Goosen was also bound for a coronation lap on Sunday at that Pinehurst Open, three shots clear of the field on his way to an Open hat-trick. But Goose closed with an 81 and tied for 11th place, eight strokes behind Michael Campbell, proving for the billionth time that sport defies any guarantees.

“Anything can happen,” Kaymer warned. “I can lead by seven or eight shots after nine holes. I can be down to all square. It will be an exciting round.”

It’s a fair point, but for that scenario to occur would take a healthy amount of give and take from Kaymer and the field, respectively, and the former world No. 1 hasn’t made it look as though he has much interest in being magnanimous.

Despite nervy bogeys at Nos. 13 and 15, Kaymer finished his round with a 10-foot birdie putt at the last for a 2-over 72 and a five-stroke lead.

Sunday at Pinehurst will be less about numbers than it will be the potential nominees poised behind him.

Arrayed behind Kaymer is an A-list cast that includes Rickie Fowler in second place at 3 under, reigning FedEx Cup champion Henrik Stenson and Dustin Johnson, who are tied for fourth at 2 under.

For Johnson, Sunday’s final round is something of a cosmic mulligan. At the 2010 PGA Johnson was penalized two strokes when he grounded his club in what turned out to be a hazard and finished two shots out of the playoff won by Kaymer.

“Anything can happen, it’s a U.S. Open,” said Johnson (70), who knows a thing or two about squandering title chances after he blew a three-shot cushion through 54 holes at the 2010 U.S. Open.

For Fowler, the last 18 holes at the U.S. Open represents an opportunity to fulfill a promise he made to swing coach Butch Harmon in December.

“He said he wanted to be known for more than just his colorful clothes and flat-brimmed hats,” Harmon recently said. “He wanted to be known as a champion.”

Fowler will head out in the day’s final group with Kaymer in his best position to win his first major since the 2011 Open Championship.

The same motivation applies to Stenson (70), who can move to No. 1 in the world with a victory after finishing second and third at last year’s Open Championship and PGA, respectively.

With apologies to all that firepower, however, one contender stands out among all others.

Erik Compton matched the round-of-the-day with a 67 to move to 3 under par, is playing in just his second major championship and needed 38 holes at the U.S. Open qualifier two weeks ago in Columbus, Ohio, just to make it into this field.

And unless you’ve been held up in one of Pinehurst’s scruffy bunkers this week you may have also heard something about Compton being a two-time heart transplant recipient.

It’s poetically apropos that last year’s PGA Tour Courage Award winner has shown an amazing amount of moxie this week considering his physical limitations.

Because of Compton’s suppressed immune system he has struggled lately with allergies, weakness and at last month’s Memorial Tournament he started losing his hearing in his left ear.

By comparison, a four-stroke deficit to start the final turn at his national championship is hardly a reason to become overstimulated.

“At times when you look around and I realize where I have been, and then I'm just happy to be able to play golf,” Compton said. “To play at this high level and in such a big tournament, it is something that I carry with me.”

But if Compton will be the sentimental favorite, Kaymer is poised as the competitive equivalent of Secretariat thanks to his near machine-like execution this week on the retrofit Donald Ross gem.

And if he’s able to complete his masterpiece it will likely be recorded that it was a gritty bogey four holes into his Saturday round that propelled him from a good player to a great one.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

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Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

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