Player's U.S. Open dream ends in self-DQ

By Will GrayJune 3, 2014, 2:02 am

VERO BEACH, Fla. – For about 15 minutes, it looked as if Landon Michelson might be heading to Pinehurst.

The 22-year-old amateur picked an opportune time to string together 36 holes of stellar golf amid windy conditions Monday during the U.S. Open sectional qualifier at Quail Valley Golf Club. He’d broken par both rounds, and at worst looked to be facing a 2-for-1 playoff for a spot in his first U.S. Open.

With the stroke of a pencil, though, it all ended in a disqualification.

Michelson shot a 1-under 71 in both rounds, but in the midst of his euphoria signed for a 70 after his second round. A three-putt bogey on the 11th hole went unnoticed by his playing partner and was mistakenly recorded as a par.  

“I’m pretty devastated,” Michelson said. “Just so frustrating.”

Michelson, who arrived at the course at 6 a.m. as the first alternate and got into the field only after PGA Tour winner Fredrik Jacobson withdrew, was one of only eight players to break par during the morning wave. He began the second round tied for fifth among a field of 55 players with four spots at Pinehurst up for grabs.

An eagle on the par-5 14th vaulted Michelson into contention. When he finished the day at 2-under 142, he was tied for fourth place with veteran Aron Price and was preparing for a possible playoff, with Price playing the difficult finishing hole two groups behind.

Then came two warning signs - caddie Chris Ingham started to get congratulatory phone calls, even though a spot at Pinehurst was not locked up, and caddie and player noticed that Michelson’s name was listed on the leaderboard at 141, not 142.

A perfect storm of events led to the DQ. Ingham had made an effort to keep Michelson shielded from scoring info all day long. Then Ingham opted to watch Price play his final hole rather than accompany Michelson to the scoring area.

“Generally I would go over there with (Michelson) and make sure everything was OK, but I was slow getting there," Ingham said. "I was hoping he would be pretty meticulous checking his score, but he was the most excited he’s probably ever been in his life. I was too.”

The final blow was Michelson failing to catch the error on his scorecard before he signed it.

“Today was one of the first rounds I’ve ever been like, super focused,” Michelson said. “I didn’t even know what I was at, to be honest with you. The guy (in scoring) told me I shot 70 and I was like, ‘Yeah, sounds right.’ Looking over it, Chris and I went over it and it was a 71.”

It didn’t take long for Michelson to realize his mistake, though the question of what to do next was one that weighed on him as he contemplated the possibility of playing against the game’s best at Pinehurst.

“If you think about it, I’m like the 1,000th-ranked amateur in the world,” said Michelson, a Miami resident and recent graduate of Rice University. “Going to the U.S. Open, it would be so much to me. Getting clothing sponsors, club sponsors – everything would have been so much easier.”

Michelson assessed his options – stay quiet and make the Open, or confess his mistake and face disqualification for signing an incorrect scorecard. While finishing his senior year at Rice, he had done a project for a Sports Ethics class on Blayne Barber, who famously disqualified himself from the second stage of PGA Tour Q-School in 2012.

U.S. Open sectional qualifying: Who's in, who's out

“I told myself then that I don’t know what I would do in that situation,” he said.

Faced with the same situation, he didn’t hesitate. Michelson headed back to the scoring area and alerted officials to his error, which gave the fourth and final qualifying spot to Price.

“I had to go,” Michelson said. “I was just hoping there was something the rules official could do.”

Ingham, a childhood friend who plays college golf at Ole Miss, agreed with the decision.

“I can’t tell you what to do, I can only tell you what I would do. I think you’re going to regret it if you don’t come forward,” he told Michelson. “Before I could say anything else, he just walked right over there and DQ’d himself.”

Price became the beneficiary of Michelson’s mistake, and after bouncing between the PGA and tours in recent years, the Aussie is now headed to his first U.S. Open. He offered a philosophical take on the situation, having gone from first alternate to last qualifier within about 10 minutes.

“I’ve had good breaks and I’ve had bad breaks. I’m 32 and I’ve been playing (professional) golf for nine years,” Price said. “It’s a crazy game.”

For Michelson, though, a whirlwind day where he briefly reached the highest of highs ended with brutal finality.

“It’s just frustrating,” he said. “People tell me to move on and use this as a stepping stone, but it’s hard to do.”

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."