Michael Jordan violating city rules by smoking on course - COPIED

By Associated PressOctober 7, 2009, 9:58 pm

I was there when the boy almost won his first major, but the young man instead won another.

I was there, standing off the left side of the 18th green at Medinah Country Club, watching as the 23-year-olds putted out for victory. I watched as he gave a weary and relieved fist pump. I watched as he hugged his mother, his girlfriend and his 19-year-old adversary.

I was there at the 1999 PGA Championship, where the Wanamaker Trophy was awarded to Tiger Woods, and the keys to the golfing world seemed handed to Sergio Garcia.

The 81st edition of the PGA Tour will forever be remembered for Woods weathering El Nio. A boy running and leaping like a ballerina, its time-stamped image.

But the way in which the week ended, all the smiles and the hugs and the promise, could not have been more contrarian to how it began.

Much of the talk prior to the start of the PGA wasnt even about the PGA. It revolved around the Ryder Cup and comments certain prominent players had recently made about receiving compensation for participation.

Said U.S. Ryder Cup captain Ben Crenshaw on the eve of the event, It burns the hell out of me to listen to some of their view points.

<i>They</i> were most notably and constant David Duval, then the No. 1-ranked player in the world, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Mark OMeara.

Duval had said previously in a <i>Golf Digest</i> interview that the Ryder Cup had become a little overcooked, but its probably going to stay that way until players choose not to play.

Duval and Woods both referred to the Ryder Cup as an exhibition. To someone like Crenshaw, you might as well call John Wayne a wuss or George Patton a commie.

As for the monetary issue, Woods said during his Tuesday press conference, I would like to see us receive whatever the amount is, whether its $200,000, $300,000, $400,000, $500,000, whatever it is, and I think we should be able to keep the money and do whatever we see fit.

It was OMeara who had first raised the compensation issue nearly a year prior after <i>Golf Digest</i> reported that the PGA of America netted roughly $17 million for the playing of the biennial competition.

Talk of a Ryder Cup controversy and liberal use of the words player boycott drowned out all the other storylines entering the PGA Championship ' Woods trying to win his first major since winning his first major; Colin Montgomerie simply trying to win his first major and Jean Van de Velde playing his first major since an epic collapse in his last major.

The focus finally shifted to the tournament on Thursday after Garcia shot 6-under 66 to take a two-stroke lead on a soggy Day 1.

That score was a 23-stroke improvement upon his opening round performance at the Open Championship, where he shot 89-83 and wept openly in the arms of his mother.

Of course, it didnt take long before some jackass in the media brought up Carnoustie.

I was said jackass.

Sergio, what was the difference between the first round here today and your first round in , was the innocent question.

I think the British Open is done, so I don't want to hear any more questions about the Open, was the defiant answer.

He looked on the verge of tears ' again.

Some things never change: Ten years later Garcia is still emotional, still showcases the maturity of a teenager at times and is still without a major title to his credit.

Some things, however, do

Garcia played a practice round with Woods at Medinah, a sign that the two might cordially compete against one another for years. Thats certainly what Garcia had in mind when he said Sunday evening, I said when I turned pro that I wanted to be the No. 1 golfer in the world. I want to be a rival for Tiger, but always being friends like we [were] today.

Some things change quite a bit.

After a disappointing second-round 1-over 73, Garcia shot 68 Saturday to enter the final round two shots back of Woods and a second-year PGA Tour pro named Mike Weir.

Weir, the reigning Q-School medalist, had never won on Tour. But he sure acted like he had been there before. He couldnt have been more courteous throughout the week, meeting each media request with compliance and a smile.

Even after he shot 80 in the final round to fall into a tie for 10th, Weir was congenial. A semi-circle of reporters, myself included, pressed Weir against the scoring trailer. You knew hed rather be in Gen Pop than where he was at the moment, but he answered every question in a most professional manner.

I gave it my best and I didnt give up, he said. Eighty is the best score I could have shot, obviously. I tried on every shot.

Ill be back again.

Three-and-a-half years later he made good on that promise, winning the Masters Tournament.

Not a person with a media badge would have bet that Sunday at Medinah that Weir would have won a major before Garcia ' or that a decade later Garcia would still be major-ly deprived.

That Montgomerie is still sans major is far less shocking.

After tying for sixth at Medinah, Montgomerie headed off the grounds in a huff when some jackass dared ask him a question.

Again, I was said jackass.

Monty, does not winning a major dampen what has been a very good season for you, was the carefully phrased question.

No, just for you, was the very curt response.

Montys sullenness ' and Weirs unfortunate 80 ' aside, Sunday of the 99 PGA was a brilliant display of emotion.

What looked like a Tiger runaway, something not seen in a major championship since in 97, turned into a tight contest early on the back nine. Woods bogeyed the 12th hole, his first dropped shot of the day, and then watched on the par-3 13th tee box as Garcia made a 15-foot putt for birdie up ahead.

Garcia looked back at Woods and emphatically pumped his arm.

I just wanted him to know I was still there and let him know he had to play well to win, Garcia said of the celebration, adding that he wasnt trying to show up Woods.

Of course, as weve come to learn, you can tell Tiger good putt and hell perceive it as a slight because you didnt refer to it as great.

Woods never saw Garcias reaction, or so he said: I saw him make the putt and I turned away. I knew what he had to do.

He just didnt do it.

Woods airmailed a 6-iron and recorded a double bogey. The lead was now one.

It remained that way as Garcia stood in the right rough of the 16th hole, his ball nestled in the knot of a tree root.

Adhering to his favorite slogan, Suerto o Muerto ' luck or death ' Garcia violently lashed at the ball with a 6-iron. His eyes closed, his head turned, he never saw the club make contact. With a hill impeding his view of the green as well, he ran up the fairway and leaped with a scissor kick to catch a glimpse of his ball rolling to the back of the green, some 60 feet from the pin.

The crowd exploded. The people were his.

I hope you dont shank it in the water, Woods would later hear from a patron while approaching the par-3 17th.

Garcia two-putted for par at 16 and missed birdie putts on 17 and 18 to finish at 10-under 278.

We later learned that Sergio Garcia being a major challenger to Tiger Woods was merely a myth, born in the legendary happenings on the 16th hole Sunday at Medinah.

We also learned in time that Tiger Woods is the greatest clutch putter in the history of the game. That is a fact, established on the 17th hole that same day.

Still leading by one and facing a par putt that could make a dog sweat, Woods, with assistance on the read from caddie Steve Williams, made the 6-foot slider.

He capped his victory with a routine two-putt for par at the last. It was major No. 2 and win No. 11 on Tour.

Ten years later he stands at 14 and 71, respectively.

After hugging Williams, Woods greeted his mother, Kultida, and girlfriend, Joanna Jagoda, in same. Garcia was there waiting to offer another embrace.

To come out of it on top took everything out of me, Woods said afterwards. I just tried to hold him [Garcia] off and did the best I could.

The 1999 PGA Championship was the first major championship I ever attended. I wont forget Crenshaws anger, Weirs congeniality, Montgomeries boorishness, Garcias duality, Duvals indifference or Woods resoluteness.

But in the end, its the end that everyone else will always remember.

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USGA-player relationship at a breaking point?

By Will GrayJune 18, 2018, 8:00 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – For seven days each year, the American game’s preeminent governing body welcomes the best players in the world with open arms. They set up shop at one of the premier courses in the country, and line it with grandstands and white hospitality tents as far as the eye can see.

The players arrive, first at a slow trickle and then at a steady pace. And once they’ve registered and clipped their player medallions over their belts, they’re told how this year is going to be different.

How this time around, be it in a Washington gravel pit or on a time-tested piece of land on the tip of Long Island, the USGA will not repeat the mistakes of the past. That the process of identifying the best players in the world will not veer into the territory of embarrassing them.

Like a college sweetheart in search of reconciliation, the powers-that-be preach a changed attitude and a more even-handed approach. Then, inevitably, they commit the same cardinal sins they promised to avoid.

So year in and year out, the scar tissue builds. Charlie Brown keeps trying to kick the football and, for most of the players not named Brooks Koepka, he ends up on his butt in a cloud of dust and fescue.



After letting Shinnecock Hills plunge into avoidable yet all-too-familiar territory over the weekend – before being doused back to life – one thing is clear: in the eyes of many players, the USGA can’t be trusted.

“When are they going to get it right? I just feel like they disrespect these historic golf courses,” said Scott Piercy, a runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open who got swept away this week during a crispy third round en route to a T-45 finish. “I think they disrespect the players, I think they disrespect the game of golf. And they’re supposed to be, like, the top body in the game of golf. And they disrespect it, every aspect of it.”

Piercy, like several players in this week’s field, had a few specific gripes about how Shinnecock was set up, especially during the third round when USGA CEO Mike Davis admitted his organization lost control in a display that echoed the mistakes of 2004. But this was not an isolated case.

Players went with skepticism to Chambers Bay three years ago, only to encounter greens that were largely dirt and got compared to produce. Mismatched grass strains, they were told. Whoops.

The next year the USGA threw a dark cloud over a classic venue by allowing much of the final round at Oakmont to play without knowing the leader’s actual score as a rules fiasco reached a furious boil. Last year’s Erin Hills experiment was met with malaise.

At this point, the schism runs much deeper than a single error in setup. It threatens the core competency of the organization in the eyes of several of the players it looks to serve.

“They do what they want, and they don’t do it very well. As far as I’m concerned, there is no relationship (between players and the USGA),” said Marc Leishman. “They try and do it. They do it on purpose. They say they want to test us mentally, and they do that by doing dumb stuff.”



By and large, players who took issue with the USGA’s tactics had a simple solution: put more of the setup choices in the hands of those who oversee PGA Tour and European Tour venues on a regular basis. While some of those personnel already moonlight in USGA sweater-vests for the week, there is a strong sentiment that their collective knowledge could be more heavily relied upon.

“I know (the USGA) takes great pride in doing all this stuff they do to these golf courses, but they see it once a year,” Brandt Snedeker said. “Let those guys say, ‘Hey, we see this every week. We know what the edge is. We know where it is.’ We can’t be out there playing silly golf.”

That’s not to say that a major should masquerade as the Travelers Championship. But the U.S. Open is the only one of the four that struggles to keep setup shortfalls from becoming a dominant storyline.

It all adds up to a largely adversarial relationship, one that continues to fray after this weekend’s dramatics and which isn’t helped by the USGA’s insistence that they should rarely shoulder the blame.

“They’re not going to listen, for one. Mike Davis thinks he’s got all the answers, that’s No. 2,” said Pat Perez after a T-36 finish. “And when he is wrong, there’s no apologies. It’s just, ‘Yeah, you know, we kind of let it get out of hand.’ Well, no kidding. Look at the scores. That’s the problem. It’s so preventable. You don’t have to let it get to that point.”



But this wound festers from more than just slick greens and thick rough. There is a perception among some players that the USGA gets overly zealous in crafting complicated rules with complex decisions, a collection of amateur golfers doling out the fine print that lords over the professional game on a weekly basis – with the curious handling of whatever Phil Mickelson did on the 13th green Saturday serving as just the latest example.

The gripes over setup each year at the USGA’s biggest event, when it’s perceived that same group swoops in to take the reins for a single week before heading for the hills, simply serve as icing on the cake. And there was plenty of icing this week after players were implored to trust that the miscues of 2004 would not be repeated.

“To say that the players and the USGA have had a close relationship would be a false statement,” Snedeker said. “They keep saying all the right things, and they’re trying to do all the right things, I think. But it’s just not coming through when it matters.”

It’s worth noting that the USGA has made efforts recently to ramp up its communication with the top pros. Officials from the organization have regularly attended the Tour’s player meetings in recent months, and Snedeker believes that some strides have been made.

So, too, does Zach Johnson, who was one of the first to come out after the third round and declare that the USGA had once again lost the golf course.

“I think they’ve really started to over the last few years, last couple years in particular, tried to increase veins of communication,” Johnson said. “When you’re talking about a week that is held in the highest regards, I’m assuming within the organization and certainly within my peer group as one of the four majors and my nation’s major, communication is paramount.”



But the exact size of the credibility gap the USGA has to bridge with some top pros remains unclear. It’s likely not a sting that one good week of tournament setup can assuage, even going to one of the more straightforward options in the rotation next year at Pebble Beach.

After all, Snedeker was quick to recall that players struggled mightily to hit the par-3 17th green back in 2010, with eventual champ Graeme McDowell calling the hole “borderline unfair” ahead of the third round.

“It’s one of the greatest holes in world golf, but I don’t really know how I can hit the back left portion of the green,” McDowell said at the time. “It’s nearly impossible.”

Surely this time next year, Davis will explain how the USGA has expanded its arsenal in the last decade, and that subsequent changes to the 17th green structure will make it more playable. His organization will then push the course to the brink, like a climber who insists on scaling Mount Everest without oxygen, and they’ll tell 156 players that this time, finally, the desired balance between difficult and fair has been achieved.

Whether they’ll be believed remains to be seen.

@bubbawatson on Instagram

Bubba gets inked by Brooks, meets Tebow

By Grill Room TeamJune 18, 2018, 5:40 pm

Bubba Watson missed the cut at Shinnecock Hills following rounds of 77-74, but that didn't stop him from enjoying his weekend.

Watson played alongside Jason Day and eventual champion Brooks Koepka in Rounds 1 and 2, and somehow this body ink slipped by us on Thursday.

Got autographed by defending @usopengolf Champ @bkoepka!! #NeverShoweringAgain

A post shared by Bubba Watson (@bubbawatson) on

And while we're sure Bubba would have rather been in contention over the weekend, we're also sure that taking your son to meet the second most famous minor-league baseball player who ever lived was a lot more fun than getting your teeth kicked in by Shinnecock Hills over the weekend, as just about everyone not named Brooks Koepka and Tommy Fleetwood did.

Already in Hartford, Watson will be going for his third Travelers Championship trophy this week, following wins in 2010 and 2015.

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Phil rubs fan's Donald Duck hat seven times, signs it

By Nick MentaJune 18, 2018, 3:09 pm

There is a case to be made that what Phil Mickelson did on Saturday made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

There is also a case to be made that the USGA's setup of Shinnecock Hills made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

Whatever you think about what Mickelson did on Saturday - and how he attempted to justify it after the fact without even a hint of remorse - watch this video.

The next time you hear someone say, "If anybody else had putted a moving ball on purpose and not apologized for it, it would get a different reaction," you can point to this video and say, "Yeah, here's why."

Here's what happened once a still-strident Mickelson was done rubbing Donald Duck hats on Sunday, per Ryan Lavner:

If you’re wondering whether Mickelson would be defiant or contrite on Sunday, we don’t know the answer. He declined to stop and speak with the media, deciding instead to sign autographs for more than a half hour and then offering a few short answers before ducking into player hospitality.

“The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’” he said. “I don’t know.”

The 2024 Ryder Cup at Bethpage is going to be a three-ring circus, and Mickelson, a likely choice to captain the U.S. team, will be the ringmaster.

Separately, shoutout to 2017 Latin Am champ Toto Gana, who does a terrific Donald Duck (skip to end).

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Ryder Cup race: Mickelson out, Simpson in

By Will GrayJune 18, 2018, 2:34 pm

There's a new man at the top of the U.S. Ryder Cup race following the U.S. Open, and there's also a familiar name now on the outside looking in.

Brooks Koepka's successful title defense vaulted him to the top of the American points race, up four spots and ensuring he'll be on the team Jim Furyk takes to Paris in September. Dustin Johnson's third-place finish moved him past Patrick Reed at No. 2, while Webb Simpson entered the top eight after a a tie for 10th.

While Bryson DeChambeau remained at No. 9, Phil Mickelson dropped two spots to No. 10. Tony Finau, who finished alone in fifth, went from 16th to 13th, while Tiger Woods fell two spots to No. 37.

Here's a look at the latest U.S. standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:

1. Brooks Koepka

2. Dustin Johnson

3. Patrick Reed

4. Justin Thomas

5. Jordan Spieth

6. Rickie Fowler

7. Bubba Watson

8. Webb Simpson

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9. Bryson DeChambeau

10. Phil Mickelson

11. Matt Kuchar

12. Brian Harman

On the European side, England's Tommy Fleetwood took a big stride toward securing his first Ryder Cup appearance with a runner-up finish that included a Sunday 63 while countryman Matthew Fitzpatrick snuck into a qualifying spot after tying for 12th.

Here's a look at the updated Euro standings, with the top four from both points lists joining four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn at Le Golf National:

European Points

1. Tyrrell Hatton

2. Justin Rose

3. Tommy Fleetwood

4. Francesco Molinari

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5. Thorbjorn Olesen

6. Ross Fisher

World Points

1. Jon Rahm

2. Rory McIlroy

3. Alex Noren

4. Matthew Fitzpatrick

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5. Ian Poulter

6. Rafael Cabrera-Bello