Notes: Simpson hits in fan's lap; Donald's 'B' game

By Associated PressJune 18, 2011, 9:30 pm

BETHESDA, Md. – It probably won’t cost Webb Simpson a tournament this time. Still, he must be wondering what he did to get on the wrong side of the golf gods.

Simpson’s early round of 5-under 66 at the U.S. Open on Saturday included a penalty stroke when his ball moved after he addressed it with his putter on the 13th green. It was the same penalty he took seven weeks ago at the Zurich Open in New Orleans.

“I addressed the ball, and the ball moved about a half-inch, quarter-inch,” Simpson said. “I think we’ve been through this too many times, hadn’t we? But it was kind of the same deal as New Orleans. It was unfortunate, but I think it really made me committed to try to finish strong and I made a couple of good birdies coming in.”

Simpson said it was his third time such penalty as a pro. It also happened to him once while playing at Wake Forest.

But it was the misfortune at Zurich that might lead to a change in the rules of golf. He was leading by a shot and heading for a tap-in on the 15th hole on Sunday, but the ball moved as he addressed it on the green. He wound up taking a penalty and finished in a tie with Bubba Watson, who beat Simpson in the playoff.

The U.S. Golf Association and the Royal and Ancient are looking into changing the rule so that the golfer isn’t penalized if it can be proven the ball was moved by an outside force.

But it was still in effect at the U.S. Open, which cost Simpson a stroke in the best round of the early going.

Simpson managed to come out even on a more adventurous hole. His drive at No. 18 landed in the lap of a spectator sitting cross-legged on the ground along the ropes. The fan dutifully sat there alone as everyone around him retreated. Simpson walked up to him and humorously pantomimed a swing, as if he were going to play the ball from exactly where it was.

“I’m a pretty experienced golfer,” said the fan, Todd Parker, “so I knew not to move.”

A rules official came along and instructed Simpson to pick up the ball. He took a drop and made a nice recovery, even though his follow-through smacked against the trunk of a large tree. He parred the hole.

“I’ve never had a ball end up in somebody’s lap,” Simpson said. “It reminded me of ‘Happy Gilmore.’ It ended up being a good break, just to the right of the trees. The rough there wasn’t high, it was laid down, so it was a pretty good break.”


BUBBA’S GETUP: Yes, Bubba Watson is indeed changing his clothes every day during the U.S. Open. The military green shirt and camouflage pants he’s been wearing? He actually brought four sets of that outfit to Congressional, one to wear for each round.

The getup was the result of a contest he held on Twitter and Facebook for fans to design a shirt for him to wear this week. The winner received a free trip to the championship.

After the tournament, the shirts will be sold for charity, the proceeds going to the Green Beret Foundation.

“My dad was in Vietnam,” Watson said. “So, yeah, actually it’s a big part of us. We don’t like war, but at the same time the people over there are fighting so we can play golf for a living, we’ve got to support them.”


AMATEUR HOUR: Even the amateurs aren’t succumbing to the rigors of the Blue Course.

Patrick Cantlay is 1 under at the U.S. Open after his third-round 70 on Saturday. The highlight came when the 19-year-old Californian holed out from the bunker at No. 15 for a birdie.

“That was really exciting,” Cantlay said. “It was kind of a tough bunker shot because the green runs away from you, but I nipped it pretty good and it ended up going in.”

Cantlay just completed his freshman year at UCLA and this month won the Jack Nicklaus Award as the nation’s top college golfer. His visit to Congressional this week is also proving to be quite an education for when he turns pro, which he says won’t happen until he’s earned his degree.

“I’ll just be really confident and know that I can compete out here,” he said. “I’ll know what it’s like to have played in the U.S. Open with the golf course and the fans and walking around with all the people.”

Cantlay isn’t a sure bet to be the low amateur. He’s only one stroke ahead of Russell Henley, who shot 71 on Saturday.

The other amateur who made the cut finally hit the wall. Brad Benjamin shot 80, the worst round of the day, and sits at 12 over heading into Sunday.


A MONEY BIRDIE, IN MORE WAYS THAT ONE: Adam Hadwin arrived at the U.S. Open early Saturday with one hole to play. Shoot a birdie, and he’d get to play 36 more.

The 22-year-old from British Columbia was about to tee off at No. 9 Friday evening when the horn sounded, suspending play for the day. He was at 5 over, one stroke below the cut line.

“I was in the clubhouse and I checked the scores and I knew that 4 was going to be the number, so I needed birdie,” Hadwin said. “It was a late night, early morning.”

Teeing off at 8:15 a.m. at the long par 5, Hadwin put his drive in the rough, got his second shot to 98 yards and nailed his approach within 6 inches. Easy birdie putt. Cut made. His trip to Congressional will come with a paycheck.

“You’ve got to splurge a little bit here,” said Hadwin, whose Saturday evening plans included a trip into Washington, D.C., to see the sights. “This is my first Open, and so I’m going to treat myself well and enjoy, and obviously making the cut helps.”

The birdie came with another, more important payoff. Hadwin’s brother was recently hospitalized with Crohn’s disease, so the two of them created a campaign to solicit pledges for every birdie Hadwin makes at the championship.

After making the cut, Hadwin showered, ate breakfast, then teed off in the third round with the first group at 10 a.m. He shot a 73 despite the quick turnaround and snagged three more birdies, giving him nine for the tournament and a total of about $10,000 raised for his cause.

“Tomorrow’s just going to be about having fun and making birdies,” he said.


NO. 1 BUT NOT HIS A-GAME: Luke Donald’s approach at No. 15 landed on a nasty steep slope next to the green. He made a nice recovery, chipping near the pin for a short putt for par.

It’s been that kind of week at the U.S. Open for the No. 1 player in the world. Good and bad. Enough bad that he’s 7 over after three rounds, well out of contention and certain to leave without that elusive first major title.

“It’s been a mixture of everything, really,” Donald said after his round of 74 Saturday. “I haven’t driven it well enough, obviously that puts pressure on your irons. And today I really didn’t make enough putts and could’ve shot a couple under quite easily if I’d made a few putts. It’s one of those weeks where I’m not quite firing.”

He certainly wasn’t about to blame the course. In fact, he said Congressional was playing more like a stop on the PGA Tour.

“The rough isn’t quite as gnarly as at some other U.S. Opens,” said Donald, adding that the greens were also soft because of the rain on Friday. “It has that different feel. It almost feels like the Firestone or something. It’s still tough out there, some tough pins, and you’ve got to play well to shoot a good score.”

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Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 23, 2018, 3:00 pm

Tiger Woods has a three-shot lead entering the final round of the Tour Championship and is alongside Rory McIlroy in the final group. We're tracking him.


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Rose tries to ignore scenarios, focus on winning

By Rex HoggardSeptember 23, 2018, 12:59 am

ATLANTA – No one has more to play for than Justin Rose on Sunday at the Tour Championship.

The Englishman will begin the day three strokes behind front-runner Tiger Woods after a third-round 68 that could have been much worse after he began his day with back-to-back bogeys.

Winning the tournament will be Rose’s top priority, but there’s also the lingering question of the FedExCup and the $10 million bonus, which he is currently projected to claim.


Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“The way I look at tomorrow is that I have many scenarios in play. I have the FedExCup in play. I have all of that to distract me,” Rose said. “But yet, I'm three back. I think that's my objective tomorrow is to come out and play good, positive golf and try and chase down the leader and win this golf tournament. I think in some ways that'll help my other task of trying to win the FedExCup. It'll keep me on the front foot and playing positive golf.”

Although there are many scenarios for Rose to win the season-long title, if Woods wins the Tour Championship, Rose would need to finish fifth or better to claim the cup.

There’s also the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking to consider. Rose overtook Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world with his runner-up finish at the BMW Championship two weeks ago. He will retain the top spot unless Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka or Johnson win the finale and he falls down the leaderboard on Sunday.

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McIlroy needs putter to heat up to catch Woods

By Rex HoggardSeptember 23, 2018, 12:29 am

ATLANTA – Although Rory McIlroy is three strokes behind Tiger Woods at the Tour Championship and tied for second place he had the look of a man with a secret when he left East Lake on Saturday.

Trying to play catch up against Woods is never ideal, but McIlroy’s confidence stemmed from a tee-to-green game that has been unrivaled for three days.

“I definitely think today and the first day were similar,” said McIlroy, whose 66 included birdies at two of his final three holes. “I gave myself plenty of chances, and I think the biggest thing today was only just that one bogey. Got to put your ball in the fairway, put yourself in position, and for the most part, I did that today.”


Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


For the week McIlroy ranks first in strokes gained: off the tee, third in strokes gained: approach to the green and second in greens in regulation. But to catch Woods, who he will be paired with, he’ll need a much better day on the greens.

The Northern Irishman needed 30 putts on Day 2 and ranks 23rd, out of 30 players, in strokes gained: putting.

McIlroy skipped the first playoff event, opting instead for an extra week at home to work on his swing and the move has paid off.

“I hit the ball well. My wedge play has been really good,” he said. “I've done a lot of work on it the last few weeks, and it seems to have paid off.”

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Glover trails Straka at Web.com Tour Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 23, 2018, 12:19 am

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Sepp Straka moved into position Saturday to earn a PGA Tour card in the Web.com Tour Championship, shooting a 7-under 64 to take the third-round lead.

With the top 25 earners in the four-event Web.com Tour Finals getting PGA Tour cards Sunday, Straka birdied the final three holes to reach 18-under 195 - a stroke ahead of Curtis Luck, Lucas Glover and Denny McCarthy at Atlantic Beach Country Club.

''It's always good to get an extra birdie in late. I got three of them to finish, which was nice,'' Straka said. ''It's very bunched up there, so you can't really take off, you've got to keep the pedal down and see where you end up at the end.''

Straka entered the week tied for 80th in the card race with $2,744. The 25-year-old former Georgia player from Austria won the KC Golf Classic in August for his first Web.com Tour title. He finished 31st on the money list to advance to the four-tournament series.

''My ball-striking is really good,'' Straka said. ''It's been good all week. It's been really solid. I really haven't gotten in a whole lot of trouble and have been able to capitalize on a good number of chances with the putter. Hit a couple of bad putts today, but some really good ones to make up for it.''


Full-field scores from the Web.com Tour Championship


Luck also shot 64. The 22-year-old Australian went into the week 16th with $41,587.

''Obviously, it just comes down to keeping that momentum going and trying not to change anything,'' Luck said. ''That's the really important thing and I felt like I did that really well. I played really aggressive on the back nine, still went after a lot of shots and I hit it close a lot out there.''

Glover had a 68. The 2009 U.S. Open champion entered the week 40th with $17,212.

McCarthy shot 67. He already has wrapped up a card, earning $75,793 in the first three events to get to 11th in the standings.

The series features the top 75 players from the Web.com regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top-25 finishers on the Web.com regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. The other players are fighting for the 25 cards based on series earnings.