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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Goat visor propels Na to Colonial lead

By Will GrayMay 25, 2018, 1:29 am

Jason Dufner officially has some company in the headwear free agency wing of the PGA Tour.

Like Dufner, Kevin Na is now open to wear whatever he wants on his head at tournaments, as his visor sponsorship with Titleist ended earlier this month. He finished T-6 at the AT&T Byron Nelson in his second tournament as a free agent, and this week at the Fort Worth Invitational he's once again wearing a simple white visor with a picture of a goat.

"I bought it at The Players Championship for $22 with the 30 percent discount that they give the Tour players," Na told reporters. "It's very nice."

Perhaps a change in headwear was just what Na needed to jumpstart his game. Last week's result in Dallas was his first top-35 finish in his last six events dating back to February, and he built upon that momentum with an 8-under 62 to take a one-shot lead over Charley Hoffman after the first round at Colonial Country Club.

While many sports fans know the "GOAT" acronym to stand for "Greatest Of All Time," it's a definition that the veteran Na only learned about earlier this year.

"I do social media, but they kept calling Tiger the GOAT. I go, 'Man, why do they keep calling Tiger the GOAT? That's just mean,'" Na said. "Then I realized it meant greatest of all time. Thinking of getting it signed by Jack (Nicklaus) next week (at the Memorial)."

Marc Dull (Florida State Golf Association)

Golden: Dull rude, caddie 'inebriated' at Florida Mid-Am

By Ryan LavnerMay 25, 2018, 1:03 am

Jeff Golden has offered more detail on what transpired at the Florida Mid-Amateur Championship, writing in a long statement on Twitter that Marc Dull’s caddie was “inebriated” before he allegedly sucker-punched Golden in the face.

In a story first reported by GolfChannel.com, Charlotte County Police responded to a call May 13 after Golden claimed that he’d been assaulted by his opponent’s caddie in the parking lot of Coral Creek Club, where he was competing in the Mid-Am finals. Golden told police that the caddie, Brandon Hibbs, struck him because of a rules dispute earlier in the round. Hibbs denied any involvement, and police found no evidence of an attack.

Golden posted a 910-word statement on the alleged incident on his Twitter account on Thursday night. He said that he wanted to provide more detail because “others have posed some valid questions about the series of events that led to me withdrawing” from what was an all-square match with two holes to play.

Golden wrote that both Dull and Hibbs were rude and disruptive during the match, and that “alcohol appeared to be influencing [Hibbs’] behavior.”

Dull, who caddies at Streamsong Resort in Florida, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“I’ve never seen an opposing caddie engage in so much conversation with a competitor,” Golden wrote. “On the eighth hole I had become extremely frustrated when my opponent and caddie were talking and moving. I expressed my disappointment with their etiquette to the rules official in our group.”

On the ninth hole, Golden informed the official that he believed Hibbs had broken the rules by offering advice on his putt. Golden won the hole by concession to move 2 up at the turn, and Hibbs removed himself from the match and returned to the clubhouse.

Golden wrote that after the penalty, the match “turned even nastier, with more negative comments from my opponent on the 10th tee.” He added that he conceded Dull’s 15-foot birdie putt on No. 10 because he was “sick of the abuse from my opponent, and I wanted the match to resemble what you would expect of a FSGA final.”

Though there were no witnesses to the alleged attack and police found little evidence, save for “some redness on the inside of [Golden’s] lip,” Golden wrote that the inside of his mouth was bleeding, his face was “throbbing” and his hand was also injured from bracing his fall. X-rays and CT scans over the past week all came back negative, he said.

Golden reiterated that he was disappointed with the FSGA’s decision to accept his concession in the final match. He had recommended that they suspend the event and resume it “at a later time.”

“The FSGA has one job, and that’s to follow the Rules of Golf,” Golden wrote. “Unfortunately, there’s no rule for an inebriated ‘ex-caddie’ punching a player in a match-play rain delay with no witnesses.”

Asked last week about his organization’s alcohol policy during events, FSGA executive director Jim Demick said that excessive consumption is “highly discouraged, but it falls more broadly under the rules of etiquette and player behavior.”

Dull, 32, was back in the news Wednesday, after he and partner Chip Brooke reached the finals of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. They lost to high schoolers Cole Hammer and Garrett Barber, 4 and 3.

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D. Kang, M. Jutanugarn in four-way tie at Volvik

By Associated PressMay 25, 2018, 12:50 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Amy Olson crossed paths with her coach, Ron Stockton, on her walk to the 18th tee at the Volvik Championship.

''Make it another even $20,'' Stockton said.

The coach was already prepared to give his client $35 for making seven birdies - $5 each - and wanted to take her mind off the bogey she just had at 17.

Olson closed the first round with a 6-under 66, putting her into the lead she ended up sharing later Thursday with Moriya Jutanugarn , Caroline Masson and Danielle Kang.

Do small, cash incentives really help a professional golfer?

''Absolutely,'' said Olson, who graduated from North Dakota State with an accounting degree. ''He'll tell you I'm a little bit of a hustler there.''

Olson will have to keep making birdies - and petty cash - to hold her position at Travis Pointe Country Club.

Jessica Korda, Minjee Lee, Nasa Hataoka, Lindy Duncan, Morgan Pressel, Megan Khang and Jodi Ewart Shadoff were a stroke back at 67 and six others were to shots back.

Ariya Jutanugarn, the Kingsmill Championship winner last week in Virginia, opened with a 69.

The Jutanugarn sisters are Korda are among six players with a chance to become the LPGA Tour's first two-time winner this year.

Moriya Jutanugarn won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles.

''What I feel is more relaxed now,'' she said. ''And, of course I like looking forward for my next one.''

Olson, meanwhile, is hoping to extend the LPGA Tour's streak of having a new winner in each of its 12 tournaments this year.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


She knows how to win. It just has been a while since it has happened.

Olson set an NCAA record with 20 wins, breaking the mark set by LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, but has struggled to have much success since turning pro in 2013.

She has not finished best finish was a tie for seventh and that was four years ago. She was in contention to win the ANA Inspiration two months ago, but an even-par 72 dropped her into a tie for ninth place.

If the North Dakota player wins the Volvik Championship, she will earn a spot in the U.S. Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama. If Olson finishes second or lower in the 144-player field, she will enjoy an off week with her husband, Grant, who coaches linebackers at Indiana State.

''I'll make the best of it either way,'' she said.

Olson was at her best in the opening round on the front nine, closing it with four birdies in a six-hole stretch. Her ball rolled just enough to slowly drop in the cup for birdie on the par-3, 184-yard 13th. She had three birdies in five-hole stretch on the back, nearly making her second hole-in-one of the year at the par-3, 180-yard 16th. A short putt gave her a two-stroke lead, but it was cut to one after pulling and misreading a 6-foot putt to bogey the 17th.

Even if she doesn't hold on to win the tournament, Olson is on pace to have her best year on the LPGA Tour. She is No. 39 on the money list after finishing 97th, 119th, 81st and 80th in her first four years.

''Two years ago, I started working with Ron Stockton and whenever you make a change, it doesn't show up right away,'' Olson said. ''That first year was tough, but we've turned a corner and I've just found a lot of consistency in the last year. And, it's a lot of fun to go out there and play golf a little more stress free.''

Stockton helped her stay relaxed, walking along the ropes during her morning round.

''Maybe some people feel a little more pressure when their coach is there,'' she said. ''I'm like, 'Great. If he sees the mistake, he knows what can go wrong and we can go fix it.' So, I like having his eyes on me.''

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Club pro part of 6-way tie atop Sr. PGA

By Associated PressMay 25, 2018, 12:04 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Nevada club professional Stuart Smith shot a 5-under 66 on Thursday for a share of the first-round lead in the Senior PGA Championship.

Smith closed his morning round with a double bogey on the par-4 18th, and Scott McCarron, Tim Petrovic, Wes Short Jr., Barry Lane and Peter Lonard matched the 66 in the afternoon.

One of 41 club pros in the field at Harbor Shores for the senior major, Smith is the director of golf at Somersett Country Club in Reno.


Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


McCarron won the Senior Players Championship last year for his first senior major.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer is skipping the event to attend son Jason's high school graduation, and Steve Stricker is playing the PGA Tour event in Texas.