Three share lead at weather-plagued Wyndham Championship

By Associated PressAugust 20, 2009, 4:00 pm
Wyndham Championship GREENSBORO, N.C. ' With thunder booming, Chez Reavie rushed to hit the 15-foot putt that would have left him alone atop the Wyndham Championship leaderboard.
 
Once he missed, he had more than enough time to think about his gimme.
 
After a long weather delay, Reavie returned to the green and tapped in a 1-footer to close out a 64. He wound up sharing the early lead with former champion Brandt Snedeker and Ryan Moore on Thursday during a suspended first round of the PGA Tours final event before the playoffs.
 
I could have just made the first putt and left, Reavie said.
 
Justin Rose, Kevin Streelman and Colt Knost were one stroke back at 65, with Chris Riley also at 5 under through 14 holes. U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples and John Daly were among the eight who shot 66. Steve Elkington joined them at 4 under through 14 holes and Bill Haas was at 4 under through 10.
 
Play was suspended for roughly four hours amid early afternoon rumbles of thunder and the more than an inch of rain that was dumped on the area surrounding the Donald Ross-designed course at Sedgefield Country Club.
 
Things didnt clear up until late afternoon, play resumed around 4:30 p.m. and 78 players were left on the course when things were halted shortly before 8 p.m. due to darkness. It was scheduled to resume at 7:45 a.m. Friday.
 
When you lose time Thursday, its very difficult to catch up, said Mark Russell, the tours vice president of rules and competition. Its going to be an all-day affair.
 
Once the rains stopped, Reavie came back to the green at No. 9 and polished off his opening round by tapping in his short putt for par. The former Arizona State player took a strong first step toward thrusting himself into the playoff field. He entered at No. 177 on the points list, 159 behind No. 125 Andres Romero.
 
Starting his round on the back nine, Reavie made a late charge with birdies on Nos. 4-7 to move to 6 under. Then, he said he heard thunder while he lined up the birdie putt that he pushed wide right.
 
Playing partners Parker McLachlin and Johnson Wagner both holed out, but the air horn sounded to stop play moments before Reavie could tap in. That temporarily halted his best round since the Mercedes-Benz Championship ' the first event of the year.
 
The putter woke up today, he said. Ive been hitting the ball well for the last month and a half or so. I just havent been able to make any putts.
 
Snedeker, who won the Wyndham two years ago when it was held across town at Forest Oaks Country Club, started on the back nine and birdied the par-3 No. 7 before the delay, then came back out and closed his round with consecutive pars.
 
Ive been putting it fantastic ' I putted it great today, and hit a lot of quality iron shots, Snedeker said. I knew I was swinging good, knew I was playing good I guess getting back on bent-grass greens kind of got my putter working again.
 
Moore moved into a share of the lead with six birdies during his bogey-free round, the last coming after the delay on the par-4 No. 17. He placed his fairway shot about 5 feet from the flagstick and holed the following putt.
 
I was just thinking (during the break) about the movies that I was missing out on watching, Moore quipped. If you know (a delay) is going to be 2 1/2 , three hours, I personally like to just kind of go leave and do something so youre just not sitting and not moving ' although that seemed to work for me today.
 
Rose birdied No. 17 to briefly move to 6 under before three-putting on 18 for his only bogey of the round ' his best round of the year, beating by one stroke his final round at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.
 
And after spending his two rounds at the PGA Championship playing in the threesome ahead of Tiger Woods ' and before the huge galleries that follow his every move ' Rose took advantage of the relative peace and quiet that accompanied an early round at this subdued course.
 
It really was a low-stress round of golf, Rose said. It was nice today to get off and get some momentum going. Probably one thing that I havent been doing of late is getting off to good starts, grinding on Friday to make the cut and then battling away on the weekends to have a respectable finish. It was a little nicer today to get off to a fast start.
 
Two of the days most impressive shots came on No. 17. Bill Lunde eagled it after holing out from 98 yards out in the fairway, and Tommy Armour III later chipped in from a distance of 14 yards in the intermediate rough.
 
Tim Clark, a local favorite who played at North Carolina State, withdrew during the weather delay due to a neck injury. College teammate Carl Pettersson, a North Carolina resident who is defending his title, opened with a 70.
 
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    Phil's apology could have quashed incident days ago

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 7:50 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Better late than never.

    Phil Mickelson’s mea culpa came five days after he turned the U.S. Open upside down. It came after an attempt to rationalize his mind-boggling efforts on the 13th green only made things worse, and four days after he opted to show up for the final round at Shinnecock Hills but declined comment on the imbroglio that nearly overshadowed Brooks Koepka’s successful title defense.

    But finally, from behind a keyboard rather than in front of a microphone, he lent clarity to one of the strangest moments of a decorated career.

    “I know this should’ve come sooner, but it’s taken me a few days to calm down. My anger and frustration got the best of me last weekend,” Mickelson wrote. “I’m embarrassed and disappointed by my actions. It was clearly not my finest moment and I’m sorry.”

    It’s a statement that will hopefully serve as a coda to a controversy that bled into the first few days of the Travelers Championship. It’s also one that several players at TPC River Highlands believe Mickelson would have been well-served to issue in the immediate aftermath rather than attempting to inject intent into a momentary lapse.

    “The problem was when he started to justify it,” said Graeme McDowell. “People were like, ‘Oh, did he kind of maybe try to do that on purpose?’ And then all of a sudden the integrity of the game starts coming into question. When if he’d have just said, ‘I lost my mind for a second. I can’t believe I just did that. That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever done on a golf course. Sorry, guys.’ If he’d have said that right away, it would have been over, finished, the end. And then no DQ comments would have come into it.”

    Mickelson has spent the past 25 years staying one step ahead, be it with his comments to the media or his actions on and off the course. The man shows up to the Masters in a button-down shirt and elicits guffaws; the laughs died down the next month when Lefty revealed that he had taken an equity interest in the company and was quite literally benefiting from the attention his wardrobe choices had received.

    But after being bludgeoned by a borderline setup on his 48th birthday, Mickelson appeared to have finally fallen victim to a fleeting moment of frustration. Not a premeditated attempt to save a shot, or to avoid further embarrassment ping-ponging across a crusty green. Simply a man driven to his breaking point for all the world to see.


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    “As a player that’s been in that head space at that tournament, I can see it happening to people,” said Rory McIlroy. “Look, it’s a tournament that Phil has come so close to winning over the past few years. He’s probably seen what’s happened over the past few years at that tournament, and it’s frustrated him because it’s the only one that he hasn’t won. Plus, it’s probably becoming the hardest one to win for anyone because it is a bit of a lottery at times.”

    Mickelson remains a man of the people, a flawed hero who goes for broke even after that mindset cost himself more than a couple tournaments. It’s a relatable and charismatic trait, one that helps weekend hackers stuck behind a tree feel a connection to a man who once turned a similar situation into a green jacket.

    And having accrued more than two decades of positive equity by forging a path that other players don’t dare to take, Mickelson had more than enough margin for error to fess up after the putt-slap and avoid being pilloried.

    But just as the cover-up is often worse than the crime, so too Mickelson’s decision to spin his actions Saturday afternoon – combined with his calculated decision to offer no further explanation after returning for the final round – only threw gas on the fire.

    “It was very interesting. I didn’t understand it, and the USGA obviously didn’t understand what was all going on,” said Patrick Reed. “Phil, I don’t even really think he understood what was all transpiring at the moment.”

    “I honestly think that he just tried to come up with a story to make it go away, and inadvertently caused the opposite reaction,” added McDowell.

    Player opinion remains divided on several aspects of the Mickelson situation, and there are still those who believe Mickelson should have been disqualified for his actions, regardless of his intent or lack thereof. But the topic most players agreed on was that this situation won’t tarnish Mickelson’s overall legacy.

    Eventually, the news will cycle out and Mickelson will continue his quest for a sixth major title without being dogged by a regrettable moment when he essentially channeled the impulse of a 10-handicap looking to escape to the next tee.

    Even though questions will linger when he tees it up next at The Greenbrier, and likely again when the international press gathers at The Open, Mickelson will be well-served to have finally taken some ownership of a poor choice in the heat of the moment, rather than to attempt to explain it away as a calculated move.

    It’s a tactic that likely would have proven even more beneficial under the heat of the spotlight at Shinnecock Hills. But better late than never.

    “Why he tried to justify it, I’ll never know. Maybe he thought it was the right thing to do at the time,” McDowell said. “But I think as a golfer, we all understand the frustration, and just the mental lapse he had in that second when he did it.

    “It was just Phil being Phil. Trying to apply science to madness.”

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    A plan to avoid U.S. Open setup snafus

    By Rex HoggardJune 20, 2018, 3:39 pm

    It happened again.

    It was an inexplicable turn of events after a decade and a half of vehement assurances that this U.S. Open would be different. In the months leading up to the 118th championship, USGA CEO Mike Davis explained that this time the technology was better and many contended that the association was better.

    In 2004, the last time the U.S. Open traveled to the East End of Long Island things didn’t go well, with Shinnecock Hills’ greens going dark and dusty for a final round Davis called a “double bogey” for the association.

    To be fair, last week’s sequel wasn’t that extreme - let’s call it a bogey - but it was no less baffling.

    “It’s more the course, about how they set it up. Because Saturday was a total, it was like two different golf courses, practically, on the greens Saturday versus Sunday,” Jason Day said of last week’s U.S. Open. “I just wish they would leave it alone and just let it go. Not saying to let the greens go and let them dry out and make it unfair, I’m just saying plan accordingly and hopefully whatever the score finishes, it finishes, whether it’s under par or over par.”

    There will be those who contend that Day and Co. - Ian Poulter was also a harsh critic - should simply toughen up, that demanding conditions are the price that must be paid if you want to win the U.S. Open. But that ignores the facts and the USGA’s own assessment.

    “There were some aspects today where well-executed shots were not rewarded. We missed it with the wind,” Davis said on Saturday. “We don’t want that. The firmness was OK but it was too much with the wind we had. It was probably too tough this afternoon – a tale of two courses.”



    The USGA missed it, again.

    Perhaps this is the cost of wanting to play a golf course on the razor’s edge, where just a few warm gusts define the line between demanding but fair and over the top. Or maybe this is an issue of continuity.

    Every year the R&A holds a championship and nearly every year we spend the days afterward celebrating a champion, not complaining about an unfair course or an incorrect weather forecast.

    There are philosophical differences between the USGA and R&A when it comes to golf course setup, with our transatlantic friends wired to accept relatively easier conditions if the wind doesn’t blow. But maybe the R&A gets it right more often than not because each year they deal with a known quantity.

    There are currently nine courses (assuming Turnberry returns to the fold some day) in the Open Championship rotation. The R&A will add Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, which last hosted the championship in 1951, to that rotation next year, .

    Perhaps the R&A has been able to avoid the kind of setup snafus that have plagued the USGA in recent years (let’s not forget the substandard greens at Chambers Bay in 2015 or the last-minute landscaping in ’17 at Erin Hills) because they know, through decades of trial and error, what happens at Royal Troon when the winds gust from the North and what hole locations should never be used on the Old Course at St. Andrews.

    Similarly, the folks who run the Masters regularly get it right. They get everything right, from course setup to parking regardless of inclement weather or extreme conditions, because they’ve had eight decades to figure it out.

    Only the PGA Championship travels like the U.S. Open, but then the PGA of America’s setup philosophy is more in line with that of normal PGA Tour events, with officials regularly erring on the side of the player, not some notion that par must be protected.

    Maybe there’s nothing wrong with the U.S. Open that a more standardized rotation couldn’t cure. If, for example, the USGA were to follow the R&A’s lead and set a dance card of eight to 10 regular stops for the national championship they could create the kind of continuity and institutional knowledge that seems to work so well at the Open Championship.

    What if Shinnecock Hills, which is among the best venues for the U.S. Open regardless of the setup miscues of ’04 and ’18, hosted the championship every decade? Officials would have a chance to better understand what works and what doesn’t, from golf course setup to traffic (which was just as bad as some of Saturday’s hole locations).

    Pick your regulars, from Pebble Beach to Pinehurst, Winged Foot to Torrey Pines, create a rotation and learn whatever it takes to get it right once and for all.

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    Mickelson: 'Not my finest moment ... 'I'm sorry'

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 2:41 pm

    Days after his putter swipe ignited a controversy that threatened to overshadow the U.S. Open, Phil Mickelson offered an apology.

    Mickelson received a two-shot penalty for purposely hitting his ball while it was still in motion on the 13th green during the third round at Shinnecock Hills. In the eyes of the USGA, his actions fell short of a disqualification for a “serious breach” of the rules, and the 48-year-old ultimately matched his age with a T-48 finish after returning to play the final round.

    Mickelson declined to speak to reporters after a Sunday 66, but Wednesday he sent a note to a select group of media members that included Golf Channel’s Tim Rosaforte in which the five-time major champ offered some contrition.

    “I know this should’ve come sooner, but it’s taken me a few days to calm down. My anger and frustration got the best of me last weekend,” Mickelson wrote. “I’m embarrassed and disappointed by my actions. It was clearly not my finest moment and I’m sorry.”

    Mickelson’s actions drew ire from both media members and his fellow competitors, with members of both groups implying that his actions merited disqualification. His most recent remarks seem to indicate that the decision to run up and stop his ball from tumbling back across the 13th green was more of an impulse than the calculated use of the rule book he described after the third round at Shinnecock.

    “It’s certainly not meant (to show disrespect). It’s meant to take advantage of the rules as best you can,” Mickelson said Saturday. “In that situation I was just, I was just going back and forth. I’ll gladly take the two shots over continuing that display.”

    Mickelson is not in the field this week at the Travelers Championship and is expected to make his next start in two weeks at The Greenbrier.

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    Hubert Green, Hall of Famer, dies at 71

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 20, 2018, 2:06 pm

    Hubert Green, a World Golf Hall of Famer who won 19 times on the PGA Tour, including the 1977 U.S. Open and 1985 PGA Championship, died Tuesday from complications following a lengthy battle with throat cancer. He was 71.

    A remarkably consistent player, Green used his distinctive swing to finish in the top 25 in a third of the PGA Tour events he entered. He also played on three Ryder Cup teams (1977, 1979, and 1985) and was undefeated in singles play.

    A native of Birmingham, Ala., Green graduated from Florida State University in 1968. While at FSU, he won the Cape Coral Intercollegiate tournament by eight strokes and the Miami Invitational, the nation’s largest collegiate tournament, by five strokes. He turned pro in 1969, earned his Tour card in 1970 and was named PGA Rookie of the Year in 1971.

    Green's first PGA Tour win was the 1971 Houston Champions International, in which he beat Don January in a playoff. Between 1973 and 1976 he won 10 more times, including a three-week stretch in 1976 when he won at Doral, Jacksonville and Hilton Head.

    Green won the 1977 U.S. Open at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla., despite being informed of a death threat against him that had been anonymously telephoned to the course. He received the news after putting out on the 14th hole of the final round. He decided to keep playing, and wound up winning  by one stroke over Lou Graham.

    “Hubert Green was in incredible competitor whose tenacity on the course defined his playing career," USGA CEO Mike Davis said in a statement. "His 1977 U.S. Open win under extreme circumstances was the definition of grit and perseverance – the true mark of a champion.  We are saddened to lose him among an elite group within our U.S. Open circle.  We extend our deepest condolences to his family as we celebrate his incredible accomplishments today.”

    A seldom-remembered fact about Green: he finished third behind Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus in their 1977 "Duel in the Sun" Open Championship at Turnberry. He was 11 strokes behind winner Watson.

    Green won his second major championship in 1985, taking the PGA Championship at Cherry Hills. By a margin of two strokes, he denied Lee Trevino's bid to win back-to-back PGAs. It would be Green's last win on the PGA Tour. Afterward, Trevino praised his opponent, saying “He’s a great sand player and probably the best chipper we’ve got. Every time he got into trouble, he chipped it close to the hole.”

    “The PGA of America is deeply saddened by the passing of Hubert Green, who epitomized what it is to be a champion within the boundaries of a golf course and then extend that spirit to bravely face all of life’s challenges," Suzy Whaley, PGA vice president, said in a statement. "For more than 40 years, Hubert was a celebrated member of the PGA family. His joy in playing golf spread to giving back to others and setting a standard of what it means to cherish life’s daily blessings. Hubert said that he never judged his career against others. ‘I was just playing golf.’  If we can draw from Hubert Green’s example, we all will have a life well played.”   

    Green joined what is now known as the PGA Tour Champions in 1997 and went on to win four times, the first win coming in 1998 in his hometown of Birmingham.

    Green was also involved in golf course design, including courses such as TPC Southwind,  Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Ga.; and Greystone Golf & Country Club in Birmingham.

    Green was diagnosed with stage-four throat cancer in 2003. Treated with chemotherapy and radiation, he continued playing golf. In 2005, he was named the Champions Tour's Comeback Player of the Year. He also received the Ben Hogan Award at the Masters that year. In 2007 he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

    Jack Peter, president of the World Golf Hall of Fame, issued a statement reacting to the deaths of both Green a five-time Open champion Peter Thomson:

    “It is with great sadness that we report that two of our beloved Hall of Famers, Peter Thomson and Hubert Green, passed away yesterday. 

    "Peter was inducted in 1988, and was a true titan of the game. A five-time winner of the Open Championship, he was a favorite son of Australia, and respected around the world not just for his accomplishments on the course, but for the way he carried himself off the course as well. ... Hubert was inducted here in St. Augustine in 2007, and was a dominant force on the PGA Tour in the 1970s and early '80s. ... We will forever remember both Peter and Hubert within the World Golf Hall of Fame.”

    Green is also remembered for his philanthropic efforts. Over the years he participated in hundreds of charity tournaments and community fund-raising events that supported a wide range of causes including childhood cancer, united cerebral palsy, and other illnesses.

    Green is survived by his wife, Becky Blair, of Birmingham; three sons, Hubert Myatt Green Jr. of Hurricane, Utah; Patrick Myatt Green; and James Thomas Green (Adrienne) of Panama City, Fla.; sisters Melinda Green Powers and Carolyn Green Satterfield and brother Maurice O. V. Green, all of Birmingham, step-sons Richard O’Brien of New Orleans and Atticus O’Brien of Dallas, Texas, and several grandchildren.

    A memorial service is being planned at Highlands United Methodist Church in Birmingham, and details are pending. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to Highlands United Methodist Church Community Ministry or to a charity of your choice.