Notes: Amateur mistakenly swipes pro's clubs

By Doug FergusonSeptember 3, 2013, 5:54 pm

NORTON, Mass. – John Merrick has never experienced a pro-am moment quite like the Deutsche Bank Championship last week.

Neither has Chris Kirk, who can laugh about it now.

Kirk didn't get in the pro-am at the TPC Boston, so he went to the range for a few hours and was gone by mid-morning. He was done for the day. His clubs were not.

Turns out an amateur in the afternoon needed rental clubs and was sent to the clubhouse. He went to the locker room instead, and next to his temporary locker – right below Kirk's – was a Callaway staff bag with a full set of clubs, balls, gloves and even a pair of shoes. The words ''Chris Kirk'' apparently meant nothing to him. He grabbed the bag and headed out to play.

His pro in the group was Merrick, who found it odd that an amateur would have a staff bag belonging to Kirk.

''It takes a hole or two to get your bearings, get the names right,'' Merrick said. ''I noticed the Chris Kirk bag. I was thinking he got it an auction or something. Guys get new bags all the time. I didn't think anything of it. But he hits this drive on No. 2 and popped it up into the trees on the right. He turned the club over and goes, 'This rental set has a driver that says 'prototype.' And I'm thinking, 'Prototype for a rental set? There's no way.'

''I asked him where he got the bag and he said, 'It was next to my locker so I grabbed it.'''

Merrick immediately sent a text message to a PGA Tour official that said, ''You better get a rental set and size 11 shoes out here now.''

That's right – shoes.

Kirk, meanwhile, was back at his hotel when he received a call from the Tour and headed back to the golf course.

''It was a bizarre situation, to say the least,'' Kirk said. ''At first, I didn't think it was funny. But I got away unscathed. I lost a glove and a sleeve of balls. The shoes kind of gross me out. It's the only pair of shoes I have with me, so I have to wear them.”

''I feel violated a little bit,'' he said with a smile, ''but I'll be all right.''

Merrick took a picture on his phone of the amateur carrying Kirk's bag and wearing the shoes. He kept in touch with Kirk to keep his mind at ease.

''He was texting me as we were making the turn,'' Merrick said. ''He was like, 'Get that guy out of my shoes.' I said, 'Chris, it was only two holes.'''

There was one other twist. Before picking up the bag in the locker room, the amateur decided he didn't like the driver and one of the hybrids, so he replaced them with some clubs he saw leaning against the locker.

''I guess he didn't like the look of my driver, so he took the backup,'' Kirk said. ''Definitely a crazy situation.''

TREVOR TIME: Trevor Immelman never imagined a Tour event would be on his list of most important victories.

His first win was the South African Open. Another big moment was the Nedbank Challenge, because that's where South African kids could watch the world's best players. the Masters is in a league of its own. ''The biggest tournament on earth,'' said Immelman, who won his green jacket in 2008.

And the Hotel Fitness Championship?

''From a timing standpoint, from the situation I'm in right now, it's absolutely huge for me,'' Immelman said.

Immelman lost the better part of three years with a left wrist injury that required surgery. He lost his PGA Tour card – the same year his Tour exemption from the Masters ran out – when he finished No. 143 in the FedEx Cup.

It wasn't a matter of pride to go to the Finals. Immelman had enough poor scores over the last few years to get beyond that. He went to Indiana with a good attitude, improved putting and determination to get back to the big leagues. And that's where he's headed.

The win assures Immelman will be among the top 25 on the special money list to get his card, and now he wants more. The leading money-winner of the four tournaments is exempt into The Players Championship.

Most exciting of all is his health.

''That was the only positive I had taken from the year – I was injury-free,'' he said. ''I didn't have to worry about anything. That's something that really excites me. Because when you start withdrawing from tournaments, it becomes a habit. And that's an awful situation to be in.''

SIGN OF THE TIMES: The tournament that kicked off the Ryder Cup points table used to attract a strong field on the European Tour, or at least the field was stronger than usual every other year. But at the Wales Open last week, the only player at Celtic Manor who played on the previous team was Francesco Molinari. He missed the cut.

The field featured recent Ryder Cup players Miguel Angel Jimenez and Darren Clarke. European captain Paul McGinley hit the opening shot to commemorate the occasion. He tied for eighth.

It's a product of so many European players having PGA Tour membership and playing in America this time of the year during the FedEx Cup playoffs. Eight players from the winning 2012 team were at the TPC Boston for the Deutsche Bank Championship.

For years, the Omega European Masters in Switzerland used to be first event in the qualifying process. That tournament is this week, and even though the PGA Tour has no tournament, Omega is not expecting many top players. That's why the title sponsor is looking for a new date away from the FedEx Cup.

''We're now working very strongly with the European Tour to get the date changed,'' Omega president Stephen Urquhart said in a recent interview. ''Let's face it. Where we are now in September, right in the middle of the FedEx Cup, doesn't work.''

The plan is to move to July for 2015, one week after the British Open.

Rory McIlroy has an endorsement deal with Omega, but he won't be going to Switzerland during his off week, and Omega is fine with that.

''Rory told me he loves Crans-sur Sierre and he is an Omega ambassador,'' Urquhart said. ''But I can't ask him to give up the potential of winning $10 million to come over for one week.''

DIVOTS: Tim Herron is recovering from injuries to his right knee cap and meniscus, which has kept him out of the Finals. He says he will have eight events next year on a medical extension to get his card. In the meantime, he went to Canada to fish for walleye, discouraged to learn there was a limit (two) and no beer could be consumed on the boat. Talk about a tough year. ... Rory McIlroy has made eight double bogeys over his last two tournaments. ... The Old Course at St. Andrews is raising its green fee by 5 pounds for 2014. It will cost 160 pounds (about $250) during peak season next year. ... The NCAA meeting next week includes a proposal for the Division I women's golf championship to switch to match play.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Players with at least a share of the lead going into the final round have won only two of the last 10 FedEx Cup playoff events.

FINAL WORD: ''He's been there before. I've been there before. Everyone that's out here has been in that situation. ... It's always tough to lose when you're leading. It's part of the game.'' - Henrik Stenson on Sergio Garcia losing a two-shot lead in the final round.

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Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Jordan Spieth: 7/4

Xander Schauffele: 5/1

Kevin Kisner: 11/2

Tiger Woods: 14/1

Francesco Molinari: 14/1

Rory McIlroy: 14/1

Kevin Chappell: 20/1

Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

Alex Noren: 25/1

Zach Johnson: 30/1

Justin Rose: 30/1

Matt Kuchar: 40/1

Webb Simpson: 50/1

Adam Scott: 80/1

Tony Finau: 80/1

Charley Hoffman: 100/1

Austin Cook: 100/1

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Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”

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Kisner not expecting awkward night with Spieth

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:33 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It might get awkward in that star-studded rental house Saturday night.

Two of the three Open co-leaders, Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner, are sharing a house this week near Carnoustie. Though it’ll be late by the time they both get back to the house Saturday night, they’ll have plenty of time to kill Sunday morning, with their tee times not until nearly 3 p.m. local time.

“Everybody is probably going to get treatment and eating and trying to find a bed,” Kisner said. “I’m sure there’ll be some conversations. There always are. Everybody has a few horror stories or good laughs over something that happened out there. That will probably be the end of it.”

One thing they’re almost certain to discuss is the weather.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

After three days of mostly benign conditions, Sunday’s forecast calls for warm temperatures and wind gusts up to 25 mph.

“When you watch any TV, that’s all they talk about – how Sunday’s coming,” Kisner said. “It’s going to be a true test, and we’ll get to see really who’s hitting it the best and playing the best.”

Zach Johnson is also in the house – along with Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Jimmy Walker and Jason Dufner – and he rode to the course Saturday with Kisner, with whom he played in the final group, at 4 p.m. It’s unclear whether the co-leaders Sunday will have a similar arrangement.

This is the third year that Spieth and Co. have shared a house at The Open, though Kisner is a new addition to the group.

“It’s the end of the week,” Kisner said. “Everybody’s got a lot of stuff going on. Everybody’s going their separate ways tomorrow. Tomorrow morning we’ll all sit around and laugh on the couch and talk about why that guy’s making so many birdies.”