Notes: Fernandez-Castano moving to America

By Doug FergusonNovember 5, 2013, 10:13 pm

COMING TO AMERICA: Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano is not just bringing his game to the United States. Like other Europeans who are taking up PGA Tour membership, he's bringing the whole family. He is moving Dec. 4 from Madrid to Miami with his wife and three young children.

The 33-year-old Spaniard chose Miami mainly because his swing coach, Mariano Bartolome, lives there and works out of Doral. But what makes Fernandez-Castano stand out from other Europeans moving to Florida is that golf was not at the top of his priority list.

''It's a very Spanish place and a city I like a lot,'' Fernandez-Castano said. ''There's a lot of Spanish people. It's a city I've always enjoyed, and also you've got a lot of direct flights to Madrid. So it will easy for my family, my in-laws, anyone who wants to come visit.''

He has found a school near their new home in Key Biscayne. Still to be determined is a golf course to practice. He has heard about Crandon Park, not far from where he will live, though he has yet to see it.

''I have to say, when I chose Miami, I wasn't thinking so much about the golf itself. I was thinking more about the family,'' he said. ''In Florida, there are golf courses everywhere. There are a lot of choices. But I wasn't thinking about the golf.''

He said his family – children 4, 3 and 1 – are excited about the move.

''The only time they have been to the U.S. was last year after Bay Hill,'' he said. ''They came and we went to Disney World. They believe they're going to be living with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and Pluto.''


FIVE MORE YEARS: Farmers Insurance stepped in at the last minute in 2010 when the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines risked going without a sponsor.

Now the company is in for the long haul.

Farmers Insurance and the Century Club of San Diego, which runs the tournament, announced Tuesday that it will extend its title sponsorship for five more years through 2019. The new agreement starts after next year's tournament in January.

That will give Farmers a 10-year run at Torrey Pines, which previously had Buick as a title sponsor for 18 years until the downturn in the auto industry.

Tiger Woods is the defending champion, winning last year for the seventh time. He also won a U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in 2008, the last of his 14 majors.

Along with typically attracting the game's two biggest stars – Woods and Phil Mickelson – the tournament has one of the larger fields on the West Coast swing because it uses the North and South courses at Torrey Pines.


RACE TO DUBAI: Ernie Els was among those irritated by the European Tour policy that forces its members to play in at least two of three ''Final Series'' events leading to the season-ending World Tour Championship in Dubai.

Els has decided not even to bother with Dubai.

''We used to play seven events and you could keep your card in Europe,'' he said. ''Now you have to play more than in America, which is the direction they're going in. I just think it's the wrong one. I've just got to reassess what's going to happen. In my view, it's an absolute joke. I've been a member of the tour for 20 years and they're making it impossible to keep playing.''

Els could have skipped an appearance fee in Macau, though it still puts a burden on players to play a global schedule.

The European Tour already was stung by the mandatory starts when Joost Luiten hit one tee shot in the BMW Masters to give himself a chance to be eligible, though it kept Justin Walters out of the tournament.

Els said the European Tour didn't care when asked how it responded to his criticism.

That might not be true. The tour is said to be reviewing the policy for next year, especially in light of players with families in America and a worldwide schedule.


WGC SWEEP: The United States captured a Grand Slam of sorts in the World Golf Championships by winning all four of them this year.

Matt Kuchar won the Accenture Match Play Championship. Tiger Woods won the Cadillac Championship and Bridgestone Invitational. Dustin Johnson made it a clean sweep by winning the HSBC Champions.

It's the first time Americans have swept the WGCs since 2005 (David Toms won Match Play, Woods won the other two). The other sweeps were in 2001 (Woods and Steve Stricker - the other was cancelled by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks) and in 1999 when they began (Jeff Maggert at Match Play, Woods the other two).

As for the real slam?

The Americans last won all four majors in the same season in 1982 – Craig Stadler (Masters), Tom Watson (both Opens) and Raymond Floyd (PGA).


DIVOTS: Phil Mickelson had his old Ping Eye-2 lob wedge in his bag at the HSBC Champions. It's the same wedge he used in 2010 with square grooves no longer approved by the USGA. An exception is made for this wedge because it was made before April 1, 1990. ... Jim ''Bones'' Mackay was awarded ''Caddie of the Year'' during the HSBC Champions caddie night. His boss, Phil Mickelson, won three times this year, including the British Open ... The Volvo Golf Champions in South Africa is raising its purse to $4 million, making it even more attractive for European players in a Ryder Cup year. It's the first European Tour event of 2014. ... The LPGA Tour has signed a four-year extension that keeps the popular Kingsmill Championship on the schedule through 2017. It will feature a $1.3 million purse when it is played May 15-18. ... Graham DeLaet and Jonas Blixt have been added to the field of the Franklin Templeton Shootout next month in Naples, Fla. Chad Campbell also will be playing as the replacement for Stewart Cink, who withdrew. ... Jason Day, Billy Horschel and Boo Weekley will represent the PGA Tour in the Wendy's 3-Tour Challenge to be played Nov. 12 at Rio Secco in Las Vegas. ... Rory McIlroy won the match. When it comes to an auction, however, Tiger Woods is no match. A driver signed by Woods went for $45,600 after their duel at Mission Hills. McIlroy's driver that he signed went for $13,100.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell are the only players from Europe's winning Ryder Cup team at Medinah who have won tournaments this year.


FINAL WORD: ''It's always a tricky thing when you're a young guy. You might think you're good and you find out you're not that good. Or they find out they're better than they think they are.'' - Thomas Bjorn.

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This time, Dad gets to enjoy Koepka's Father's Day win

By Rex HoggardJune 18, 2018, 1:39 am

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – When Brooks Koepka won his first U.S. Open last year at Erin Hills the celebration was relatively subdued.

His family didn’t attend the ’17 championship, but there was no way they were missing this year’s U.S. Open.

“This year we booked something about five miles away [from Shinnecock Hills]," said Koepka’s father, Bob. "We weren’t going to miss it and I’m so glad we’re here.”

The family was treated to a show, with Koepka closing with a 68 for a one-stroke victory to become the first player since Curtis Strange in 1989 to win back-to-back U.S. Opens.


U.S. Open: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage


Koepka called his father early Sunday to wish him a happy Father’s Day, and Bob Koepka said he noticed a similar confidence in his son’s voice to the way he sounded when they spoke on Sunday of last year’s championship.

There was also one other similarity.

“Two years in a row, I haven't gotten him anything [for Father’s Day],” Brooks Koepka laughed. “Next year, I'm not going to get him anything either. It might bring some good luck.

“It's incredible to have my family here, and my dad loves golf. To be here, he loves watching. To share it with him this time, it will be a little bit sweeter.”

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Sunday drama won't overshadow USGA's issues

By Randall MellJune 18, 2018, 1:30 am

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – It looked like a British Open.

It was playing like a U.S. Open.

Through two rounds, Shinnecock Hills was double trouble in the best kind of way.

It was a hybrid in the most appealing sense of golf course architecture’s ancient allure and its modern defenses.

Halfway through, the USGA was nailing the setup, with Dustin Johnson the only player under par in one of the toughest but fairest tests in recent U.S. Open memory.

This looked like it was going to be remembered as USGA CEO Mike Davis’ masterpiece, but even a Sunday to remember couldn’t trump a Saturday to forget.

Sunday’s drama - with the history Brooks Koepka made becoming the first player in three decades to win back-to-back U.S. Opens, with Tommy Fleetwood’s 63 equaling Johnny Miller’s final round record - could not restore faith being lost in the USGA’s ability to set up and manage this championship.

This U.S. Open ended with footnotes the size of headlines.

The issues arising Saturday with the USGA losing control of the course raised even more troubling questions about why this organization’s heavy hand can’t seem to avoid becoming as much a part of the story as the competition.


U.S. Open: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage


The controversy that was ignited Saturday when Phil Mickelson intentionally incurred a two-shot penalty by making a putting stroke on a moving ball also raised questions about the organization’s ability to fairly administer its own rules.

It’s a shame, because Davis has some good ideas.

His reimagined vision of this championship as the “ultimate test” makes sense as a better and more complete event.

His ideas are designed to identify the game’s most complete player on America’s best courses better than any other major.

It’s just not working.

This year’s failure in the wake of the ’04 debacle at Shinnecock Hills is especially worrisome. Davis vowed it wouldn’t happen again. Somehow, some way, he let it happen again.

Maybe the old standards we’ve come to judge the U.S. Open upon are too high, impossible to meet with today’s more athletic player, high-tech coaching and space-age drivers, shafts and balls.

Nobody ever protected par better than the USGA, but maybe par can’t be properly protected anymore, without tricking up a course.

Because if USGA officials can’t make its exacting formula work at an architectural treasure like Shinnecock Hills, where they had it absolutely perfect for two days, you wonder if they can make it work at all.

The testament to how the USGA was nailing its formula wasn’t in what we heard the first two days. It was in what we weren’t hearing. Only one player was under par through Friday, but there wasn’t a complaint to be heard in the locker room or on the range.

They were wiping the smiles off players’ faces without infuriating them.

In that regard, the USGA was delivering a miracle.

The wonderful appeal Shinnecock Hills held as a U.S. Open/British Open hybrid at week’s start ended up being twisted into something else by week’s end. It stood as a symbol of the championship’s confusion over its proper identity.

Even with Sunday’s compelling storylines unfolding, players were still frustrated over setup.

Saturday was over the edge, with Davis admitting “there were parts of this, simply put, that were too tough.” He said winds were stronger than expected, but the winds weren’t that much different than were forecast.

So USGA officials softened the course for Sunday, with more overnight watering and more friendly hole locations.

That turned Shinnecock Hills into Jekyl and Hyde on the weekend.

Scoring told the story.

Rickie Fowler shot 84 on Saturday and 65 on Sunday.

Fleetwood shot 78 and 63.

They weren’t alone, even though the weather wasn’t as dramatically different as the scores would indicate.

This wasn’t about the weather.

It was about the course being manipulated in ways that frustrated players.

“They soaked the hell out of it,” Pat Perez said after tying for 36th. “They’ve got all the pins in the middle.

“It is supposed to gradually get to where it was Saturday afternoon. You don’t lose it on Saturday and then try to make up for it, soak the course and make it totally different.”

Brandt Snedeker was equally befuddled playing drastically different conditions in weather that wasn’t so drastically different.

“The thing that is unfortunate is that the guys that were playing the best golf this week took the brunt of it yesterday, when it should have been vice versa,” Snedeker said. “Some guys got robbed of a really good chance to win a golf tournament yesterday afternoon, which is not fair.”

There were other issues that continued to challenge faith in the USGA.

Despite later acknowledging it set up the course too tough in spots on Saturday, the USGA put players on the clock for slow play.

The Mickelson penalty also raised issues.

He got a two-shot penalty under Rule 14-5 (playing moving ball) when there was some outcry over whether he should have been penalized under Rule 1-2 (exerting influence), which would have opened the door to disqualification for a serious breach.

The USGA rigorously defended 14-5 (playing moving ball) as the proper call.

John Daly wasn’t disqualified for striking a moving ball in a similar instance at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst in 1999. He also got a two-shot penalty, but there was a difference in the situations that might have justified Mickelson’s disqualification.

Daly said he intentionally hit a moving ball out of frustration, as protest over the USGA’s unfair hole locations.

Mickelson said he intentionally hit a moving ball on the 13th green Saturday at Shinnecock Hills to try prevent his ball from rolling off the green. He said he knew the rules and was intentionally breaking them to gain an advantage. He compared it to using the rules to get a better lie with a drop, but there’s a difference between using the rules to your advantage and breaking them to gain an advantage.

The difference in those motivations, as Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee pointed out, opened the interpretation of the violation as a serious breach worthy of disqualification.

The question of whether Mickelson’s manipulation of the rules was serious enough to invoke disqualification as a breach of etiquette under Rule 33-7 was dismissed by the USGA as inappropriate.

It should be noted here that the USGA and R&A should be applauded for its monumental overhaul of the Rules of Golf, a rules modernization going into effect next year. It’s a welcomed simplification of the rules that required an exhaustive review.

This week’s complications show the unrelenting challenges they continue to tackle.

We leave this U.S. Open with history being made, with Koepka joining Ben Hogan and Curtis Strange as just the third players since World War II to win the title in back-to-back years.

We also leave hoping the USGA can deliver four days of next year’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach as free of controversy as it delivered the first two days at Shinnecock Hills, because this year’s championship felt half baked.

Will Gray contributed to this report.

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Brandel rips USGA: 'There's no obvious leadership'

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 18, 2018, 1:29 am

The 2018 U.S. Open will certainly be remembered for Brooks Koepka's successful title defense.

But there's no doubt that it will also be remembered for Phil Mickelson's decision to hit a moving golf ball on Saturday, for the USGA's decision not to disqualify him, and for the governing body once again losing control of Shinnecock Hills over the weekend.

Speaking on "Live From the U.S. Open" on Sunday night, analyst Brandel Chamblee took the USGA and its leadership to task for more than just the inconsistent playing conditions this week.

His comments - edited and condensed for clarity - appear below:

"Something was amiss in a big, big way [at Shinnecock Hills]. I think the USGA has lost a lot of the trust of the golf world. They've done it for numerous reasons.

"On their watch, they missed COR – the rebound effect in drivers. They missed the rebound effect and the combination of the rebound effect [with] the ball. They missed it, on their watch. And now, the feeling is that they’re crying foul, even though it was on their watch. And so, essentially, the equipment companies got it done, by [the USGA’s] standards, legally.

"On their watch, there have been huge mistakes in major championships. … We well know this one (Shinnecock in 2018) – a colossal mistake all the way across the board. The golf course was bumpy the first day; they didn’t quite get that right. It was awful the third day. And today, in a different kind of way, it was far too easy.

"And then there’s penalties that they levy that make absolutely no sense, penalties that they don’t levy – not disqualifying Phil Mickelson yesterday. …

"There seems to be no obvious leadership, you know, to me. No obvious leadership heading in the right direction."

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Koepka reveals he injured his ribs last week

By Rex HoggardJune 18, 2018, 1:19 am

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – There was a time when Brooks Koepka didn’t even know if he was going to be able to play this week’s U.S. Open as he recovered from a wrist injury that had sidelined him for 3 ½ months.

He didn’t start hitting full shots until the Monday after the Masters, which he missed, and returned to the PGA Tour in late April at the Zurich Classic. His return to competitive form accelerated from there with a runner-up finish last month at the Forth Worth Invitational.

But if Sunday’s victory at Shinnecock Hills, where he became the first player to win back-to-back U.S. Opens since Curtis Strange in 1989, appeared to be an official return to full strength, it wasn’t exactly that seamless.


U.S. Open: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage


Koepka, who closed with a 68 for a one-stroke victory over Tommy Fleetwood, revealed that he suffered a rib injury last week at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.

“My rib kind of came out last week. It bugged me a little bit,” he said. “Right when we got here, [Koepka’s trainer] worked on it, knew what it was. It was pretty sore, but I had no problems since then.”

In 2015, Koepka withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a similar rib injury.