Notes: Tour says officials need to be on course

By Doug FergusonMay 21, 2013, 9:25 pm

The number of people calling PGA Tour events after seeing possible rules violations has gone up since Tiger Woods took what turned out to be an illegal drop at the Masters. That doesn't mean the number of violations is increasing.

''The rate of irrelevant call-ins has gone up dramatically, too,'' said Tyler Dennis, the Tour's vice president of competition.

What might seem like a simple solution – have a rules official monitor the telecast to look for any violations that cause fans to call from home – is not that simple. Years ago, the Tour had one official devoted to watching the tournament on TV and found it to be a waste of time when no one called.

''We constantly talk about it,'' Dennis said on Tuesday. ''Because we're running 50-odd events a year, we want to use our resources in the best way we can. It's far better to have someone on the course than having someone watching the telecast.''

The Players Championship had rules officials from all over the world. Dennis, who scored well enough on his USGA rules exam to help officiate a Nationwide Tour event when he was 16, didn't have a specific assignment and decided to monitor the telecast himself in the final round.

''Quite honestly, we had enough people here, and I had the ability to do it,'' Dennis said. ''I felt it was a day that was important to do. I don't know that we'll make a program of this. I just happened to do it at The Players.''

About the only big issue was the drop Woods took after his tee shot found the water on the 14th hole. Dennis, who watched the replay with chief rules official Mark Russell, saw nothing inappropriate.

''In our professional opinion, you couldn't tell anything definitive on TV, and the players agreed 100 percent on where it crossed,'' Dennis said.

Dennis said the Tour is focused instead on working with the USGA and R&A on what rules might need an adjustment to ''reflect the modern state of the things.''

OPEN DEADLINE: Thongchai Jaidee was runner-up to Graeme McDowell last week in the Volvo World Match Play Championship, and it came with a consolation prize. Jaidee moved up 10 spots to No. 49 in the Official World Golf Ranking, assuring him a spot in the U.S. Open.

Now the pressure shifts to Chris Wood on the European Tour and Marc Leishman on the PGA Tour.

The end of this week is the first deadline to earn an exemption from the U.S. Open by getting inside the top 60 in the world. Players have one more chance to get inside the top 60 the Sunday before the U.S. Open begins.

Wood is at No. 60 and playing the BMW PGA Championship. Also at Wentworth is Marcus Fraser (No. 65) and Alex Noren (No. 69). Leishman is No. 58 and playing this week at Colonial, along with Russell Henley (No. 55). Among those not playing at Colonial are Jimmy Walker (No. 63) and Charles Howell III (No. 67).

Sunday also is the cutoff to be in the top 50 to earn an exemption to the British Open. Billy Horschel (No. 51) is not playing this week.

BABIES AND MAJORS: Phil Mickelson famously carried a pager with him at Pinehurst No. 2 for the 1999 U.S. Open. Payne Stewart beat him with a par putt on the final hole, and Mickelson's first child (Amanda) was born the next day.

Turns out Mickelson wasn't the only guy who had a beeper at a major. Justin Leonard had one with him at Augusta National, of all places, because his fourth child (Skylar) was due the week after the 2010 Masters.

Not to worry. No rules were broken.

''It was a Masters-issued pager,'' he said. ''I'd never had a pager.''

Leonard's four children all were born around golf tournaments. His second daughter, Avery, was born the week before the 2005 Masters. Leonard flew into Augusta National on Wednesday and then tied for 13th. His oldest daughter, Reese, was born in September 2003. He was near the lead at the John Deere Classic preparing for a 36-hole Sunday when his wife called. Leonard withdrew. His third child, Luke, was born the week of the 2006 British Open, which Leonard did not play.

One thing is clear about golfers and big occasions. They're geared around the schedule.

Hunter Mahan is expecting his first child. Asked when the baby was due, wife Kandi replied, ''The week of Greensboro.'' That would be the third week in August. Louis Oosthuizen said his baby was due Saturday of the U.S. Open.

''We all think that way,'' Leonard said. ''We have no idea what the date is.''

Leonard then turned to his daughter, Reese, who was born in September, about three weeks early.

''We thought you were supposed to be a Texas-OU baby,'' he told her before catching himself. ''See, it's still not a date. It's an event.''

COLES RETIRING: Hall of Fame administrator Neil Coles is stepping down as chairman of the board on the European Tour.

Coles became chairman in 1975, the year before a 19-year-old Spaniard named Seve Ballesteros first showed his skill at the British Open. In 38 years, he has overseen the international growth of the tour, along with the development of the Challenge Tour (1989) and European Senior Tour (1992).

The 78-year-old Coles, inducted in 2000 into the World Golf Hall of Fame, said he decided it was time to step down in December, about the same time he agreed that the European Tour board of directors should be restructured.

He will stay on until a successor is found.

''I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as chairman, and it has been an honor and a privilege to serve such a prestigious organization in a sport which has been my life, both inside the ropes and inside the boardroom,'' Coles said.

DIVOTS: Jennifer Johnson became the third member of the U.S. Curtis Cup team from 2010 to win on the LPGA. The others were Jessica Korda and Lexi Thompson. ... The Royal Trophy, matches between players from Europe and Asia, will be held Dec. 20-22 at Dragon Lake Golf Club in China.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Six players who were outside the top 200 in the OWGR have won on the PGA Tour this year.

FINAL WORD: ''I didn't hit a 1-iron. I hit a 3-hybrid. I think Hogan probably rolled in his grave, to be honest with you.'' – McDowell, on playing a shot on the 18th hole at Merion next to the plaque commemorating Ben Hogan's 1-iron in the 1950 U.S. Open.

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”

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After 36, new Open favorite is ... Fleetwood

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 7:49 pm

With a handful of the pre-championship favorites exiting early, there is a new odds-on leader entering the third round of The Open at Carnoustie.

While Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner share the 36-hole lead, it's England's Tommy Fleetwood who leads the betting pack at 11/2. Fleetwood begins the third round one shot off the lead.

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

Tommy Fleetwood: 11/2

Zach Johnson: 13/2

Rory McIlroy: 7/1

Jordan Spieth: 8/1

Rickie Fowler: 9/1

Kevin Kisner: 12/1

Xander Schauffele: 16/1

Tony Finau: 16/1

Matt Kuchar: 18/1

Pat Perez: 25/1

Brooks Koepka: 25/1

Erik van Rooyen: 50/1

Alex Noren: 50/1

Tiger Woods: 50/1

Thorbjorn Olesen: 60/1

Danny Willett: 60/1

Francesco Molinari: 60/1

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Perez (T-3) looks to remedy 'terrible' major record

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 7:34 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez’s major record is infinitely forgettable. In 24 Grand Slam starts he has exactly one top-10 finish, more than a decade ago at the PGA Championship.

“Terrible,” Perez said when asked to sum up his major career. “I won sixth [place]. Didn't even break top 5.”

It’s strange, however, that his status atop The Open leaderboard through two rounds doesn’t seem out of character. The 42-year-old admits he doesn’t hit it long enough to contend at most major stops and also concedes he doesn’t exactly have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the game’s biggest events, but something about The Open works for him.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I didn't like it the first time I came over. When I went to St. Andrews in '05, I didn't like it because it was cold and terrible and this and that,” he said. “Over the years, I've really learned to like to come over here. Plus the fans are so awesome here. They know a good shot. They don't laugh at you if you hit a bad shot.”

Perez gave the fans plenty to cheer on Friday at Carnoustie, playing 17 flawless holes to move into a share of the lead before a closing bogey dropped him into a tie for third place after a second-round 68.

For Perez, links golf is the great equalizer that mitigates the advantages some of the younger, more powerful players have and it brings out the best in him.

“It's hard enough that I don't feel like I have to hit perfect shots. That's the best,” he said. “Greens, you can kind of miss a shot, and it won't run off and go off the green 40 yards. You're still kind of on the green. You can have a 60-footer and actually think about making it because of the speed.”