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Official disputes caddie's version of Gibson penalty

By Will GrayJanuary 25, 2018, 3:11 pm

Web.com Tour rules official Jim Duncan has a clear memory of the moments that led to a 72nd-hole penalty for Rhein Gibson at the Bahamas Great Abaco Classic, and his version does not align with the one told by Gibson's recently-fired caddie, Brandon Davis.

Gibson became the subject of a social media firestorm after television cameras caught him throwing a putter cover at Davis in the wake of a one-shot penalty he incurred because it was Davis the caddie, not Gibson the player, who retrieved Gibson's ball from a greenside hazard. The subsequent penalty dropped Gibson from T-2 to solo third, a difference of $12,000.

Gibson took to Twitter Wednesday night to offer an apology, while Davis shared a lengthy video in which he confirmed he was fired "on the spot" and cited a USGA rules decision that he believed absolved the duo of any penalty.

According to Davis, he told Gibson that the ball was underneath two rocks at which point Gibson uttered an expletive. Gibson then, according to Davis, "turned around, stopped looking and went back to the bag."

Duncan is the vice president of rules, competitions and administration for the Web.com Tour, and he was the on-site rules official who made the ruling in question. He shared his recollection of the incident in a phone interview, one that conflicted with how Davis portrayed the situation.

"Contrary to what Brandon said, I did not find the ball," Duncan said. "(Gibson) was kind of looking in the high grass or whatever, and I turned around and said to Rhein that we had found the ball. And the caddie had actually sort of gotten behind me, and Rhein's now walking toward me, and I turn around and that's when (Davis) picked the ball up.

"And before I can even say a word, now Rhein goes, 'Well, I guess I can't play it now.'"

The penalty was administered under Rule 18-2, which notes that one shot will be added if a caddie moves a ball while at rest without a player's authority. Decision 26-1/9 specifically addresses a caddie picking up a ball in a hazard, and Davis believed that it should have negated any potential penalty if there was "no doubt or it was reasonable to assume" the player would not have tried to hit his ball from the hazard.

But the decision also stipulates that any doubt must be resolved "against the player," meaning the penalty must stand in such instances. In Duncan's view, the comment Gibson made about not having an opportunity to evaluate the ball for a potential shot meant the penalty should stand.

"I know when I see guys that I'd say are veteran caddies in a search like this, I can picture a few people and they've got the bag down and they let the player decide everything," Duncan said. "Touching a player's ball, or doing acts that that the player normally does in the foundation of golf, there's a lot of things that can actually get the player in trouble that the caddie does."

Duncan noted that Decision 26-1/9 offers officials "a little wiggle room" in certain situations, but in this particular case he believes that the added stroke was the appropriate outcome.

"You're kind of trying to keep the onus on the player to decide what he's going to do," Duncan said, "and not really let the caddie get involved with that part of the game."

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Bubba gets inked by Brooks, meets Tebow

By Grill Room TeamJune 18, 2018, 5:40 pm

Bubba Watson missed the cut at Shinnecock Hills following rounds of 77-74, but that didn't stop him from enjoying his weekend.

Watson played alongside Jason Day and eventual champion Brooks Koepka in Rounds 1 and 2, and somehow this body ink slipped by us on Thursday.

Got autographed by defending @usopengolf Champ @bkoepka!! #NeverShoweringAgain

A post shared by Bubba Watson (@bubbawatson) on

And while we're sure Bubba would have rather been in contention over the weekend, we're also sure that taking your son to meet the second most famous minor-league baseball player who ever lived was a lot more fun than getting your teeth kicked in by Shinnecock Hills over the weekend, as just about everyone not named Brooks Koepka and Tommy Fleetwood did.

Already in Hartford, Watson will be going for his third Travelers Championship trophy this week, following wins in 2010 and 2015.

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Phil rubs fan's Donald Duck hat seven times, signs it

By Nick MentaJune 18, 2018, 3:09 pm

There is a case to be made that what Phil Mickelson did on Saturday made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

There is also a case to be made that the USGA's setup of Shinnecock Hills made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

Whatever you think about what Mickelson did on Saturday - and how he attempted to justify it after the fact without even a hint of remorse - watch this video.

The next time you hear someone say, "If anybody else had putted a moving ball on purpose and not apologized for it, it would get a different reaction," you can point to this video and say, "Yeah, here's why."

Here's what happened once a still-strident Mickelson was done rubbing Donald Duck hats on Sunday, per Ryan Lavner:

If you’re wondering whether Mickelson would be defiant or contrite on Sunday, we don’t know the answer. He declined to stop and speak with the media, deciding instead to sign autographs for more than a half hour and then offering a few short answers before ducking into player hospitality.

“The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’” he said. “I don’t know.”

The 2024 Ryder Cup at Bethpage is going to be a three-ring circus, and Mickelson, a likely choice to captain the U.S. team, will be the ringmaster.

Separately, shoutout to 2017 Latin Am champ Toto Gana, who does a terrific Donald Duck (skip to end).

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Ryder Cup race: Mickelson out, Simpson in

By Will GrayJune 18, 2018, 2:34 pm

There's a new man at the top of the U.S. Ryder Cup race following the U.S. Open, and there's also a familiar name now on the outside looking in.

Brooks Koepka's successful title defense vaulted him to the top of the American points race, up four spots and ensuring he'll be on the team Jim Furyk takes to Paris in September. Dustin Johnson's third-place finish moved him past Patrick Reed at No. 2, while Webb Simpson entered the top eight after a a tie for 10th.

While Bryson DeChambeau remained at No. 9, Phil Mickelson dropped two spots to No. 10. Tony Finau, who finished alone in fifth, went from 16th to 13th, while Tiger Woods fell two spots to No. 37.

Here's a look at the latest U.S. standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:

1. Brooks Koepka

2. Dustin Johnson

3. Patrick Reed

4. Justin Thomas

5. Jordan Spieth

6. Rickie Fowler

7. Bubba Watson

8. Webb Simpson

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9. Bryson DeChambeau

10. Phil Mickelson

11. Matt Kuchar

12. Brian Harman

On the European side, England's Tommy Fleetwood took a big stride toward securing his first Ryder Cup appearance with a runner-up finish that included a Sunday 63 while countryman Matthew Fitzpatrick snuck into a qualifying spot after tying for 12th.

Here's a look at the updated Euro standings, with the top four from both points lists joining four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn at Le Golf National:

European Points

1. Tyrrell Hatton

2. Justin Rose

3. Tommy Fleetwood

4. Francesco Molinari

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5. Thorbjorn Olesen

6. Ross Fisher

World Points

1. Jon Rahm

2. Rory McIlroy

3. Alex Noren

4. Matthew Fitzpatrick

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5. Ian Poulter

6. Rafael Cabrera-Bello

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Koepka autographs local kids' 'Go Brooks' sign after win

By Grill Room TeamJune 18, 2018, 2:30 pm

Brooks Koepka is a two-time U.S. Open winner, but that doesn't mean he's now too big to go sign a couple pieces of cardboard in somebody's front yard in the middle of the night.

Koepka's girlfriend, Jena Sims, posted two pictures to her Instagram story on Sunday of "Go Brooks" signs she says were put up by some local kids in the area where Koepka was staying for the week.

The first is dated prior to Koepka's final-round tee time.



The second is from Sunday night.



And here, separately, for no reason in particular (other than the fact that she posted it) is a video of Sims running over a parking cone at last year's U.S. Open at Erin Hills.

Speaking of kids, just feels those two are gonna make it.