Punch Shot: Who will win the 113th U.S. Open?

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 16, 2013, 1:53 am

ARDMORE, Pa. – Phil Mickelson is searching for his first U.S. Open victory and leads by a shot over Hunter Mahan, Charl Schwartzel and Steve Stricker entering the final round at Merion. Will Mickelson finally win? If not him then who? The GolfChannel.com weighs in.


At the risk of souring your morning Froot Loops, Phil Mickelson will not win the U.S. Open. Until he actually wins an Open, I’m going to believe he won’t. So I’ll go with Charl Schwartzel, who is a shot behind Mickelson and the only other man in the top 15 (besides Phil) who has won a major championship.

Schwartzel, you may recall, birdied the last four holes of the 2011 Masters to win the green jacket. Stud players like Adam Scott, Jason Day, Tiger Woods and Luke Donald came from everywhere attempting to win that tournament but it was a calm, cool and collected Schwartzel who threw the biggest haymaker of them all down the stretch to slam the door shut.

I'll admit, the stage is set for Mickelson this week more than ever before. Sunday is his 43rd birthday, he had the drama early in the week when he flew overnight from California to make his first-round tee time and we are, after all, in Phil-adelphia. But we’ve seen this move before, we know how it ends.

Schwartzel has made 12 birdies this week, which are tied for most in the field with Donald, Day and Morgan Hoffman. He’s only a shot behind, has the firepower, has the demeanor and already has a major win.

Sunday at Merion, Schwartzel will pick up his second.


Steve Stricker breaks through and wins the U.S. Open with his marvelous wedge game and putter.

At 46, he becomes the oldest winner of the U.S. Open, surpassing Hale Irwin, who was 45 when he won at Medinah in 1990.

Stricker will win because he’ll make the fewest mistakes Sunday. He’ll make ball-striking mistakes, everyone will under major championship pressure at Merion, but he will erase them with that short game of his.

Stricker writes his own special Father’s Day winning story. He cut back his schedule significantly this year so he could be with his wife, Nicki, and their two daughters back in Madison, Wis.


This is Phil Mickelson’s time. I mean, if for no other reason than the law of averages.

There are two ways to view Mickelson’s career at the U.S. Open. Either he’s been a terrific competitor at this event who on five separate occasions was beaten by just one other player in the field, or he’s the consummate underachiever, flailing and failing every single time he’s had an opportunity to win.

Put me down for the former. You can’t finish runner-up at a tourney five times without being a great player. Sometimes players need to experience the lowest of lows at a tournament before finally achieving the highest of highs.

Mickelson knows all about that. The man who shed himself of the Best Player To Have Never Won A Major label almost a full decade ago now has an opportunity to shed himself of another unenviable label.

It’s his time. He’s going to win the U.S. Open. Finally.


This is not 1999 Phil, when destiny dealt him a wet and wild heartbreak, or 2006 Phil, when his U.S. Open title caromed off a corporate tent and into major championship lore, or even 2009 Phil, when all of greater New York City couldn’t will him to a title. This Phil is different.

This Phil showed up, albeit a tad jet-lagged following a cross country odyssey in his quest to win “Father of the Year” honors, with no driver in his bag and no delusions of grandeur.

A five-time runner-up at his national championship, this Phil arrived in Philly with a plan to hit fairways, at whatever the cost, and greens and shrug off the inevitable bogey because, after an extended scouting trip last week to storied Merion, a birdie was waiting just over the next hill.

When he bogeyed two of his first five holes on Saturday he didn’t send caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay scrambling to the players’ parking lot to fetch his driver, he waited and played eight of his last nine holes in 3 under, shrugging off a closing bogey as a cost of doing business on the East Course.

This Phil Mickelson has gotten sideways at the U.S. Open in the past trying to do too much, but on Sunday at Merion he is poised to do just enough to finally put all those heartbreaks behind him and hoist the one trophy that has truly eluded him.


Steve Stricker.

As writers, we always root for the best story. On Sunday, that would probably be a Phil Mickelson win, because he’s an arthritic Hall of Famer who turns 43 on Sunday, and because he’s been a five-time U.S. Open runner-up, and because it’d be a fitting end to Father’s Day, after his cross-country flight Wednesday night to attend his daughter’s eighth-grade graduation. I get it.

The next-best story? That’d be a Steve Stricker victory. After all, he cut back his schedule this year to spend more time with his family. He resurrected his career after a few dark years. The City of Brotherly Love could weep right along with the Strickers.

And that could very well happen Sunday. No one in the top 10 on the leaderboard has better ball-striking splits through three rounds than Stricker, who is tied for eighth in fairways hit and T-2 in greens. That he is currently T-37 in putting actually makes me even more encouraged. When U.S. Open pressure begins to overwhelm the field on a (finally!) firm-and-fast Merion, I’ll take my chances with one of the best putters on Tour in the past decade-plus. 

Pepperell likely sews up Masters invite via OWGR

By Will GrayOctober 15, 2018, 2:13 pm

Eddie Pepperell received a trophy for his win Sunday at the British Masters, but another prize will be coming in the mail at the end of the year.

Pepperell held on to win by two shots at rainy Walton Heath, giving him his second win of the year to go along with a pair of runner-ups. The Englishman started the year ranked No. 133 in the world and was as low as 513th in May 2017. But with the win, Pepperell jumped 17 spots to a career-best 33rd in the latest world rankings.

It means that Pepperell, who finished T-6 at The Open while fighting a hangover in the final round, is in line to make his Masters debut next spring, as the top 50 in the world rankings at the end of the calendar year become exempt into the season's first major.

Another player now in the mix for that top-50 exemption is Emiliano Grillo, who went from 62nd to 49th with a T-2 finish at the PGA Tour's CIMB Classic. Grillo has played in two Masters but missed this year's event. Marc Leishman moved up eight spots to No. 16 with his win in Malaysia, while T-2s result moved Chesson Hadley from 75th to 60th and Bronson Burgoon from 162nd to 102nd.

There were no changes among the top 10 in the latest rankings, with Dustin Johnson still ahead of Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy. Francesco Molinari remains in sixth, with Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth rounding out the top 10.

Both Koepka and Thomas are in the field at this week's CJ Cup in South Korea, where they will have an opportunity to overtake Johnson for world No. 1.

With his next competitive start unknown, Tiger Woods stayed at No. 13 for another week.

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USGA, R&A unveil new limits on green books

By Rex HoggardOctober 15, 2018, 1:53 pm

Following a six-week feedback period, the USGA and R&A unveiled a new interpretation of the Rules of Golf and the use of green-reading materials on Monday.

The interpretation limits the size and scale of putting green books and any electronic or digital materials that a player may use to assist with green reading.

“We’re thankful for everyone’s willingness to provide feedback as we worked through the process of identifying a clear interpretation that protects the essential skill of reading a green, while still allowing for information that helps golfers enjoy the game,” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior managing director of governance.

Players will be allowed to continue to use green-reading books beginning in 2019, but the new interpretation will limit images of greens to a scale of 3/8 inch to 5 yards (1:480), and books can be no larger than 4 1/4 inches by 7 inches (pocket-sized). The interpretation also bans the use of magnification devices beyond normal prescription glasses.

The USGA and R&A will allow for hand-drawn notes in green books as long as those notes are written by the player or their caddie. The rule makers also dropped a proposal that would have limited the minimum slope to four percent in green-reading material.

“These latest modifications provide very practical changes that make the interpretation easier to understand and apply in the field,” Pagel said.

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CIMB purse payout: Leishman earns $1.26 million

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 15, 2018, 1:34 pm

Marc Leishman never let off the gas pedal and cruised to a five-stroke victory at the CIMB Classic. Here's how the purse was paid out at TPC Kuala Lumpur.

1 Marc Leishman -26 $1,260,000
T2 Emiliano Grillo -21 $522,667
T2 Chesson Hadley -21 $522,667
T2 Bronson Burgoon -21 $522,667
T5 Justin Thomas -20 $237,300
T5 Abraham Ancer -20 $237,300
T5 Charles Howell III -20 $237,300
T5 Louis Oosthuizen -20 $237,300
T5 Gary Woodland -20 $237,300
T10 Kevin Chappell -19 $175,000
T10 Si Woo Kim -19 $175,000
T10 Shubhankar Sharma -19 $175,000
T13 Kyle Stanley -18 $122,640
T13 Byeong Hun An -18 $122,640
T13 Paul Casey -18 $122,640
T13 J.B. Holmes -18 $122,640
T13 Stewart Cink -18 $122,640
T13 Austin Cook -18 $122,640
T19 Keegan Bradley -17 $89,320
T19 Kevin Na -17 $89,320
T19 Nick Watney -17 $89,320
T22 Keith Mitchell -16 $71,120
T22 John Catlin -16 $71,120
T22 Cameron Smith -16 $71,120
25 Xander Schauffele -15 $59,920
26 Joel Dahmen -14 $54,320
T27 Kevin Tway -13 $50,120
T27 Gaganjeet Bhullar -13 $50,120
T27 Scott Piercy -13 $50,120
T30 C.T. Pan -12 $43,820
T30 Thomas Pieters -12 $43,820
T30 Beau Hossler -12 $43,820
T33 Billy Horschel -11 $35,303
T33 Ryan Palmer -11 $35,303
T33 Ryan Armour -11 $35,303
T33 Kiradech Aphibarnrat -11 $35,303
T33 Danny Lee -11 $35,303
T33 Kelly Kraft -11 $35,303
T39 Brice Garnett -10 $27,720
T39 Jamie Lovemark -10 $27,720
T39 Brian Stuard -10 $27,720
T39 Jimmy Walker -10 $27,720
T43 Jason Dufner -9 $20,160
T43 Satoshi Kodaira -9 $20,160
T43 Chez Reavie -9 $20,160
T43 Justin Harding -9 $20,160
T43 Ernie Els -9 $20,160
T43 Jason Kokrak -9 $20,160
T43 Sam Ryder -9 $20,160
T50 Branden Grace -8 $15,365
T50 Sanghyun Park -8 $15,365
T50 Andrew Putnam -8 $15,365
T50 Rafael Cabrera Bello -8 $15,365
T54 Ted Potter Jr. -7 $14,280
T54 Ben Leong -7 $14,280
T54 Brendan Steele -7 $14,280
T54 Sihwan Kim -7 $14,280
T54 Troy Merritt -7 $14,280
T59 Whee Kim -6 $13,720
T59 Davis Love III -6 $13,720
T59 James Hahn -6 $13,720
62 Michael Kim -5 $13,440
T63 Pat Perez -4 $13,160
T63 Tom Hoge -4 $13,160
T63 Anirban Lahiri -4 $13,160
T66 Scott Vincent -3 $12,740
T66 Brandt Snedeker -3 $12,740
T66 Ryan Moore -3 $12,740
T69 Peter Uihlein -2 $12,390
T69 Brian Gay -2 $12,390
71 Minchel Choi -1 $12,180
T72 J.J. Spaun E $11,970
T72 Berry Henson E $11,970
74 Ollie Schniederjans 3 $11,760
T75 Scott Stallings 5 $11,480
T75 Jon Curran 5 $11,480
T75 Rahil Gangjee 5 $11,480
78 Leun-Kwang Kim 13 $11,200
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Congressional cited for improper tree removal

By Will GrayOctober 15, 2018, 1:30 pm

With preparations underway for a significant renovation, future Ryder Cup host Congressional Country Club has been cited by Montgomery County (Md.) officials for improper tree removal.

According to a report from the Washington Post, the club near the nation's capital has cut down more than 20,000 square feet of tree canopy in recent months. That's more than four times the maximum removal allowed without obtaining a "sediment control permit," which the club did not procure.

The county's department of permitting services reportedly e-mailed the violation to the club on Sept. 26, and a Congressional spokesperson indicated the paperwork for the permit is "in process."

"Congressional has selectively removed trees for the conditioning of our golf courses," wrote general manager Jeffrey Kreafle. "We have not received a stop work order from Montgomery County. Rather, they notified the club that we need to obtain a sediment control permit for work being done on the golf course."

In an interesting twist, the investigation reportedly started when an anonymous Congressional member tipped off a local environmental group over the removal of what they estimated to be 1,000 trees.

"I am (upset) because they're ruining my club," the member said.

Congressional's Blue Course, which has hosted three U.S. Opens and most recently held a PGA Tour event in 2016, is scheduled for a renovation in 2019. Last month the PGA of America announced that it would be bringing several marquee tournaments to Congressional over the next two decades, including the 2031 PGA Championship and the 2036 Ryder Cup.