U.S. Open champ respectfully disagrees with USGA

By Jason SobelMay 23, 2013, 12:47 pm

Webb Simpson isn’t a big fan of the impending anchoring ban. In fact, you could say he hates it – well, for as much as the even-keeled Simpson is programmed to hate anything. He’s been jabbing the butt end of a putter into his belly button since his college days at Wake Forest, a strategy which has not only afforded him a career as one of the world’s best professional golfers, but a major championship.

That major triumph was, of course, last year’s U.S. Open, which places Simpson in the uncomfortable position of soon defending a title run by the governing body which first proposed the ban that he kind-of, sort-of hates.

Uncomfortable, that is, for anyone else. Simpson doesn’t see it that way.

“I disagree with my wife sometimes. I disagree with my caddie, with my best friend. I think that’s healthy,” he said by phone from his home in Charlotte. “I respect the USGA as much as anyone could. I just disagree with them on this issue. Many of the USGA people are my friends. I know them well; there’s no bad blood between me and the USGA. I still like them and respect them. I just disagree with them.”

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It’s a relationship based on mutual respect.

Late last year, after the anchoring ban had been proposed, USGA executive director Mike Davis reached out to Simpson on multiple occasions, just to make his feelings known and find out if the U.S. Open champ had any further questions.

“He was very cordial,” Simpson reported. “He wanted to talk and explain it in person. I give him a lot of credit for doing that. The USGA did accept plenty of input, which I appreciated.”

While other anchormen have been flippant in their disdain for the decision-makers in this rule change, it is Simpson’s nature to be concerned that even failing to share the same opinion would forge some sort of falling out process.

“The U.S. Open is coming up and I’m so excited about it,” he explained of next month’s tournament at Merion Golf Club. “I hope it’s not awkward for me and the USGA. I hope they can take my disagreeing in a respectful way, because I don’t disrespect them. I just disagree. I disagree wholeheartedly.”

Unlike some of his anchoring brethren, Simpson isn’t considering any sort of legal recourse in the wake of this week’s ruling, in part because he doesn’t want to produce a chasm between him and the USGA.

“I’ve thought about it, but I don’t think I will,” he said. “I’m not too worried. I feel like I’m a great putter either way. I feel like that would draw a lot of attention to myself.

“It’s not my personality to want to take legal action. I certainly would love to hear how that group of guys will go about it – how it will work, how friendly it can remain or whether it will be tough. But as of now, I don’t see myself seeking legal action at all, no.”

Simpson steadfastly refutes the notion that he – or Keegan Bradley, Adam Scott or any number of anchorers, for that matter – will fail to find any success once the ban goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2016. He often practices with a short putter and maintains that situational putting, as opposed to lines and speed, will be the biggest transition over the next two-and-a-half years.

If it gets that far. Simpson is still optimistic – though it may be a cautious optimism – that the PGA Tour’s opposition to the original proposal will result in a local rule which allows anchoring, even if it causes the first-ever instance of bifurcation within the game.

“We’ve talked a lot about it in PAC meetings and among Tour officials and players. We’ve talked a ton about it. We’ve exhausted looking at it from both sides,” he explained. “I’m not exactly sure where [commissioner Tim Finchem] sits. I know he came out against the ban; I hope he doesn’t change his mind.”

In what is clearly one of the biggest hot-button issues in the game today, Simpson represents one of the anchors to the anchoring debate. And yet, he isn’t so absorbed in his side that he can’t see the big picture.

“I love watching great athletes deal with certain situations,” he said. Take LeBron [James]. He’s playing amazing basketball, but people will still say he can’t do certain things. I try not to get involved with that. I’ve just got to think about the reality. I’m good enough, Keegan is good enough, Adam is good enough. Those guys are just going to say what they have to say.

“But this is why we love sports. There aren’t too many banks where one lender is yelling at another lender because he can’t get a good deal.”

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Suwannapura beats Lincicome in playoff for first win

By Associated PressJuly 15, 2018, 10:49 pm

SYLVANIA, Ohio - Thidapa Suwannapura won her first LPGA event on Sunday, closing with a 6-under 65 and birdieing the first playoff hole to defeat Brittany Lincicome at the Marathon Classic.

The 25-year-old Thai player is the sixth first-time winner on tour this year. Her previous best finish in 120 starts was seventh at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.

Suwannapura picked up three strokes over her final two holes, making eagle on the par-5 17th and closing with a birdie on the par-5 18th at Highland Meadows to finish at 14-under 270.

In the playoff, Suwannapura converted a short birdie putt after Lincicome hit her second shot into a water hazard and scrambled for par.

Lincicome shot 67. She had a chance to win in regulation, but her birdie putt from about 10 feet did a nearly 360-degree turn around the edge of the cup and stayed out. Next up for the big-hitting Lincicome: a start against the men at the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship.

Third-round leader Brooke Henderson led by two shots after six holes, but struggled the rest of the way. Back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes dropped her out of the lead. The 20-year-old Canadian finished with a 2-under 69, one shot out of the playoff.

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Kim cruises to first win, final Open invite at Deere

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 9:38 pm

Following the best week of his professional career, Michael Kim is both a winner on the PGA Tour and the 156th and final player to earn a tee time next week at The Open.

Kim entered the final round of the John Deere Classic with a five-shot lead, and the former Cal standout removed any lingering doubt about the tournament's outcome with birdies on each of his first three holes. He cruised from there, shooting a bogey-free 66 to finish the week at 27 under and win by eight shots over Francesco Molinari, Joel Dahmen, Sam Ryder and Bronson Burgoon.

It equals the tournament scoring record and ties for the largest margin of victory on Tour this season, matching Dustin Johnson's eight-shot romp at Kapalua in January and Molinari's margin two weeks ago at the Quicken Loans National.

"Just super thankful," Kim said. "It's been a tough first half of the year. But to be able to finish it out in style like this means a lot."

Kim, 25, received the Haskins Award as the nation's top collegiate player back in 2013, but his ascent to the professional ranks has been slow. He had only one top-10 finish in 83 starts on Tour entering the week, tying for third at the Safeway Open in October 2016, and had missed the cut each of the last three weeks.

But the pieces all came together at TPC Deere Run, where Kim opened with 63 and held a three-shot lead after 36 holes. His advantage was trimmed to a single shot during a rain-delayed third round, but Kim returned to the course late Saturday and closed with four straight birdies on Nos. 15-18 to build a five-shot cushion and inch closer to his maiden victory.

As the top finisher among the top five not otherwise exempt, Kim earned the final spot at Carnoustie as part of the Open Qualifying Series. It will be his first major championship appearance since earning low amateur honors with a T-17 finish at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, and he is also now exempt for the PGA Championship and next year's Masters.

The last player to earn the final Open spot at the Deere and make the cut the following week was Brian Harman, who captured his first career win at TPC Deere Run in 2014 and went on to tie for 26th at Royal Liverpool.

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Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.

Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.

Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

"I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."

Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:

Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.

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Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:25 pm

A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.

The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.

There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.

As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.

This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.