Real March Madness

By Mercer BaggsMarch 26, 2006, 5:00 pm
My Lord, hes about to pull a Pampling.
That was the first thing that came to mind while watching Davis Love III collapse like a drunk into bed during the second round of The Players Championship.
Love, of course, went from co-leader to trunk slammer, 65 to 83, quicker than you can say Carnoustie.
Stephen Ames
Stephen Ames survived the madness to be crowned Players champion.
Carnoustie, of course, is where Rod Pampling became the first player in major championship history to lead after the first round and then miss the cut.
Just a little more than a week removed from winning the Bay Hill Invitational, his second career PGA TOUR victory in less than three years, Pampling is still known for his meltdown in the 1999 British Open.
Its his signature moment in this sport, in part because he became the first player in the history of the game to accomplish such a dubious feat, and in part because there is nothing really memorable or remarkable about either of his two victories ' at least not in concern to his actions.
Stephen Ames signature moment prior to this week was getting beaten like a speed bag by Tiger Woods in the opening round of this years WGC-Accenture Match Play.
His nickname on TOUR since then has been 9 and 8. You can now call him, Players champion.
Ames not only handled admirably the abashment of being whitewashed by the worlds No. 1; he handled impressively being No. 1 after 54 holes at Sawgrass.
The certified Canadian, transplanted from Trinidad & Tobago, didnt have much of a challenge in way of actual contenders this Sunday, but he won the battle of nerves and defeated a monstrous, carnivorous course to add to his 2004 Western Open title.
Pulling an Ames could now be a duplicitous phrase, meaning either talking a little smack about your opposition and then getting smacked down by said opponent, or it could mean overcoming extreme embarrassment with extreme brilliance.
So what would you call what Adam Scott did on Saturday?
The evening prior, when he was just one shot off the 36-hole lead, Scott allowed The Golf Channels Kelly Tilghman to cut off a lock of his hair. He had been growing it since last year, a bet he has going with Tim Clark and Sergio Garcia to see who can go the longest without a trim.
Delilah Tilghman couldnt have clipped off more than 50 little strands of hair, but each one seemed to account for every spot he fell in round 3.
Scott, the 2004 champion, shot 10-over 82, dropped from T2 to T51, performed the final Act in 76 swings, and put a maddening weekend behind him.
You certainly cant call what Scott did on Saturday Pulling a Sergio, because Sergio doesnt play himself out of contention until Sunday.
Talk about maddening, Garcias closing numbers are just that. Hes becoming clutch like Sasha Cohen.
Over the past two seasons on TOUR, Garcia has six times entered the final round in the lead or within two strokes of the leader. Only once has he won ' when he came from behind to capture last years Booz Allen Classic.
Among those failures are: a six-stroke waste at the 05 Wachovia and a closing 75 at this years Buick Invitational after holding a share of the 54-hole lead.
It was a 78 this time around. He was only one back of Ames after three rounds on the Stadium Course, but started Sunday par-bogey-bogey-double bogey-bogey to find himself seven in arrears after just five holes.
Garcias final-round scoring average this year is a flat 75.
Vijay Singh hadnt posted a final-round score in the 70s all season on TOUR ' until Sunday, when he shot 41 on the front side en route to a 77.
Remember when Singh used to win more than a cheat playing checkers against a blind man? Well, he hasnt won in his last 16 TOUR events, his longest such streak since 2002.
Think he was in a pleasant mood when he got home, just a short drive ' or a couple of wayward Singh drives ' from Sawgrass?
It was a maddening experience for most of the Big 5, save for Retief Goosen, who finished runner-up. Woods week began with an unwanted trip to California to visit his ill father and ended with a 75 and a tie for 22nd. Ernie Els rallied into contention by playing his first 11 holes Sunday in 5 under, only to play his final five in 4 over in tying for eighth. And Phil Mickelson hit three balls in the water on the dangerous (his adjective) par-3 17th for the week on his way to a tie for 14th.
But who was madder this week than ' surprise! ' Rory Sabbatini? The petulant South African ripped into TOUR officials once again over pace of play.
His wife, meanwhile, decided it was a good idea to mock her husbands playing competitor over the first two days, Nick Faldo, the targeted slow-play offender, by sporting a shirt she made at Walgreens ' hubbys won over $2 million this year and youre shopping at Walgreens? ' which read, KEEP UP!
Faldos response: It is very embarrassing for them to bring their sexual problems to the golf course. Poor fellow, he has enough problems as it is without her announcing to the world.
Faldo may be slower than school-zone traffic on the course, but his wit is as quick as ever.
By the way, did we mention Carnoustie? You recall how the 99 British Open concluded: Jean Van de Velde took a three-stroke lead to the final hole; made a jaw-dropping, triple-bogey 7; and ultimately lost in a playoff to Paul Whats His Name.
Oh, if only he could have just made a double bogey that day. Then he would be Jean Whats His Name, fluke major champion on a ridiculously trumped-up major venue.
But we know his surname, we know it very well. Because infamy has a much longer shelf life some times than does fame.
The Frenchman got a slight measure of redemption this Sunday in Portugal ' in his own mad, mad way.
He won for the first time in 13 years on the European Tour, claiming first prize at the Madeira Island Open. He did so by making double bogey on his final hole, nearly blowing a three-shot lead, but holding on to win by one.
He did so by not ' if only barely so ' pulling a Van de Velde.
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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).

    Getty Images

    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


    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


    5. Thorbjorn Olesen

    6. Ross Fisher

    World Points

    1. Jon Rahm

    2. Rory McIlroy

    3. Alex Noren

    4. Matthew Fitzpatrick


    5. Ian Poulter

    6. Rafael Cabrera-Bello

    @jenamsims on Instagram

    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.

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    Koepka moves to No. 4 in world with U.S. Open win

    By Will GrayJune 18, 2018, 2:05 pm

    After successfully defending his U.S. Open title, Brooks Koepka reached a new career high in the Official World Golf Ranking.

    Koepka held off Tommy Fleetwood to win by a shot Sunday at Shinnecock Hills, becoming the first player to go back-to-back in nearly 30 years. As a result, he jumped five spots in the latest rankings to No. 4, six spots higher than he reached with last year's U.S. Open victory at Erin Hills.

    Fleetwood finished alone in second place and moved up two spots to No. 10, tying his career-best placement. Patrick Reed moved up two spots to No. 11 by finishing fourth, while fifth-place Tony Finau went from No. 37 to No. 31.

    Updated Official World Golf Ranking

    It was a largely quiet week in the rankings despite the fact that a major championship was contested. Outside of Koepka and Finau, the only other player inside the top 50 to move up or down more than three spots was Jason Dufner, who went from 53rd to 48th with a T-25 finish.

    Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1 for the second consecutive week, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Koepka and Jordan Spieth. Jon Rahm dropped one spot to No. 6, with Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Fleetwood rounding out the top 10. Hideki Matsuyama fell two spots to No. 12, dropping out of the top 10 for the first time since October 2016.

    Despite a missed cut at Shinnecock, Tiger Woods actually moved up one spot to No. 79 in the latest rankings. He plans to play the Quicken Loans National and The Open in the coming weeks, which will be his final two chances to move into the top 50 in time to qualify for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. The event is being held for the final time this summer at Firestone Country Club, where Woods has won eight times.