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Shinnecock tough, getting there even tougher for some

By Ryan LavnerJune 13, 2018, 5:15 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – When registering for this 118th U.S. Open, Philip Barbaree and LSU teammate Jacob Bergeron signed up for a 8:20 a.m. practice round Monday at Shinnecock Hills. They chose that time, specifically, because they wanted to play with one of their heroes, Rory McIlroy.

Barbaree arrived at the course with plenty of time to spare – he’s staying in a rental house on nearby Sebonack, about a mile away – but Bergeron wasn’t so fortunate. That tee time came and went, and he was still an hour away, stuck in traffic. What should have been a half-hour drive from the USGA’s official player hotel instead took nearly three hours.  

“After that,” Bergeron said, “I thought this was something that could be serious.”

A U.S. Open on Long Island usually means one thing – a long commute – and this week has been no exception.

Depending on the time of morning and afternoon, even the shortest trips can take upwards of an hour, as traffic on the side streets and highways grind to a halt. Many players rented houses in the Southampton area, but for those like Bergeron, an amateur who doesn’t have thousands to drop on a weeklong stay, the USGA made arrangements at two local host hotels. The only problem: They’re located west of the course, with stops along the dreaded State Road 27 and Montauk Highway. The typical summer traffic here only compounds the problem.

“One way in, one way out, I knew it was going to be a problem,” said Aaron Wise, who found a room at the Hamlet Inn, about two miles away. “So I wanted to make sure that I got as close as I could.”


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McIlroy can’t get much closer – three minutes, door to door – and after hearing so many horror stories, he described himself as “very fortunate.”

“It’s one of those things you’re going to have to set off early and try to beat the traffic,” he said. “It’s the way it is. Unfortunately, one of the things about this area is it’s a small piece of land and can only take so many people.”

On its official championship page, the USGA recommended that fans take the MTA Long Island Rail Road, hailing it as the “most convenient” method of transportation. That’s still an 85-mile trip from New York’s Penn Station that could take more than two hours.

The first three days here have been such a debacle that the USGA brought in Southampton Town chief of police Steven Skrynecki to make a few remarks during its annual Eve of the Open address. Skrynecki said that he’s been monitoring traffic patterns and has seen “significant improvements” over the past three days, and that he anticipated that much of the local trade traffic will dissipate over the weekend.

The gridlock has created consternation for those with early start times. Tiger Woods – who is staying at Sag Harbor and sleeping aboard his $20 million yacht named “Privacy” – said that he wouldn’t be surprised if a player is disqualified this week.

“There’s a good chance that someone might miss their time,” he said. “You get a little fender bender, it’s not inconceivable someone could miss their time.”

Jeff Hall, the USGA’s managing director for rules and championships, said the organization will send a text to players Wednesday night reminding them of the traffic concerns – as if they needed a reminder – and that traffic is not an “exceptional circumstance” that would circumvent a DQ.

“I’m pretty confident they will adjust their schedule accordingly to take the proper precautions,” Hall said.   

But that’s what has left Bergeron confused.

For that 8:20 a.m. practice round Monday, he departed his hotel at 6:30 – nearly two hours early – and didn’t arrive until well after 9. He ended up not playing with McIlroy, a four-time major champion, but instead with two other sectional qualifiers, the names of whom he couldn’t remember.

“Kind of a bummer,” he said.

Bergeron’s first-round tee time is 8:35 a.m., and he’s already begun to fret.

“What do I do?” he asked. “I could see if Philip has a spot on the couch. I could sleep in the locker room. I’d rather get here at 3 a.m. and take a nap than miss my time.”

Even still, the logistical nightmare hasn’t dampened Bergeron’s outlook for the week. He’s a rising sophomore at LSU, his entire career ahead of him, and he’s just qualified for his first major. He’s excited to play – assuming traffic allows him to get to the tee.

“I know the U.S. Open is supposed to be hard,” he said. “I just didn’t know that every other aspect would be, too.”

Watch: Koepka holes out from off the green at 16

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 5:36 am

Brooks Koepka faced a stiff challenge from Gary Woodland on Sunday in South Korea, but eventually it came time to end the suspense.

Having clung to a slim lead for much of the back nine, Koepka looked as though he was going to have to scramble just to save par when he missed the green at 16. 

Instead, caddie Ricky Elliott was able to leave Koepka's putter in the bag.

That holeout combined with a bogey from Woodland at 17 put Koepka ahead by three, allowing him to walk to victory and to the top of the world rankings.

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Koepka wins CJ Cup, ascends to world No. 1

By Nick MentaOctober 21, 2018, 5:07 am

Brooks Koepka eagled the 72nd hole Sunday to cap off a final-round 64, win the CJ Cup and supplant Dustin Johnson as the new No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here's how Koepka took over the golf world Sunday in South Korea.

Leaderboard: Koepka (-21), Gary Woodland (-17), Ryan Palmer (-15), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-15), Jason Day (-12), Scott Piercy (-12)

What it means: This is Koepka's fifth career PGA Tour victory but only his second in a non-major, following his maiden win back at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open. Up four to start the day, Koepka saw his lead evaporate as Woodland rocketed up the leaderboard and kept pace with him for much of the back nine. But every time Sunday's result appeared in doubt, Koepka reclaimed his lead in dramatic fashion. He nearly aced the par-3 13th to go ahead by two and later holed out for birdie at the par-4 16th to go up three with two to play. He finished par-eagle at 17 and 18 to shoot a back-nine 29 and close out his third victory in the last five months. With the win, Koepka ascends to the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career.

Round of the day: Ryan Palmer set a Nine Bridges course record when he birdied his final seven holes in a row en route to a bogey-free round of 10-under 62 and a solo third-place finish.

Best of the rest: Woodland played his first 16 holes in 9 under par to storm from five back and catch Koepka atop the leaderboard. But his furious Sunday charge finally came to an end when he failed to get up and down for par from the back bunker at 17. He carded his 11th birdie of the round at the 18th hole to sign for 63 and finish solo second.

Biggest disappointment: In retrospect, Woodland called it correctly on Saturday when he said: "You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can. You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number." Woodland put as much pressure on Koepka as he could. He went out and posted that number. Koepka never blinked.

Shot of the day: Koepka's holeout at the par-3 16th, which put him ahead by three, unofficially ending the proceedings:

Quote of the day: "To be world No. 1 is something I dreamed of as a kid. I don't think this one is going to sink in." - Koepka

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Watch: Koepka nearly aces par-3 13th Sunday

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 4:24 am

Just when it looked like he was facing a legitimate challenge Sunday, Brooks Koepka responded with a near-ace.

Up four to start the final round, Koepka saw his lead disappear as Gary Woodland raced up the leaderboard to tie him at 13 under and then 14 under.

Unfazed, the three-time major winner birdied the par-5 12th to regain his outright lead and then followed up with this tee shot at the 218-yard, par-3 13th.

And just like that, the tap-in birdie put Koepka back ahead by two with five to play.

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Haas nearly shoots age in taking Champions playoff opener lead

By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 10:05 pm

RICHMOND, Va.  -- Jay Haas shot a 7-under 65 - missing his age by a stroke - to take a two-shot lead Saturday in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Trying to become the oldest winner in tour history, the 64-year-old Haas birdied the par-5 16th and 18th holes to get to 11-under 133 on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''I've been out here too long to know that I can learn to expect anything,'' Haas said. ''While I'm hopeful every day and I've been playing OK, the last couple weeks have not been very good, but this week has been much better. I love this golf course and it looks good to my eye. Most of the holes look like I'm going to hit a good shot, so I enjoy playing here.''

Mike Fetchick set the age record of 63 years to the day in the 1985 Hilton Head event. Haas is second on the list, taking the 2016 Toshiba Classic at 62 years, 10 months, 7 days for his 18th senior title.

''That's a good way to say I'm old, 'experience,''' Haas said. ''I think I'm very nervous most of the time when I play and today was no exception, but I continued to hit good shots and, hopefully, I can put one foot in front of the other, one shot at a time, do what I tell my son to do every time, you know? See if I can put some of those adages to work tomorrow.''


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


Stephen Ames and Scott Dunlap were tied for second after the round that started in light rain. Ames had a 67, and Dunlap shot 68.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer had a 66 to join Billy Mayfair (67) and Woody Austin (68) at 9 under. Langer won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the season points lead. The 61-year-old German star has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, California, and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, was tied for 23rd at 4 under after a 71.