Player's U.S. Open dream ends in self-DQ

By Will GrayJune 3, 2014, 2:02 am

VERO BEACH, Fla. – For about 15 minutes, it looked as if Landon Michelson might be heading to Pinehurst.

The 22-year-old amateur picked an opportune time to string together 36 holes of stellar golf amid windy conditions Monday during the U.S. Open sectional qualifier at Quail Valley Golf Club. He’d broken par both rounds, and at worst looked to be facing a 2-for-1 playoff for a spot in his first U.S. Open.

With the stroke of a pencil, though, it all ended in a disqualification.

Michelson shot a 1-under 71 in both rounds, but in the midst of his euphoria signed for a 70 after his second round. A three-putt bogey on the 11th hole went unnoticed by his playing partner and was mistakenly recorded as a par.  

“I’m pretty devastated,” Michelson said. “Just so frustrating.”

Michelson, who arrived at the course at 6 a.m. as the first alternate and got into the field only after PGA Tour winner Fredrik Jacobson withdrew, was one of only eight players to break par during the morning wave. He began the second round tied for fifth among a field of 55 players with four spots at Pinehurst up for grabs.

An eagle on the par-5 14th vaulted Michelson into contention. When he finished the day at 2-under 142, he was tied for fourth place with veteran Aron Price and was preparing for a possible playoff, with Price playing the difficult finishing hole two groups behind.

Then came two warning signs - caddie Chris Ingham started to get congratulatory phone calls, even though a spot at Pinehurst was not locked up, and caddie and player noticed that Michelson’s name was listed on the leaderboard at 141, not 142.

A perfect storm of events led to the DQ. Ingham had made an effort to keep Michelson shielded from scoring info all day long. Then Ingham opted to watch Price play his final hole rather than accompany Michelson to the scoring area.

“Generally I would go over there with (Michelson) and make sure everything was OK, but I was slow getting there," Ingham said. "I was hoping he would be pretty meticulous checking his score, but he was the most excited he’s probably ever been in his life. I was too.”

The final blow was Michelson failing to catch the error on his scorecard before he signed it.

“Today was one of the first rounds I’ve ever been like, super focused,” Michelson said. “I didn’t even know what I was at, to be honest with you. The guy (in scoring) told me I shot 70 and I was like, ‘Yeah, sounds right.’ Looking over it, Chris and I went over it and it was a 71.”

It didn’t take long for Michelson to realize his mistake, though the question of what to do next was one that weighed on him as he contemplated the possibility of playing against the game’s best at Pinehurst.

“If you think about it, I’m like the 1,000th-ranked amateur in the world,” said Michelson, a Miami resident and recent graduate of Rice University. “Going to the U.S. Open, it would be so much to me. Getting clothing sponsors, club sponsors – everything would have been so much easier.”

Michelson assessed his options – stay quiet and make the Open, or confess his mistake and face disqualification for signing an incorrect scorecard. While finishing his senior year at Rice, he had done a project for a Sports Ethics class on Blayne Barber, who famously disqualified himself from the second stage of PGA Tour Q-School in 2012.

U.S. Open sectional qualifying: Who's in, who's out

“I told myself then that I don’t know what I would do in that situation,” he said.

Faced with the same situation, he didn’t hesitate. Michelson headed back to the scoring area and alerted officials to his error, which gave the fourth and final qualifying spot to Price.

“I had to go,” Michelson said. “I was just hoping there was something the rules official could do.”

Ingham, a childhood friend who plays college golf at Ole Miss, agreed with the decision.

“I can’t tell you what to do, I can only tell you what I would do. I think you’re going to regret it if you don’t come forward,” he told Michelson. “Before I could say anything else, he just walked right over there and DQ’d himself.”

Price became the beneficiary of Michelson’s mistake, and after bouncing between the PGA and tours in recent years, the Aussie is now headed to his first U.S. Open. He offered a philosophical take on the situation, having gone from first alternate to last qualifier within about 10 minutes.

“I’ve had good breaks and I’ve had bad breaks. I’m 32 and I’ve been playing (professional) golf for nine years,” Price said. “It’s a crazy game.”

For Michelson, though, a whirlwind day where he briefly reached the highest of highs ended with brutal finality.

“It’s just frustrating,” he said. “People tell me to move on and use this as a stepping stone, but it’s hard to do.”

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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

“He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.