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 Web.com 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.”

Getty Images

USC's Gaston leaves to become head coach at A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

Getty Images

Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.


Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

Getty Images

Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.

Getty Images

Just like last year, Spieth in desperate need of a spark

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 8:38 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Jordan Spieth has arrived at the Travelers Championship in need of a turnaround. Again.

Spieth’s playoff victory last year over Daniel Berger, complete with a bunker hole-out and raucous celebration, went down as one of the most electrifying moments of 2017. It also propelled Spieth to some more major glory, as he won The Open in his very next start.

So it’s easy to forget the state of Spieth’s game when he first stepped foot on the grounds of TPC River Highlands a year ago. Things were, quite plainly, not going well.

He was struggling on the greens, even going so far as to switch putters at the AT&T Byron Nelson. He then failed to contend at Erin Hills, only netting a T-35 finish thanks to a final-round 69 that came hours before the leaders teed off.

So here we are again, with Spieth in search of a spark after a series of underwhelming performances that included last week’s effort at Shinnecock Hills, where he bogeyed the last two holes of his second round to miss the cut by a shot. Except this time, the climb back to the top may be even steeper than it was a year ago.

“I’m not sure where the state of my game is right now,” Spieth said. “If I strike the ball the way I have been this year, then the results are coming. But the last couple weeks I’ve played Muirfield and then the (U.S.) Open, and I hit the ball really poorly and didn’t give myself that many opportunities to let the putter do the work.”

While many big names play sporadically in the time between the Masters and U.S. Open, Spieth remained as busy as ever thanks to the Tour’s swing through Texas. So even after failing to contend much in the spring outside of a memorable finale in Augusta, and even after struggling for much of his week at TPC Sawgrass, Spieth looked out at his schedule and saw a myriad of possible turning points.

There was the AT&T Byron Nelson, played in his hometown and at a venue on which he was one of only a handful with any experience (T-21). Then a trip across town to Colonial, where he had beaten all but two players in a three-year stretch (T-32).


Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Throw in the missed cuts at Muirfield Village and Shinnecock Hills, and Spieth has made it to the last leg of a six-event stretch that has included only one off week and, to date, zero chances to contend come Sunday.

“I think here this week, the key for me is just to get out in the first round and try not to do too much,” Spieth said. “I mean, 90-plus percent of the tournaments the last two years I’ve thrown out my chances to win a golf tournament on Thursday. I’ve had too much to do from here on.”

That was certainly the case last week on Long Island, where Spieth’s hopes for a fourth major title evaporated well before course conditions became a focal point over the weekend. He was 4 over through his first two holes and spent much of the next 34 stuck in a fit of frustration. He gave himself a glimmer of hope with four late birdies Friday followed by a pair of bogeys that snuffed it out with equal speed.

Spieth has continued to preach patience throughout the year, but there’s no getting around some eye-popping stats; he's 188th on Tour this year in strokes gained: putting and 93rd in fairways hit. It can foster a pressure to find a cure-all in any given week, especially given how quickly he got a middling summer back on track last year.

“It’s something that you fight, sure,” Spieth said. “It’s been that way just about every tournament except Muirfield, because then you go to the U.S. Open and think you don’t even have to shoot under par to win this golf tournament. So as much as that kind of comes into your head, it’s not bothering me this time. I’m going to try and have fun, and make progress.”

After this week, Spieth will have some down time with family before making the trip overseas to Carnoustie. He plans to have a few private dinners accompanied by the claret jug, one last toast to last year’s success before turning the trophy back over to the R&A.

But even Spieth admitted that as it pertains to his chances to follow in Brooks Koepka’s footsteps by successfully defending a major title, he’ll be greatly aided by working his way into the mix this weekend. It represents the last chance in this early-summer swing to get his name back on the leaderboard, an opportunity to light fire to a pedestrian campaign like he did a year ago.

No pressure.

“It’s your basic stuff that sometimes gets off, that the harder you try to get them back on sometimes, the worse it gets,” Spieth said. “It can be frustrating, or you can just kind of wait for it to come to you. I think I’m OK with where things are, whether it’s the rest of this year or next year. I feel like there are good scores coming.”