Today, June 16, is Phil Mickelson's 44th birthday.
For over two decades now, the five-time major champion has been a fan favorite -- just as much for his on-course play, as the father and family man he is off it (last year, he left during practice rounds at the U.S. Open in Philadelphia to fly home to California to be at his daughter's eighth-grade graduation, returning to Merion just before his first-round tee time).
Mickelson is one of those rare stars in sport who embraces all that comes with his stardom. He's been known to spend an hour or more after rounds -- good and bad -- signing autographs for fans. Sure, many players sign, but after a bad day it would be easy to give them a pass if they wanted to get out of there. That's not Mickelson though.
And, if you wanted to get an idea of just how good Mickelson can be to his fans, then you must check out this Yahoo! story by Jay Busbee from over the weekend about what Mickelson did for a father and wheelchair-bound son at Pinehurst No. 2.
Over all 18 of Pinehurst's sand-strewn, wire-and-scrub-grass-laden holes, John Finn pushed his son David. They accompanied Mickelson inside the ropes as guests of Phil himself. It was the kind of constant, personal connection between athlete and fan that's not possible in any other sport, and neither John nor David could stop grinning.
"This has just been amazing," John said, cooling down in the shade next to Pinehurst's famed Payne Stewart statue. "We've met Phil before, but this is the first time we've walked all 18 with him."
"David, he's a great kid," Mickelson said after Sunday's round. "He's been with us for a long time. He's been out at a number of tournaments for almost a decade now. His dad, John, is a great man."
"Great" isn't a label John would apply to himself. The high school teacher from Ramsey, N.J. just loves his son enough to take him to three to four golf tournaments a year in a wheelchair with "David Finn, The Golf Fanatic" inscribed on the back.
David, age 21, has a form of muscular dystrophy that virtually immobilizes him in his wheelchair. His body lies twisted in painfully unnatural ways, and one of the tragedies of his condition is that his mind is as sharp as anyone's at Pinehurst. What brings him great joy, though, is watching golf, both live and on television.
Happy birthday, Phil.
Justin Rose, winner of the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, did something fans won't soon forget as he putted out on the last green at Pinehurst No. 2 on Sunday.
After holing a lengthy birdie putt, Rose proceeded to reenact Payne Stewart's famous fist pump after the late Stewart holed a winning putt on that very green in 1999:
Rose's birdie gave him a final-round 2-over 72. He'll finish just outside the top 10. But, between his gesture on 18 and Rickie Fowler's choice of attire on Thursday, it's safe to say that even 15 years later, Stewart will always be remembered.
You don't see this every day:
— U.S. Open (USGA) (@usopengolf) June 15, 2014
That's right, while the best male golfers in the world prepare for and play the final round of the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, the top ladies in the world are already on site getting their practice in for the U.S. Women's Open, which begins Thursday.
For the first time, the men's and women's U.S. Open are being played in consecutive weeks at the same venue. Like the men last Sunday, the women need to get their work in too. It's made for some cool shots on TV.
While many of the ladies are out practicing, there are also some just taking in the atmosphere -- like world No. 3 Lydia Ko, former U.S. Open champ Paula Creamer and Inbee Park:
— LPGA (@LPGA) June 15, 2014
Who says the pin placements are too tough for Sunday's final round at Pinehurst No. 2? At the par-3, 172-yard No. 9 hole, Zach Johnson made a hole-in-one -- the third in three years, following the ace by Shawn Stefani at Merion last year and one by John Peterson at Olympic Club in 2012.
Watch the video to see how he pulled it off:
Johnson then decided to celebrate with the fans lining both sides of the hole, running along and giving high-fives.
PINEHURST, N.C. – The man who drove NBC Sports analyst Roger Maltbie's golf cart during the third round of the U.S. Open is facing four charges after an incident with a state trooper on the course, a North Carolina State Police spokeswoman said Sunday.
According to a police report, Tommy Lineberry was charged with felony assault on a law enforcement officer, felony hit and run, driving while impaired, and resisting, obstructing and delaying a law enforcement officer.
Spokeswoman Pam Walker said the 59-year-old Lineberry, from Wilmington, was released from the Moore County jail Saturday night after posting bail.
Lineberry didn't immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.
The trooper said Lineberry ignored instructions to stay put, then hit the officer with his golf cart.
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Maltbie was walking Saturday with the final group of Martin Kaymer and Brendon Todd. Lineberry's job is to drive Maltbie to get in position for the next shots.
An Associated Press reporter who witnessed the incident heard Lineberry tell the trooper, "I'm supposed to get the cart to Roger."
"When a state trooper tells you to stop, THAT'S what you're supposed to do," the trooper responded, inches from Lineberry's face.
The trooper was holding traffic behind a walkway as the players teed off on the 11th hole. He told Lineberry that the cart struck his leg. The trooper asked for any the names of witnesses, and three people in the gallery immediately handed him their business cards.
The trooper ran after and then collared Lineberry, quickly placing him in handcuffs.