Golf Buzz

June 9, 2014 - 9:45am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Miguel Angel Jimenez
European Tour
That's Miguel Angel Jimenez (middle) dancing after a hole out for eagle on Sunday.

By now, we all know that Miguel Angel Jimenez is the most interesting man in golf.

Even so, the Spaniard never ceases to amaze us. Here's his latest offering -- a dance -- after an eagle hole-out during the final round of the Lyoness Open in Austria on Sunday, where he finished in a tie for eighth:

Outstanding. It's right up there with his stretching routine: 

June 9, 2014 - 8:52am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Payne Stewart, Phil Mickelson
YouTube
When Phil Mickelson finished runner up to Payne Stewart in the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, it was the first time in his career Mickelson finished second in the national championship.

With the full understanding that it's nearly impossible to make you feel bad for a guy who has won 42 times on the PGA Tour, including five majors, has a loving family and a permanent smile, I'd like to make a case for Phil Mickelson.

This week, the 43-year-old Mickelson along with 155 more of the best golfers in the world, will descend on Pinehurst No. 2 for the U.S. Open.

Right around the time we get to thinking the game owes us one is also about the precise time that the Golf Gods remind us we're owed nothing.

RELATED: Short film captures the essence of Payne Stewart | U.S. Open coverage

But, man, can't Mickelson just get that one U.S. Open trophy to check, "career Grand Slam winner," off his long list of accomplishments?

This is a man who has finished runner up in our national championship on a record six occasions. Six. That's two more than anyone else. Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus are all second on the list of most runner-up finishes in the U.S. Open with four apiece.

Snead, like Mickelson, is the lone legend on that list who never snagged a U.S. Open. Jones (4), Palmer (1) and Nicklaus (4) account for nine U.S. Open titles.

Given his record this season -- zero top-10 finishes in 14 starts -- it's hard to imagine, but, this could be Mickelson's best chance at winning the U.S. Open.

And, trust us when we tell you, there's no place Lefty would rather win.

Let's take you all the way back, 15 years ago, to 1999. It was there at Pinehurst when Mickelson was "second-best" at the U.S. Open for the first time in his career. At the time, Mickelson was a 28-year-old, 16-time Tour winner with three top-5 finishes in the majors.

Many were beginning to wonder when Mickelson would win his first major -- it hadn't yet reached the point where some wondered if he'd ever win a big one (for the record, Mickelson wouldn't claim his first major until the 2004 Masters -- his 11th start in the Masters and 42nd start, as a professional, in a major).

That whole week at Pinehurst in June of 1999, Mickelson had two things weighing heavily on his mind: trying to win a major and -- more importantly than anything else -- the impending birth of his first child.

Throughout the week, Mickelson carried a pager along for each round (remember those things?) and swore that if it went off indicating that his wife, Amy, was going into labor, he would immediately leave the golf course to head back home to the other side of the country to be there for the birth of the couple's first child -- no matter his standing in the tournament.

MORE: U.S. Open tee times | U.S. Open qualifer calls penalty on self days later

That would have been the right thing to do -- no one can deny that. But, put in that very situation, it would be interesting to see how many players would leave with a chance to win a major championship.

Luckily for the world of golf, Mickelson's pager never went off. Because of that, we were able to witness one of the all-time epic U.S. Open duels between Mickelson and Payne Stewart.

We all know how it played out. Stewart played near flawless golf all week and holed a long putt on 18 to edge Mickelson in regulation. But, in his exhilarating moment -- and after a bear hug with his caddie Mike Hicks -- Stewart walked over to Mickelson, who had his hand extended to congratulate the champion. Right then, Stewart made the moment about Mickelson. He famously grabbed Mickelson's face on that Father's Day in 1999 and, nose-to-nose, looking the father-to-be Mickelson right in the eyes, Stewart said, "You're going to be a father!"

With those words, Stewart put into perspective that -- compared to being a father -- the U.S. Open was really only a consolation prize. It was an awesome moment.

The next day, the Mickelson's welcomed baby Amanda to the world.

Since then, so much has happened on the course for Mickelson. He's won the Masters three times, the PGA Championship once and just last summer he won the British Open. All he needs (yeah, "all he needs") is that U.S. Open to complete the career Grand Slam and join Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players in history to do so.

It's often said that the U.S. Open is the most difficult of the four majors to win. You're not likely to get an argument from Mickelson there.

On Sunday, Mickelson tied for 11th at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, matching his best finish this season. While you'd think that might be cause for some confidence. You'd be wrong. During his final round, Mickelson actually switched his putting grip. Afterwards, when asked about his putting, he said: "Pathetic."

In a U.S. Open, "pathetic" putting isn't going to get the job done. But maybe, just maybe, Mickelson can recapture the magic he had at Pinehurst 15 years ago.

For Mickelson, there would be no better place to complete the career grand slam. 

Rickie Fowler, Kevin Tway and Chesson Hadley
Rickie Fowler/Twitter
Rickie Fowler, Kevin Tway and Chesson Hadley get ready to fly Sunday via private jet to Pinehurst.

When you absolutely, positively have to get to Pinehurst, N.C., overnight, why not hop on a FedEx plane?

According to a tweet from Rickie Fowler, that's what he, Kevin Tway and Chesson Hadley apparently did Sunday after the final round of the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis. Check out the selfie:

 

 

 

And Ian Poulter is apparently getting a lift as well.

 

 

 

Memphis is FedEx's world headquarters, so the company provided a private jet for the PGA Tour pros to make their journey just that much easier. Certainly beats driving a rental car the 700-plus miles from western Tennessee to the Sandhills of North Carolina.

At least they didn't have to ride in the cargo hold.

 

June 8, 2014 - 11:38am
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Rory McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick
USA Today Images
Rory McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick putt and chip around on the green during a Masters practice round.

After you've finished a hole during a normal round of golf, are you allowed to drop the ball on the green and putt it again for practice? While waiting on the tee for the fairway ahead to clear, can you hit short chips to pass the time? Yes, according to our rules expert, but there are limitations.

It has to do with Rule 7-2, according to Bryan Jones, co-vice chairman of the PGA Rules Committee. Here's the specific language from the rulebook:

"Between the play of two holes a player must not make a practice stroke, except that he may practice putting or chipping on or near:

a. the putting green of the hole last played,
b. any practice putting green, or
c. the teeing ground of the next hole to be played in the round, provided a practice stroke is not made from a hazard and does not unduly delay play (Rule 6-7)."

TEN-SECOND RULE: Scott Langley uses Rule 16-2 to determine wait time for birdie putt

So the rule involves two types of practice swings at three possible locations. And even then, Jones said the rule is open to interpretation in some ways.

"We know what a putt is but an interesting aspect is, what does a chip mean?" Jones said. "It is not defined, so does a full swing flop shot count? I think it means a very short shot based on the limitations of the rest of the rule."

Jones said if you or a member of your foursome wants another chance to check the break or speed of a green only after you've completed the hole, that's OK. Or if you're making the turn and there's a chance to hit a couple of balls on the practice green, you can do that while the rest of your group is getting snacks or taking a bathroom break.

WHEN THE BALL MOVES AT ADDRESS: Situations requiring you to apply Rule 18-2b

But like everything, there are a couple of exceptions to Rule 7-2. One involves tournament play.

"Note No. 2 at the end of this rule allows the [rules] committee to prohibit practice on or near the putting green of the hole last played," Jones said. "This allows the committee to address potential pace of play issues with excess practice, and the PGA of America and the PGA Tour both do so. The USGA does not utilize this note."

The other deals with the definition of "teeing ground," especially on courses where there are multiple tee areas.

BUGGED BY INSECTS: What to do when facing a dangerous situation on the course

"I do not recall the specifics but a player was penalized two strokes in a championship when she dropped and chipped a couple of balls from a 'tee pad' behind where the teeing ground was located," Jones said. "The definition of teeing ground is critical in understanding what 'on or near' actually relates to."

So remember, it's OK the next time somebody in your group takes another crack at the hole -- as long as they're not holding up the group behind and more importantly, they record their first attempt on the scorecard. In golf, like in life, you don't get a do-over.

 

Brad Fritsch
Brad Fritsch makes par from a very wet stance on No. 18 Saturday.

Brad Fritsch knew he needed an eagle on the 18th hole Saturday to make the cut at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. But there was a problem. His tee shot landed just inches from the edge of the lake on the left side of the fairway, leaving him a 130-yard shot to the green with no stance -- at least not on dry ground.

So with that in mind, Fritsch took off his socks and shoes, rolled up his pants legs and here's what happened next:

 

It didn't go in the hole, but it landed on the green. And Fritsch was able to two-putt from there to save par.

 

Carly Booth and Jeremy Dale
Carly Booth via Instagram
Carly Booth puts just the right touch on this flop shot over Jeremy Dale's head.
Many golf fans became aware of Carly Booth when she appeared wearing not a whole lot in the 2013 "Bodies We Want" edition of ESPN the Magazine, but the 21-year-old Scot has been an accomplished golfer for almost a decade.
 
She won her first women's title at age 11, was ranked as Europe's top female junior in 2007, became Britain and Ireland's youngest Curtis Cup player at 16 in 2008, and twice played in the Junior Ryder Cup. She turned professional at 18 in 2010, and already owns two Ladies European Tour titles.
 
And, it turns out, she's got a flop shot that even Phil Mickelson might covet. She showed it off the other day during an appearance with Jeremy Dale, a British instructor and trick-shot artist in his own right. 
 
 
As you can see in the Instagram video that Booth posted, she positioned Dale just a few feet in front of her, then took a full cut with a wedge – she gently lofted the ball directly over his head and it came to rest just a few feet behind him. 
 
Dale flinched a little bit, but I give him serious credit for remaining as steady as he did – no disrespect to Booth, but I don't think I could hang in there with any golfer in the world taking such a big swing so close to me.
 
And while you enjoy Carly's video, here's a bit of trivia for you: Her father, Wally Booth, was a prominent amateur wrestler and a bouncer/doorman at the Cavern Club in Liverpool when the Beatles were getting started. The Fab Four asked him to accompany them on their first trip to the United States, but he turned them down because he was training for the 1964 Olympics. He won the British championship, but an injury kept him out of the Olympics.