Golf Buzz

June 15, 2014 - 12:25pm
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Martin Kaymer
USA Today Images
Martin Kaymer takes a drop Saturday after declaring his lie on No. 4 unplayable.

It's hard to imagine that an unplayable lie could have been the catalyst to turn Martin Kaymer's round around, but that was the case Saturday in the third round of the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2.

After making just his second bogey of the tournament on the previous hole, Kaymer pulled his drive low and left into a group of pine trees, his ball landing in an area where rain had washed the pine needles into a large pile. With his ball sitting on hardpan but nestled against the pine needles, Kaymer asked for relief.

U.S. OPEN: Complete final-round coverage

Here's how Bryan Jones, co-vice chairman of the PGA Rules Committee, saw the situation unfold:

"The walking referee was Tom O'Toole, current USGA President and a very qualified rules official. However, you see that he immediately calls in Jeff Hall of the USGA, who is the best of the best and in the position of a rules 'rover' in the championship. In the major championships, whether there are walking referees or hole referees, the committee utilizes its authority to limit a referee's duties under Rule 33-1 regarding Abnormal Ground Conditions (in this case, determining ground under repair) because the roving referee will be better informed as to the overall condition of the course and will be in a place to rule fairly. That is what Jeff did; he denied any relief for ground under repair.

U.S. OPEN: Putting Kaymer's 54-hole lead in perspective

"Martin now decides he does not want to risk a shot at the ball in its current lie so he -- the only person who can -- declares it unplayable under Rule 28. He now has three options, which include a stroke penalty: 1. go back to where he last played, 2. while keeping the current ball position between it and the hole, he may drop a ball on that line as far back as he wants; 3. drop two clublengths, no closer to the hole from where the ball lay. My experience is that these guys never want to give up ground so he decided on Option No. 3.

"Now another rule takes over that might look a little odd to the viewer. The reason he chose not to hit the ball originally was because of the gigantic clumps of pine straw around the ball. So before he drops the ball, may he clean out the pine straw? The answer is yes, the pine straw is a loose impediment, no matter how many thousands of pieces are involved. Decision 23-1/6 says that a player dropping a ball may remove loose impediments in the drop area. The restriction is that sand or loose soil may not be removed but the careful player can legally get all the way to a clean/bare lie in the area in which the drop will occur.

CHECK THE RULES: Is it a bunker or native terrain?

"Martin did not go that far. He still dropped on a small layer of pine straw. It was a terrific example of the roles the various referees play, using the rules to maximize a situation despite suffering a penalty stroke and then playing well, and Martin was able to make bogey."

Even though Kaymer hit his next tee shot off-line at No. 5, he drilled his second shot onto the green and made the eagle putt to get himself back to 10 under. So his recovery at No. 4 completely changed Kaymer's momentum.

June 15, 2014 - 11:13am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Tiger Woods
Twitter

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there.

Many PGA Tour players -- past and present -- took a few moments this morning to send out some love to dads all over the world via their Twitter accounts.

Here's a sampling:

June 14, 2014 - 7:39pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Martin Kaymer
USA Today Sports Images
Martin Kaymer will take a healthy lead into the final round of the U.S. Open. As history shows, though, his advantage isn't necessarily insurmountable -- at least not in this tournament.

If Martin Kaymer goes on to win the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 on Sunday, he will become the seventh golfer to win the tournament wire-to-wire. Here's the list of wire-to-wire winners in the U.S. Open:

- 1914, Walter Hagen
- 1921, Jim Barnes
- 1953, Ben Hogan
- 1970, Tony Jacklin
- 2000 and 2002, Tiger Woods
- 2011, Rory McIlroy

Of the previous 113 U.S. Opens played, the 54-hole leader has gone on to win 47 times.

RELATED: U.S. Open leaderboard | Complete U.S. Open coverage | Perry's eagle

Kaymer will take a five-stroke lead into the final round over Erik Compton and Rickie Fowler. Kaymer, the 2011 PGA Champion, shot a 2-over 72 in the third round and sits at 8-under 202 for the tournament.

Here's a look at the largest 54-hole leads in U.S. Open history:

10 -- Tiger Woods (205), Pebble Beach G.L., Pebble Beach, Calif., 2000
7 -- James Barnes (217), Columbia C.C., Chevy Chase, Md., 1921
6 -- Fred Herd (244), Myopia Hunt Club, S. Hamilton, Mass., 1898
6 -- Willie Anderson (225), Baltusrol G.C., Springfield, N.J., 1903
6 -- Johnny Goodman (211), North Shore G.C., Glenview, Ill., 1933

Each of the five players listed above went on to win the tournament.

With a victory, Kaymer would become the first player to win the Players Championship and the U.S. Open in the same season. It would also mark the first time since Tom Kite turned the trick in 1992 that a player wins tournaments on both Mother's Day and Father's Day in the same year.

Should Kaymer be caught on Sunday, it wouldn't be the biggest comeback by a winner in U.S. Open history. That belongs to Arnold Palmer, who overcame a seven-shot deficit to win the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills.

Here's a list of other great comebacks by U.S. Open winners:

6 strokes -- Johnny Miller (71-69-76-63), Oakmont (Pa.) C.C., 1973
5 strokes -- Johnny Farrell (77-74-71-72), Olympia Fields (Ill.) C.C., 1928
5 strokes -- Byron Nelson (72-73-71-68), Philadephia C.C., West Conshohocken, Pa., 1939
5 strokes -- Lee Janzen (73-66-73-68), The Olympic Club, San Francisco, Calif., 1998
 

June 14, 2014 - 3:22pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Kenny Perry
USA Today Sports Images
Kenny Perry hit an amazing shot in the third round of the U.S. Open on Saturday, holing out for eagle with a hybrid from a native area at Pinehurst No. 2.

There's no "rough" at Pinehurst No. 2 for the 114th U.S. Open this week (we're calling it "native area" instead), but it's hard to imagine one could hit a better shot than this one by Kenny Perry on Saturday in the third round at the 473-yard, par-4 14th:

What an eagle! With a hybrid from the native area no less.

Perry, 53, is the oldest player in the field this week. He's playing on an exemption that he earned by winning the 2013 U.S. Senior Open.

So far, that's the best shot of the tournament.

Charl Schwartzel
USA Today Images
Charl Schwartzel asks for a ruling Thursday during U.S. Open play at Pinehurst No. 2.

The definition of a bunker has never been more important than it is this week at renovated Pinehurst No. 2, where native sandy areas and bunkers may look quite the same but have very different rules of play.

The decision to recreate Pinehurst No. 2 as it was originally intended – with native terrain surrounding the fairways instead of thick rough – posed some interesting rules predicaments for the officials governing this year's U.S. Open: What constitutes a bunker?

Why would that matter? Because you can't ground your club in a bunker, as Dustin Johnson learned the hard way in the final round of the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. He grounded his club, with the assumption that he was not in a bunker, and unfortunately, that wasn't the case.

GOLF BALL MIXUP: What's the rule when you hit the wrong ball?

So players this weekend at Pinehurst No. 2 are paying particular attention to any hazards on the course.

How will the rules committee handle this situation? Bryan Jones, co-vice chairman of the PGA Rules Committee, said it could be as simple as labeling all raked sandy areas as bunkers – and all other areas off the fairway and green as "through the green."

"First, there's no such thing as waste areas or waste bunkers under the Rules," Jones said. "In the Rules, there are three key areas relevant to the hole being played: the teeing ground, the putting green and all hazards – which include bunkers and water hazards.

"All other areas – fairways, rough, trees, bushes, shrubs, sandy expanses – are lumped into the 'through the green' category. My guess is that TV needs to hang a name on everything and thus this 'waste area/bunker' came to life."

MORE RULES QUESTIONS: What do you do if your ball moves at address?

So unless the ball lands in an area designated as a hazard, in this case, a raked area of sand, Jones said players will be allowed to ground their club.

"If you hit it off the manicured grass at Pinehurst, you will be in the naturally existing conditions of the region," he said.

Just don't refer to it as a waste bunker.

 

June 14, 2014 - 12:57pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Miguel Angel Jimenez
Twitter/@missyjonjones
Unfortunately for all of us, the most interesting man in golf -- Miguel Angel Jimenez -- missed the cut at the U.S. Open. But he was at Pinehurst No. 2 on Saturday doing some shopping.

Unfortunately for all of us, the most interesting man in golf -- Miguel Angel Jimenez -- missed the cut at the U.S. Open.

However, he was still there on Saturday, checking out the merchandise tent and, apparently, doing some shopping.

Here's a photo that was captured of Jimenez shopping for some Pinehurst No. 2 gear: