June 16, 2014 - 7:22am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Phil Mickelson
USA Today Images
Today, June 16, 2014, Phil Mickelson turns 44 years old.

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).

RELATED: Phil Mickelson terrific flop shot at U.S. Open

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.

Here's an excerpt:

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. 

Happy 44th birthday, Phil Mickelson
June 15, 2014 - 6:18pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Justin Rose
Justin Rose nailed a birdie putt on his final hole at Pinehurst No. 2 on Sunday and proceeded to impersonate the late Payne Stewart.

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.

Rose pays tribute to Stewart on final putt
June 15, 2014 - 2:41pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Jessica Korda, Natalie Gulbis
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Jessica Korda and Natalie Gulbis chat on the range at Pinehurst No. 2 on Sunday, preparing for the U.S. Women's Open, which begins Thursday.

You don't see this every day:

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:

You don't see this everyday at the U.S. Open
June 15, 2014 - 1:09pm
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Zach Johnson
Zach Johnson raises his hands in the air after making an ace Sunday on No. 9.

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.

 

 

 

Watch Zach Johnson's hole-in-one
Roger Maltbie
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Roger Maltbie's cart driver was arrested for hitting state trooper at U.S. Open.

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. 

U.S. OPEN COVERAGE: Follow the action with our news, video, features, photos and more 

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. 

 

Updated: Cart driver faces four charges after hitting state trooper at U.S. Open
June 15, 2014 - 11:25am
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Martin Kaymer
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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.

Learn from Kaymer's unplayable lie