Jason Millard
USA Today Images
Jason Millard called a penalty on a shot he attempted a week ago, resulting in disqualification from the U.S. Open.

You want a prime example of the "honor code" in professional golf? Check out what Jason Millard did Saturday, just five days before the start of the 2014 U.S. Open.

A week after shooting two rounds of 68 during the Memphis sectional, Millard reported a self-imposed penalty for grounding his club in a bunker on the 18th hole at the Colonial Country Club's North Course -- which results in a disqualification from playing at Pinehurst No. 2.

"LONGEST DAY IN GOLF:" Justin Leonard among those making U.S. Open field

"I'm pretty sure I grounded my club in the bunker," Millard was quoting as saying in an Associated Press brief. "I didn't see anything for sure, but I felt something and I saw a small indentation. It happened so fast, I really don't know 100 percent, but deep down, I believe I did. I couldn't find peace about it. For five days, I practiced and I couldn't get it off my mind. It's heart-breaking, but what I was feeling in my heart didn't feel right. It's the right decision and I am sticking with it."

"We commend Jason for bringing this matter to our attention," said Daniel B. Burton, USGA vice president and chairman of the championship committee. "At this time, we have no recourse but to disqualify him under the Rules of Golf and specifically Rule 34-1b."

Most of the reaction around the golf world was first one of shock, then respect and admiration.

Millard, who turned pro in 2011, was replaced in the field by Sam Love, the second alternate from the Memphis qualifier. Millard missed the cut in the Honda Classic in March, his only PGA Tour start of the season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

U.S. Open qualifier calls penalty on himself, five days later
John Daly
As Peter Kostis noted Saturday, John Daly's power comes from his wide arc, not because he swings hard.

Swinging harder rarely helps your ball go farther, unless you're trying to hit it farther out of bounds.

Peter Kostis analyzed John Daly's swing on the practice range Saturday between the second and third rounds of the FedEx St. Jude Classic during the CBS broadcast, and you might be surprised to learn how balanced it really is, despite Daly's imposing frame.

 

 

As Kostis notes, Daly's power is generated from the large arc of his swing, so he doesn't have to speed up the club to create additional clubspeed. All he's trying to do is make clean contact.

That's a great observation, as most amateurs think if they swing harder, they can generate more clubhead speed. That may be true, but it also creates additional issues with timing and getting the club square at impact. PGA professionals will agree: What good is extra distance if you can't control it?

 

 

Daly proves swinging harder isn't better
Phil Mickelson at the FedEx St. Jude Classic
PGA Tour via Youtube
Phil Mickelson got up and down with his trademark flair at the FedEx St. Jude Classic on Thursday.

Phil was being the Thrill again on Thursday at the FedEx St. Jude Classic – and that meant he executed one of his trademark flop shots. No matter how many times I see him do this, it never ceases to amaze me.

Mickelson hit his tee shot pure on the 198-yard, par-3 fourth hole at TPC Southwind – only to see his ball land hard and bounce way into the thick stuff over the green. That left him with an almost impossible recovery – a downhill lie, 62 feet from the flag with not a lot of green to work with.

GOLF BUZZ: Mickelson gives thumbs-up to renovations at Pinehurst No. 2

For you and me? Forget it. For Phil? A full wind-up, a mighty swing, an audible swoosh as his club swept through the grass and a gorgeous shot popped almost straight up and finished a few feet from the hole. One putt later, Mickelson walked off with a well-deserved par en route to his opening 3-under 67.

 

 

Phil Mickelson pulls off another amazing flop shot
June 4, 2014 - 6:23pm
john.holmes's picture
Ted Bishop, Pete Bevacqua, Derek Jeter
PGA of America
PGA of America President (l-r) Ted Bishop and CEO Pete Bevacqua were at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday to present Derek Jeter with a set of golf clubs.

New York City is a special place for The PGA of America, which was founded there in 1916 and has grown into the world's largest sports organization.  Several top PGA officials are back in the Big Apple this week, and spent Wednesday night at the New York Yankees' game with Oakland. 

PGA President Ted Bishop and his fellow leaders also took the opportunity to honor Yankees Captain Derek Jeter, who of course is retiring at the end of the current season, by presenting him with a set of clubs in a custom PGA golf bag in a special pre-game ceremony.

"I think you could say that Derek Jeter is one of the great Yankees of all time, and me being a lifelong Yankee fan, this is almost like a dream come true to present him with these clubs," said Bishop. "But more importantly, I hope that when his career is over, the Captain becomes an avid golfer. We need guys like that on the golf course."

The PGA's set of golf clubs is the latest "going away" gift that Jeter has received so far this season as he makes his way around the major leagues one last time. Already, he has gotten such tokens of appreciation as a #2 from the Wrigley Field scoreboard from the Chicago Cubs, a bronze bat from the Milwaukee Brewers, a Yankees-themed paddleboard from the Los Angeles Angels, and a pair of pin-striped cowboy boots from the Houston Astros.

 

 

 
PGA's gift to Yankees legend
June 4, 2014 - 10:31am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Payne Stewart
Getty Images
Payne Stewart celebrates his incredible win in the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 over a then major-less Phil Mickelson.

If you've got a little over 12 minutes to spare today, you need to do yourself a favor and watch this "Nine for IX" short directed by ESPN's Hannah Storm, entitled, "Love & Payne."

The story is about the late Payne Stewart, who died in a plane accident just four months after winning the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst 15 years ago. The 2014 U.S. Open returns to Pinehurst next week.

RELATED: Remembering Payne Stewart 14 years after his death

Often times, people are sensationalized in death. This short film doesn't do that. It's well-documented that Stewart wasn't always the nicest guy early in his career and came off many times as cocky.

However, has Stewart's widow Tracey notes, along with Stewart's good friends Peter Jacobsen, Roger Maltbie and caddie Mike Hicks, Payne reached the point in his life where he found peace. He was working toward becoming a better person and that was apparent in his on and off-course demeanor.

This story -- even in less than 15 minutes -- encapsules who Payne Stewart was... all of him.

 

 

Very well done. He'll be on the minds of many next week.

Short film captures the essence of Payne Stewart
June 4, 2014 - 9:08am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Dustin Johnson
USA Today Sports Images
Dustin Johnson won the St. Jude Classic in 2012 and tied for 10th in 2013.

The PGA Tour is in Memphis this week for the St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind -- the final tune up before the second major championship of the year, next week's U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2.

While many stars elect to sit out the week prior to a major, that isn't the case for players like Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Lee Westwood who are all teeing it up in Memphis.

RELATED: St. Jude Classic tee times | Mickelson gets first look at revamped Pinehurst

Since a massive renovation after the 2004 St. Jude Classic, TPC Southwind has routinely played as one of the more difficult courses on the PGA Tour, so it's not a bad place to get ready for the U.S. Open.

With that, here are five players to keep an eye on this week.

5. Harris English
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Won the OHL Classic at Mayakoba
Reason to watch: English returns this week to the site of his first PGA Tour win. He'll be feeling some good vibes playing for the first time on Tour as a "defending champion." He's enjoyed a solid season so far with six top-10 finishes in 18 starts, including that victory early on in Mexico. Also among those 18 starts are three missed cuts -- all of which have come in three of his last five starts. Familiarity with a place where he's had past (recent) success will pay dividends for English this week.

4. David Toms
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
T4 at the Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com
Reason to watch: Toms and TPC Southwind go together like peanut butter and jelly. He's finished in the top four there on six occasions over the course of his career, including back-to-back victories in 2003-04. The course changed dramatically after the '04 tournament, a renovation that made it much more difficult. Even so, Toms was runner up in 2005, third in 2007 and tie for second in 2009. Lately Toms hasn't had quite that kind of success in Memphis, but coming off a tie for fifth at Colonial in his last start -- his next-best finish this season -- look for him to recapture some of that old magic at TPC Southwind this week.

3. Paul Casey
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
T11 at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans
Reason to watch: At one point in time not all that long ago (2009), Paul Casey was the No. 3-ranked player in the world. Currently, he's No. 84, but on the rise (He missed a lot of time over the last few years nursing various injuries). Though he hasn't yet cracked the top-10 in 10 starts this season, Casey has finished in the top 25 six times, including a T13 last week at Memorial, where he opened with a pair of 66s. A quick look at his stats for the season shows that Casey's difficulty has been putting together four rounds. Perhaps that changes this week in Memphis.

2. Phil Mickelson
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
T11 at the Wells Fargo Championship
Reason to watch: Mickelson is off to his slowest start in 22 years on the PGA Tour. Through 13 events, he still has yet to finish among the top 10. It's crazy. This week might be just what the doctor ordered for Mickelson. He tied for second in Memphis a year ago and went on to finished in a tie for second in the U.S. Open the following week. Well, next week is the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 -- the site of the first of six runner-up finishes at the national championship over the course of Mickelson's career. It's the only major he's missing to complete the career grand slam. He's got to find something in his game and he'd better find it fast.

1. Dustin Johnson
Best finish in 2013-14 season:
Won the WGC-HSBC Champions
Reason to watch: After a red-hot start to the season in which he began with six, top-10 finishes in his first eight appearances -- highlighted by a win in China -- Johnson has, understandably, cooled off a touch. But, expect him to get hot this week in Memphis, where he won in 2012 and tied for 10th a year ago. TPC Southwind suits his game. And with eight Tour wins at 29 years old, majors should be on Johnson's mind. If he plays well this week, it could go a long way toward carrying him into next week.

2014 FedEx St. Jude Classic | Five players to watch