Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson
Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson found themselves in a bit of a hole after a confusing situation on the seventh hole of their Friday fourball match.
How can you go from all square to 2 down on a single hole? Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson found out the hard way during their fourball match with Jason Day and Adam Scott in the Presidents Cup on Friday.
The match was even as the players teed off on the seventh hole. Mickelson teed off with a different model of ball than he had used on the sixth hole, a violation of what is known as the "one-ball condition."
After the round, Mickelson explained that he switched to a firmer ball to try to reach the green. As he was walking down the fairway, he said, he began to wonder whether there was a rule about switching ball models. He asked U.S. Captain Jay Haas, who was walking with the group, and then consulted rules officials.
The officials confirmed that the one-ball condition was in effect, and told Mickelson that he was disqualified from the hole. Johnson, playing alone, made a par, losing to a birdie from Day.
Here's where things got interesting. In match play, a player who violates the one-ball condition incurs a significant penalty – a one-hole adjustment to the match score at the end of the hole. That meant Mickelson and Johnson not only lost the hole to Day's birdie, they also were docked another hole for what amounted to a two-hole loss on that single hole.
"It's a strange situation," said Mark Russell, the vice president of rules and competition for the PGA Tour.
The ruling sparked a lot of confusion – almost everyone involved said they didn't even know such a rule existed – and it was compounded a little later when Presidents Cup officials admitted that they incorrectly told Mickelson that he couldn't finish the hole. Under the rules, they said, Mickelson should have been permitted to play the hole out – even if he halved or won it – and the one-hole penalty then should have been applied.
Because the correction came after the players had finished the hole, Mickelson wasn't allowed to go back and replay the hole.
"Decision 34-2/6 of the Rules of Golf, the Committee is not allowed to have Phil go back and play in an attempt to correct the error," Presidents Cup officials said in a statement. "This is because once any player in the match plays a subsequent stroke, allowing a correction could potentially undermine the strategy already employed by both in the match in completing the hole."
"It's just unfortunate that he was told he had to pick up the ball," Haas said. "Had he been able to play out and make a 4 and tie the hole, then it would only have been 1 down instead of 2 down. But that didn't happen, so nothing you can do about it."
Here is the complete statement:
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Mickelson-Johnson go 2 down on one hole after unusual ruling at Presidents Cup
Louis Oosthuizen
PGA Tour via YouTube
Best known for his sweet swing, Louis Oosthuizen showed off his putting prowess at the Presidents Cup on Friday.
Well, I was all ready to write up a post on Marc Leishman's impressive birdie putt in the Friday fourballs at the Presidents Cup – but just as I began singing the praises of his gorgous 38-footer, Louis Oosthuizen drained a putt from almost twice as far.
Oosthuizen and his fellow South African Branden Grace – who earned the International team's only point on Thursday – are locked in a tight battle with the American powerhouse duo of Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson. Oosthuizen's tee shot on the par-3 eight hole cane up short, leaving him a good 72 feet away.
But instead of lagging his putt up close in hopes of a par, the 2010 British Open champion rapped his ball right off the flagstick and into the cup. That birdie won the hole, and knotted the match.
Here's Oosthuizen's big birdie, and below it is the Leishman putt from earlier:
Louis Oosthuizen drains 72-foot putt for birdie at Presidents Cup
Sammy Schmitz
Chris Keane/USGA
Sammy Schmitz was all smiles after making a hole-in-one on a par-4 hole to all but clinch the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship and a berth in the 2016 Masters.
Sammy Schmitz nailed down a berth in the 2016 Masters in a once-in-a-lifetime way on Thursday.
Schmitz – a 35-year-old from Farmington, Minn., who is No. 3,724 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking – was locked in a tight battle with Marc Dull with the holes rapidly running out in the 36-hole finale of the U.S. Mid-Amateur in Vero Beach, Fla.
The 33rd hole of their daylong duel was the 290-yard par-4 15th hole on the East Course at John's Island Club. Schmitz pulled out his driver – and knocked his tee shot into the cup for a most unlikely ace.
Needless to say, he won the hole. That put him "dormie" – 3 up with only three holes to play – and he closed out his 3&2 victory by halving the next hole.
The winner of the U.S. Mid-Amateur – for players age 25 and older – traditionally gets a spot in the next spring's Masters. And when people ask Schmitz how he made it to Augusta, he'll have a most amazing story to tell.
"I can't believe it," he said afterward. "I've been hitting driver (on the hole) the entire tournament. I think I've hit the green four times. I just had a good feeling. I can't believe it went in."
"I win 14 (the 32nd hole in the 36-hole file) and I'm thinking maybe we can get back in this," Dull said. "I didn't hit a good tee shot, and when a guy jars it on a par 4, what are you going to do? You just shake his hand and laugh it off. It was an amazing shot that he hit."
It is believed to be only the second ace on a par 4 in USGA amateur competition. Derek Ernst, now a PGA Tour player, accomplished the feat on the 299-yard eighth hole at Bandon Trails in the 2011 U.S. Amateur Public Links.
Schmitz is a regional director for a health care services company. He played at St. John's University in Minnesota and is a three-time Minnesota Golf Association Player of the Year.
"It's not real yet," he said. "It feels real good. It's been a long week, a long nine days being away from my two little girls at home. I'm pretty happy and proud."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Sammy Schmitz earns spot in 2016 Masters thanks to ace on par-4 hole
October 8, 2015 - 4:27pm
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October 8, 2015 - 9:13am
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Woody Austin
One of the most hilarious moments in Presidents Cup history happened at Royal Montreal in 2007, when Woody Austin went to extreme lengths to try and save a hole for the U.S.

In the spirit of this week's Presidents Cup, it seemed appropriate to go back into the archives for a classic moment in the event for Throwback Thursday.

The year was 2007, Day 2 of the competition at Royal Montreal in Canada. Woody Austin, a 43-year-old Presidents Cup rookie, pulled his drive into the water on the short, par-4 14th hole.

RELATED: Presidents Cup scoring | U.S. jumps out to big, early lead | Friday's pairings

Since it's match play and you never know what can happen, you've got to sometimes attempt shots you might not otherwise even think of playing.

So, that's what Austin did. And this, for our entertainment, was the result:


I can tell you firsthand from being there for the tournament, it was not warm. At all. For that effort, Austin certainly earned the nickname, "Aquaman."

That dip in the pond along with stuff like breaking a putter over his head makes Austin a YouTube legend.


Throwback Thursday: Woody Austin goes swimming at Presidents Cup
Phil Mickelson
PGA Tour via YouTube
Phil Mickelson raised his arms in triumph after blasting out of the bunker and into the hole on Day 1 at the Presidents Cup.
The 2015 Presidents Cup got off to a rollicking start for the Americans on Thursday in South Korea, as the United States jumped out to a quick lead in foursomes. Unfortunately for the International team, most of their best shots were scrambling approach shots after wayward drives.
Over at Team USA, Phil Mickelson was paired with Zach Johnson, and early going the two were lighting up social media because they were shaking hands old-school after their good shots and hole wins. They were steady, if not spectacular, in their match against Australia's Jason Day and Steven Bowditch.
And then, after Zach dumped his tee shot into the greenside bunker on the par-3 13th hole, Phil did this:
As the crowd exploded, the two veterans shook hands one more time. Way to go, pard. Put 'er there.
UPDATE: About 15 minutes after Mickelson's bunker blast, Johnson hit a magical wedge shot of his own. His reward: Another hearty handshake.
Phil Mickelson chips in from bunker at Presidents Cup